Can Adderall evolve into a speed addiction? – Sovereign Health

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Can Adderall evolve into a speed addiction?

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Adderall, commonly referred to as “Addy,” has become as ubiquitous as a cup of Starbucks or a can of Monster among U.S. students who are abusing the drug as a tool to remain competitive. Nothing like a bump of speed to get those brain cells humming, right?

Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse are stimulants prescribed to those with ADHD to assist with focus, attention and memory. These drugs are schedule II bedfellows with cocaine, morphine and meth, and most definitely not innocuous substances. They are being liberally abused by healthy people for the stimulating properties that trigger the release of adrenaline, increased heart rate and blood flow to the muscles. The resulting boost in energy and increased attention and concentration has led about 20 percent of healthy, college-aged students to abuse the drug, thus dubbing it the Study Drug. Using these stimulants to enhance academic performance is akin to an athlete using steroids.

Erroneously considered a safe drug, Adderall can cause not only short-term side effects, but the long range fallout can be life altering. Some 23,000 young adults, a four-fold increase since 2005, were taken to emergency rooms in 2011 due to the abuse of this class of drug. The short-term effects include:

  • Disrupted heart rhythm
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth

The long term effects of Adderall use are quite serious, including physical and psychological dependence. Because it is an amphetamine, the symptoms and effects of addiction are on par with those of methamphetamine, such as hostility, paranoia, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular problems and stroke.

In addition to the physical side effects, behaviors can be negatively affected by stimulant use, too. A study conducted at McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) led by researcher Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, is one of the first to shed light on how long-term amphetamine use in adolescence affects brain chemistry and risk-taking behavior. Using adolescent rats, the test subjects were given one of three dosing regimens of amphetamine during adolescence. When they reached adulthood, drugs were withdrawn and their neurophysiological activity and risk-taking behavior were studied. According to Dr. Gobbi:

“We focused on the key neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. We found abnormalities in brain activity associated with all three of these neurochemicals, called ‘monoamines.’ Imbalances of monoamines are associated with emotional disturbances and mental diseases such as depression or addiction.”

Unfortunately, no blood test or brain scan is available for the diagnosis of ADHD, so a list of behavioral criteria is all physicians use to arrive at a diagnosis. Some teens will fake their symptoms in order to garner a prescription for Adderall, and other teens may be experiencing a lack of motivation or a drop in grades. Although those symptoms may be included in the DSM criteria for ADHD, many doctors do not make the distinction between a normal, healthy kid who is temporarily struggling in school and a person with actual ADHD, and liberally prescribe these medications. In many cases, doctors routinely upgrade a diagnosis, coding the symptoms to fit ADHD to justify the treatment and insurance reimbursement.

Adderall comes in two types, the instant release or the extended release formulas. The most common method of taking Adderall is to swallow the tablet or capsule. However, other methods are parachuting, which involves crushing the pills into a powder and then eating them; snorting, again by crushing the pill and sniffing through the nose; and plugging, which is a rectal delivery.

Social media, especially Twitter, has a very active “Addy” user base, where upwards of 10,000 tweets related to Adderall or Addy can amass in a matter of days. On Twitter, students openly shop for sources of the drug, boast about their Adderall high and how much homework they blew through, or post photos where their coffee cup and laptop accompany a displayed Adderall pill. There seems to be no sense of fear or shame for using the drugs illegally.

Despite the dangerous addictive properties of these drugs, millions of U.S. students still use Adderall, Ritalin or Vyvanse in order to enhance their studying abilities. This addiction is becoming a huge problem, as millions of young people are making stimulant use part of their everyday lives.

Sovereign Health Group is a residential treatment program for substance and mental health disorders, with facilities across the nation. For more information about Adderall abuse, please call 866-524-5504.

Written by Eileen Spatz, Sovereign Health Group writer

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Xanax Addiction Treatment & Rehab Centers, California

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Xanax Addiction Treatment Los Angeles, CaliforniaXanax is a brand name for alprazolam, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders. It belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Xanax has a calming effect on the brain and central nervous system. It also slows down the movement of brain chemicals that may have become unbalanced, resulting in a reduction of nervous tension and anxiety.

Its prominent effect on the brain brings forth a relaxed high, making it a potential substance for abuse. The drug is now a federally controlled substance because of its high abuse by the users.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2011, there were over 1.2 million emergency department visits overall related to the nonmedical use of prescription drugs and Xanax was involved in 10 percent of those visits. In fact, anti-anxiety drugs were found to be involved in 29.3 percent of drug related suicide attempts with Xanax accounting for 11.1 percent of the same.

Long-term use of this drug can be mentally unhealthy, causing depression, psychotic experiences and aggressive behavior. The sedative can likely be habit-forming and is not recommended for long-term use. Tolerance to Xanax is very quick, especially for those who believe that only taking a dose or two of the drug can take away their anxiety. However, if taken in large doses or in combination with other substances like alcohol, Xanax can prove to be fatal.

It is important to approach one of the Xanax drug rehab centers for a successful addiction intervention program which helps an addict to cope with the stress as well as discontinuing the use of the drug. Abrupt discontinuation of the drug should not be done to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. It is important to taper off Xanax gradually through a professional approach of detoxification at a certified Xanax addiction treatment center.

A good Xanax addiction rehab facility generally has specialists well-versed in dealing with an addictive mind. The various treatment modalities available in such rehabs can provide holistic programs depending on the state of the patient. Since addiction to sedatives like Xanax can increase chemical dependency and permanent cognitive impairment, it is important to treat the person and not some specific symptoms.

Such all-inclusive procedures like inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, cognitive behavior therapies, medication, group and family therapies are available only at first-rate Xanax drug rehab centers. Treatments can be really daunting for a patient; however, the right treatment program can help him/her to fight all fears and help in getting relief from addiction.


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Tramadol Addiction Treatment & Rehab Centers, California

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Tramadol Addiction Treatment Los Angeles, CaliforniaTramadol is a synthetic, centrally acting analgesic to treat moderate to severe pain, including the post-surgery pain. First approved in Europe in the 1970s, tramadol found its way to the American soil in 1995 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved of its use. However, due to its rampant misuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officially categorized tramadol as a Schedule IV substance within the U.S. under the Controlled Substance Act.

Tramadol has always been marketed as the safer alternative to more potent analgesics such as morphine, so there has been a massive increase in prescriptions for the drug. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were about 40 million prescriptions for tramadol which were written for patients in the U.S. in 2012. Apart from the medical use of the drug, there has been a concurrent non-medical use of tramadol which fostered the high rate of abuse.

Tramadol acts on the central nervous system affecting the pain receptors and
changing how your body feels and responds to pain. It gives a soothing effect and increases the urge to use it on a continuous basis apart from the prescribed period. People start getting physically and psychologically dependent on the drug. Tramadol can cause abdominal problems, depression, skin problems and general aches. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and tramadol, increased by 79 percent from 2013, totaling 5,544 deaths in 2014.

It is extremely important to consult a de-addiction specialist at a tramadol addiction treatment center for a proper treatment procedure. One must go for a medically supervised detoxification at a certified tramadol drug rehab center to curtail the strenuous withdrawal symptoms.

Integration of behavioral and pharmacological therapies is the most holistic way of treating any addiction. Combining both the treatments can help address both mental and physical components of tramadol dependency. A specialized tramadol addiction rehab provides combination therapies which not only treats addiction, but also instills a positive attitude in an individual.

A tramadol addiction treatment center can provide rehabilitation facilities in accordance with the needs of the addicted individuals and the impact of the drug, both psychological and physical. Such centers have both inpatient and outpatient facilities to treat the addiction related problems.


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Happiness can keep addiction at bay – Sovereign Health

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Happiness can keep addiction at bay


A person may take to substance abuse because of various reasons. It may be due to the lack of entertainment, or social connection. He may choose cocaine abuse to color an otherwise boring life. An aimless life too could drive one to addiction. Interestingly, curiosity can also lead to drugs and alcohol addiction in some cases.

In the 1970s, renowned Canadian psychology professor Bruce K. Alexander conducted an experiment, called “Rat Park”, to demonstrate the cause of addiction in the tiny mammals. In the rat park that Alexander built, rats had plenty of friends, entertainment and good food. The rat park included two bottles of water, of which one was drugged and the other was clean. The rats drank water from both the bottles.

Alexander found that the rats which were provided good life conditions consumed only a quarter of the quantity of the drugged water, while isolated and unhappy ones got addicted to the drugged water. In addition, none of the rats that lived in a happy environment died of drug abuse. During those days, addiction was largely considered a chemical phenomenon, which was proved wrong by this experiment.

Some people believe that addiction is nearly irreversible. They believe it is like a downward spiral or falling into a bottomless pit. We often come across individuals who resort to addiction due to various negative circumstances in their lives. Although few addicts may succeed in controlling their habit, others find it difficult to lead a normal life without substance abuse. How can one defeat addiction?

The answer can be found in the second phase of the rat park experiment. Alexander conducted the first phase again, at the end of which the isolated rats became compulsive users of drugs. He reintroduced the isolated rats into the rat park. Not only did the rats lose the addiction, but were also back to normal after being introduced into the happy environment of the park.

Correlating the experiment on rats with humans, Alexander found answers to questions like “whether it is possible that substance abuse is due to unhappiness of various sorts” and “can substance abuse be eliminated by introducing addicts into healthy, social, happy environments”. He inferred that drug and alcohol abuse is a means of escape from unhappiness, be it rats, human beings or any creature. Take the unhappiness away and there is nothing to escape from, so no need for a means of escape.

The study thus proved that substance abuse can be a result of unhappiness in an individual’s life. A person can get rid of this habit by becoming part of a healthy, social and happy environment. It also indicates benefits of positive, nurturing and purposeful environments, which can help drug addicts to give up the habit. An addict is more likely to give up addiction if he or she has something that uplifts the body, mind and spirit.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental illness, Sovereign Addiction Services can help. For more information, call 855-683-9756.

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Underage drinking – a bane for normal life – Sovereign Health

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Underage drinking – a bane for normal life


A large mug of beer, an excess wine glass, a couple of tequila shots and a number of cocktail chalices contain more alcohol than a standard drink. Unfortunately, teens today go beyond the standard normal to get a high. The short and long-term consequences of underage alcohol consumption are greater in range and magnitude and considerably affects a teenager’s life.

Underage drinking is proving to be a worldwide threat, and is a serious public health problem in the United States. The American teens indulge in alcohol the most, without the slightest concern about the rising health and safety issues. In fact, the consequences of underage drinking can affect anyone, regardless of the drinking status. It has become a nationwide concern rather than a family problem within closed doors.

According to a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism factsheet, in 2014, 35 percent of U.S. teens have had at least one drink by age 15; around 65 percent of teens have had at least one drink by age 18. Moreover, in 2014, 8.7 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year. The drinking problem cost the U.S. $24 billion in 2010. Moreover, 12 to 20-year-olds drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. Youths who have started drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life.

Risks of underage drinking

According to National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the initial decision to indulge in alcohol and other substances is invariably voluntary. But when the person gets addicted, it is impossible to control the inclination impulses and his ability to self-control is severely hampered.

Brain imaging studies on drug-ad­dicted teens and older individuals have shown that there were physical changes in their brains due to excessive alcohol use. Brain impulses which are critical to judg­ment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control get severely affected.

Teens are extremely vulnerable to alcohol use because they encounter several dramatic physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes. In fact, physical developmental changes like puberty have been found to trigger alcohol abuse. The rising feeling of being independent, ready-to-take-risks attitude and peer pressures can increase their urge to try alcohol. Moreover, coping with stress, such as a transition from middle school to high school, dealing with the effects of a parental divorce, etc. pull them towards alcohol.

Underage drinking can severely affect the mental and physical condition of a teen. Whatever causes a teen to drink, the consequences might prove to be bad and sometimes fatal too. Some of the risks involved are:

  • Alcohol-related fatalities: The Trust for America’s Health’s Reducing Teen Substance Misuse: What Really Works, published in 2015, gives some heart-wrenching facts on teen alcohol abuse. It reported that nearly one in four fatal car accidents among 15- to 20-year-olds was due to drunken driving. Out of them, almost three quarters were also not wearing a seat belt. Teen drownings, suicides and murders have also been linked with alcohol use.
  • Sexual activity: Underage drinking also pave the way for engaging in unprotected, unwanted and unintended sexual activity with one or multiple partners, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unplanned pregnancies.
  • School problem:Teens who drink have poor academic and behavior conduct at school. They tend to get low grades, indulge in unnecessary brawls and violent behavior with peers.
  • Violent crime: Teens who drink are more likely to be hurt in a violent crime, such as rape, assault or robbery.

Way to recovery

A prevention-oriented approach can be undertaken among teens to decrease initiation, regular consumption of alcohol or developing an addiction towards it. Creating awareness about cons of alcoholism and providing an environment of reducing risk factors through parents, schools and voluntary agencies can lower the chances of alcohol abuse.

If your child is addicted to alcohol, please seek professional medical help. We, at Sovereign Addiction Services, provide individualized and effective treatment procedures to prevent alcohol addiction and its relapse. Our cutting edge, cognition based techniques can help your teen get better and lead normal life free from the urge to drink again. Please chat online or call our 24/7 helpline at 855-683-9756 for more information.

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Flavored e-cigarette ads encourage children to vape: Study – Sovereign Health

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Flavored e-cigarette ads encourage children to vape: Study


The fact that the number of smokers in America has decreased over the years fails to bring a cheer because various studies have claimed that e-cigarettes have been gaining popularity among children and teens.

Experts say that of the numerous reasons responsible for pushing teens and children toward e-cigarettes, advertisements play an important role. A recent study conducted by the University of Cambridge has claimed that advertisements for flavored e-cigarettes can help in attracting children and teens to vape.

As part of the study, 598 school children were divided into three groups. One group was shown candy flavored e-cigarette advertisements, the second group watched advertisements for non-flavored e-cigarettes and the third group was not shown any ad. The first group was more interested and curious to try the e-cigarettes, compared to the other two, the study found.

“We’re cautiously optimistic from our results that e-cigarette ads don’t make tobacco smoking more attractive, but we’re concerned that ads for e-cigarettes with flavors that might appeal to school children could encourage them to try the products,”​said Dr. Milica Vasiljevic from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge who led the research.

The researchers said that further study is required to understand the aftereffects of e-cigarette advertising. The study, which was published in the Tobacco Control, stresses on the need for regulations related to products to which children can be attracted.

Cherry-flavored vaping most harmful

Of all the flavors, cherry-flavored vaping is found to be the most harmful, says another recent study. According to a report on, the study conducted by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York revealed that cherry e-cigarettes were associated with more possible health risks. The researchers said that cherry vaping contains benzaldehyde 43 times more than other flavors.

“Benzaldehyde is a chemical that’s typically found in pharmaceuticals, beauty supply and food. It is safe in small dosages on your skin or even consumed; however, prolonged use could lead to a number of health issues when the chemical compound is inhaled. It could cause different respiratory problems, like bronchitis,” said Carol Fenner, the Prevention Supervisor at the Wicomico County Health Departments.

However, a recent study from the Cambridge University in the U.K. can be good news for e-cigarette manufactures. According to a report on, the study found no evidence that e-cigarette advertisements increase the interest of regular cigarettes in minors.

E-cigarettes and safety

Though the manufacturers of e-cigarettes marketed citing safety involved in it compared to tobacco smoking, in September 2008 the World Health Organization (WHO) asked the marketers to stop making claims that e-cigs are a “safe and effective smoking cessation aid” because there is “no scientific evidence to confirm the product’s safety and efficacy,” said a report.

According to a 2015 report in, researchers from Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System found out that e-cigarettes damage human cells through the same process which can cause cancer and thus it cannot be considered safer than smoking tobacco. Another positive aspect related to e-cigarette highlighted for its sale was that it helped in quitting traditional smoking. But a recent study published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine said that e-cigarettes do not help in giving up smoking and that it should not be recommended with this point in mind.

E-cigarettes have been a hit with not only teens and children but also adults. In the U.S., an estimated 12.6 percent adults use e-cigarettes and this number has been on a gradual rise even as the number of tobacco smokers has come down. According to November 2015 figures of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16.8 percent adults smoked in 2014, compared to 25 percent adults who smoked in 1997. The CDC says that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S. and cigarette smoking kills over 480,000 Americans each year.

Getting rid of addiction

Now, many smokers have understood the ill effects of smoking as it affects the lungs, blood vessels and can be a cause for cancer and thus wish to quit smoking. Smoking often leads to other addictions, like substance abuse or prescription drug abuse. When people make an effort to quit smoking, almost all of them undergo withdrawal symptoms.

Recovery from addiction requires expert guidance, and at times rehabilitation too. Seek help now to break the chains of addiction. Call the 24/7 helpline of Sovereign Health Addiction Rehabilitation at 855-683-9756 to find out more about treatment options in your area.

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DEA, FBI release documentary to educate youth about dangers of addiction – Sovereign Health

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DEA, FBI release documentary to educate youth about dangers of addiction


Opioid addiction has become a critical problem in America today. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on January 1, 2016, revealed that over 47,000 people died due to drug overdose in 2015. The United States Attorneys and various law enforcement agencies, are working together to address the problem of prescription drug and heroin abuse in the country. In one such innovative effort to overcome the epidemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a 45-minute documentary Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on February 6, 2016.

The documentary, unveiled before educational leaders from the Washington D.C. metro area, profiles individuals who had abused opioids. It aims to spread awareness among youth about the devastating effects of addiction and the need to discourage prescription drug and heroin abuse.

Discouraging drug abuse

The documentary  shared sad stories of scores of families that had to deal with the problem of drug abuse. Emphasizing on the ill effects of substance abuse, the documentary features interviews with medical and law enforcement professionals who speak about the addiction plague. The short film aims at discouraging any thoughts of trying drugs, even for the purpose of amusement. The film is being distributed to educators free of cost to be included in the curriculum.

Discussing the need for imparting the necessary information about opiates and other psychedelic drugs, FBI Director James Comey said, “This epidemic does not discriminate; All across this country, it is taking good people from good homes and leading them down a trail that often ends in pain and sadness. This film may be difficult to watch, but we hope it educates our students and young adults about the tragic consequences that come with abusing these drugs and that it will cause people to think twice before becoming its next victim.”

The acting DEA Administrator, Chuck Rosenberg, said, “The numbers are appalling and shocking—tens of thousands of Americans will die this year from drug-related deaths and more than half of these deaths are from heroin and prescription opioid overdoses.”

Alarming number of drug overdose deaths

According to the  MMWR  report, the number of deaths attributed to opioid abuse increased by 14 percent from 2013 to 2014, while deaths from heroin abuse increased fourfold from 2002 to 2013. The CDC also revealed that since 2000, drug overdose deaths have increased by 137 percent, including a 200 percent surge in death rate due to opioid abuse.

Rosenberg said, “You will see in Chasing the Dragon opioid abusers that have travelled a remarkably dangerous and self-destructive path. I hope this will be a wakeup call for folks. Please pay close attention to this horrific epidemic. Help reverse it. Save a life. Save a friend. Save a loved one.”

In his financial year 2017 Budget submitted to Congress, President Barack Obama spared $1 billion to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use.

Looking for recovery

In the U.S., drug overdoses are claiming more lives than traffic accidents. It is time to say no to drugs. If you or your loved one  is struggling to get rid of addiction, the Sovereign Health Group is more than willing to help. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 855-683-9756 or chat online with one of our representatives for immediate help. We offer the best treatment for various addictions through proper detoxification and recovery plan depending on each individual’s needs.

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Indoor tanning increases risk of substance abuse among students: Study – Sovereign Health

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Indoor tanning increases risk of substance abuse among students: Study


Going for beauty treatments in a salon has become a day-to-day affair for many. Today’s generation, comprising both boys and girls, indulge in a variety of beauty treatments to look picture perfect. However, a recent study suggests that teens frequently into indoor tanning are more likely to indulge in substance abuse.

The study by the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, published online in the JAMA Dermatology in 2016, found that indoor tanning and substance abuse have a direct link. It states that a person’s motivation behind indoor tanning offers reasons as to why he is inclined to develop other risky behaviors.

The study findings

Study author Robert Dellavalle, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said, “Indoor tanning and use of steroids may both stem from the motivation to enhance one’s appearance.” He added that there are addictive psychological pathways in indoor tanning which are similar to those of substance abuse.

Prior researches have shown that indoor tanning can release endorphins, which are body’s natural opiates produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland. Endorphins can be addictive in nature.

The researchers used the health data of Healthy Kids Colorado Survey at 220 Colorado public schools with 40,000 students participating in it from August to December 2013. “During the last 12 months, how many times did you use an indoor tanning device such as a sunlamp, sun-bed or tanning booth,” the researchers asked 12,144 students in the survey.

An analysis of the answers showed that female students were twice as likely to engage in tanning compared to male students. Of the surveyed students, 64.5 percent females said that they used tanning salons compared to 33.8 percent males.

The study also reflected that alcohol and marijuana consumption within the prior 30 days of tanning were closely associated. Marijuana was used by 66.2 percent i.e. two-thirds of the surveyed students who go for indoor tanning.

Researchers also found that lifetime use of steroids was invariably linked to indoor tanning, especially among males. According to the statistics obtained from the survey, 21 percent of indoor tanners used steroids and 9.6 percent said they smoked cigarettes daily over the last month.

According to Dellavelle, the study also found that female students who tanned indoors generally used drugs like Ecstasy and other prescription drugs, whereas males got their flavor by indulging in steroids and heroin.

Treatment for recovery

A person who goes for tanning may also develop illicit drug abuse habit. Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified ultraviolet radiation as a group 1 carcinogen, which puts users of indoor tanning beds at a greater risk for skin cancer.

It is very important to create awareness among students about the harmful effects of tanning. It not only has physical effects on the body, but also makes a person take to substance abuse. The researchers of the study have also requested medical practitioners treating indoor tanning patients to consider assessing for drug abuse too.

If you or your loved one goes for excessive indoor tanning to salons, beware of its consequences as it can make you an addict to substances. If you are battling addiction and want to have a substance abuse-free life, we can help. Sovereign Health Group is a pioneer in treatment of addictions. We provide effective and individualized treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. You may chat online with an expert today for more information or call our 24/7 helpline number 855-683-9756.

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Hawaii raises cigarette smoking age to 21 – Sovereign Health

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Hawaii raises cigarette smoking age to 21


An immense amount of controversy exists over the synergistic effects of alcohol and cigarettes. Many people enjoy smoking a cigarette while drinking, even if they are not routine smokers and, interestingly enough, many alcohol and drug rehab programs allow their patients to continue to smoke cigarettes, despite the health risks.

According to studies performed at Brown University and Baylor College of Medicine that were published in July 2013 in the journal Neuron, researchers discovered that alcohol consumption increases dopamine levels in the brain’s reward centers, which results in euphoric feelings. These researchers also found that the pleasure center in the brain develops a tolerance to alcohol, dampening the effects of euphoria over time, resulting in the need for more and more alcohol to cause the same level of pleasure. Nicotine consumption works synergistically to increase this effect, meaning that people who smoke cigarettes need more alcohol to achieve the same levels of enjoyment. Tobacco’s main addictive ingredient appears to prompt the desire to drink more alcohol, according to the study’s authors. The study sheds light on the reason why alcoholism is roughly 10 times more prevalent in smokers than in nonsmokers, and possibly why taking up smoking at an early age is a significant risk factor for subsequent alcohol abuse at a later age.

Laws aim to curb nicotine addiction

Cigarette smoking, like alcohol abuse, has many adverse health side effects and can be lethal. Lung cancer, throat cancer, bladder cancer and oral cancer are common carcinomas that are directly caused by cigarettes. Tobacco has detrimental effects on skin, teeth, hair and the overall aging process. It may be beneficial to counsel patients who are in alcohol and drug treatment centers to stop smoking cigarettes as well.

Hawaii’s progressive law aims to cut down on nicotine addiction: In June 2015, the governor of Hawaii signed a bill that will take effect January 2016, increasing the statewide legal smoking age to 21. Hawaii is the first state nationwide to raise the smoking age to 21. “Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki (children) will grow up to be tobacco-free,” Governor David Ige said in a statement.

Although Hawaii County, which consists of Hawaii’s Big Island, New York City and several other communities have already passed legislation to raise the smoking age to 21, Hawaii is the first state to do so. In addition, lawmakers in other states such as California and Washington have aggressively pushed to increase the legal smoking age to 21.

Public supports raising the smoking age

According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, tobacco kills more than 480,000 people in the U.S. and almost 6 million people worldwide, and the vast majority of those began smoking when they were children.

“Age-of-sale restrictions have been shown to contribute to reductions in tobacco use and dependency among youth,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Three out of 4 American adults — including 7 in 10 cigarette smokers — favor raising the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21,” according to a CDC article, “Attitudes Toward Raising the Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Among U.S. Adults,” which was published in a July 2015 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

A better way to become sober

Replacing one bad habit with another might not be the key to becoming sober. Alcohol and tobacco both carry significant health risks and can cause financial burdens to many who are addicted to these substances. Depending on the state, cigarettes may range from $7 to $12 a pack, about the same as minimum wage. However, the cost of cigarettes has an even higher financial impact when it affects a patient’s health. Smoking is an inadequate replacement for alcohol.

If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol and may need assistance in alcohol cessation, Sovereign Health Group offers many different types of alcohol treatment centers around the country. For more information, call 855-683-9756.

Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group staff writer

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Substance abuse among physicians: Addiction behind the white coat – Sovereign Health

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Substance abuse among physicians: Addiction behind the white coat

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Alcohol and drug abuse affects people of all colors, ages, professions and backgrounds. Addiction does not discriminate and there is a hidden underworld of physicians who are addicted to prescription medications, alcohol and even illegal drugs. Treating another human being while addicted to an illicit substance can potentially harm the patient and physician, costing the physician’s career and potentially the patient’s life.

Every primary care physician is taught and trained to screen for alcohol and drug abuse during an outpatient visit. When asking “how many drinks a week do you consume?” physicians have been trained to triple the patient’s response to this question. Three beers really means nine beers. Four shots equals 12 shots. Patients might feel as if they are being judged by their physician, but many physicians are alcoholics themselves and, those who are not, know someone who is. Doctors also treat many hospital patients for alcohol or drug withdrawal.

When it comes to substance abuse, doctors share most of the same risk factors as anyone else. For example, they are no more or less likely to have a family history of dependence or an undiagnosed mental health condition than, say, a plumber or a banker. However, the very nature of medicine and the health care workplace may exacerbate the potential for a problem.

More prone to alcohol and drug use

Doctors are overwhelmed with the time-consuming demands of electronic medical records, regulatory requirements, administrative paperwork and patient care. They are constantly harangued to control medical spending. Collectively, these pressures contribute to an unprecedented level of burnout. Physicians’ access to potent prescription medications represents another distinction between doctors and the general public.

Ironically, doctors may be attuned to signs of their patients’ substance abuse issues, but they may not be as adept at recognizing and addressing their own or their colleagues’ problem. According to the article, “Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders Among American Surgeons,” published in the February 2012 issue of JAMA Surgery, 10 to 15 percent of U.S. physicians have a substance use disorder, a rate slightly higher than that of the U.S. population as a whole. But physicians struggling with abuse or addiction differ from the rest of the public in one critical respect: They have taken an oath to care for others.

Medicine attracts many high-achieving, compulsive, perfectionistic individuals who derive a strong sense of self-worth from their jobs. If a doctor’s commitment morphs into overwork, exhaustion and work/life imbalance, alcohol and other drugs may become a dangerous relief. Physicians’ perfectionistic tendencies enable them to perform well in the workplace even as their marriages fail, their personal lives crumble and their substance abuse becomes deeply entrenched. Physicians are very good at hiding their problems. Because they have been through rigorous training and long work hours, they become mentally and emotionally blunted.

Seeking help

The man or woman in the white coat could be undergoing the same addiction to alcohol as the disheveled person carrying a brown paper bag with a bottle inside. Yet society tends to portray the latter image of an alcoholic or a drug addict, while the former image has a higher chance of becoming one due to the stress of his or her career. Physicians have the advantage of knowing about the withdrawal effects from drugs and alcohol as well as the treatment for these side effects, often leading to self-medicating.

Alcoholism and drug addiction is a worldwide problem and every person who goes down the rabbit hole will need to get out one way or another. If you or someone you know is battling with drug or alcohol addiction, Sovereign Health Group may be able to help. Sovereign helps individuals minimize the risk of relapse by customizing programs with cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment. Sovereign offers programs accredited by The Joint Commission, and several facilities that are dually licensed to treat mental health disorders and substance abuse. To learn more about Sovereign’s programs and enrollment, call the admissions team at 855-683-9756.

Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer

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