This is What Alcohol is Really Doing to Your Body

Drinking alcohol can affect the body in many ways. While we are very familiar with the outward manifestations of alcohol consumption, the short and long-term effects of alcohol use and abuse on the body and brain need to be acknowledged and addressed. Although these effects are not easily visible, the continued use and subsequent abuse of alcohol can have significant health risks over time. It is essential to understand both the short-term as well as the long-term effects of alcohol consumption.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Consumption

When alcohol is consumed, approximately 20 percent of it is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream while the remainder is processed through the gastrointestinal tract. Once alcohol enters the bloodstream, it can be absorbed and diffused into every major organ because the cell membranes of all the major organs are highly sensitive to alcohol. The effects of alcohol depend on a person’s weight, age, and gender. Additionally, a person’s body composition, overall health, and history of drinking also play crucial roles in regards to alcohol’s overall effects on the body.

When people begin consuming alcohol, they may initially feel increased relaxation, self-confidence, happiness, and social, but these can progress into more negative behaviors. Alcohol consumption leads to slower reflexes, reduced coordination, impaired thinking, poor judgment, depression, impaired memory, and a decreased ability to control motor functions. Additionally, alcohol use has been linked to violent behavior and an increase in risk-taking like unprotected sex among young adults.

What Are the Increased Risk Factors?

Alcohol also increases the risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 25 percent of American women experience some form of sexual assault, including forced touching, kissing, and rape. Half of those cases involve alcohol. There are a number of possible factors that contribute to alcohol-involved sexual assault. Alcohol lowers inhibitions in individuals that may be considering sexual advances and may hinder the motor skills and cognitive ability of potential victims. This creates an environment increases your likelihood of experiencing unwanted sexual advances and assault.

Alcohol’s tendency to inhibit safe decision-making and motor skills also increases your risk of motor vehicle accidents, suicide, injury, domestic violence, and drowning. Alcoholism is often used to self-medicate for depression and other mental issues. However, since alcohol is a depressant, it may exacerbate poor moods and mental illness caused by chemical imbalance. Studies show that alcohol is a factor in a significant number of suicides and is affected by age, race, and the suicide method.

Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol use can also cause alcohol dependency, which leads to compulsive use, better known as alcoholism. Since alcohol can cause significant health issues over time, it is important to understand those complications.

Alcohol can cause both physical and psychological dependence. As of 2013, it has been classified as the disease known as alcohol use disorder by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Your body will build up a tolerance to ethanol (the chemical name for drinking alcohol) and you will need more to achieve the same effects.

Can Alcoholism Cause Cancer?

When alcohol is continuously consumed over a long period of time it begins to affect the body in several ways. One of the negative effects of chronic alcohol abuse is a cancer risk. Alcohol is a known carcinogen, especially when consumed in excess over a long period of time.

Studies show that alcohol is a clear cause for site-specific cancers like in the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, colorectal, liver, larynx, and female breast. However, there is some controversy as to whether cancer is caused in other organs. A 2014 study, reviewed alcohol’s effect on 23 different cancer types and confirmed the positive correlation between alcohol use and site-specific cancer.

It also found mounting evidence that alcohol causes other types of cancer like prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma. Long-term and excessive consumption of alcohol increases your risk for these cancers but “occasional drinkers” had a much lower risk factor.

Alcoholism and Heart Disease

Heavy drinking can also have significant effects on the heart. Though some have purported that moderate alcohol use is actually good for your heart health, there are many assumptions that have to be made to support that theory and it might not be true at all. What we do know is that excessive alcohol use can lead to heart disease.

Some conditions that can be brought on by alcohol abuse include cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to expand and droop. Another potentially serious heart condition is myocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart muscle. Other complications can include irregular heartbeat, increased cholesterol and greater risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Other Health Complications Caused by Alcoholism

Excessive drinking can cause fatty deposits to build in the liver, which can lead to hepatitis, a condition that can cause the liver to not absorb nutrients. Cirrhosis of the liver can also take place with excessive alcohol use. Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver and with the excess of scar tissue can bring forth complications such as jaundice, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

Additionally, excessive drinking can accelerate the rate of bone deterioration and increase the risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis. Calcium is necessary for strong, dense bones and when alcohol is consumed, it acts as a diuretic and flushes calcium from the bones making them weaker and more susceptible to fracture. When alcohol is consumed excessively, it can also cause cell damage in the central nervous system creating a condition known as neuropathy. Neuropathy causes alternating feelings of weakness, burning, pain, and numbness in the feet and hands.

Seeking Help for Alcoholism

Knowing the dangers of both the short and long-term effects of alcohol is an important tool in the journey of recovery. Being aware of complications brought on by excessive use physically, emotionally and psychologically can act as a great motivator to pursue the path of recovery. If you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, find out what the treatment options for alcohol abuse are at the Palm Beach Institute, Call the addiction specialists at 855-534-3574 at any time to get the answers you need to start your journey toward recovery.

6 Signs of a Heroin Relapse

Spotting the signs of a heroin relapse can save someone’s life before they overdose on drugs. The duration of time someone has been in recovery before relapsing can also put them at higher risk for heroin overdose because their levels of tolerance have decreased. Plus, more reports are affirming fentanyl-laced heroin are being sold on the streets unknowingly, meaning people may overdose without realizing they are using stronger opioids.

While some people are quick to judge when someone in recovery relapses and returns to a life of substance abuse, there are many factors that determine why someone has a relapse. From daily stress to trauma to simple availability, people with heroin addiction have to be incredibly strong to remain in recovery and not succumb to temptation.

If you are concerned that a loved one may have relapsed to heroin addiction, here are a few signs to indicate that immediate action needs to be taken:

1. Becoming Withdrawn from Relationships

Addiction makes even the most social individuals withdrawn and distant. Especially when it comes to family members and friends who are concerned about drug use and safety, recovered heroin addicts who have relapsed will quickly become distant. This affords them a buffer between themselves and others, allowing them to recreationally abuse heroin without worrying that their loved ones notice they’re intoxicated.

Keep watch on their social media profiles as well. If they were routinely active and suddenly go into a quiet spell, that’s something to keep watch for. Pay attention to what pages they like, new “friends” they’ve made, and whether they avoid replying back to your messages through these mediums.

2. Financial Problems and Lack of Money

Financing a drug addiction will inevitably drain a person’s bank account, no matter how rich they are. The need for more drugs will exceed the supply of money and may then take more priority than paying bills, buying groceries, supporting families, etc. If you notice a loved one is struggling to pay rent, afford a car payment, gas, insurance, or food despite having a place of employment, it may be something to keep your eyes on.

People struggling with addiction also ask to borrow money, which means your loved one may be asking for your money a little too much. Take note of this and whether they ever pay it back. Also, keep watch of where they go to obtain their income. Some people deep into addiction will resort to gambling, prostitution, or drug dealing themselves to afford their addiction, but they are also liable to get into deeper financial debt, arrested, or in trouble with the wrong people.

3. Track Marks or Small Bruises on Limbs

One of the most apparent signs of heroin use is the appearance of track marks on a person’s arms. Track marks can appear like ink pen marks smudged on the skin or like thumbprint-sized bruises, indicating the site of a heroin injection.

If a heroin user has relapsed, they will have track marks if they are an intravenous user. If they are wearing unseasonable clothing that covers their arms and legs, it’s possible that the individual is trying to hide track marks. Some people may even attempt to use skin foundation or concealer makeup to cover their track marks.

4. Unexplained Drowsiness and Lethargy

Another very common symptom of a heroin relapse is pronounced drowsiness. Opioids act on the body as depressants, making individuals incredibly drowsy and lethargic. By appearances, heroin users appear inexplicably tired and will often have difficulty staying awake. It’s not uncommon to see heroin users falling asleep while sitting up or even standing, which is one of the most telltale signs of an opioid problem.

Heroin users also tend to fall into incredibly heavy and deep sleep from which they are very, very difficult to wake. If a recovered heroin addict appears to be so excessively drowsy that they are on the verge of falling asleep while standing or sitting up, it’s very likely that a heroin relapse may have occurred. Seek medical help immediately, especially if a respiratory collapse or depressed heartbeat occurs.

5. Becoming Defensive or Argumentative

When a person is developing a substance abuse problem that they are trying to hide from others, they readily become very defensive and argumentative when they are questioned. Whether it’s about their behavior, appearance, or even just small talk, heroin and drug users quickly become defensive and readily create excuses to justify the observations.

In some instances, defensiveness can become quite aggressive or violent; doors are often slammed, glasses or plates broken, and other messes made. This should be a warning especially if they are not usually physically threatening to others. This behavior is an inverse reaction to the guilt and shame that they feel at the thought of others noticing their unusual behaviors. People in recovery who view their heroin relapse as a sign of “failure” will also go to great lengths to hide their actions.

6. Uninterested in Interests and Hobbies

After becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, a person will soon show decreasing interest in things that he or she used to enjoy. For instance, hobbies frequently fall by the wayside. Extracurricular activities are suddenly much less interesting. The reason for this is that addicts suffer from a persistent and unrelenting concern as they wonder when and how they will obtain their next fix. Their focus may be more on drugs and not necessarily healthy activities without them.

Family members and close friends are more likely to notice when their loved one suddenly stops playing basketball on the weekends or doesn’t pick up the paint brush again because “they don’t have any more ideas.” This can be a sign of mental illness, including substance use disorder. Pay attention to the small details of loved ones and you may be able to realize that heroin relapses can be more obvious than you think.

Need Treatment After a Heroin Relapse? Call the Palm Beach Institute

The Palm Beach Institute encourages anyone battling a heroin or opioid addiction to seek treatment as soon as possible, even if it’s not your first time around the block. Sometimes recovery means going to rehab a few times, but that doesn’t mean it’s a failure on drug treatment.

The Palm Beach Institute recognizes every individual is different, which means every client that walks through our doors will be treated like family and be given extra attention. We want to find out what worked and what doesn’t so that you can start your recovery on the right foot. We’re here to support you as long as you are ready to support yourself.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, feel free to call our 24-hour helpline at (844) 318-0071. One of our call agents will gladly answer any questions you may have about addiction treatment and will guide you through the process of admission. Start your recovery today.

Why Group Therapy is Successful in Treating Drug Addiction

Clients don’t always recognize the benefits of group therapy in addiction treatment and the role it plays. Group therapy plays an inherent role in getting to the core of a person’s addiction and showing them new perspectives so that they can start recovery on a solid foundation.

The Purpose of Group Therapy

In individual counseling sessions, a single client meets with a therapist or counselor in order for the two to gain a better understanding of how the client’s background and cognitions have been influencing their behaviors, particularly the behaviors related to substance abuse.

This counseling is important to receive in an addiction treatment program, but will often entail very personal, private information that most people wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in a group setting. However, there are other types of counseling that are appropriate for a group setting in which several individuals can benefit from the learning of relevant information or useful skills.

Group therapy—which involves a group of patients meeting with one or more therapists—is largely an educational form of counseling. Although group therapy frequently employs some of the same psychotherapeutic modalities as individual counseling, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), the clients are frequently receiving much more information than they are sharing.

Additionally, group therapy has been shown to be beneficial as a social tool. Clients are able to interact with others who may suffer from similar conditions or have had similar experiences, which affords each client in the group a sense of community and belonging. These individuals may then become much more comfortable with sharing things about themselves and their experiences as they tend to feel much more accepted in a group that consists of peers with similar views.

However, one of the most valuable aspects of group therapy is the fact that, while individuals in a group will often have one or more traits that they share or have in common, they will also have very different perspectives or opinions. When an individual in a group session learns about something familiar from a different perspective or point of view, this can be very enlightening because it helps them to consider things in new ways.

How Group Therapy Helps People Overcome Their Addictions

Due to the educational and social aspects of group therapy, it’s a form of counseling that’s very frequently implemented into addiction treatment curricula. In terms of the educational side of group therapy, these sessions may involve a therapist or another type of professional teaching very beneficial skills and strategies to a group of patients in recovery.

For instance, group sessions have proven to be very helpful to individuals with poor anger management or stress management skills. In effect, group therapy arms them with a variety of tools that will allow them to cope with feelings that might otherwise trigger their substance abuse and, therefore, a relapse.

Similarly, addicts often lose much of their social skills while in active addiction, which is another way that group therapy can be very useful in recovery. Due to habitual substance abuse, individuals often lose perception and the ability to make contextual inferences while communicating with others as a side effect of their continuous preoccupation with finding and consuming mind-altering substances.

As such, individuals will often need to relearn essential communication skills while in recovery. Group therapy is an effective medium for learning how to be social and communicate without substance abuse as it puts individuals in a group with people they perceive as being their peers or being similar to them in some other way, making it easy to open up and socialize. In fact, members of substance abuse therapy groups often create lasting friendships with individuals with whom they received group treatments.

Recovery Is a Phone Call Away with the Palm Beach Institute

Group therapy has been used to help countless individuals for a myriad of different afflictions. However, the reason substance abuse treatment is synonymous with group therapy is that it’s an incredibly effective tool for helping individuals in recovery learn communication and relapse-prevention skills that will allow them to sustain their sobriety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with keeping sober, it may be necessary to seek more drug and alcohol treatment. Come to the Palm Beach Institute, where we treat you like family, provide a supportive community, and work hard to teach inherent life skills to practice in recovery. Call our 24-hour helpline at (844) 318-0071 and start living sober today.

Prescription Opioid Treatment: Know the Basics

There are many routes that can be taken during prescription opioid treatment, whether it’s the type of medicine used for treatment or the main behavioral therapies applied to address a client’s core addiction.

To understand the importance of why people with opioid addictions are advised to take longer stays for treatment—between 30 and 90 days—here are the main stages of prescription opioid treatment to know:


Prescription opioid treatment typically begins a period of detox for the client before they are enrolled into either an outpatient or inpatient program. Detox can last from a few days to a week, depending on the severity of the opioid addiction.

During this time, clients may receive maintenance medications to help them go through opioid withdrawal, especially when painful or psychological symptoms begin to occur. Clients will be monitored 24-7 by trained medical staff and behavioral technicians, who will assist clients throughout the detox process.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

During prescription opioid treatment, clients may be approved by their insurance to receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. The following list includes common medications given to recovering opioid addicts to ease painful symptoms and reduce cravings:

Buprenorphine: A partial opioid agonist, this medication only partially activates opioid receptors when binding, which helps reduce cravings. Clients typically react well with this medication and now have the option to continue on a six-month buprenorphine-stabilization plan, approved by the FDA in 2016.

Methadone: Only available in licenses opioid treatment programs, methadone is a synthetic agonist that acts on the same neurological receptors that are triggered by opioids. It has been successful for many clients but may make certain people experience side effects such as sleepiness. As such, methadone maintenance requires monitorization to administer proper dosage amounts.

Naltrexone: Also known by its brand name, Vivitrol, naltrexone is an antagonist medication that prevents opioid receptors from binding with opioids and then being activated. It is typically administered as an injection and is long-acting, which is good for clients who forget to take their medication regularly or who do not necessarily have the means to obtain health treatment for their addiction on a consistent basis.

Naloxone: Though naloxone, or Narcan, is typically not used as a maintenance medication, it is important to mention. Naloxone is an antidote that reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is typically administered in emergency or crisis situations by EMT, police officials, or people carrying the drug. It can be a lifesaver in times of need, and often serves as a second chance for those struggling with opioid addiction to get treatment.

Other non-opioid medications, such as clonidine, can be used to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. By restoring clients back to their normal effective state through medications, they can then have effective psychosocial treatment and begin the process to their mental recovery from addiction.

Yet, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 18 percent of people admitted into prescription opioid treatment receive MAT in their plan, which indicates the need to spread more awareness about prescription opioid treatment.

Behavioral Treatment

Prescription opioid treatment may involve an array of behavioral treatment therapies that address several conflicts a client may be dealing with. Beyond addressing substance use disorder, behavioral therapy may also lead to another psychological disorder assessment, allowing clients to participate in a dual-diagnosis program if necessary.

Some common behavioral therapies used for prescription opioid treatment are:

Contingency Management (CM): The core principles behind CM treatment involves giving clients positive reinforcement through prizes when they exhibit good behaviors, such as abstinence. This can be done through Voucher-Based Reinforcement (VBR) or Prize Incentives CM, which both reward clients after each drug-negative urine sample they provide during treatment. The prizes promote a drug-free lifestyle, such as for movie passes or food vouchers, and motivate clients to stay abstinent.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): The main goal for CBT is to address problematic thoughts and behaviors that lead an addiction to use substances, then substitute these actions with healthier coping mechanism, problem-solving skills, and mindful abstinence. This may involve recognizing the positive and negative effects of continued drug use, identifying triggers and cravings, and developing strategies to cope with these cravings in high-risk situations and how to avoid them altogether.

Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT aims for two goals: change and acceptance. Designed for clients with severe psychological disorders, including substance use disorder and chronic suicidal thoughts, this therapy promotes dialectical abstinence, having a “clear mind,” and building a life worth living.

Trauma Therapy: Taking a trauma-informed approach to prescription opioid treatment can help clients who have resorted to substances as a result of a traumatic event or have endured trauma during their addiction. Trauma therapy aims to realize the impact of trauma on an individual and their social network, recognize symptoms and triggers of trauma, and responds by teaching knowledge on how to resist re-traumatization and begin recovery.

Family Therapy: Addiction is regarded as a “family disease,” which is why some treatment centers like the Palm Beach Institute emphasize having the family present and active during a client’s prescription opioid treatment. Family therapy can address conflicts in familial relationships, establish stronger support networks, rebuild trust, and set a plan for action after treatment.

Need Prescription Opioid Treatment? Come to the Palm Beach Institute

Addiction to prescription opioids can lead to intense, painful withdrawal symptoms for the afflicted person. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction and are considering prescription opioid treatment, come to the Palm Beach Institute.

We treat all of our guests like family and are here to help you start your journey to recovery. Don’t live in pain anymore. Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 534-3574 or contact us online and start living sober today.