Marijuana Addiction

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Marijuana Addiction

5 November, 2019Articles, News

South Africa recently made the monumental decision that the prosecution of marijuana use is now unconstitutional. This has resulted in much hot debate. Marijuana can now be legally used by adults within private dwellings. The finer details of the law are still up for debate and discussion. It remains to be seen who can legally buy marijuana, how much a person can have in their possession and who may legally sell it along with a host of other concerns.

Though marijuana may not cause the same physical dependency as other drugs, it is psychologically addictive. This means that people rely on it for emotional and psychological stability. In an article by the Los Angeles Times it was stated that around 9% of people who use marijuana become addicted to it.  Addiction is not a matter of withdrawal driving a person to use. This is obvious, otherwise people would not return to their drug of choice once these symptoms have subsided. People use drugs for a variety of reasons, mainly because they do not know how to cope with their everyday challenges without them. Marijuana is no different to any other drug in this regard. It can, and is, used so that people can separate themselves from their reality.

For an alcoholic, consuming alcohol almost always begins within the context of social events. And at first, an alcoholic may very well seem like a normal drinker. However, the disease of alcoholism is progressive, which means that an alcoholic may go from drinking only at social occasions, to drinking in the week, to drinking while on the job, for example. At the stage of alcohol dependency, the alcoholic will appear to need alcohol in order to function, and that can entail drinking in isolation from others. Drinking then becomes a way to relieve an acute craving rather than something that is done socially.

According to the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) October 2018 report marijuana is still the most common illicit drug used, especially among youth attending specialist treatment centres. Across sites between 30% (Western Cape) and 55% (Gauteng) of patients attending specialist treatment centres had marijuana as their primary or secondary drug of use. Between 1%, (Mpumalanga and Limpopo) and 24% (Western Cape) of patients had cannabis/mandrax as their primary or secondary drug of use.

It should also be noted that marijuana as we know it today is completely different from what the plant originally was. There are two main ingredients in marijuana THC and CBD. THC is the chemical compound in marijuana that gets you high, CBD acts as a natural anti-psychotic and for a long time the two would balance each other out. Through breeding methods most marijuana has a much higher THC content than it had even a few years ago. This is a result of the demand for stronger and better drugs. It has also been speculated that the increase in THC and subsequent lowering of CBD levels affects the demand for rehabilitation for marijuana use.

Short-term Effects :

The short-term effects of marijuana occur because THC rapidly moves from the lungs into the blood. This chemical acts on cannabinoid receptors, leading to a “high” for users. These receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence concentration, thinking, sensory and time perception, pleasure, memory and coordination. The effects may include :

  • Severe anxiety, including fear that one is being watched or followed (paranoia)
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Strange behaviour, seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren’t there, not being able to tell imagination from reality (psychosis)
  • Loss of a sense of personal identity
  • Lowered reaction time
  • Increased heart rate (risk of heart attack)
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Problems with coordination (impairing safe driving)

Long-Term Effects :

The long-term effects of marijuana can lead to an adverse effect on memory and learning. Those who smoke marijuana consistently when young may experience  cognitive impairment  as adults even when no longer using the drug. The long-term effects of marijuana can be unpredictable and can also lead to a number of other unwanted effects, such as  respiratory issues, difficulties learning and issues with problem-solving.  Additionally, marijuana use has been associated with certain mental health issues such as  depression and anxiety  and may even  worsen symptoms in those with schizophrenia. Long terms effects may include :

  • Poor school performance
  • Impaired thinking and ability to learn and perform complex tasks
  • Lower life satisfaction
  • Addiction (about 9% of adults and 17% of people who started smoking as teens)
  • Relationship problems, intimate partner violence
  • Antisocial behaviour

Studies have shown that marijuana withdrawal symptoms can appear less than 1 day after the last use, reaching peak intensity between days 2 and 4, and can generally last for 7 to 10 days. Even after withdrawal symptoms have disappeared, it is important to seek treatment to address the underlying causes of the addiction.

What are synthetic cannabinoids?

A synthetic cannabinoid is a chemical compound that activates the same neuroreceptor in the brain as organic cannabinoids, such as THC that is found in marijuana. They are not the same chemical. They simply have a similar effect on the same part of the brain. The chemical compound is added to plant matter that makes it easy to smoke. Despite some misconceptions these substances contain no actual cannabis. It can also be consumed as a tea or in some cases the drug is produced as a liquid that can be used in vapes or e-cigarettes.

Synthetic cannabinoids were first produced in a lab by chemist John Huffman as part of his research into marijuana. This research was leaked and black-market producers quickly realized that since these substances contained no actual banned chemicals, they could easily be sold and marketed to vulnerable persons as an alternative to illegal drugs such as marijuana and other party drugs.

Synthetic cannabinoids are sold under a range of names, the common ones being: Herbal Blend, Blazing, Puff, Spice, Incense, Fake Weed, K2. It comes in small foil packets and will look like a legitimate mass-produced product. The contents resemble dried marijuana, but also Robertson’s Mixed Herbs. Many manufactures will not put any identifying information on the packaging but it will often come with warnings such as: “Harmful if swallowed”, “May cause respiratory irritation”, or even “Not for human consumption”.

For the moment, all synthetic cannabinoids are not under any type of legal restriction in South Africa. These products can be bought, sold and consumed without any fear of legal repercussions. The drug has however been criminalized in many parts of the world due to its dangerous and addictive nature. In most cases the passing of this drugs classification and the subsequent criminalizing, has been as a response to an epidemic like surge in use. The UK passed their Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016 as a response to the ‘Spice Crisis’. When considering legality, it is always important to remember that just because something is legal does not mean it is safe.

Effects include:

Because of the ever-changing chemical structure of synthetic marijuana, side effects are difficult to pin down. Problems may vary from batch to batch. What we do know for sure is that synthetic cannabinoids are highly addictive, have a high propensity for abuse and do cause withdrawal symptoms after sustained use.
The following is a list of documented side effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Tremor
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Confusion and Paranoia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart Attack
  • Renal Failure
  • Seizures
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Bleeding from the eyes, nose and ears
  • Psychotic and Violent Behaviour
  • Psychosis (lasting anywhere between a few weeks to a few month)
  • In extreme cases death

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  • On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.
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What are the side effects of alcohol abuse?

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What are the side effects of alcohol abuse?

5 November, 2019Articles, News

According to data published by the World Health Organisation, South African consumers of alcohol are amongst the heaviest drinkers globally. The unfortunate reality is that the side effects of alcohol abuse are not always prevalent enough to detect at an early stage – at least not the physical side effects. But with the right information, you can empower yourself to know what the signs are and get help for yourself or your loved one before the consequences become catastrophic. It’s important to understand that the side effects of alcohol abuse differ from person to person. There are however a few common experiences that serve as warning signs. Here are a few symptoms to look out for:

Emotional Side Effect: Isolation

For an alcoholic, consuming alcohol almost always begins within the context of social events. And at first, an alcoholic may very well seem like a normal drinker. However, the disease of alcoholism is progressive, which means that an alcoholic may go from drinking only at social occasions, to drinking in the week, to drinking while on the job, for example. At the stage of alcohol dependency, the alcoholic will appear to need alcohol in order to function, and that can entail drinking in isolation from others. Drinking then becomes a way to relieve an acute craving rather than something that is done socially.

Mental Side Effect: Memory Loss

It is not uncommon for alcoholics to experience memory loss, either in the severe case of complete blackouts or to a lesser degree in the case of short-term memory loss that occurs over time. This is because alcohol affects the brain in a profound way. While the medical community is divided as to what the long term effects of alcohol abuse are on the brain, what is clear is that heavy drinking can have far-reaching effects on memory retention. Drinkers who experience blackouts typically drink too much, too quickly, which causes their blood alcohol levels to rise too quickly.  

Physical Side Effect: Withdrawals

Alcoholics crave alcohol on both a physical and mental level. In the advanced stages of alcoholism, drinkers may experience “the shakes,” which are uncontrollable tremors that occur in one or multiple areas of the body. These shakes are characteristic of alcohol withdrawal and may be so severe that an alcoholic may be prohibited from performing everyday tasks without needing to first alleviate their craving by consuming more alcohol. For this reason, treatment for alcohol addiction usually begins with a thorough detox process. 

Spiritual Side Effect: The Search for an External Solution

Many alcoholics, like addicts share the common experience of not being able to deal effectively with uncomfortable emotions like hurt, disappointment or anger. As a result, many substance abusers, whether knowingly or unknowingly, go in search of an external solution to an internal problem. For this reason, Alcoholics Anonymous focuses on providing a spiritual or internal solution in the form of a 12-step programme that essentially, becomes a new way of life for alcoholics after treatment.

If you or a loved one is in search of help for alcoholism, know that help is readily available. Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll support you in your journey.  


Sources:

BusinessTech

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol.org

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  • The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.
    Oliver VG
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  • On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.
    Johan B
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  • I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!
    Carla S
    Read more
  • "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."
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Normal Eater, Emotional Eater, Food Addict

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Normal Eater, Emotional Eater, Food Addict

5 November, 2019Articles, News
NORMAL EATER, EMOTIONAL EATER, FOOD ADDICT
NORMAL EATER
(problems of obesity)
EMOTIONAL EATER
(eating disorders)
FOOD ADDICT (chemical dependency)
The Problem is Physical:
  • Excess Weight

The Problem is Physical and  Emotional:
  • Binge eating, restricting, and/or purging over feelings

  • Unresolved trauma

  • And possible weight issues (either over-or- underweight)
The Problem is Physical and Emotional and Spiritual:
  • Abnormal response to specific foods

  • Physical cravin (false starving)

  • Mental obsession (false thinking)

  • Self-will run riot (false self)

  • And often trauma and weight issues

The Solution is Physical:
  • Medically approved diet

  • Moderate exercise

  • Support for eating, exercise and lifestyle change
The Solution is Emotional:
  • Develop skills to cope with feelings other than with restricting, purging or bingeing

  • Resolve past emotional trauma and irrational thinking (healing trauma) . . . and Physical

  • Include solutions to the left
The Solution is Spiritual:
  • Abstinence from binge foods and abusive eating behaviours

  • Rigorous honesty about all thoughts and feelings

  • A disciplined spiritual program, e.g. the 12 Steps . . . and Emotional and Physical

  • Include all those applicable to the left
Using What Process?
  • Willpower
Using What Process?
  • Moderation (along with expressing feelings)
Using What Process?
  • Surrender, i.e., deep acceptance
© Copyright 1997 by Philip R. Werdell & Mary Foushi. Edited by A E Heald 2009

NORMAL EATERS may have problems with weight (even obesity) if they do not eat the appropriate number of calories (and exercise moderately) to maintain an ideal, healthy weight. The problem for normal eaters is primarily physical: If they choose to eat a balanced diet, exercise moderately, and get support for lifestyle changes, they can lose unwanted weight (or gain weight) and keep their weight in a normal range. Basically, willpower works; just put down the fork and push away from the table.

EMOTIONAL EATERS often have similar problems with weight but find themselves powerless to follow directions to lose (or gain) weight and restore their health even when they want to. For those with diagnosable eating disorders – i.e., anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder – the underlying problem is mental-emotional: It’s not what you are eating but rather what is eating you. Problem eaters use food to numb or medicate their feelings. What works for problem eaters are a moderate food and exercise plan, as well as developing skills to cope with feelings.

FOOD ADDICTS become chemically dependent on specific foods or on food in general. The way their body processes food is bio-chemically different that that of normal eaters and emotional eaters. Many food addicts are predisposed to becoming addicted to food – especially to sugar, flour, wheat, fat, salt, caffeine, and/or excess volume to any food – just as alcoholics are predisposed to being chemically dependent on alcohol and drug addicts to heroine, cocaine or prescription drugs. As the disease of addiction progresses, food addicts become powerless over physical craving and develop distortions and obsessions of the mind that keep them in denial.

SO, WHAT WORKS FOR FOOD ADDICTS?

Diets alone don’t work. Simple therapy alone does not work. What works for food addicts is surrender. Surrendering, through physical abstinence, the foods to which they are chemically dependent. Surrendering to rigorous honesty with all their thoughts and feelings about food. Surrendering to whatever structure and support is needed. Ultimately, surrendering to the process of a spiritual experience, i.e., the type of psychic change that has given relief and healing to thousands of chemically dependent individuals.

Most food addicts have weight problems – the majority are obese, though some are a normal weight or may even be dangerously underweight. Many also have unresolved emotional trauma similar to those who are diagnosed with eating disorders, e.g. anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder. In short, most food addicts have problems similar to those of normal eaters and problem eaters, but for food addicts, their addiction to food must be the primary focus.

If food addicts just diet, they may lose some weight but inevitably will gain it back. If food addicts do not commit to being rigorously honest preferably with another food addict or with a healthcare professional that understands food addiction – they may make some gains in therapy, but will eventually relapse into the food; this will make them even more anxious or depressed. To be successful in healing from food addiction, one needs to first accept that they are food addicted and then, once again, deal with this first.

Most successful, long-term recovering food addicts approach their physical abstinence and deeper internal healing as a spiritual discipline. One simple approach to this concept is to study and practice the Twelve Steps. While this clearly is not the only way – as there are an endless number of spiritual paths that will work – the Twelve Steps are a spiritual practice specifically designed for those who suffer from addiction.

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  • The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.
    Oliver VG
    Read more
  • On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.
    Johan B
    Read more
  • I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!
    Carla S
    Read more
  • "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."
    Angelique J
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What is a Drug Rehabilitation Centre?

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Home / News / Archive by category "Articles"

What is a Drug Rehabilitation Centre?

5 November, 2019Articles, News

The question of what a drug rehabilitation centre is and what role it plays in treating addiction, seems to be surrounded by misconceptions. In the media, drug rehabilitation centres are not always accurately portrayed. And often, the media is the public’s only frame of reference for how treatment in a rehab works and how it fits into the bigger picture of recovery from addiction. We’ve put together some important points that will shed light on what a drug rehabilitation centre is and how it can help recovering addicts.

It is a Place of Hope

If you’re considering getting help at a drug rehabilitation centre or pointing someone in the right direction, do not let fear hold you back from making a decision. Drug rehabilitation centres are one of the only places where addicts are not judged as being morally bereft people who deserve to be treated as less than human. To the contrary, drug rehabilitation centres are places of hope, where addicts are understood rather than judged. What addicts are shown, is that they are not inherently bad people but that they have a disease. And while it is not their fault that they have the disease of addiction, it is their responsibility to learn how to arrest and manage their recovery, once they have been empowered with the right knowledge. In that sense, drug rehabilitation centres are often the first encounter that addicts have with non-judgemental professionals who understand the pain and trauma of addiction, and who have compassion for addicts.

It is a Hub of Knowledge and Experience

While it is not always the case, there are many instances in which counsellors who work at a drug rehabilitation centre, are recovering addicts themselves. The effectiveness of one addict helping another is often life-changing. Counsellors who have been through the difficulties of early recovery and who have learnt how to rebuild their lives and develop thriving relationships, are often the biggest source of inspiration to an addict who is new to the recovery process. Counsellors at a drug rehabilitation centre are wellsprings of knowledge and experience. They are trained to guide the recovering addict towards dealing with some of their core issues and provide a way forward that is practical and grounded in real-life, first-hand experience.

It is Part of a Lifelong Process

One of the biggest misconceptions about drug rehabilitation centres, is that they are where addicts go to “get cured.” What we know about addiction, is that it is not a disease that can be cured, but it can be arrested and managed. Therefore, going to rehab is part of a lifelong process. Learning that there is no easy way out and that recovery involves some pivotal, life-changing decisions, can be daunting. But recovery addicts are encouraged to literally live life one day at a time – sometimes even an hour at a time. There are a number of ways that addicts learn to cope with their emotions and build new networks of support after treatment. One of those ways is to join a 12-step fellowship like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. Also, many addicts decide to stay in contact with their counsellors and to have regular sessions on a private basis after treatment. What is important, is that recovering addicts are eased into the process. As many have said, it is not an easy process, but it is definitely worthwhile.

If you or a loved one needs advice on how to find recovery, know that help is readily available. Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll support you in your journey.

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Stories of Recovery

  • The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.
    Oliver VG
    Read more
  • On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.
    Johan B
    Read more
  • I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!
    Carla S
    Read more
  • "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."
    Angelique J
    Read more
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