Mental Health

Effects of Alcohol on Mental Health

The varying effects of substance abuse have the ability to mimic mental illnesses, making them difficult to differentiate from pre-existing mental illness issues. Some individuals who are abusing drugs or alcohol may already have a pre-existing mental illness, which only surfaces as a result of substance abuse.

In saying that, it is possible to show signs of mental illness as a direct result of substance abuse, and this condition is referred to as “substance-induced mental disorders”. Substance-induced disorders can occur from the abuse of any type of drug, and the symptoms differ between every drug and individual ranging from mild to severe.

When it comes to alcohol abuse, there is a long list of effects that can occur physically, emotionally and psychologically. If you or someone you know is a heavy drinker, the following are some of the effects of alcohol on mental health that they may experience:

Changes in Brain Chemistry

Our mental health relies on the brain’s ability to balance out incoming chemicals, messages and processes. Ingested substances immediately begin to tamper with this complex system, altering the chemicals in the brain and affecting our behaviours, emotions and moods.

Alcohol is a depressant, so it is common that the brain will begin to send out feelings of calmness and relaxation during the first one or two drinks. The brain will also increase feelings of confidence, and cut back on any anxiety.

However, with larger doses of alcohol the chemicals change, and more of the brain becomes affected. Instead of pleasurable emotions, negative emotions will start to take over with more ingestion. Excessive amounts can lead to aggression, high anxiety and even depression.

Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain, that works to regulate our moods. Individuals who drink on a more consistent basis will experience their serotonin levels beginning to decrease, which lowers their ability to regulate their moods and react in appropriate ways.

Without the ability to properly regulate emotions, many people may struggle to find happiness or inspiration in things that used to make them happy. It may also be the case that they have trouble communicating with others and responding the way they want.

While mental illness is often the cause of excessive drinking, excessive drinking can also be the root source of mental disorders.

Effects of Alcohol on Mental Health

Moderate or heavy intake of alcohol may initially create the feelings that individuals seek, such as euphoria, increased confidence and relaxation. However, the short-term effects of moderate to heavy drinking include fatigue, nausea and headaches.

Individuals who are experiencing some form of loss or struggle in life may take the effects of alcohol further, with signs of increased violence, sadness and hopelessness. Prolonged drinking to escape these negative feelings can cause long-term anxiety, depression, dysphoria and violence.

Individuals who are withdrawing from alcohol will continue to experience forms of mood swings and instability, as well as hostility and fatigue. Those with serious alcohol addiction issues may experience withdrawal symptoms including delusions, poor body control and seizures.

Some alcohol dementias are so severe, that brain damage will be permanent.

The effects of alcohol on mental health can range from mild to severe, depending on the individuals amount of usage and the personal struggles they have endured prior to and during their substance abuse.

Alcohol affects mental health by reversing the ability to control our emotions. This lack of control often leads to more serious mental health issues, only recognizable when symptoms from alcoholism have been withdrawn.

Fentanyl

What You Need to Know About Fentanyl?

As one of the most powerful drugs on the market, fentanyl has certainly made a name for itself. Unfortunately, for many people, that name is a very dangerous, very addictive one. Not everyone understands what they are subjecting themselves to, when they decide to use fentanyl recreationally.

The death toll caused by opioid overdose, and this drug in particular, are a growing problem across Canada. It may be helpful for people to understand just what they’re dealing with, so that they may make more educated decisions when it comes to fentanyl use.

What is fentanyl?

What you need to know about fentanyl, is that it is a synthetic opioid that was initially created to be used as pain medication for very serious surgeries and illnesses. As with many drugs however, fentanyl has made its way onto the streets, and recreational use has become extreme.

This man-made opioid is similar to morphine, but it can be anywhere from 50-100 times more potent. It has a rapid onset, but its effects are short-lasting, which is a characteristic that may attribute to heavier use and higher addiction rates.

In the form of a prescription drug, fentanyl is known as Actiq®, Duragesic® or Sublimaze®, but its street names include China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Goodfella and Tango and Cash.

How is the brain affected?

Similar to other opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin, fentanyl binds to the brain’s opioid receptors that are responsible for pain and emotion. When this binding happens, the individual’s dopamine levels increase feelings of reward, euphoria and relaxation.

Unfortunately, these feelings are fleeting and forged. Individuals who begin to use fentanyl recreationally rely on the drug to make them happy, as opposed to genuinely enjoying real life situations.

What are the side effects?

Some of the common side effects of taking fentanyl include nausea, confusion, constipation and false euphoria. Physical symptoms of taking fentanyl, even just a few times include sunken eyes, labored breathing, pale skin, painful urination, ulcers and unusual bleeding.

Some of the more serious effects that can occur include addiction, respiratory issues, coma and death.

Why is it so dangerous?

What you need to know about fentanyl, is that it is very easy to lose control very quickly. Because this drug is so much more powerful than other opioids, many people tend to overestimate their ability to tolerate it.

Just because someone has tried morphine or heroin before and not become addicted, does not mean that they are immune to the addictive properties of fentanyl.

This drug is aggressively dangerous because its high potency can easily cause overdoses, even without being ingested. For some individuals, having fentanyl touch their skin can be cause for overdose without even ingesting it.

It is also highly dangerous because it can easily be mixed with other drugs, which is a common problem when buying off of the street. The mixture amplifies the drug’s potency and has the ability to cause life-threatening effects.

If you’re not sure what you need to know about fentanyl, the best advice is to avoid it at all costs. Any kind of recreational use of this drug is strongly unadvised, since the potency is so strong and the dangerous effects are so quick to occur.

If you know someone who is using fentanyl recreationally, you might consider approaching them with your concerns and the kinds of dangers associated with this opioid.

Alcohol Affects Spousal Relationships

How Alcohol Affects Spousal Relationships

As one of the most common addictions across the globe, alcoholism effects the lives of many. Unfortunately, it is not just the lives of addicts who are affected. Families, friends and loved ones also suffer when an addict loses control, and the uphill battle to regain what has been lost can take a very long time, if the relationships ever recover at all.

For those closest to alcoholics, including partners and spouses, the challenges of alcoholism are seen every day. Unfortunately, even when an individual agrees to help their struggling partner, it can be hard to maintain the relationship that was once there.

If you’re wondering how alcohol affects spousal relationships, there are a wide range of experiences and emotions that will be affected by alcohol abuse.

Intimacy

One of the first areas that alcoholics struggle with in their close relationships is intimacy. This does not necessarily mean sexual activity, either. Intimacy can be given and felt on all different kinds of levels, and it provides a closeness that humans crave and value.

Components of an intimate relationship that can be harmed in an alcoholic relationship include trust, affection, commitment, respect and shared values.

A partner will likely notice symptoms of alcoholism intensifying when their partner begins to put more value on their drinking habit and less value on their relationship’s needs. They may become less reliable, less interested in their partner and generally a “different person”.

Abuse

Alcohol is a depressant, and it affects the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that helps us to balance our emotions, and when too much alcohol affects the brain, users can become aggressive, angry and violent.

Unfortunately, many partners and spouses will be at the receiving end of this abuse, whether it’s verbal, emotional or physical. It’s common for couples to engage in more arguments, simply because of the lack of trust, disappointment and even financial troubles as a result of the drinking problem.

How alcohol affects spousal relationships differs between every couple, but if there are any signs of domestic abuse it is important to take action. Meny partners stay quiet about abuse because their partner feels badly thereafter; however, it is likely that the abuse will only intensify the longer it is excused.

Sex Drive  

The longer an alcohol addiction lasts, the more disinterested an alcoholic will be with pleasing their spouse and maintaining different aspects of the relationship. Alcohol will quickly become the main priority, and when it does, individuals tend to lose interest in sexual acts.

For men, it is common that they will experience erectile dysfunction as a result of alcoholism, and women can experience decreased libido.

Promiscuity

When a spousal relationship suffers due to alcoholism, it is not uncommon for an alcoholic to search for that intimacy somewhere else. Acts of infidelity may occur while an individual is intoxicated, and some of these acts are done without protection, and sometimes without any recollection that they happened at all.

Although many partners will attempt to support their alcoholic partners, research shows that relationships with one heavy drinker are 50% more likely to end in divorce.

No one can truly understand how alcohol affects spousal relationships, unless they’ve experienced it first-hand. Living with an alcoholic on a day-to-day basis, and witnessing their downfall can be a hard pill to swallow, and many partners blame themselves for what has happened.

It is important that both partners receive treatment for this kind of emotional experience. If you know someone in this position, consider suggesting counseling or rehabilitation, to help them gain an understanding of what is happening and what they can do.

Celebrate Sobriety

Best Ways to Celebrate Sobriety

Celebrate Sobriety

Whether you’ve been fighting an addiction for a few months or many years, after working so hard to become clean, it’s a great idea to celebrate that enormous achievement. It might be your first month sober, or your tenth year being sober, but recognizing these milestones is an important way to remind yourself of just how far you’ve come.

You’ll need to be a little more creative for these types of social events, since most events normally include alcohol and potentially other triggering substances. However, there are all kinds of things you can do with friends and family to celebrate this momentous occasion in a way that works for you.

If you need some ideas, the following are some of the best ways to celebrate sobriety:

Private Get-together

Not everyone wants to share the news of their continued sobriety with everyone in town; however, whether you do or you don’t, whatever you want is fine!

For those who want to celebrate this moment with close friends and family, a private get-together right at home could be the perfect solution. You can be in complete control of an event such as this, deciding on the menu, the alcohol-free beverage list and the guest list.

These events are often ideal for someone who is new to their sobriety, so they can avoid becoming too overwhelmed and triggering a need to celebrate with the wrong substances.

Donating Your Time

After everything you’ve been through and all of the help you’ve received to achieve your sobriety, you may want to celebrate by giving back.

This could mean volunteering for the day, donating to a local charity or reaching out to someone who is struggling with substance abuse. These are surefire ways to keep you busy on this important day, and you’ll feel amazing after making a difference in someone else’s life.

Get Active

Whether you do this with a group or on your own, one of the best ways to celebrate sobriety is by trying a new sport or taking part in some of your favorite activities.

There are all kinds of things that you can spend the day doing, including rock climbing, hiking, bowling or signing up for a 5k or 10k run. Try just one, or make a whole day out of some new activities that are perfect for socializing and celebrating your newfound health.

Go Camping

In the warmer months, camping is the perfect way to get out and enjoy nature. You may find that you’ve been missing out on all of the benefits of being outdoors, and this might give you a chance to reflect on your journey and get back to the basics.

Bring along a small group of friends, and spend the weekend fishing, exploring the park and swimming. If you’d like, consider doing some yoga or meditation during the early mornings or right at sunset; these types of moments will make you glad you have a clear mind and a healthy body.

It’s easy to celebrate an important occasion without being exposed to potential triggers. The best ways to celebrate sobriety include doing things that you love, embracing new experiences and being surrounded by those people who have supported you along your journey.

Be sure to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all of these people as well—not only is it a day to celebrate your success, but to celebrate the amazing people who helped you attain sobriety.

substance-abusing children

4 Things Parents with Substance-Abusing Children Should Know

Substance-Abusing Children

No parents ever want to come to the realization that their child is abusing drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse, however, is an issue that continues to plague Canada, with high accessibility and a wide range of substances just waiting for their next victim.

Every family is different, and every parent and child will be dealing with their own unique set of problems to overcome. No matter how parents handle this kind of situation, it is always tough to see a child struggle with substance abuse.

The following are 4 things parents with substance-abusing children should know, which may help to make the situation more manageable.

Parents Are Not to Blame

It is so easy for parents to blame themselves when they see their child struggling with substance abuse. Meny parents may wonder, ‘Where did I go wrong?’, ‘Did I not love them enough?’, ‘Are they trying to punish me?’

There will be a lot of questions, and many parents will assume that it is their fault that their child has turned to alcohol or drugs. However, what parents with substance-abusing children should know is there are many things that can cause children to turn to substance abuse.

Factors such as peer pressure, boredom and stress are all causes of alcohol and drug use. The best thing parents can do instead of blame themselves, is to be available for their child to talk to. Open lines of communication may help the child feel more capable of confiding in their parents and getting the help they need.

Spousal Relationships are Important

Sometimes parents are so wrapped up in their child’s issues that they forget about one another. For a family with a substance-abusing family member, it is critical to stay strong as a unit and to take care of one another amidst all of the trouble.

Spouses who still put an importance on their relationship are much more likely to stand as a unit during this time, and may be able to help one another to remain positive.

Boundaries are Key

Boundaries are important for parents with substance-abusing children, because they maintain consistency and keep up expectations. Boundaries include the things that you will and won’t do for your children, and they should be written down and shared with your child.

Boundaries might include if you’re willing to lie for your child, how much substance use you’ll accept (if any) and how you expect to be treated by your child.

Boundaries will help you to avoid enabling your child, and will give them a sense of agreed consistency that may help them to feel more relaxed and in-control of themselves.

Self-Care is Critical

One of the most important things parents with substance-abusing children should know, is that a parent’s own self-care and maintenance is critical. Regardless of a child’s situation, parents should always put value on their own personal health, so that they can be at their best for themselves and their family.

Lacking self-care can lead to all kinds of additional issues to deal with including anxiety, depression, reduced immune system, obesity and more. If you are struggling to put some focus on your own health, do not be afraid to ask for help and seek your own necessary treatment.

There is no right way to deal with a child who is abusing drugs or alcohol; each family will apply tactics that work best for them. However, parents should always remember to value themselves and their own personal relationships.

A parent who is aware of their own health and needs is much more capable of being positive and present in their child’s recovery.