what does alcohol do to your liver

The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Liver

Alcohol has toxic effects on your liver that can worsen over time. The effects can even have fatal consequences which are why it’s so important to stop alcohol abuse in its tracks. Regardless of where you’re at, education on the problem is the first step.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol) is the ingredient found in beer, wine, and spirits that causes drunkenness. Alcohol is formed when yeast ferments (breaks down without oxygen) the sugars in different food. For instance, wine is made from the sugar in grapes, beer from the sugar in malted barley, and vodka from the sugar in potatoes, beets or other plants. 

Alcohol is in the ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug class. In other words, it acts to depress the central nervous system at high doses. At lower doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant. This induces temporary feelings of euphoria and talkativeness.

However, drinking too much alcohol at one session can lead to drowsiness, respiratory depression (where breathing becomes slow, shallow or stops entirely), coma or even death. The damage that alcohol does to the liver is another consequence that is crucial to note. Recognizing the dangers now can save you a lot of pain in the future.

What Alcohol Does to the Liver

Before we talk about what alcohol does to the liver, let’s discuss what the liver itself does. The liver breaks down and filters out harmful substances in the blood, and manufactures proteins, enzymes, and hormones that the body uses to ward off infections. The role of your liver is crucial in your body’s internal processes. It also converts vitamins, nutrients, and medicines into substances that benefit our bodies.

The liver is also responsible for cleaning our blood, producing bile for digestion and storing glycogen for energy. The liver processes over 90 percent of consumed alcohol. The rest exits the body via urine, sweat, and breathing. Think about: 90 percent of this toxic substance is being absorbed in your liver. 

Intoxication occurs when the heart and brain begin to become affected by alcohol in the bloodstream. Chronic alcohol abuse causes the destruction of liver cells, which results in scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), alcoholic hepatitis and cellular mutation. 

This may even lead to liver cancer. These conditions usually progress from fatty liver to alcoholic hepatitis to cirrhosis. Although heavy drinkers may develop alcoholic cirrhosis without first developing hepatitis.

How Many Drinks Does it Take to Damage Your Liver?

The University Health Network states that a safe amount of alcohol depends on a person’s body weight, size and whether they are male or female. Women absorb more alcohol from each drink in comparison to males. This makes them at higher risk of liver damage.

Consuming 2 to 3 alcoholic drinks daily can harm one’s liver. Continuing, binge drinking, or drinking 4 or 5 more drinks in a row, can also lead to liver damage.

Mixing alcohol with other medications can also be very dangerous for your liver. We advise you to never take alcohol and medication simultaneously without speaking with your physician first. 

Certain medications, such as acetaminophen, like Tylenol, can lead to severe damage to your liver in conjunction with the consumption of alcohol. Other medications that are dangerous to combine with alcohol include antibiotics, blood thinners, antidepressants, sedatives, pain medications, and muscle relaxants.

Types and Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of what alcohol does to the liver. It is a toxic substance that is very damaging to one’s health. The symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease depend on the stage of the disease. 


There are three stages:

  1. Alcoholic fatty liver disease: This is the first stage of alcohol-related liver disease, where fat starts to accumulate around the liver. It can be cured by not drinking alcohol anymore.
  2. Acute alcoholic hepatitis: Alcohol abuse causes inflammation (swelling) of the liver in this stage. The outcome depends on the severity of the damage. In some cases, treatment can reverse the damage. However, more severe cases of alcoholic hepatitis can lead to liver failure.
  3. Alcoholic cirrhosis: This is the most severe form of alcohol-related liver disease. In this stage, the liver is scarred from alcohol abuse, and the damage cannot be undone. Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure.

Understanding what alcohol does to the liver and the stages of liver disease can help you realize you need to quit drinking. No matter what stage you’re in, there is potential for a better tomorrow. We encourage you to call us today to learn more about how we can help you, depending on what stage you’re in.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease Symptoms

Some people with alcohol-related liver disease don’t have symptoms until the disease is advanced. In other cases, signs are shown earlier. Symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease may show up more often after binge drinking. 

Symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease can include:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Increased thirst
  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Darkening or lightening of the skin
  • Red hands or feet
  • Dark bowel movements
  • Fainting
  • Unusual agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Bleeding gums
  • Enlarged breasts (in men)

Alcohol and Liver Damage: The Statistics

It helps to note that there tens of thousands of Americans affected by liver disease annually, due to alcohol. Many do not realize the severity of alcohol until it is too late. We urge you not to be one of those people.

A few surprising statistics to note include:

  • According to the 2015, National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. 70.1 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month. 
  • An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 
  • Alcohol dependence and/or abuse rates are higher in white males than in women, although women develop ALD more rapidly than men with the same quantity and duration of alcohol consumption. 

Reducing the Risk of Liver Damage

Completely cutting alcohol out can reduce the risk of liver damage. When you take a look at all the negatives of what alcohol does to your liver, you begin to understand how toxic it is. All liver diseases improve from giving up alcohol.

You should also cut out alcohol if you experience significant liver scarring or cirrhosis. Fatty liver can be reversed and further damage prevented by not drinking alcohol. It is important to note that there is no cure for cirrhosis. However, cutting out alcohol completely gives a much better chance of survival. You can live for decades with cirrhosis if you give up alcohol in time.

There are other healthy habits one can implement to reduce the impact of liver disease. These habits include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Getting regular, adequate exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet and avoiding processed food
  • Drinking coffee
  • Getting sunlight – a low Vitamin D level is bad for liver diseases

Treatment for Alcoholism

Fortunately, there are treatment options available if alcohol addiction is negatively impacting your life. It is possible to stop addiction in its tracks before it worsens. Before beginning treatment, you should understand the various services each program offers. We like to focus on treating the person as a whole, not just their alcohol addiction.

Our comprehensive treatment programs employ several or all of these factors:

Alcohol Detox

Detoxification is the first step in treating alcohol addiction. It can also be the most difficult. Within the first few days after you quit drinking, you may experience extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, the alcohol detox stage should only be completed under medical supervision. After detox, you will be able to move forward with other forms of treatment and therapy.

Inpatient Rehab

An inpatient rehab facility is the most structured treatment environment for those overcoming alcohol addiction. Our programs typically last anywhere from 30, 60 or 90 days. Treatment specialists provide around-the-clock care and will prepare you for life after rehab. 

Alcohol Counseling

Frequent meetings with an alcohol counselor are important for patients to receive guidance during their recovery. Counseling opens a line of communication during the good times, as well as the difficult times. Your therapist will help you target the underlying roots behind alcoholism.

Call Us Today

Alcoholism is certainly serious, but it’s also manageable. People with this condition can get the medical and psychological support they need to change their drinking patterns and their lives, and that work can start right now. By reaching out for care, people with alcoholism can get better.

Remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our programs offer structured treatment that can make a tremendous difference in your life. No matter how lost you may feel, you can still get better.

Whether it’s you or a loved one struggling, an IOP can help today. From individual therapy to medical care, treatment will be tailored to your unique needs. Call Granite Mountain today at  (928) 756-0694 or contact us here









fentanyl addiction

Fentanyl Addiction: The Latest Deadly Opiate Addiction in Arizona

Fentanyl drug overdose rates are at an all-time high across the country but more so in Arizona. Arizona is fighting a war on “Mexican Blue Oxy” Oxycodone laced with fentanyl. While the government is looking for ways to stop the flow of the drug into their state, families are seeking ways to help their loved ones before the horrible drug destroys them. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic schedule 2 narcotic analgesic that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors in the brain and increases the production of dopamine, which increases the feelings of happiness, relaxation and decreases the perception of suffering. Fentanyl is prescribed for severe pain, after surgery and for chronic pain patients who are no longer finding relief with other opioids. In 2017, In 2017, Arizona providers wrote 61.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people.

  • Fentanyl is an extremely strong synthetic opioid that is very effective at relieving moderate-to-severe chronic pain.
  • Oral versions of fentanyl contain an amount of the drug that can be fatal to a child.
  • The difference between a therapeutic dose and a deadly dose of fentanyl is minimal.
  • There are many illegal analogs and derivatives of fentanyl that are much stronger than the legal prescription version.
  • Recreational users often use fentanyl as a substitute for heroin.

Fentanyl Addiction: Why is Fentanyl so Addictive?

Many people become addicted to fentanyl very quickly due to its euphoric “high” similar to heroin. Fentanyl enters the bloodstream and immediately crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it quickly binds with opioid receptors. The quicker the binding process, the stronger the feeling of euphoria, which makes fentanyl the most dangerous opioid. Compared to other opioids, it takes a very small amount of fentanyl to produce the same effects, 

Fentanyl affects everyone differently. The effects are dependent on an individual’s size, weight, the overall state of health, the amount that is taken, whether fentanyl is taken in combination with other drugs, and whether the person is used to taking opioids.

  • Fentanyl’s effects include
  • extreme happiness
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • sedation
  • problems breathing
  • unconsciousness

Fentanyl analogs produced in illegal laboratories can be hundreds of times stronger than street heroin and tend to produce significantly more respiratory depression, making them even more dangerous to users than heroin.

Individuals using heroin or cocaine, or in recovery for a drug use disorder may not know that the potency of street-sold heroin and cocaine can be greatly enhanced by adding fentanyl. Because the potency of such drugs is not known, and they are not told about the addition of fentanyl, any illicit drug use – even a reduced dose – can result in an accidental overdose or death. In many cases, drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs, like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because it takes a very small amount to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a less expensive option. 

Fentanyl may be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or injected, and no one method of use is safer than another. 

Fentanyl Addiction: The Signs of an Addict

The abuse of and addiction to fentanyl or a synthetic form of fentanyl may be shown by the following signs and symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Secrecy and deceit
  • Withdrawal from loved ones and friends
  • Little to no participation in significant activities

Physical symptoms:

  • Fatigue and extreme drowsiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Low heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Gastrointestinal distress

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate and focus
  • Impaired decision making

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Severe mood swings


People addicted to fentanyl who stop using it can have extreme withdrawal symptoms that begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken. These symptoms include:

  • muscle and bone pain
  • sleep problems
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • cold flashes 
  • uncontrollable leg movements
  • severe cravings

Fentanyl Addiction: The Numbers In Arizona Are Alarming

Since 2013, opioid-involved deaths rose 76 percent in Arizona, with 928 deaths reported in 2017. That is 13.5 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The greatest increase occurred among deaths involving synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl which increased from 36 deaths in 2012 to 267 deaths in 2017.

Data from one report showed that in 2018, fentanyl was reported in 18 percent of all fatal and non-fatal reported overdoses in Arizona. Since Governor Doug Ducey’s opioid emergency declaration in 2017, fentanyl is the most commonly reported drug involved in fatal overdoses with 301 deaths since June 2017.

The most recent data about overdoses in Arizona shows that:

  • In January 2019, there were 47 reported overdoses involving fentanyl in Arizona. Five of these were fatal.
  • In February 2019, there were 36 reported overdoses involving fentanyl in Arizona. Two of these were fatal.
  • In March 2019, there were 21 reported overdoses involving fentanyl in Arizona, with three fatalities reported.
  • Fentanyl is more commonly reported in overdoses among younger Arizonans. Among teens 15-17, fentanyl was the most commonly reported drug involved in suspected overdoses.

Thirteen out of the total 15 counties in Arizona have recorded fentanyl deaths between mid- 2017 and early 2019. The hardest-hit county, La Paz has recorded 597 deaths in 100,000 people in the same period, while the least affected has 106 deaths in 100,000 people within the same period.

Fentanyl deaths have surpassed those of heroin and have affected all Arizona demographics. Residents say it is the worst kind of drug invasion seen in the last 30 years. For example, according to the DEA in Arizona, in 2017, its agents seized 172 pounds of powdered fentanyl. In 2018, they confiscated a total of 445 pounds, pointing to a 159 percent increase.

In 2017, DEA agents had also confiscated over 95,000 pills of fentanyl-laced pills. This amount increased in 2018 to 379,000, which translates to an almost 300 percent increase. So far, in 2019, 1,138,288 illegally manufactured fentanyl pills have been seized. Such a significant increase in illegally created fentanyl shows that war on fentanyl deaths is far from over

Fentanyl Addiction: What is Arizona doing to combat the Issue

In June 2017, Governor Doug Ducey declared a statewide emergency after data was released on the increased number of opioid overdoses primarily from fentanyl.

On January 25, 2018, Governor Doug Ducey signed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act. The Act includes measures to cut down on doctor shopping by making it mandatory for doctors and pharmacies to keep databases up to date. The state has also started placing safe disposal bins for all opioids and other prescriptions. There is a limit on the first fills of 5 days. Research shows that any more than 5 days of continuous use leads to a higher risk of addiction.

Since June 2017, the Arizona Department of Health has trained over 1200 first responders to carry and administer Naloxone and has provided over 5100 new Nexalone kits to law enforcement agencies.

Other measures call for $10 million to be spent treating opioid abusers who are underinsured and ineligible for Medicaid. The Good Samaritan Law protects anyone who is overdosing and anyone who witnesses an overdose from prosecution for seeking help. The governor has also implemented the Angel Initiative. It will help individuals struggling with fentanyl addiction, and other opioid addictions seek treatment without prosecution. Meaning that an addict can walk into any police station, turn in their drugs, and ask for help without the fear of going to jail. It also helps parents who seek treatment place their children into care without the children going into foster care. 

Ducey called the package a comprehensive model for other states looking to address what has become a nationwide crisis.

Fentanyl Addiction: Destroying Families in Arizona

As the war on fentanyl and fentanyl addiction continue, the destruction of Arizona families is on the rise. There has been an increase in the number of babies being born with a fentanyl addiction, in 2008 there was 1.8 in 1000 hospital births up in 2019 to over 10 cases in every 1000 hospital births. And babies born with a fentanyl addiction suffer lifelong issues. Opioid use during pregnancy has also been associated with developmental delays and intellectual impairment. But most studies were conducted before the use of synthetic fentanyl, and scientists don’t yet know the long-term implications of these substances on babies but are certain that we will see complications that will have devastating effects during their life. 

As fentanyl addiction continues to rise, the number of children in homes with family members addicted to fentanyl continues to rise. Witnessing the trauma of a parent suffering fentanyl addiction at a young age has long-term effects on the child. Children growing up seeing a parent addicted to fentanyl are more likely to develop a fentanyl addiction in their teens and adulthood. They are also three times more likely to be neglected, physically, and sexually abused. Since children are still developing their personalities and learn from what they see, they run the risk of repeating such behaviors. Children may be exposed to aggression or violent behavior due to a parent’s fentanyl addiction. 

Fentanyl addiction takes over the life of the victim it has claimed. They give up important life activities, such as work, family time, hobbies they once loved. Fentanyl takes over their life; they spend most of their day using fentanyl, looking for fentanyl or finding ways to get money from people to support their fentanyl addiction. Fentanyl becomes such an important part of the addict’s life; they will say and do anything to get the money to support their habit. 

If someone you love has a fentanyl addiction, you are likely to experience changes in your thoughts and behaviors. You may find yourself:

  • Worrying about your loved one’s drug use
  • Losing sleep
  • Experiencing constant anxiety
  • Lying or making excuses for the addict’s behavior
  • Walking on eggshells around the addict
  • Withdrawing from your loved one to avoid mood swings and confrontations
  • The constant feeling that calling the police when your loved one is high is better than finding them dead
  • Putting yourself in dangerous situations to look for or rescue your loved one
  • The fear of losing your family member if you talk to them about their drug use

Fentanyl Addiction: How To Get Help

If you have a family member who has a fentanyl addiction, it is a battle of keeping the peace or starting a war of uncertainty. Keeping the peace means not talking to your loved one about their problem, but that comes at the cost of watching them destroy their life. Starting a war of uncertainty means putting it all on the line and giving them no choice.

There is no perfect way to approach someone with a fentanyl addiction to getting help. By the time you get up the courage to fight the battle and talk with your loved one, you already feel defeated by the day to day battle. You are not alone in this war on fentanyl. Families all across Arizona are in this war. Like you, they feel defeated. 

Let the caring and compassionate family of Granite Mountain Behavioral HealthCare help you or your loved ones. You contact us here. You can also call us at (877) 389-0412.


high-functioning depression

High-Functioning Depression and Addiction: Recognizing the Signs

When someone has a mental illness such as depression and suffers from addiction simultaneously, this is called dual diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Those with dual diagnoses commonly resort to using drugs and alcohol to cope and end up developing a dependency, eventually leading to addiction. This is especially true for people with high- functioning depression. 

Vice versa, those with an addiction to drugs and alcohol commonly suffer from some sort of mental illness. As a result, treatment and recovery at a rehab facility such as Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare in Prescott Valley, Arizona is the best option for living a high-quality life and maintaining sobriety. 

Our addiction specialists have created this guide to help you or a loved one effectively recognize the signs of high-functioning depression, and erase the stigma surrounding mental health. Know that help is available before it is too late.  

What is High-Functioning Depression 

If you looked up the term high-functioning depression in the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual used by psychologists and other mental health professionals to diagnose their patients, you wouldn’t find it under that name. This is because the official name for high-functioning depression is persistent depressive disorder (PDD). 

Also known as Dysthymia, PDD is more common than people think, as there are more than 3 million cases annually in the United States. Diagnosed more in women than men, dysthymia is defined as a chronic, high-functioning form of depression, meaning it is continuous and lasts long-term. This type of depression is a lot harder to spot. While people may think of depression as the common term, it is the word “persistent” that is the focus keyphrase. 

Further evidence-based research conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows, that approximately 14.8 million American adults or about 6.7 percent of people aged 18 and older in the United States suffer from a depressive disorder in a given year. 

Since dysthymia is classified as chronic, and not acute, suffers from this mental disorder may experience symptoms for many years before actually being properly diagnosed. 

This further proves the point, that individuals suffering from high-functioning depression, who are often good at suppressing their problems often believe that the “depression” or sadness they are feeling is just part of who they are. Thus, missing the realization that what they are actually experiencing may be more severe than they originally let on. 

This also explains why depression sufferers seem to hesitate in discussing with doctors, family, or friends about how they feel, as they say, they feel “fine.” Although, it is common for people with mental illness or substance abuse issues to feel embarrassed to come forward and admit they may have a real problem, and most importantly, that they need help. 

However, it is crucial to understand all the ins-and-outs of both high-functioning depression and addiction, in order to effectively recognize the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of these co-occurring disorders. 

What Makes Someone “High Functioning?”

As mentioned before, people who are classified as “high functioning” often do anything they can to give the impression that they have got it all together, that their lives are going very well and everything is normal. While this may be true and convincing, deep down, sufferers of depression are unwell, and constantly fighting to keep it together and survive each day at a time.

People with high-functioning depression tend to be happy, successful, intelligent, friendly, outgoing, and disciplined people. While this may be true and convincing, deep down, sufferers of this mental illness are not fine, and constantly fighting to keep it together and survive each day at a time.

Living With Persistent Depressive Disorder 

Have you ever known a person who has it all; a loving family, a great job, and a decent social life? While in-person or on social media it may look like their life may be happy and perfect, the answer is nothing is perfect or always what it seems. 

In fact, scientific studies have shown that the more someone appears to have it all together, it is more likely that they are going through something, but trying their best to hide it. The saying, “Be nice, because everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about,” never rings truer. This scenario paints a picture of someone suffering from persistent depressive disorder. 

Living with this type of depression is difficult, and those who do are internally plagued by negativity, and a dialogue of self-doubt. This makes people feel insecure, incompetent, and unworthy. People with this type of depression can live their daily lives, but it truly enjoying every day comes with constant challenges. 

In other words, as everyone is different, a typical good day for a person with high-functioning depression looks like an individual who doesn’t have depression. This type of depression causes bad days to outweigh the good, unfortunately. While it may take only an hour or two for other people to focus and complete their tasks, those with severe depression may have an extremely hard time focusing.

Co-occurring Conditions: High-Functioning Depression and  Addiction

High functioning depression and addiction go hand-in-hand, which is why it is extremely important to know the signs of both disorders so you or a loved one can get the necessary help. People who suffer from depression are twice as likely to suffer from addiction and are usually able to function well. Although, PPD and addiction are difficult to manage without professional help. 

At least three-quarters of patients with dysthymia also have a chronic physical illness or another psychiatric disorder, such as drug addiction, or alcoholism. It is very common for people with PDD to have an addiction to drugs and alcohol. High-functioning depression impacts people’s lives in various ways. As a result, it causes sufferers to rely heavily on coping mechanisms, commonly drinking alcohol or using drugs. 

Coping With Depression: Substance Abuse  

Approximately 50 percent of people with a substance use disorder, such as alcoholism or drug addiction, are considered high-functioning. This number speaks volumes. While these people are considered to have PDD, behind closed doors, oftentimes, because they are depressed, they turn to the use of drugs and alcohol as a means to try and self-medicate and cope with their symptoms. 

Vice Versa, some people are addicted to drugs and alcohol first, and then develop an onset of depression symptoms later on because of damage to the brain caused by long-term substance abuse. 

No, I Can’t Just “Get Over It”- Depression vs Clinical Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, the prevalence of depression is not far behind, as more than 300 million people worldwide suffering from the disorder. 

Defined as a mood disorder, depression is a mental illness known to cause a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression has many faces and a variety of different kinds. The most common types include:

  • Seasonal Depression: 
  • Major Depressive Disorder 
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Situational Depression
  • Atypical Depression 
  • Psychotic Depression

The most popular type of depression affecting people today is major depressive disorder commonly known as clinical depression. It is extremely important to note, that there is a key difference between depression and clinical depression. 


Someone who is not diagnosed with a certain type of depression, but is “depressed,” experience normal bouts of sadness that arise from certain situations that occur. This is called Subsyndromal symptomatic depression (SSD), meaning that a person is depressed, but their symptoms don’t meet the criteria for a diagnosis of a major depressive episode. 

Clinical Depression

When you are suffering from high functioning depression the things that used to bring you joy often become things that you want to avoid. Clinical depression, however, is severe, where an individual is depressed for a couple of weeks or more, and it affects their ability to function, such as think, feel, sleep, work, eat, and handle daily tasks. The National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI) states that in order to be diagnosed with some sort of depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks

Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression

If you or a loved one has been experiencing the following symptoms, either most days or every day for at least two weeks or more, this may be a sign that you are suffering from depression. NAMI states that the most common signs and symptoms of depression include the following: 

  • A feeling of hopelessness or negativity
  • Persistent sadness, anxiousness, emptiness
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt to commit suicide
  • Loss of interest in favorite hobbies and activities
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Lack of energy and focus
  • Fatigue and restlessness
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Indecisiveness
  • Difficulty sleeping (Insomnia) and waking up in the morning
  • Extreme changes in your appetite and weight

Not everyone who is depressed experiences all of these symptoms mentioned above. Everyone and their cases of depression are different, and therefore, their symptoms and treatment for the illness will vary. For example, some people may experience a few symptoms, while others will experience many. An individual’s symptoms may also depend on the stage of depression that they have. 

Diagnosing High-Functioning Depression: An Invisible Disease 

Truth is, for people living with high functioning depression, it is often hard to tell because these are the types of individuals who are high achievers, perfectionists, and who are experts at making you think everything is all right even when it is not. 

The point is, you would never know that the person right in front of you is suffering from depression because they appear to be functioning normally. 

In order to be diagnosed with depression, a person must have a severe inability to function in life. This is why so many with PDD go undiagnosed. They appear to be functioning, but once they finish all that must be done for the day, they may find themselves going into hibernation mode at home. While the functioning inabilities are not as intense for a person with PDD as they are for someone with major depression, the symptoms can last for years.

It’s even possible for someone with PDD to develop more severe symptoms that result in episodes of major depression when their symptoms are left untreated. This is why it’s important to seek treatment if you suspect that you or someone in your life may be suffering.

Just like any type of dual diagnosis, high functioning depression and addiction often go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Essentially, it is deemed an invisible disease. Navigating through life without getting help for a mental illness is not only dangerous, but it causes complications such as the likelihood of relapse and increases the risk of overdose and suicide. 

How to Treat High-Functioning Depression and Addiction

High-functioning depression and addiction can be effectively treated in a safe environment using methods of detoxification, behavioral therapy, medication therapy, and other evidence-based therapies for these disorders. Detox helps with a physical dependency on drugs and alcohol, while behavioral therapy addresses the root of the problem and helps identify the reasoning behind why you are depressed to help you overcome it. 

Those who need help and treatment for co-occurring disorders such as PDD and addiction can receive it in an inpatient rehab facility, monitored by trained addiction specialists. Treatment programs that last a minimum of three months (90 days) are recommended for patients with a dual diagnosis. 

Ending the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

While the stigma surrounding mental health is starting to improve, there is still a lot of work to do, and some dangerous myths to debunk. Depression is severe and persistent, and not something someone can just get over or shut off automatically. 

Granite Mountain is Here to Help

If you or someone you may know is suffering from signs of high-functioning depression and addiction, the addiction specialists at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare are here to help you recover and maintain sobriety. Contact us today at (877) 389-0412. 












Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction Signs and Symptoms: How to Recognize If You or a Loved One Has a Problem

There are many ways to recognize a gambling addiction in you or a loved one. At Granite Mountain Behavioral Health, we have the resources for you or a loved one to overcome gambling addiction. However, it starts with becoming aware of gambling addiction symptoms and seeking help if you have them.

We all have our share of bad habits or vices. However, an intervention is necessary when the vice starts to take over our lives. If your day-to-day life is being constantly affected by a bad habit, it’s time to stop and reflect. 

You or a loved one may be struggling with a gambling addiction. Keep reading to learn more about how to recognize gambling addiction symptoms and how we can help.

What is Gambling?

Gambling is not defined by a singular activity. There are many different forms of gambling. Thus, It is not always apparent when gambling addiction is present. This makes it important to be aware of what gambling addiction symptoms are.

The act of gambling is not only restricted to slot machines, cards, and casinos. Purchasing a lottery ticket, entering a raffle or making a bet with a friend are also forms of gambling.

Why Does Gambling Addiction Occur?

A gambling addiction can be a result of a variety of issues. Each person is different so there is no one tell-tale answer. However, gambling addictions are often associated with other behavior or mood disorders.

Gamblers may suffer from substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. It’s important to address any underlying issues when addressing gambling addiction.

Gambling addiction can also occur when a person is struggling financially. They may find themselves trying to win a large sum of money to improve their financial situation. There is great risk involved in this with little to no return the majority of the time. 

This almost always leads to a cycle in which the gambler feels they must win back their losses. They convince themselves that they’re bound to win at some point. Unfortunately, winning a large sum of money can never be guaranteed. 

An emotional high is another reason a gambler can become addicted. This emotional high acts as an adrenaline rush. These are only a handful of reasons. Someone may also start gambling for fun which then leads to a dangerous addiction. 

No matter the reason, a gambling addiction can cause chaos in your or a loved one’s life. This chaos can be noticed through a variety of gambling addiction symptoms. It is crucial to address this issue before it becomes too late. There is so much potential to live a fulfilling and gamble-free life.

Symptoms of a Gambling Addiction

To recognize a gambling addiction, one must be aware of the symptoms. A gambling addiction may be caused by underlying stress as well. This stress can be linked to a painful time in your life such as work-related or relationship issues.

There are also key emotional reasons which can contribute to the development of toxic gambling addiction. Some of these symptoms can be:

  • Visiting casinos to overcome social isolation
  • To feel a rush of adrenaline and dopamine as a ‘happy’ brain chemical release
  • To hide numb and unpleasant feelings/being in denial of one’s emotions
  • Boredom and a desire to pass the time
  • A form of relaxation after a long day

These emotional symptoms of a gambling addiction may be hard to recognize. Signs that are easier to spot include:

  • Becoming obsessed with the results of gambling and ignoring other obligations 
  • Becoming unable to manage impulsive urges to gamble even when the odds are against you
  • Spending more money gambling to pay for lost bets or to experience a stronger adrenaline rush 
  • A negative impact upon relationships with those closest to you, such as losing a partner
  • Problems at the workplace such as an increased workload, missing work or being unable to focus
  • Hiding the amount of money and time spent gambling from those closest to you
  • Denial that there’s a gambling problem present  

Signs That You or a Loved One Has a Gambling Addiction

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, a gambling addict experiences the same effects in the brain as someone who has an alcohol or drug addiction. The effects of gambling can be just as devastating.

As a result of gambling, problems in one’s personal life start to form. This causes significant worry and possible financial consequences for their loved ones.

The Inability to Stop Gambling

This can be recognized by constantly talking about gambling. One may constantly be reliving past gambling experiences, particularly big wins.

You or a loved one may say you’ll quit. However, it never seems to happen. They may get into the habit of placing bets or playing games on their phones constantly.

Gambling websites and apps that withdraw money directly from a bank account are a particular concern for many people. The ability to constantly access a gambling site can make it near impossible to quit.

Dishonesty about Gambling

Hiding receipts or bank statements is also a symptom of gambling addiction. The secrecy is often a tell-tale sign that there’s an issue at hand. This may also go hand in hand with denial.

The person affected may not even want to admit to themselves that they have a gambling addiction. 

Gambling Despite Consequences

Legal and financial issues may be taking place in the gambler’s life. However, they are still unable to stop. Maybe they borrowed more money than they can afford. There may have even been a legal complication with the police.

No matter the consequence, gambling addiction continues.

Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms Even When They’re Not Gambling

Emotional withdrawal symptoms can occur when an individual with a gambling addiction stops gambling, even for 24 hours. Symptoms may include irritability, depression, anxiety, restlessness, decreased sleep & appetite, and a significant difference in sex drive or performance.

Throughout withdrawal, gamblers still think that they need to gamble to feel normal or happy again.

Chaos in Their Daily Lives

They are experiencing trouble at work, maintaining relationships, withdrawing from social activities, and/or serious financial problems.

Financial Concerns

Financial issues can develop in a variety of ways. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Overdue bills
  • Maxed out credit cards / Denial of credit
  • Not having enough money, despite an adequate income
  • Cannot provide for basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
  • Constantly trying to borrow money
  • Develops a pattern of extremely high-risk investing or frequent trading
  • Money is pulled from home equity, savings, investment or retirement accounts
  • Household and personal items are pawned or sold for cash
  • Frequent, multiple payday loans or cash advances

Unlawful Behavior

Individuals with a gambling addiction usually need other people to fund their gambling habits. They may even commit fraud or steal money and items to sell for money. Their addiction becomes so intense they’ll essentially do anything to get money for gambling.

Committing illegal acts to get money to gamble or to recoup losses is a sign of an immediate need for intervention. Breaking the law has severe consequences. Ending up in jail for a round of blackjack is not worth it.

How We Can Help

At Granite Mountain, we believe in a strict and structured schedule that includes 30 hours of therapy every week. Little downtime fights thoughts and urges of gambling addiction.

Our dedicated 24-hour staff is there to meet any need you may have. Evening 12-step and accountability meetings are a requirement as well.  

Each patient will have set goals and a process development plan. A major aspect of our patient’s recovery journey is through our program, Recover Strong. We believe in helping our patients develop healthier lifestyle habits and alleviate stressful symptoms.

Another major part of our philosophy is exercise. We use physical activities to help our patients achieve neuroregeneration. Neuroregeneration is the regrowth or repair of cell tissue in the brain that was once lost through an addiction disorder. 

This allows endorphins to be released into the brain. In turn, this improves an individual’s capacity to cope with anxiety and also acts as an antidepressant.

These activities are done in a group setting. Patients then develop a sense of community with each other. This provides a supportive foundation during the recovery process. 

Call Us Today

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Health, we’re here to guide you through the entire process. Once you’ve recognized the presence of gambling addiction symptoms, seek help immediately

If you or a loved one is ready to start the road to recovery, you can contact us here. You can also call us at (877) 389-0412 and talk to one of our gambling addiction experts. Remember, we’re here for any questions, comments or concerns you may have. We’re waiting for your call!




alcohol addiction

How to Maintain Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

Whether you’re just beginning or ending your road to recovery, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Recovering from alcohol addiction requires special aftercare. It is crucial to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Taking care of yourself entails taking action to change your life for the better

There are a variety of measures you can take to ensure you stay sober. We understand that recovering from alcohol addiction is an emotional rollercoaster at times. There will be ups and downs.

However, just keep in mind that with every down, there is an up on the other side. From pain comes growth and we believe that you can always prevail. Keep reading to learn more about the different ways you can recover from alcohol addiction. 


Journaling is a fantastic way of coping with stressful thoughts and emotions. Recovering from alcohol addiction means having to work through a wide scope of feelings. Some days you may feel proud of yourself and joyful. 

Other days you may feel disconnected from who you are and a little anxious. Please understand that this is all okay. The key to a sober and happy life is to understand that the downs don’t have to keep you down. You can work through the painful moments and prevail. 

Keeping a journal can be helpful in many different ways. For example, keeping track of your emotions every day is a great start. Write down how you feel and why. If you find yourself getting anxious, write those thoughts down.

Oftentimes getting our uneasy thoughts and emotions onto paper makes us feel a lot better than we’d expect. Holding emotions in isn’t healthy. It’s important to let yourself feel the negative feelings and healthily release them. 

Another helpful way of journaling is finding different prompts online. There are different questions you can ask yourself and then base your writing on that. 

Some examples are:

  • Think about at least three positive things that happened to you today and write them down. Use as much detail as possible.
  • Write a letter to yourself. Make it a love letter and recall what makes you proud to be you.
  • If you’re prone to anxiety attacks, write down all the strategies you’ve used in the past that have helped you overcome an attack. 
  • Write down your favorite quotes or song lyrics that inspire you.

Keeping Active

It’s no secret that exercising is good for you. It allows your body to release endorphins. Endorphins boost your mood. Even a simple walk can help you release endorphins.

Exercising also helps to clear your mind. Recovering from alcohol addiction can take a lot out of your body. It’s important to take care of yourself mentally and physically. If one is off, the other is affected too. Not everyone is a fan of going to the gym and that’s completely okay. 

There are many different ways to exercise and release those awesome endorphins. For example, you can take a hike on a beautiful trail. Nature is something that can make a huge difference in how you feel as well. Being around luscious green trees and fresh air does wonders for clearing negative emotions and thoughts.

Other options include taking fitness classes such as kickboxing or Crossfit. There are countless ways for you to incorporate exercise as you work through recovering from alcohol addiction.

Yoga is another method that’s helped, countless people. Yoga postures, known as asanas, help to alleviate physical pain. These yoga postures work to stretch, lengthen, and balance the muscles. 

Yoga is also centered around the belief that your body and mind are connected. Many yoga classes begin with choosing an “intention”. For example, let’s say that a particular day you’re struggling with letting something go. You can set your intention as finding peace and then the entire class is centered around achieving that intention and working towards it.

Socializing with Sober Friends

As you’re working through recovering from alcohol addiction, the circle you keep close to you is crucial. If your friends are constantly going out and drinking, how is that going to benefit you? It’s important to surround yourself with healthy relationships centered around sober fun. 

There are so many different ways to have fun when you’re sober. You can try out food from different cultures at restaurants with your friends. You can go to an arcade, bowling, rollerblading, etc.

If none of that sounds appealing, you can take a trip to a museum. Still no good? Take a trip somewhere near you that you’ve never been to before and do some exploring. Alcohol recovery is a lot easier with a great group of friends around you. 

Be honest with your friends about needing to have sober fun. Supportive friends will not only understand, but they will encourage you to be the best, sober version of yourself. Although going out for drinks may seem tempting, the consequences are nowhere near worth it.

Get a Job

Are you already working or is there a career path you’ve always wanted to try out? This is your time to focus on what you want. Keeping busy is a great way to stay focused on what matters. You want to make sure you take steps each day to help your future self.

Recovering from alcohol addiction allows an addict to start fresh. Everyone goes through their obstacles. Don’t let yours affect your life for the worst. You can completely change your life if you stay sober.

Indeed is a great search engine to use when searching for jobs. You can choose whether you’d like to work part or full time. You can search through different levels of jobs, as well as the proximity to your home. 

Setting goals also goes hand in hand with getting a job. Your goal can be to move up within the company or to save a certain amount of money each month. Be clear about your intentions. There are so many positive things that can come from having a job. Make sure to search for a career that you’ll enjoy. 

Too many people settle for jobs that don’t make them happy without realizing they can change their circumstances. Perhaps they do realize it but are too scared to change it. Regain control and work towards a goal that’ll fulfill you in the long run. 

Keep an Agenda/Clear Schedule 

Structure and consistency are key when recovering from alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction can cause chaos in your life. Days may become centered around grabbing a drink. Now is your chance to turn that all around!

You want to make sure to be clear about where your time is going. Invest in an agenda and write out what you have planned for each day. Regardless of whether you’re a recovering addict or not, this is immensely beneficial.

When we’re not clear about where our time is going, we tend to waste it. It’s easy to do a bunch of things that don’t help you or are just plain lazy. Take the time to write down your priority action items for the day and then how you’ll reward yourself for achieving them.

Don’t want to buy an agenda? No worries – just get yourself a Trello board. It’s great online tools that allow you to organize your life by different lists and sections. You can create separate jobs for your personal life and work. 

Take Up a New Hobby

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Does something, in particular, bring you a lot of joy? This can be anything from drawing to working out to taking a dance class. There are so many ways for you to keep busy as you recover from alcohol addiction.

It’s important to incorporate things that make you happy in your life. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we can get caught up in the day-to-day stuff. We forget that life has countless opportunities and resources out there made for us. No matter who you are, you can find something out there for you.

Learning a new skill is not only rewarding, but it’s also a fulfilling process. Watching yourself go from beginner to expert is a pretty awesome feeling. As cliche as it may sound, you need to believe in yourself. With addiction out of your life, there’s a lot more time for you to put to use.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Recovering from alcohol addiction can catapult you into a new, much more beautiful life. You have complete control over what direction you want your life to go in. There are countless ways to not only maintain sobriety but to improve your life overall.

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Health, we’re here to guide you through the entire process. We understand it’s not always easy, but we can promise you that it’ll be worth it. From staying active to journaling, maintaining sobriety is possible.

If you’re ready to start your road to recovery or are interested in an aftercare program, you can contact us here. You can also call us at (877) 389-0412 and talk to one of our alcohol addiction experts. Remember, we’re here for any questions, comments or concerns you may have. We’re waiting for your call!


alcoholism and binge drinking

Alcoholism vs Binge Drinking

When it comes to understanding alcoholism, people often confuse it for binge drinking. Even though both deal with the abuse of alcohol, the two are entirely separate concepts.

Just because somebody is binge drinking doesn’t mean they’re an alcoholic. It is imperative that people know that there is a difference. 

Understanding both of these can help people better understand what treatment program is necessary for their recovery journey, as well as the different negative impacts alcohol, has as far as substance abuse is concerned. 


Alcoholism is best described as an insurmountable desire to partake in consuming alcohol. It is one of the most dangerous forms of substance abuse. Those who suffer from alcoholism usually spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol; most often, it’s all they can think about. Because of this, the temptation to use or abuse escalates, and eventually, the user is seduced by the hold that alcohol has on their psychological well-being.

When somebody uses alcohol, the pleasure center in the brain is triggered. Because of this, the user’s desires are manipulated, and eventually, that desire becomes insatiable. When this happens, users place the consumption of alcohol as their top priority.

People who suffer from alcoholism make drinking their top priority, and this has a monstrous effect on family and loved ones. It could cause addicts to neglect them or even treat them poorly. Not only that, but monetary problems could come as a direct result of alcoholism. Financial stressors are difficult for families, and dependency on alcohol is expensive. That being said, alcohol addiction has the power to tear loved ones who were once inseparable apart.

Factors of Alcoholism

Some contributing factors for alcoholism include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Peer pressure
  • Marital problems
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse

Alcoholism is much more complicated than a person choosing to drink once because they felt like it and then being hooked. There is a vast array of circumstances that can lead to somebody finding solace in alcohol abuse.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

If you or your loved one are suffering from alcoholism, you may be experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest in any activity
  • Consistently inebriated 
  • Consistently lying
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of self-control with alcohol

One of the hardest parts of identifying alcoholism is the fear of calling it what it is. Those who suffer are likely aware that they have a problem, but have trouble confronting it, and could become angry if the truth is pointed out. This is why you must seek help when confronting a loved one who suffers from alcoholism. Approaching them in a loving, non-judgemental way is also important when confronting someone suffering from alcoholism. 

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as the prolonged use of alcohol in one sitting causing a person’s blood-alcohol concentration to be considerably high (0.8g%). Those who are binge drinking drink a vast amount of alcohol within a short amount of time. This is different from alcoholism in that the person is not addicted, they are merely misusing the substance in a manner that lacks upright judgment.

Over 50% of alcohol that is served to people is done so for someone who is binge drinking. This alarming statistic highlights just how common alcohol abuse is in those who use it. When consuming alcohol this way, the pleasure centers of the brain are impacted greatly. Binge drinking is known to lead to damage in the pleasure center of the brain. 

Not everybody who struggles with binge drinking is suffering from alcoholism. For example, an alcoholic may have a dependency on the substance, but they’re not always drinking enough to cause the short term effects of nausea, vomiting, and memory loss. Those who binge drink are likely going to experience these symptoms and more.

Some immediate effects binge drinking may have on a person includes the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blackout
  • Hangovers
  • Alcohol poisoning

Binge drinking also could have long term effects on a person, which includes the following:

  • Heart problems
  • Depression
  • Brain damage
  • Liver damage
  • Memory damage
  • Cancer

Sometimes binge drinking can even lead to tragedies such as car accidents, domestic violence, or even death. Being aware of the impact that binge drinking can have on an individual is imperative to prevent the risks of it and also providing somebody with the help they need to stop.

There is often a misconception that binge drinking only happens at parties. Sadly, this is not the case. Binge drinking could take place in a variety of different circumstances. For example, somebody could be binge drinking alone so that they can hide their troubles from a loved one, or they might drink at a sporting event. Binge drinking could also take place when friends get together, become bored, and start playing a drinking game. 

Binge drinking can often lead to unfortunate circumstances or have long-term effects that someone hadn’t seen coming. They must recognize the symptoms, as it may lead to getting the help that they never knew they needed.


Key Differences Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

The differences between alcoholism and binge drinking include:

  • Binge drinkers are not dependent on alcohol
  • Binge drinking is defined by a specific blood-alcohol percentage
  • Alcoholism is a chronic condition
  • Those suffering from alcoholism can’t control their consumption
  • Those suffering from alcoholism have an increased tolerance

Alcoholism and binge drinking can often become grouped within the same category, but it does not mean they’re the same thing. There are vast differences between the two; understanding these differences is key in identifying which of the two somebody is struggling with, and also in combating substance abuse in any form it takes.

Consequences of Alcoholism and Binge Drinking

The consequences of binge drinking are as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blackouts
  • Hangovers
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Accidents and injuries
  • Unplanned pregnancy 
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

The consequences of alcoholism include:

  • Cancer
  • Psychological problems
  • Liver disease
  • Heart issues
  • Depression

Understanding the consequences of both binge drinking and alcoholism are imperative to a person’s recovery. These two forms of substance abuse may lead to unfortunate circumstances that nobody saw coming. If you believe that yourself or a loved one is suffering from either of these two forms of addiction, it is important to seek help immediately.

How Granite Can Help

When it comes to understanding alcoholism, it is just as important to familiarize oneself with what kind of treatment is available. So that somebody understands their need for help, a person must first communicate their love and understanding for the one affected. These people require real love and compassion. This begins first with understanding. 

Once you’ve approached someone struggling from substance abuse in a caring manner and they’re ready to receive treatment, then it’s time to explore your options. Thankfully, at Granite, we offer a wide variety of treatment options to meet your loved one’s needs. 

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient care is used to treat serious cases of addiction. This treatment includes 24/7 access to medical personnel if the need arises, allows the patient to live in the care of one of our treatment facilities and lasts anywhere from 28 days to six months. If your loved one suffers from a serious addiction, Granite’s inpatient treatment program may be for them.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient care is a recovery method that gives patients access to professional psychiatrists and therapists anywhere from 10-12 hours weekly. Designed to treat mild cases of addiction, patients can recover with minimal disruption to their daily lives as this method allows them to be treated while living in their own homes. This treatment option is extremely convenient for those who have a mild case of addiction and need to stick around their home to support themselves or their families.


Detox from drugs and alcohol could include the following symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Seizures 
  • Nausea or vomiting

Cutting somebody off completely from drugs or alcohol who have been addicted for quite some time can lead to serious withdrawal. Drug cravings are extremely difficult to overcome and can have a frightening impact on someone who struggles with addiction. Medically assisted treatment (MAT) uses medicine wean a patient off of drugs or alcohol in a more comfortable way than cold-turkey.


Therapy in addiction treatment helps patients evaluate their past with substance abuse, and also shapes their attitudes towards it in a more positive direction. The goal is to improve the way they cope with their drug cravings by providing them with skills that encourage self-control.

Moving Forward

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, then it may be time to seek out professional help. Throughout the recovery process, Granite’s philosophy is to guide those who wrestle with addiction to a place of sobriety and stability. We do this with the help of specially trained professionals who are experts in all of the treatment methods mentioned above. If you are interested in what Granite can offer you as far as a patient’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is concerned, contact us here, or call us at (877) 338-6287.









Five Ways to Convince Someone Go To Rehab

Living with addiction is difficult, and every individual approaches the reality of it in different ways. Some people know they need to find help but are reluctant to do so, and some even deny that there is a problem altogether. This makes recovery difficult not only for them but for those that love them as well. That’s why their support system must find them the help they need in the most loving way possible.

For anybody struggling with their problems, the truth can be an unfamiliar friend. They may have cut ties with that friend altogether. In these cases, their best shot at moving on to a life of stability are their loved ones. 

As a family member or loved one, it takes an insurmountable amount of effort to conquer the hill that is convincing somebody that they need help. This could be because they’re denying that there is even a problem, to begin with, or because they simply fear the concept of rehab. Either way, there’s no denying that this is a difficult task to accomplish.

To convince somebody that they need help, a person must first make up in their minds that the goal is not to deceive that person into thinking they care. That is manipulative behavior that will only be a set-back for those that need help. 

These people need love – not fake love, but actual love. This begins with understanding somebody first. That is the first of five ways to help somebody recover before rehab even begins

1. Understand

To understand somebody, especially one that is dealing with something as difficult as addiction, one must first listen to and validate them. They don’t need to be responded to; chances they are hearing enough critique from their heads. However, even if they aren’t aware that their substance abuse is an issue, they still deserve to be understood. 

Addiction is simply a symptom of a greater cause. That being said, it’s better to first identify the core of the disease rather than to try and alleviate the effects of it. If this can be done, the disease can be cured. To do this, one must first sit down with the one directly affected and hear their hearts.

In most cases of addiction, an addict’s disorder is the result of a more significant problem such as depression, anxiety, or even peer pressure. In this case, it’s better to dissect the side-effect that is an addiction and find the root cause. When this is done, the person involved will realize how much you truly care for them. Caring enough to listen is often all they need to be convinced of. Most often, people just want to be heard.

Opening up to somebody, especially a loved one, can be very difficult. This is due in large part to the vulnerability of it all. These people need to know that you can be trusted. This is why it’s important to communicate to them that you understand without explicitly saying, “I understand.”

Communicating Effectively

Some ways to communicate effectively include the following:

  • Asking Questions: Unless somebody is attending a convention, the last thing they want is for somebody to give long-winded, unsolicited advice. This is why it’s imperative to talk as little as possible. To do this, ask open-ended questions. This gives them a chance to process their thoughts externally.
  • Comprehension: Actively comprehending what somebody is saying is key to communicating effectively. If you do this, you’ll be able to understand responses and ask even deeper questions, which will allow someone to process their thoughts even further. This will allow you to understand a person completely.
  • Repetition: It is imperative that whenever somebody makes a statement or answers a question, you repeat what you think you heard back to them. This allows them to confirm whatever it is that they’ve said and also shows them that you are listening to and affirming them.
  • Body language: Communicating understanding with your body is a significant part of active listening. It’s just as important as any of the skills mentioned above. Maintaining eye contact and keeping a relaxed posture in a circumstance such as this will help somebody feel as though they are free to communicate openly and honestly.

Communication is difficult to perfect. This is likely because humans naturally have a hard time doing it well; it’s in our nature. That’s not to say that it’s a skill that can’t be mastered, it’s just one of the more difficult skills to learn. However, if you hold to these principles of effective communication, you can be sure that you’ve displayed your understanding effectively, and thus gained the trust of whomever you’re speaking with.

2. Talk to Somebody

After talking with someone struggling with addiction, it is imperative that you seek wise counsel, or even just somebody willing to listen to you. There will likely be a lot of information going through your head, and it may even feel as though the world is crashing in around you. In times of crisis such as these, it is perfectly normal to feel that way. 

The reality of substance abuse is that it doesn’t only affect those addicted; it affects everybody that surrounds them as well. Addiction is such a messy disease, that it stains the entire fabric of a person’s social circle, not just the sleeve of the individual. 

Admitting that you need somebody to understand you is just as important as understanding those struggling with addiction. Processing your own emotions will enable you to help those affected by substance abuse; chances are, you also need to be validated and affirmed. Often, watching a loved one struggle with substance abuse can open up a vacuum for depression or anxiety to form. This is why it is important to exercise self-care before you try and care for somebody else.

3. Do Your Research

When trying to lead someone away from the harmful nature of substance abuse, one must educate themselves on recovery properly. Before action is taken, understanding the specific needs of the individual is necessary to close the gap between addiction and recovery. Knowing the difference between inpatient care, outpatient care, detox treatment, and general therapy is imperative in addressing the needs of a specific individual.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient care is designed to treat more serious cases of addiction. This particular treatment, lasting anywhere from 28 days to six months, allows a patient to live at a care facility as well as receive 24/7 access to medical personnel if they should need it. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient care is another recovery method lasting anywhere from one month to over three years and is specifically designed to treat mild addiction. Patients in an outpatient program can recover with minimal disruption to the flow of their daily lives. Patients have access to psychiatrists and therapists anywhere from 10-12 hours weekly. 


Detox from drugs and alcohol could include, but is not limited to the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Seizures 
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea or vomiting

Cutting off somebody who struggles with addiction can lead to serious withdrawal. Drug cravings are incredibly difficult to conquer and can have a detrimental impact on an addict. Medically assisted treatment (MAT) uses medicine to comfortably wean a patient off of drugs or alcohol.


Therapy approaches addiction treatment by helping patients evaluate their experience with drug or alcohol abuse, and help shape their attitudes towards it in a new direction. It also aims to improve the way they cope with and control their drug cravings by providing them with skills that encourage self-control.

4. Schedule an Intervention

Interventions are imperative to the progress of addiction treatment. This is because it brings the issue to a loved one’s attention from multiple points of view. A skilled professional must be also involved so that they can help mediate the conversation. The overall goal is to communicate the effect their addiction is having on themselves and those surrounding them. 

Sometimes the reality of substance abuse can be frightening, and it can even seem hopeless. Most often, people ultimately want their loved one’s mind to be changed immediately, but this should never be the goal (at least initially). It is imperative that family or loved one’s share how they’ve been affected by the person’s addiction.

5. Lead With Compassion

Addiction is a disease; there’s no question about it. As such, it should be treated with care and compassion. The ugly reality of it all is that somebody has arrived at this place as a result of ill-informed decisions. For whatever reason, they believe that drug use could help a larger issue they’re dealing with. 

Those struggling with addiction already want help, they’re just looking in the wrong place. It is imperative that you understand this because once that becomes clear, you can then guide them towards receiving the right help. Your compassion will show them that you truly care and want them to recover from whatever is causing them to abuse drugs or alcohol.

People want to know that others care for them. With some, it’s not as evident, but everybody wants to know that they’re not alone. Practicing compassion and grace with those who wrestle with substance abuse could mean the difference between avoiding help and pursuing it.

Granite Can Help

If a loved one is struggling with addiction, it could be time to practice the five steps mentioned above. Throughout the recovery process, Granite’s philosophy is to help those who struggle with substance abuse pursue a life of purpose and stability with the help of our trained professionals. If you are interested in what Granite can offer for your recovery needs, contact us here, or call us at (877) 338-6287.










You’ve Relapsed on Opiates, Now What’s the Next Step?

Does a Relapse Mean the Treatment Failed?

Of course not. The chronic nature of addiction means that for some people relapse, or a return to drug use after an attempt to stop, can be part of the process.

Opioid dependence is a common relapsing condition.  People do well if they stay in treatment and if they are compliant.  Longer treatment is consistent with better outcomes.  Abstinence rates after completion of treatment vary widely, but between 60-85 percent are back using heroin within 6 months. 

Relapse rates for people treated for substance use disorders are 40-60 percent, compared to 50-70 percent for people with high blood pressure and asthma.  Relapse is common and similar across these illnesses. Therefore, substance use disorders should be treated like any other chronic illness.  Relapse serves as a sign for resumed, modified, or new treatment.

While relapse is a normal part of recovery, for some drugs, it can be very dangerous—even deadly. If a person uses as much of the drug as they did before quitting, they can easily overdose because their bodies will not tolerate their previous level of drug exposure.

Why Did I Relapse?

It is very common for addicts to relapse at least once during recovery and some fall off the wagon several times before getting clean for the last time. Relapse happens for a variety of reasons, but one of the major ones is an individual’s perception of having gained more control and a desire to test it out.

Their thinking maybe something along the lines of “I know I struggled with heroin (or another drug) in the past, but this time I know I can control my  use and stop before the situation gets out of hand.” Other reasons for relapse may include:

  •         Thinking “one last time can’t hurt.
  •         An inability to cope with stress (often caused by conflicts at work, home or within a relationship) without the use of drugs.
  •         Difficulty managing physical and/or emotional pain without the use of drugs.
  •         Substituting one drug for another.
  •         Difficulty addressing triggers (places, people and objects associated with former use) and cravings.
  •         An intentional overdose to end one’s life.

An addiction specialist or another mental health professional can help you develop coping mechanisms.

Key Strategies

According to Therese Borchard, editor at PsychCentral, HealthCentral, and a contributor to PBS.org, there are 7 key strategies to help you recover from a relapse. She reports that these, along with therapy, have helped her get through relapse recovery

  1.   Listen to the right people.  You are really not stupid, ugly, weak, or pathetic. Unfortunately, the person telling you that is probably you.  Affirm to yourself that you aren’t any of those things.
  2.   Make time to cry.  Your body purges toxins when you cry.  Release all your emotions and cry like a baby.
  3.   Ditch the self-help.  Self-help books can be helpful for a person with mild to moderate addiction or depression.  With severe depression and a crippling addiction, you need the help of professionals and specialists.
  4.   Distract yourself.  Do mindless things like word puzzles and reading trashy novels.
  5.   Look for signs of hope.  Occupy yourself with looking for signs that there is hope left in the world.  Whatever that sign may be for you.
  6.   Say yes anyway.  Always say yes to an invitation out.  Don’t isolate yourself.
  7.   Break your day into moments.  Most addicts would agree that “a day at a time” doesn’t cut it.  That’s way too long. Break the day into shorter “moments.” Whatever you feel you can handle.

What are Behavioral Therapies?

Science has taught us that stress triggers linked to drug use (people, places, things, and moods), and contact with drugs are the most common causes of relapse.  Scientists have been developing therapies to interfere with these triggers to help patients stay in recovery. 

  •    Cognitive-behavioral therapy:  This therapy seeks to help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with situations in which they’re most likely to use drugs.
  •    Contingency management:  Uses positive reinforcement such as providing rewards or privileges for remaining drug-free, for attending and participating in counseling sessions, or for taking treatment medications as prescribed.
  •   Motivational enhancement therapy:  Uses strategies to make the most of people’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment.
  •  Family therapy:  Helps people (especially young people) with drug use problems, as well as their families, address influences on drug use patterns and improve overall family functioning.
  •   Twelve-step facilitation (TSF):  An individual therapy typically delivered in 12 weekly sessions to prepare people to become engaged in 12-step support programs.  Twelve-step programs are not medical treatments but provide social and complementary support to those treatments.

What Opioids are You Using?

Opioid addiction is second only to amphetamines in terms of illegal drug dependence worldwide.  Interestingly, there has been a shift in the type of opioids associated with addiction.  Abuse of illicit opioids such as heroin now represents a small proportion of opioid abuse. Prescription pain medications, such as OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone) are now among the most abused opioid-based drugs.

Dependence on and abuse of prescription opioid drugs is now a major health problem with prescription opioid abuse exceeding cocaine abuse in young people.  Opiate dependence is less prevalent in the general population than nicotine or alcohol dependence but represents a severe public health problem because it runs the course of medical and psychosocial dysfunction and high mortality rates.

Depression and Relapse

Opioid dependence is a complicated disorder in which multiple factors interact to influence addiction and relapse.  Negative emotional states such as anger, frustration, depression, and boredom are associated with the highest rate of relapse.  Researchers have found that depression is a significant risk factor for relapse after inpatient detoxification as it may lead to self-medication.  Major depressive disorder may become a conditional cue for drug use during abstinence.

Four hundred sixty-six patients were studied for one year. Every two weeks the patients were interviewed using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.  The relapsed and non-relapsed groups were compared. Both showed a high average depression score throughout the one-year of follow-up. But the relapsed group had an average score that was almost double that of the other group.  Very severe depression was seen in more than 16 percent of the relapsed group and was absent in the non-relapsed group. 

The researchers concluded that regular screening for depression is needed during the post-detox period, and timely intervention may prevent a relapse. A study found a 30-50 percent decrease in depression rating score from day one of abstinence to the end of the second week.

What Can be Done to Help Reduce the Risk of Relapse?

A new study by  Dr. Joshua Lee published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists report on the results of the first study to look at an approved drug, naltrexone, for treating opiate dependence.  The team of researchers looked at the possibility that an extended-release version of naltrexone, a once-monthly injection, could help those in recovery to stay off opiates. “This buys people some time, it’s an insurance policy against relapse,” says Lee. 

The effects, however, last only as long as the people continue getting the injections. When Lee’s team looked at how the two groups (those receiving the injections of naltrexone and those who weren’t) were doing six months and a year after the last treatment, they found that the differences between the two had disappeared.  To prevent relapse, the injections would need to continue.

While some start on methadone or buprenorphine, eventually many stop taking the daily medications or are interested in finding non-opiate ways to recover, such as naltrexone.

Depending on your situation, reducing your risk of relapse might include the following:

  •  Taking medications for underlying conditions
  • Speaking to a therapist on a regular basis
  • Adopting mindfulness techniques, such as meditation

Can a Phone App Really Help?

Hey, Charlie is a phone app that was conceived at a 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology “health hackathon.”  The aim of the app is to help people avoid environmental triggers that might threaten their recovery from opioid addiction.  The app monitors a user’s contacts and location and sends pop-up notifications to caution them about risky acquaintances or neighborhoods.

“People and places can remind you of using drugs and stress you out,” said Emily Lindemer, co-founder of Hey, Charlie.  This app chimes in with a different reminder: recovery.  It helps them keep their sobriety at the front of their minds.”  Even for those who receive medication-assisted treatment, “you live your life doing normal things and you still have to battle these constant environmental triggers,” she said.

What Should I Do Now?

Managing relapse is part of the long-term strategy of drug recovery. This means that the solutions are both immediate and focused on long-term behavioral changes.

Asking for help is an important first step. Call upon your previously agreed on a support network,  friends, and family members Seek medical support. Pick up the phone and call (877) 338-6287 to speak to a specialist. At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, we understand addiction, relapse, and recovery.

Your Granite Mountain doctor, counselor, or therapist can help you find the right mix of medication and psychological help.  It can take time to find the right mix of strategies; there is no “quick fix” to some of the underlying issues like depression or bipolar disease.   

Because addiction can affect so many aspects of a person’s life, treatment must address the needs of the whole person to be successful. Counselors may select from a menu of services that meet the specific medical, mental, social, occupational family, and legal needs of their patients to help in their recovery.

Our goal is to set you up for success.  You need to believe that you can succeed and transform your life.  Our addiction specialists understand because they have been through it just like you.  Call (877)338-6287, or you can reach out by contacting us here.  









Polysubstance Abuse

The Vicious Cycle of Polysubstance Abuse

What is Polysubstance abuse?

Polysubstance abuse is exactly what it sounds like.  Polysubstance dependence refers to a type of substance dependence disorder in which an individual uses at least three different classes of substances indiscriminately and does not have a favorite drug that qualifies for dependence on its own.  Although any combination of three drugs can be used, studies have shown that alcohol is commonly used with another substance.

Polysubstance dependence is listed as a substance disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR), which is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders.  When an individual meets criteria for dependence on a group of substances (at least three used in the same 12-month period) he or she is given the diagnosis of polysubstance dependence.

For example, an individual may use cocaine, sedatives, and alcohol without any “drug of choice” for a year or more. The individual may not meet the criteria for cocaine dependence, sedative dependence, or alcohol dependence but may meet the criteria for substance dependence when all three drugs are considered as a group. 

Dangers of Polysubstance Use

While the combination of certain substances can enhance the desired effects, polysubstance abuse also enhances the negative effects of each drug.  According to the University of Michigan, mixing drugs can bring unpredictable consequences. This means that users can not predict the array and severity of negative consequences that could result.

The Effect on Learning Ability

The effect of polysubstance dependence on learning ability is an area of interest to researchers.  A study involving 63 polysubstance dependent women and 46 control participants (not using drugs) used the Benton Visual Retention Test and the California Verbal Learning Test to look at visual memory and verbal ability.  The study showed that in the substance-dependent women, verbal learning ability was significantly decreased, though visual memory was not affected. Besides, alcohol and cocaine use led to more severe issues with verbal learning, recall, and recognition.

Certain drugs were associated with particular mental functions, but the researchers found that the impairments for working memory and reasoning were caused by the misuse of multiple substances.

Short-term and Long-term Effects

Specific short-term and long-term effects related to polysubstance abuse will differ according to the drugs that are being combined.  However, there are some general dangers associated with polysubstance abuse. These include:

  • Increased severity of side effects:   All drugs have the potential for negative side effects but when substances are combined, the side effects are increased exponentially.  It isn’t as simple as 1+1=2. The substances combine to cause addictive effects which are usually unique and more severe than the separate effects of each drug.  More like 1+1=100.  
  • Acute health problems: The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has found that drug interactions can reduce metabolism which increases the blood concentration of the substances used which boosts the toxicity of the drugs.  Other diseases and disorders are more common in those who abuse multiple substances. Hepatitis C is often seen in heavy drinkers who inject drugs, and tobacco smokers who use cocaine are more at risk for myocardial infarction.
  • Overdose:  Overdose is always a possibility with any kind of substance abuse but when multiple substances are used the risk is heightened.  Since certain substances mask the effects of other substances, users often take more than they would because they don’t feel the effects of one of the drugs.  This can easily result in an overdose.
  • Complicated treatment:  Overdose from multiple drugs is more difficult to treat.  An overdose of opiates can be treated with the quick use of Naloxone, it may not be effective if the overdose is due to overdose of other substances as well.
  • Complications due to co-occurring mental health issues: When a substance use disorder occurs along with another mental health disorder, the user is more likely to engage in polysubstance abuse. The drug abuse worsens the symptoms of the mental disorder which worsens the drug abuse. 

Gender Matters

Women and men differ when it comes to addictions.  Research has shown that women are more likely to be polysubstance dependent.  A larger percentage of women abuse legal drugs such as tranquilizers, sedatives’ and stimulants.  Men, on the other hand, are more likely to abuse illegal drugs such as cocaine, meth, and other street drugs. Women addicts more frequently have a family history of drug abuse and describe their addiction as a sudden where men describe their onset of drug use as gradual.

Females have a higher percentage of fatty tissues and a lower percentage of body water than men. This slows the absorption rates of drugs, which means these substances are at a higher concentration in a woman’s bloodstream. Women addicts are at a greater risk for fatty liver disease, hypertension, anemia, and other disorders.


The DSM-IV TR states that three or more of the following symptoms must occur at any time in a 12-month period in order to meet diagnostic criteria for substance dependence.

  • Tolerance:  The individual either has to use increasingly higher amounts of the drugs at any time during the 12 months or finds that the same amount of the drug has much less of an effect.
  • Withdrawal:  The individual either experiences the withdrawal symptoms when he stops using drugs or may begin using drugs to lessen the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Loss of control:  The individual either repeatedly uses more drugs than planned or uses drugs over longer periods of time.
  • Inability to stop using:  The individual has either unsuccessfully attempted to cut down or stop using, or has a persistent desire to stop using.
  • Time:  The individual spends a lot of time obtaining drugs, using drugs, being under the influence of drugs or recovering from the effects of drugs.
  • Interference with activities: The individual either gives up or reduces the amount of time engaged in hobbies, social activities or occupational activities because of the use of drugs.
  • Harm to self:  The individual continues to use drugs despite having either a physical or psychological problem that is caused by or made worse by the drugs.

The Alcohol Connection

Although any combination of three drugs can be used, studies have shown that alcohol is commonly used with another substance. This is supported by one study on polydrug use that separated participants who used multiple substances into groups based on their preferred drug.  The three substances were cocaine, alcohol, and heroin, which implies that those three are very popular. 

Opiates, cannabis, amphetamines, and inhalants are often used in combination as well.  The results of a long-term study led the researchers to observe that using one drug excessively increased the probability of excessive using another drug.

The University of  Michigan’s research found that reports of prescription drug abuse were 18 times higher in participants who were dependent on alcohol.  Alcohol is often mixed with prescription opiates like Vicodin and OxyContin. It’s also commonly combined with stimulants like Ritalin and anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax.  Mixing alcohol with prescription drugs can lead to dangerous interactions and potentially life-threatening results.  

Cocaine and alcohol are commonly combined.  When a cocaine user drinks alcohol, the amount of cocaine in their system increases by 30%.  A metabolite is produced that stays in the bloodstream longer which causes their heart rate and blood pressure to increase.  The person may then consume more alcohol because the cocaine reduces the perception of the alcohol’s effects which sets up the possibility of alcohol poisoning. 

Research Regarding the Causes of Polysubstance Dependence Include:

  • Biological—There is data to support that some genes contribute to substance abuse. A problem with this study is that alcohol is commonly used with other drugs, so the results may not have been caused by a single substance.
  • Socio-cultural (social causes)—Some studies have shown that adolescents have one of the highest rates of polysubstance dependence.  One study shows that this population, ages 12-25 accounts for about half of the nation’s illegal drug users. Some of these young people start using drugs to fit in. After a while, they start to develop a tolerance for these substances and experience withdrawal if they don’t have enough substances in their system.
  • Psychological—A 1989 study found that 93% of an opioid-dependent sample group had a simultaneous (comorbid) disorder, which implies that the comorbid disorder plays a role in addiction. It was also shown that depression and polysubstance abuse are often both present at the same time.  

Clearly, care should be taken to look into a dual diagnosis with any addiction.  As with any course of treatment, it is important to identify the root cause of the polysubstance abuse.  By exploring the underlying causes of the addiction, it is possible to get the patient on a clear path to sobriety.

Does Abstinence Matter In Polysubstance Abuse?

The results showed that neuropsychological ability did not improve with increases in the length of time abstinent. This suggests that polysubstance dependence leads to serious impairment which cannot be recovered much over a year. 

Researchers set out to answer this question by testing 207 polysubstance dependent men.  They used the BVRT for testing visual memory, the CVLT for verbal memory, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale vocabulary portion for knowledge of words along with other tests used to test inhibition, abstract reasoning, and attention. 

Detox in Cases of Polysubstance Abuse

If you or a loved one are showing signs of polysubstance addiction, finding treatment is the best thing you can do. Since detox in the case of multiple substance abuse is more complicated, inpatient medical detox is generally recommended.  With medical detox clients are supervised 24 hours a day by medical professionals. This ensures continuous monitoring of vital signs and prompt action should any medical emergencies occur. Physicians often administer medications to counteract certain withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and mood fluctuations.

In some cases, long-term maintenance medications may be administered.  For example, if a person was regularly abusing painkillers like Vicodin along with cocaine, medical staff may give a replacement medication such as methadone to ease the severity of the opioid withdrawal. 

Due to the unpredictability of withdrawal from multiple substances, continual monitoring is always needed.  And the continual support and encouragement in medical detox increase the chance of successful withdrawal.

Is Polysubstance Dependence Treatable?

It is complicated but it is treatable. While detox is an important first step to recovery, it is not an effective treatment on its own.  It must be followed up with a comprehensive addiction treatment program that primarily includes therapy.

The most common forms of treatment for polysubstance dependence include:

  • In and out-patient treatment centers
  • Counseling and behavioral treatments
  • Medication

An in-patient treatment center is a facility where addicts move to the facility while they are undergoing treatment.  They offer a safe environment where patients will not be exposed to situations that could potentially harm their endeavors to become sober. Inpatient treatment for polysubstance dependent patients sees a much higher success rate. 

Inpatients usually undergo detoxification under medical supervision in the treatment center. During their time in the center, patients learn to manage and identify their drug addictions and to find ways to cope with whatever is the cause of their addiction.

Outpatient treatments offer many of the same activities that are offered in an inpatient facility, but the patient is not protected by the secure environment.  The patient usually continues to hold a job and goes to treatment nightly.

Twelve-step programs are offered in both in-and outpatient treatment.  They offer meetings were members can discuss their experiences in non-judgemental and supportive surroundings.

Patients are also offered one-on-one counseling sessions and cognitive behavioral therapy.  The goal of CBT is to identify the needs that the addictions are being used to meet and develop skills and alternative ways of meeting those needs.  Patients are taught how to identify harmful thoughts and drug cravings.

Medications can be very helpful in the long term treatment of polysubstance dependence. Medications are a useful aid in helping to prevent or reduce drug cravings and prevent relapse.  It is not as useful as the sole treatment method.


Recovery from multiple drug abuse is possible but it is a serious and complicated process. That loss of control you feel, or that you are witnessing in your loved one can be brought back into control and the person who is determined to get help has made a very important first step.  Contact us at 877-338-6287.







Getting help for Opioid Addiction

Identifying the Signs of Opioid Abuse and How to Encourage Someone to Go Get Help

One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with drug addiction is how it affects an individual physically and psychologically. Opioid addiction affects not only the addict but everyone in their circle. 

Admitting or identifying the signs of when the addictive cycle has grabbed ahold of you or a loved one’s life is a hard pill to swallow, and one that is often hard for people to solve on their own. 

In other words, this tendency to want to see the best in those we love is a natural tendency.  However, when dealing with addiction it makes the identification of a potential or actual addiction issue even harder for one to spot.

Denial is one of the main risk factors of addiction and is what mainly stops a person from getting the professional help that they need. This is often because the person struggling does not believe that there is help available, and most likely have not found the right resources or places to reach out to. 

We want you to know that access to high-quality treatment is available. There are locations near you who are ready to help people suffering from addiction recovery and get back control over their lives. 

The addiction specialists at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, strive to educate people on the disease of substance abuse to show that getting help will not only save their lives but help encourage others to do the same. 

We help to identify the signs of drug addiction, with the main goal of breaking this ongoing epidemic through our substance abuse programs, especially for opioid use. 

Breaking The Stigma Of Addiction

Today, it is very common for our community to view addiction as a moral failing on the part of the addict. This is an outmoded view of substance use disorder and has no clinical or medical support. If however we were taught this view of addiction it can be easy to view our loved ones as failing in some respect or as having a moral or constitutional shortcoming. 

Addiction is not a shortcoming, it is a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. In other words, while an addict makes a conscious choice to take drugs and alcohol, it is not their choice or goal to become addicted. The chemicals released in the brain influences the body to become dependent on these substances. As a result, the mind becomes controlled by their addictive nature.

There is no doubt that addiction has a cultural stigma associated with it that needs to end. Just because someone becomes an addict, does not mean they are a bad person. It is not a matter of lack of willpower or moral compass, it is again a disease that takes complete control over one’s life, almost like a possession.  

This stigma surrounding addiction and mental health is counterproductive and is a major factor that is preventing individuals from getting the treatment that they need. It is doing way more harm than good. 

A study done by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health demonstrated that the general public was more likely to have negative attitudes towards those dealing with drug addiction than those with mental illness.

We live in a society where millions of Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol, but sadly, due to many factors, only a small percentage receive treatment at a rehab facility. However, by far, research shows that this burden and stigma placed on those suffering, assuming that they wanted the burden of addiction placed on them, is killing people. 

While accepting that you need help is hard in addition to finding a facility to accommodate one’s needs, not seeking treatment because of feeling immense societal pressure. The main point to drive home is that becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol can happen to anyone. Stigma affects all of us, and the statistics show that we can all do a better job of decreasing this stigma around drug addiction and mental illness. 

Remember, that many people are suffering just like you or your loved one. We don’t view people with cancer or other diseases as burdens, and therefore, addiction should only be viewed as a horrible consequence of a harmful choice, not that a person is bad and deserves it. 

Needing and wanting to get help are two different things. Although, for someone to acknowledge that they need to make a major change in their lives to avoid overdose or death, is a huge first step, and one that can save their life. Therefore, empathy, compassion, and support are crucial in this process. 

Spotting The Signs Of Opioid Addiction

Opioids are potent prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine, and many others. The street drug heroin is also classified as an opiate. These drugs are extremely strong and addictive, and research has shown that addiction to opioids due to overdose has killed more people than car crashes. 

Opioid use has become a worldwide epidemic, and therefore, as with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, the sooner we can identify a potential substance abuse such as opioid use disorder (OUD) as it develops, the closer we will be to ending this severe ongoing prescription drug problem. Most importantly, early detection will also help to ensure that people receive the treatment that they need, to have a successful recovery and achieve long-term sobriety. 

However, with other chronic illnesses, the sufferer once diagnosed freely admits they have a problem. Those with a substance use disorder, especially with opioids, this is almost always not the case.

For people with addiction, there is an inability of the suffer to admit they have a problem. Therefore, it is important to find resources that can help spot the signs of opioid addiction before it is too late. 

There are many early signs and symptoms of opioid addiction, and addiction in general, that could prove useful for the loved ones of anyone currently using opioids and other addictive substances. 

The Signs of Opioid Addiction Include:

  1. Loss of control over the amount of a substance consumed
  2. Unexplained or excessive absences from work or school 
  3. An extreme change in behavior, resulting in negative consequences at work and school
  4. Extreme mood changes and increased levels of stress
  5. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that used to be important
  6. Withdrawal from friend and family relationships
  7. Important engagements are not attended or fulfilled
  8. The individual continues to use despite consequences
  9. Drug and alcohol us a consistent topic of conversation
  10. Disrupted sleep patterns (Sleeps far more or far less than usual)
  11. Persistent financial problems due to buying opioids 
  12. Rapid weight loss

The above list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible scenario. Everyone and their case of addiction are different. The list above is meant to give a rough picture of the emotional, mental, and behavioral changes that can be an early sign of an opioid use disorder.  If you are concerned that a loved one may be suffering from this type of drug addiction, it is important to seek a consultation with a qualified professional immediately. 

How to Discuss Treatment Options With A Loved One

While it is true that we can never make someone do something they don’t want to do, in the case of addiction, sometimes things have to happen in order for it to get better. Therefore, it is important to discuss treatment with your loved one, despite how hard it may be. 

As mentioned before, the bad news is that only one in three people tend to seek help for addiction. Research shows that these are the people that most likely need it the most, but don’t for various reasons. 

One major reason people don’t seek help is due to self-reliance. This is something that is embedded in our psyche, but in the case of addiction, self-reliance becomes an issue. When a disease such as addiction takes control, it does in all aspects of a person’s life. 

Dependency is the opposite of self-reliance, and when someone is sick, most likely they either don’t realize they need help or want to, but can’t due to certain things burdening them. Many people who are sick have a lack of insight and simply do not think they are sick. This is why, oftentimes, it takes the good people in their lives to guide them back to reality, even though it is difficult. 

Stigma is a huge factor in why people don’t receive help, as they often feel ashamed, embarrassed, and weak to admit it, due to the skewed perception and cruelty of society. A person with an addiction to opioids is not a burden. 

While it was a choice to take these harmful substances despite the consequences, wanting to become addicted to them was not a choice. Addicts need help, and should not feel like they can’t receive it. 

This is why it is crucial for friends and family to step in to help their loved ones realize that they need to seek treatment, but without meddling. Rather than meddling, people on the outside have the opportunity and power to save someone’s life. 

Here are the steps you can take to help your loved one seek professional treatment:

  1. Let your loved one know that you would like to have an important conversation with them, but only when it is a good time and place.
  2. During the conversation speak firmly, but approach your loved one or friend with empathy. Remember that they are struggling, so, support and understanding are what matters most. For example, you may say, “I know this is extremely hard for you, but I’m talking to you about your struggles with pain and the medication you are taking because I love you. If I didn’t care, we wouldn’t be having this talk.” Be prepared for the person to be upset, and try to not get defensive. Use statements with “I” in it, such as “I am concerned for and about you.” Don’t ever use words like crazy or abnormal.
  3. Facilitate the process by finding a professional and scheduling an appointment at the rehab facility. Even if they refuse to go, you should still meet with the doctor or specialists to be prepared and one step ahead. Then, you can talk to your loved one and all the ways it could help them. 
  4. Tell them that rehab isn’t a place that will suffocate them, but a place of love and support surrounded with people who are sorting out similar things. Remind them that while they took bad substances, it is not their fault, and they will recover from this, but with hard work and determination. Most, importantly that they will be supported every step of the way. These words will most likely generate some motivation to get help, even with some reluctance at first. 

Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare Can Help

If you find yourself wondering if you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, specifically with opioids, please reach out to the specialists of Granite Mountain BHC right away.  We can provide an evaluation that may save years of heartache for your loved one and your family, and in many cases may save his or her life. Contact us today by calling (877) 389-0412. We are here to help.