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Friday, March 5, 2021

Do Women Relapse More Than Men?

women relapse more than men

Addiction and overdoses continue to be serious issues in the US. Although there has been little research on the connection between gender differences and the reasons behind substance use disorders and subsequent relapse, a few recent studies point to different factors for men and women. March is Women’s History Month and March 8 is International Women’s Day, an appropriate time to investigate whether women relapse more than men.

Rising Drug Overdose Rate

The CDC states that the number of drug overdose deaths in the US in the 12-month period ending in May 2020 was the highest ever recorded. Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred during that time. The number of overdose deaths was already increasing before the COVID-19 pandemic, but these latest numbers indicate that it is becoming more alarming during the outbreak. Synthetic opioids are the primary cause of the rising rate of overdoses, increasing 38.4 percent from June 2019 to May 2020.

Gender Differences in Substance Use and Relapse

Most of the research on substance use disorders had focused on men until the early 1990s. Since then, there have been some new studies that have uncovered gender differences in addiction and relapse. A 2008 US National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that men are more likely to become addicts than women. In fact, 11.5% of adult males had a substance use disorder, as compared with 6.4% of females.

However, it was also discovered that women face tougher challenges in other areas of substance use. Women tend to move more quickly from using an addictive substance to becoming dependent on it. In addition, women develop medical or social consequences of their addiction faster and often find it more difficult to quit using the addictive substances. As a result, women relapse more than men.

Impact Greater for Women

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified a number of issues specific to women that can have an impact on their substance use, addiction, and relapse rates. Research scientists in the area of substance use have discovered that issues related to hormones, fertility, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can all affect drug use in women.

They’ve also found that women identify unique reasons for using drugs, including fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, controlling their weight, and attempting to self-treat mental health problems. NIDA has also determined that women use and respond to substances such as drugs and alcohol differently than men, including having more cravings and being more likely to relapse after treatment.

Some of the reasons for these differences may be that sex hormones make women more sensitive than men to the effects of certain drugs. Brain changes in women can also be different from those in men who use drugs. Researchers found that women who use certain substances may be more likely to experience anxiety, depression, or panic attacks. Women also are more likely to have to go to the emergency room or to die from an overdose.

Relapse Factors

Researchers with the University of Southern California (USC) recently explored risk factors for each sex that are most strongly associated with opioid use following treatment, shedding some light on what may affect the fact that women relapse more than men. They found that risk factors for women appear to be greater substance use problems and withdrawal symptoms. For men, the factors are younger age and histories of conduct disorder and multiple substance use disorder.

The “largest hazard” for women relapsing were found to be greater withdrawal symptoms, treatment resistance, and younger age. Many of these same factors were also identified as the “greatest risk factors” for women, which included younger age, greater withdrawal symptoms, criminal justice involvement, and substance use problems.

An earlier study, conducted in 2019 by an assistant professor of pharmacology in the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, found that women whose fertility-related hormone levels are high, tend to be more prone to seek rewards. Professor Erin Calipari, determined that women’s hormonal cycles can cause them to be more affected by triggers that lead to relapse, in essence finding that women relapse more than men.

Help for Substance Abuse in California

At Hope by the Sea, we offer you a place to heal from substance abuse issues or alcohol dependency. We provide comprehensive addiction treatment to people throughout the state of California. Specializing in dual diagnosis treatment, our team of expert clinicians is equipped to assist those who are combatting chronic stress in addition to substance abuse or mental illness. For more information on our service offerings, contact our admissions team today. Hope Starts Here!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Rates of Depression and Anxiety Among College Students

depression and anxiety in college students

College can be a very exciting time in a young person’s life. There are new friends, new living arrangements, and, of course, an immense array of educational opportunities to experience. However, it can also be a very challenging time, given all the adjustments and pressures associated with higher education. The rates of depression and anxiety among college students has always been a concern and is now even more so in the midst of the pandemic.

Pre-COVID Mental Health Indicators

A number of research studies have been conducted in the past several years, to determine the rates of depression and anxiety among college students. One group of researchers studied data from two large annual surveys of college students between 2007 and 2018 and found that mental health indicators have been worsening throughout the years. The rate of anxiety, depression, low flourishing, and suicidal planning and attempts had been increasing even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 177,000 undergraduates participated in the surveys between 2007 and 2018. Most were between the ages of 18 and 22. Reports of suicide attempts increased from 0.7% of survey participants in 2013 to 1.8% in 2018, while the proportion of students reporting severe depression rose from 9.4% to 21.1% in the same period. The rate of moderate to severe depression rose from 23.2% in 2007 to 41.1% in 2018, while rates of moderate to severe anxiety rose from 17.9% in 2013 to 34.4% in 2018.

Depression and Anxiety During COVID

As the pandemic continued through 2020 and into 2021, the rates of depression and anxiety among college students reflected their stress and worries over the COVID-19 virus and its effects on them and their family. In one survey, conducted of 195 students at a large public university in the US, 71% of the students indicated they felt increased stress and anxiety due to the outbreak. Contributing factors to their increased levels of anxiety and depression included:

  • Worries about their health and their loved ones’ health (91%)
  • Difficulty with their ability to concentrate (89%)
  • Disruptions to their sleep patterns (86%)
  • Decreased social interaction because of physical distancing restrictions (86%)
  • Increased concerns about their academic performance (82%).

Summer Screening for Mental Health

In separate studies conducted during the summer of 2020, researchers found that college students were experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety than in years past. These results indicated that the pandemic was having a negative mental health impact on students, particularly for those who struggled with the transition from in-person classrooms to remote learning. One study of 15,346 graduate and professional students found that 32% were positive for major depressive disorder, two times higher than this group experienced in 2019, and 39% were experiencing generalized anxiety.

An online survey conducted of almost 200 college students, including graduate students, focused on their emotional readiness for the fall 2020 semesters. That study found that 63% of the students indicated their emotional health was worse than before the pandemic began and 56% were significantly concerned about their ability to care for their own mental health. In addition, the students indicated they were dealing with:

  • Anxiety (82%)
  • Social isolation / loneliness (68%)
  • Depression (63%)
  • Trouble concentrating (62%)
  • Difficulty coping with stress in a healthy way (60%)
  • Suicidal thoughts, experienced in the previous month (19%).

Concerned About Their Mental Health

College students recognize that their depression and anxiety is increasing, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A research report released by the CDC recently as well as research published by several other organizations found that students think that the pandemic has made it more difficult for them to access mental health care.

One survey found that 58% of college students were “moderately,” “very,” or “extremely” worried about their mental health. In addition, 46% were anxious about returning to the physical campus. The CDC report identified a serious concern among college students about suicide attempts. Approximately 25% of those students surveyed said they had “seriously considered suicide” in the previous 30 days.

Hope by the Sea is Here to Help

If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health issues, the professionals at Hope by the Sea are here to help. We are a southern California mental health and addiction treatment center, focused on helping men and women begin the journey of recovery from mood disorders and addiction. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible. When you need help treating your mental health or substance use disorder, we offer the dual diagnosis treatment program you need. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Is Compulsive Hoarding Behavior Evidence of Addiction?

compulsive hoarding behavior and addiction

People who collect items such as coffee mugs, porcelain figurines, or old coins take pride in their collection and have it neatly organized. Collecting can be a constructive hobby. However, if your home is cluttered with items such as stacks of newspapers or magazines, and you feel a compulsion to continue to acquire more, you may have a disorder referred to as hoarding. Your hoarding is probably causing a lot of issues in your life. Compulsive hoarding behavior may even be evidence of addiction.

Differences Between Collecting and Hoarding

Individuals who consider themselves collectors experience joy in displaying their items and talking about them with friends and family. They can budget their time and money appropriately when considering new purchases and feel a sense of satisfaction about their collection.

When you hoard, however, you are usually embarrassed about the items that are filling your house. You are probably uncomfortable letting other people see them. Your livable space may be shrinking, possibly becoming a dangerous environment for you, and you feel a sense of shame or sadness. You may also have let your purchases get you into debt.

Effects of a Hoarding Disorder

If you have difficulty discarding or parting with your possessions, regardless of their actual value, you may have a hoarding disorder. This disorder can be present on its own or it could be a symptom of another disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

The effects of hoarding behavior can be physical, social, emotional, financial, or legal. Symptoms of hoarding include:

  • Severe anxiety when you attempt to discard items
  • Feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by your possessions
  • Suspicion about other people who might attempt to touch your possessions
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions, such as being afraid of running out of a certain item and checking the trash for accidentally discarded items
  • Functional impairments, such as losing livable space in your room, becoming isolated socially, having financial and relationship difficulties.

Hoarding Behavior and Addiction

It’s been estimated that about 2 to 6 percent of the population suffers from compulsive hoarding disorder. Research shows that it is more common in males than in females and more common among older adults. In fact, 3 times as many adults 55 to 94 years old are affected by hoarding disorder than those adults between the ages of 34 to 44.

Many people who exhibit hoarding behavior also experience depression, anxiety disorders, or alcohol use disorder. A behavior associated with hoarding, compulsive buying, has also been directly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and addiction. Researchers have found that compulsive buying may be closely related to an increased sensitivity to reward, which is also found in those with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. This reward sensitivity and hoarding behavior separate compulsive buying from regular and recreational shopping.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Individuals with a mental health disorder such as hoarding behavior and an addiction are typically diagnosed with co-occurring disorders in what is known as a dual diagnosis. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 9.5 million adults in the US experienced both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder in 2019.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that addiction to drugs or alcohol often occurs in individuals with mental illness, usually as they attempt to cope with overwhelming symptoms. In the same way, compulsive hoarding behavior may be evidence of an addiction. The individual may feel anxious, fearful, or depressed because of the effects of their hoarding disorder and seek out drugs, either prescription or illicit, or drink alcohol in an attempt to alleviate or dull their feelings.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If these symptoms describe your compulsive hoarding behavior and co-occurring addiction, it is important that you get treatment for both. Integrated intervention is the best treatment for someone with a dual diagnosis of a mental health and a substance use disorder. In treatment, you will be able to understand how each condition affects the other so that you can find effective ways to overcome both.

Help for Your Addiction and Compulsive Hoarding Behavior 

At Hope by the Sea, a southern California addiction treatment center, we focus on helping you begin your journey of recovery from mental health issues and substance use issues. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible. When you need help treating your addiction and compulsive hoarding behavior, we offer the dual diagnosis treatment program you need. 

Our team continues to follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure our clients' safety. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Using Random Acts of Kindness to Boost Your Mood

random acts of kindness to boost your mood

Everyone is a little more stressed these days, it seems. There are some easy and effective ways to help you feel better, though, while you can also help others. Wednesday, February 17, is Random Acts of Kindness Day. Using random acts of kindness to boost your mood has been scientifically proven! Acts of kindness go a long way toward benefiting yourself and others during these challenging times.

Random Acts of Kindness Day

February 17 has been designated as Random Acts of Kindness Day in 2021. In fact, the entire week from February 14-20 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. It’s the perfect time to start planning how to help others by making kindness the norm in your life. A random act of kindness is simply doing something because it feels like the right thing to do. It could range from holding a door open for a stranger, sending a note of encouragement to a friend, or collecting donations for a local food bank.

Boosting Your Mood and Your Health

When you perform random acts of kindness, it boosts your mood by activating the release of a chemical in your brain called dopamine. This is the “feel good” neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good when you do something good. Being motivated by generosity, whether you’re giving time or something more tangible, can benefit you as much as it does those you are helping.

In several studies, researchers found that people who reported helping others were able to boost their own sense of well-being. In fact, a larger number of selfless acts was linked to higher levels of daily positive emotions and better overall mental health in those performing the acts. These individuals’ helping behavior also impacted how they responded to stressors in their lives. When they took the time to help others, it appeared to buffer the negative effects of stress on their well-being.

Using random acts of kindness to boost your mood can be beneficial when you are suffering from depression or chronic stress. You are shifting the focus away from yourself and onto others who need your help. When you do good deeds for others, it can also prevent potential negative feelings about yourself.

Kindness is Contagious

One of the most beneficial aspects of performing random acts of kindness is that your kindness will inspire others to move forward with kind acts of their own. People who see you do something nice or helpful will also experience the positive effects in their brains and that will inspire them to follow your positive lead. You could create a significant domino effect of people “paying it forward” and improving their moods!

The Benefits of Kindness

Research has shown that kindness can produce oxytocin, which aids in lowering your blood pressure and can improve your overall heart health. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that also increases your self-esteem and optimism, further explaining how using random acts of kindness to boost your mood can improve your physical and mental health.

Kindness can also give you more energy. In one study, participants said they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others. More significantly, they felt calmer and less depressed and experienced increased feelings of self-worth. As a result, people who perform acts of kindness tend to be happier. Performing an act of kindness also stimulates serotonin in your brain, which can help heal physical and mental wounds, calm you down, and give a sense of happiness.

Kindness can also help decrease pain and stress. Studies have found that people who are kind have 23% less cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and they may even age slower than the average person. When you perform at least six acts of kindness a week, even if you are normally highly anxious, the acts can help you with a significant improvement in your mood and a reduction in social anxiety. You may also find that your relationships with others are improving, not just because you are doing nice things for them but because your acts have boosted your physical and mental health.

Help for Your Addiction and Anxiety Disorder 

At Hope by the Sea, a southern California addiction treatment center, we are focused on helping men and women begin the journey of recovery from mood disorders and addiction. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible. When you need help treating your addiction and anxiety disorder, we offer the dual diagnosis treatment program you need. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

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