Category Archives: Addiction Treatment

Woman asks her therapist how dangerous is alcohol withdrawal

Can You Die From Alcohol Withdrawal?

Making the decision to get help to overcome addiction to alcohol is a positive step. But it is not an easy one to make. And you’re probably wondering what’s in store for you. Before any treatment program can begin, you may first have to undergo detoxification to clear alcohol from your body. Perhaps you think you can detox on your own to save time and money. But this can be dangerous. Just how dangerous is alcohol withdrawal? Can you die from alcohol withdrawal?

The short answer is yes, you can die from alcohol withdrawal. The effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms begin within two hours of cessation of alcohol use. They can also persist for weeks.

Alcohol Detox Can Be Fatal

The worst outcome from alcohol detox done improperly is that you can die from alcohol withdrawal. In order to be safe, professionals need to medically monitor your alcohol detox. They will be there to assist in the event of an emergency and to ensure comfort and ease symptoms during withdrawal.

Why is alcohol withdrawal so dangerous? How can you die from alcohol withdrawal? An alcoholic relies on alcohol both physically and mentally in order to function. This is a compulsion that becomes an alcoholic’s basic need for survival.

Alcohol is physically addicting. This means that when your body doesn’t have what years of alcohol abuse have given it, you get sick. And this can kill you. For example, alcohol withdrawal can lead to heart arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems) and kidney or liver dysfunction. Sometimes, this can prove to be fatal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

If you try to detox on your own, without medical supervision and assistance, it can be very unsafe. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include both physical and psychological symptoms. The following symptoms are common for those suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome:

Physical Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Excessive vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Tactile, auditory, and visual hallucinations
  • Hand tremors (also called “the shakes”)
  • Repeated seizures, called delirium tremens, or DTs, which can kill you in alcohol withdrawal

Risk factors for delirium tremens increase with multiple alcohol detox attempts. These risk factors include a history of seizures, older age, liver abnormalities and functioning, and acute medical illness.

Symptoms of delirium tremens usually peak at five days and include:

  • Severe tremors
  • Racing heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever of a low grade
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

Psychological Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Intense cravings
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Disorientation

Post-Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

If you have an alcohol addiction, you may experience chronic alcohol withdrawal symptoms after the initial symptoms have subsided. This is known as post-acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). These withdrawal symptoms can last a few weeks to a year. Symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Being more accident prone

Recovering From Alcohol Withdrawal the Safe Way

The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to get clean and sober. This requires eliminating alcohol from your body during detox and overcoming alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But getting sober doesn’t have to be done alone. There are inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment facilities that can direct you to effective medically monitored detox programs.

Getting rid of the alcohol in your system is the first step in your overall goal to live clean and sober. You also need to learn coping skills, understand the disease of addiction and start incorporating healthier habits into your life. Participating in 12-step support groups or other self-help groups will also help you maintain your commitment to living in sobriety. The encouragement and support you receive in alcohol rehab and support groups is invaluable in your journey to live free of substance abuse.

Bipolar Symptoms in Women

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder affecting both women and men. It is characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania. However, bipolar disorder in women often looks different than in men—both in terms of symptoms and when it often shows up. For example, women are particularly vulnerable to bipolar episodes certain times of the month and after giving birth.

Likewise, there are different forms of bipolar disorder, and some forms show up in women more than men. Bipolar I disorder is roughly equally present in men as women. However, multiple studies show that women are more likely to develop bipolar II disorder.

Differences in bipolar symptoms in women and men call for modified approaches. It’s also important to be aware of these differences so that you can notice the signs of bipolar disorder in yourself or in a loved one. If you have only ever seen the disorder in a man, you might not recognize it in a woman.

But first, let’s take a look at the different types of bipolar disorder.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I disorder: In bipolar I disorder, you experience one or more manic episodes or mixed episodes (symptoms of both mania and depression). One episode lasts at least seven days. Typically, you will also experience periods of depression with symptoms lasting at least two weeks. It is common for episodes to be so severe that a mental health professional will recommend inpatient bipolar treatment. That may mean you stay in a hospital for a time, allowing you to receive round-the-clock care.

Bipolar II disorder: This is characterized by a pattern of one or more major depressive episodes and at least one hypomanic episode. A hypomanic episode is less severe than full-blown mania. Mental health professionals sometimes misdiagnose this condition as major depression. This is especially a risk if they do not witness a hypomanic episode and you do not report hypomanic symptoms.

Cyclothymic disorder: This is a milder type of bipolar disorder, defined by chronic periods of hypomanic or depressive symptoms. If you’re an adult, then the episodes generally last least two years. For children and adolescents, however, they will last for one year. The severity of cyclothymic disorder may change over time.

Bipolar Signs & Symptoms in Women

Therapist explaining bipolar symptoms in womenAs a woman, you may experience bipolar disorder differently from men in a number of ways. In general, women experience:

  • Later onset than men. This means that you are more likely to develop bipolar disorder at a later age than men.
  • Higher incidence of depressive episodes.
  • Higher likelihood of experiencing simultaneous symptoms of mania and depression (mixed episodes or mixed mania).
  • Greater comorbidity of physical conditions. This means you are more likely to experience a health condition alongside your bipolar disorder. For instance, as a woman with bipolar disorder, you are more likely to also suffer from thyroid disease.
  • Greater comorbidity of other mental illnesses, including eating disorders and anxiety.
  • More likely to experience rapid cycling. This is characterized by four or more episodes of depression or mania in a year. In fact, you could experience such fast mood swings between mania and depression that you sometimes experience both states in a single day. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder also appears to be more resistant to treatment.
  • More likely to seek help for treatment of bipolar disorder.
  • More likely to receive an incorrect diagnosis of depression.

Bipolar Signs & Symptoms in Men

In contrast, men with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience:

  • Earlier onset than women
  • More severe symptoms than women
  • Higher incidence of manic episodes and mixed episodes
  • More prone to aggressive behavior during manic episodes
  • More common comorbid alcohol and drug abuse
  • Less likely to seek support

Suicide Risk in Women with Bipolar Disorder

In a study published in PLOS One, researchers found differences in suicide risk in men and women with bipolar disorder. For instance, a strong predictor of suicide risk in men was substance abuse. The predictors of suicide risk in women, in contrast, were different. They included:

  • Having many mixed episodes
  • Bipolar symptoms starting earlier in life
  • Having a co-occurring personality disorder, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Problems in one’s social life

Women with bipolar disorder attempt suicide more often than their male counterparts. They also attempt to take their own lives two to three times more often than men in the general population.

Post-Partum Bipolar Disorder

Childbirth can trigger bipolar symptoms in women. When this occurs, it is known as postpartum bipolar disorder. For example, a study published in the journal JAMA found that childbirth increased the risk of a severe bipolar episode. Researchers from the same study noted that fathers did not experience the same risk.

Experts aren’t exactly sure why pregnancy increases the risk of postpartum episodes in women. Possible causes may include hormonal changes, problems with sleep and other life changes that happen as a result of pregnancy. At an intuitive level, there’s no question that there’s hardly a more demanding life change in a woman’s life than becoming a mother.

As a new mother, you might wonder what’s going on with your thoughts. What’s normal to new motherhood? And what is a sign of a postpartum mental health disorder? Moreover, most of the advocacy and awareness efforts have focused on postpartum depression or, to a lesser degree, postpartum anxiety. Postpartum bipolar disorder might not be on your radar.

Symptoms of Postpartum

Postpartum depression and bipolar disorder can look very similar. During a depressive episode of bipolar disorder, you may wonder if you’re experiencing postpartum depression. But postpartum bipolar disorder is different from other postpartum disorders, such as postpartum depression or anxiety. With postpartum bipolar disorder, a new mother will experience extreme up-swings. This mania or hypomania, as discussed earlier, includes symptoms not present in depression, such as:

  • Euphoria
  • Grandiose self-image
  • High irritability
  • Agitation
  • Decreased need to sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Impulsive and destructive behavior

Postpartum bipolar disorder is also distinct from postpartum anxiety. The latter is an anxiety disorder, which means fear, panic and anxiety are the center of the problem. If you have postpartum bipolar disorder, you may not experience the following symptoms of postpartum anxiety:

  • Constant worrying that your baby is in danger
  • Imagining your baby coming to harm
  • Concerns about your baby’s safety affecting your daily life
  • Experiencing panic attacks
  • Palpitations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shakiness
  • Feeling faint
  • Muscle tension
  • Excess sweating
  • Needing to go to the toilet more often
  • Avoidance of situations that make you anxious

It’s important to remember that symptoms of postpartum bipolar disorder do not always start straight after birth. Sometimes the symptoms of postpartum bipolar disorder develop in the weeks and months after delivery. This can make a diagnosis for you difficult. You may not immediately make the connection between these later symptoms and your birth.

Treatment for Postpartum

Many women with postpartum mood disorders do not seek treatment. It’s hard to prioritize yourself after having a baby, and it can feel selfish. You may not want others to know that you’re struggling as a new mother, or you may feel guilty for some of the darker feelings you have during depressed episodes. However, having a postpartum mood disorder doesn’t make you a bad mom—even if your mind has started thinking about ways of hurting your child.

If you feel that your moods are alternating between extreme highs and lows after childbirth, get help. If you’re considering hurting yourself or your child, you can’t wait. There’s no shame. Your body, your hormones and your life have all changed drastically. Choosing to get help is what makes you a good mom.

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder (or any other postpartum mental health disorder) may be the first step to taking the best care of both you and your baby.

The Role of the Menstrual Cycle in Bipolar Symptoms

Living with bipolar disorder should be enough, but women with bipolar disorder often face the additional challenge of increased struggles with their moods as part of their premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Researchers believe estrogen plays a role in bipolar disorder in women. This is because the menstrual cycle, which results in a drop in estrogen, often leads to a worsening of bipolar symptoms in the premenstrual period. However, the link between menstruation and bipolar disorder is much weaker than it is for childbirth.

Some scientists speculate that the hormonal changes that take place during menstruation may lessen the effects of lithium. Lithium is a common medication that patients take to reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The drop in estrogen during menopause also means that middle-aged women are more likely to experience depressive episodes as part of bipolar disorder.

Treatment for Women with Bipolar Disorder

Differences in bipolar symptoms between women and men mean that one size doesn’t fit all. Treatment plans will need to match the unique experiences and symptoms of women. For example, close attention needs to be paid to pregnant women. This is due to the fact that some medication for bipolar disorder present risks to the unborn child. Also, if you’re a woman who has recently given birth, especially if you have a history of bipolar disorder, your doctor should monitor your moods carefully.

Most importantly, understand that a mental disorder is a health disorder. Getting help is for mental health is no more shameful than getting help for a physical health disorder. If you are swinging between manic or depressed episodes, get help now. Today, therapy and medication are very successful at treating bipolar disorder.

lady staring out from balcony

Is Luxury Rehab Worth It?

For those seeking addiction rehabilitation in soothing surroundings, luxury rehab Florida facilities are popular choices. The climate, beaches, wealth of tourist attractions, and the laid-back style of living all make Florida a huge draw for men and women who prefer the amenities of luxury-style rehab.

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young African-American couple snuggling and laughing

Top 3 Myths About Love Addiction Treatment

This entry was posted in Addiction Treatment on December 22, 2017 and modified on April 30, 2019

Love addiction is a condition characterized by a desperate need to be in a relationship. Many love addicts go from one relationship to another because they are compelled to experience the euphoria of early love, while others get involved with partners who are abusive or emotionally unavailable.

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Addiction and Stereotypes

Stereotypes Held by Healthcare Providers Affect Substance Abuse Treatment for Hispanics

This entry was posted in Addiction Treatment on September 26, 2016 and modified on April 30, 2019

People of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds are impacted by substance abuse and addiction. Not nearly enough people are treated or treated effectively for these issues, but the Hispanic population in the U.S. is particularly vulnerable to lack of care. Researchers have tried to investigate the discrepancy between this population and others when it comes to addiction care and have determined that healthcare providers often believe in certain cultural stereotypes that prevent Hispanics from seeking help. Continue reading

Doctor and a Patient at a Rehab Center

Hispanics Less Likely to Finish Addiction Treatment Programs

Among ethnic groups in America, there are many variables when it comes to addiction and substance abuse. Hispanics tend to have less access to treatment than white Americans. And to add to that is the fact that Hispanics are also less likely to complete a treatment program once they have entered it. Factors may include a lack of access to quality care, lack of cultural and bilingual understanding and lack of engagement, among others. It is up to professionals in the addiction community to correct this issue and make care more accessible and effective for all patients.
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Doctors Researching Addiction Treatment

Unique Psychological Issues, Need for Child Care Complicate Addiction Treatment for Women

In medical studies, women have traditionally been left out. It is only in recent decades that researchers have recognized that women react differently to medications and treatments, that they have different life circumstances and different needs that affect outcomes. Recent studies are looking at how women respond to addiction treatment and how their unique needs must be discovered and acknowledged.
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Do You Need a Female-Only Rehab?

Do You Need a Female-Only Rehab?Men and women are affected differently by substance abuse, behave differently as addicts and respond differently to treatment. All this means that when choosing a rehab facility, your gender is an important consideration. Most treatment programs are coed, but female-only facilities are available. There are many reasons you might choose one of these for your addiction treatment, but ultimately only you can decide which option is best for your needs. Here are some important reasons a program focused only on women is worth considering.

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