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Archive for the ‘Retreat Center’ Category

Drug and Alcohol Detox and Addiction Counselling

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Narcotic drugs and alcohol are very physically addictive substances accounting for the rise in drug and alcohol addiction rates yearly. Once the body is dependent on the substance for normality, the absence of the substance will cause great pain and discomfort to be inflicted on the individual, known as withdrawal.


Drug and alcohol addiction counselling and detox are highly controversial topics and met with many mixed beliefs and schools of thought, especially when physical and non-physical drug addiction is concerned. Unlike previously when addiction was considered a moral failing, professionals have now been opting towards a more successful approach of addiction treatment. Many experts and professionals have come to view addiction as a disease which is progressive and fatal if not treated. The disease can however be arrested through ceasing all addictive behaviour accompanied by counselling and a daily programme of recovery.

Physical addiction and the need for detox

Opiates such as heroin and codeine, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Rohypnol, some amphetamines such as methamphetamines (eg Tik) and ethyl-alcohol (the type of alcohol found in regular alcoholic drinks such as whisky and beer), are substances which the human body becomes dependant on when exposed to their effects over a certain period of time. Quaaludes, anabolic steroids, beta blockers, caffeine and nicotine also cause dependence.

Physical dependency can only be overcome through the addicted individual abstaining from use of the addictive substances. This will cause the body to go into a state of withdrawal, as it is dependent on the substance for functioning.

Treatment centres, rehabilitation centres and hospitals usually offer detoxification programmes for drug and alcohol addiction. Detoxification can be extremely harmful, even fatal. The process is nick-named “detox” and is carefully monitored by professionals.

In many instances, the patient is given medication to ease their discomfort during the detox. This discomfort usually results in the use of drugs to rid themselves of the symptoms. It has been found that regulated and decreasing doses of a pharmaceutical replacement with similar actions as an addictive drug is useful in allowing addicts to be “weaned off” the substance without unbearable discomfort.


When an addict or alcoholic is willing to enter a treatment programme to treat their addiction, many rehab centres require that patients are “clean” of all drugs and substances. The patient will need generally to pass a drug or alcohol test indicating that their systems are free of substances. If a client enters a treatment programme whilst still under the influence of a narcotic or alcohol, it may affect the safety of the other clients and the individual themselves.

The process of a drug and alcohol detox differs for each treatment centre offering the service. Some rehabs do not offer detoxes and require the client to attend a detox in a hospital or separate clinic as the rehab may not have the correct facilities to offer detoxification. The process is an extremely difficult ordeal for the addict to experience and must be handled with a great deal of professionalism. Alcoholic detoxes can cause delirium tremors, inducing hallucinations and violent behaviour. Only qualified, experienced and able professionals should administer a detox to a withdrawing addict or alcoholic.


A detox programme can take a week or more to complete, although secondary withdrawals will follow after this; they are less severe than initial withdrawals, not requiring medication or facilitation. Once a detox has been completed, the client is advised to enter an addiction treatment programme at a rehab.

Drug and alcohol addiction counselling is an effective method of treating any form of addiction, helping the client to become a normal and functioning member of society. Group therapy and individual therapy is widely considered the most effective method of drug and alcohol addiction treatment, coupled with a healthy lifestyle and the adoption of a Twelve Step Programme as a way of maintaining abstinence and sobriety.

Counselling and a Twelve Step Programme help to enable the patient to cope with behaviours, past grievances, emotions and dynamics in their lives and to piece together a practical and realistic approach to life. Whilst the patient needs to stop using drugs and alcohol, counselling will help improve their lives much further. Abstinence plus change is the main aim of a recovering addict.

The life of a drug addict and alcoholic needn’t be bad or hindered. Addicts have the potential to be very successful and productive people if they are able to stop their drug and alcohol use. Whilst this may require a detox, if followed with proper counselling and therapy plus the endorsement of a healthy lifestyle and application to a Twelve Step Programme, the person suffering from drug or alcohol addiction can arrest their disease and live a normal life again.

Side Effects of Bipolar Medication and How to Treat Them

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Antipsychotic medications were initially developed for the treatment of psychosis, generally found in schizophrenia; however, antipsychotic drugs have been found to be useful in alleviating depression and stabilizing mood even when no psychosis is present. (Read about bipolar with psychosis.)

Antipsychotics alter the dopamine and serotonin (chemical messengers) receptors in the brain. Each antipsychotic medication acts somewhat more or less on these receptors and their effectiveness varies depending on each individual’s brain chemistry.

Typical Antipsychotic Medications
The first antipsychotic developed was chlorpromazine (Thorazine), in the 1950s. This remains one of the few first-generation (aka typical) antipsychotic medications still used today for the treatment of bipolar (mania). Typical antipsychotics are used much less frequently now, but some are still used particularly in emergency settings.

Atypical Antipsychotics for Bipolar Disorder
Antipsychotics had a large part in helping many people leave residential mental health care facilities; however, many people found typical antipsychotic side effects intolerable. In the 1970s, second generation antipsychotics, known as atypical antipsychotics, were developed with fewer motor control side effects.

The following atypical antipsychotics are approved for bipolar disorder treatment:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify) – actually considered a third generation antipsychotic; is thought to have fewer metabolic side effects than other antipsychotics. Approved for bipolar mania, mixed state and maintenance treatment.
  • Asenapine (Saphris) –newly-approved (mid-2009); approved to treat bipolar mania and mixed states.
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa) – approved for people age 13 and over with bipolar disorder type 1. FDA-approved for bipolar mania, mixed state and maintenance treatment.
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel) – the only antipsychotic approved for the treatment of bipolar depression. Also approved to treat bipolar mania.
  • Risperidone (Risperdal) – approved for those age 10 and over with bipolar disorder type 1. FDA-approved for bipolar mania and mixed state treatment.
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon) – approved to treat bipolar manic episodes and mixed episodes.
  • One additional drug, Symbax is approved for the treatment of bipolar depression and is an olanzapine/fluoxetine (Prozac) combination.

    Side Effects of Antipsychotic Medications
    Antipsychotic medication may be used alone (monotherapy) or with other medications, typically lithium or valproate. While antipsychotics have helped many, this class of medication tends to have a more serious side effect profile and some estimate 50% of people stop taking the drugs due to side effects.

    In first generation typical antipsychotics, the primarily concerning side effects surround involuntary muscle movements. This includes side effects like:

    • Tardive dyskinesia – involuntary repetitive muscle movements
    • Dystonia – sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements of abnormal posture
    • Akathisia – inner restlessness and an inability to sit still
    • Muscle rigidity and tremor
    • Seizures

    While atypical antipsychotics were developed to reduce or remove many of these movement disorder side effects, atypical antipsychotics often have side effects like:

    • Diabetes
    • Blood sugar problems
    • Weight gain
    • Heart problems
    • Other metabolic syndrome symptoms
    • Possible reduced life expectancy

    Additionally, all antipsychotics may produce side effects like confusion, dizziness, memory impairment, lethargy, decreased feeling of pleasure, gastrointestinal problems and others specific to the medication.

    Some people find antipsychotic medication side effects intolerable while others use them with very few problems. In all cases, the benefits need to be weighed against the risks and side effects of antipsychotic medications. For some, the benefits outweigh the risks dramatically.

    A reputable mental health professional at Burning Tree Ranch rehabilitation center will be able to identify effective treatment programs to treat individuals and reduce the rate relapse.