The Alarming Rise of Rainbow Fentanyl: Unveiling the Trending Drug Menace

In recent times, the emergence of rainbow fentanyl has sparked significant concern among health officials, law enforcement, and the public due to its potential to attract younger demographics with its deceptive, candy-like appearance. This post delves into the nuances of rainbow fentanyl, outlining its dangers, the intent behind its colorful disguise, and the broader implications on drug abuse and prevention efforts.

What is Rainbow Fentanyl?

Rainbow fentanyl refers to fentanyl pills and powders that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes. This new trend represents a strategic maneuver by drug traffickers to mask the highly addictive and potentially deadly nature of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, as harmless candy to entice children and young adults​​​​.

Why is Rainbow Fentanyl Dangerous?

  • Potent and Deadly: Fentanyl is known for its potency, being significantly stronger than heroin and morphine. A small dose can be fatal, making any form of it, including rainbow fentanyl, extremely dangerous.
  • Targeting the Youth: The colorful appearance of rainbow fentanyl is believed to be a deliberate attempt by drug traffickers to appeal to kids and young adults, potentially increasing the risk of accidental ingestions and overdoses among this age group​​.
  • Spread Across the United States: Seized in 26 states, the distribution of rainbow fentanyl signifies a growing trend that poses a national threat, with law enforcement agencies and the DEA actively working to curb its spread​​.

Health and Legal Implications

The proliferation of rainbow fentanyl raises significant health concerns, particularly the risk of overdose. Given its potent nature, individuals may unknowingly consume a lethal dose. Moreover, the deceptive marketing towards younger demographics highlights a sinister strategy to cultivate a new generation of opioid users, further exacerbating the opioid crisis in America.

Combating Rainbow Fentanyl

Efforts to combat the spread of rainbow fentanyl involve a multi-faceted approach, including:

  • Increased Awareness and Education: Informing the public about the dangers of rainbow fentanyl, particularly parents and young individuals, is crucial.
  • Law Enforcement Actions: Agencies like the DEA are at the forefront, seizing shipments and taking down networks distributing rainbow fentanyl.
  • Community Outreach: Engaging communities to foster environments that discourage drug use and support those affected by substance abuse.

In Conclusion

The emergence of rainbow fentanyl represents a new chapter in the ongoing battle against opioid abuse. Its colorful facade, designed to deceive and entice, underscores the need for vigilance and comprehensive strategies to protect vulnerable populations. By raising awareness, enhancing law enforcement efforts, and fostering community resilience, we can hope to mitigate the impact of this dangerous trend.

The rising trend of rainbow fentanyl demands a concerted effort from all sectors of society to prevent its spread and address the broader issues of drug abuse and addiction. It’s a stark reminder of the evolving challenges in the fight against opioid abuse and the importance of staying informed and proactive in protecting our communities.

Understanding Alcoholic Dementia: Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery

Alcoholic dementia, also known as alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD), is a serious and potentially devastating condition resulting from long-term, excessive alcohol consumption. It affects cognitive abilities, leading to symptoms commonly associated with dementia, such as memory loss, difficulty in thinking, and problem-solving. This blog post aims to delve into the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and recovery process of alcoholic dementia, leveraging insights from leading sources to provide a comprehensive overview of the condition.

What Causes Alcoholic Dementia?

Alcoholic dementia arises from the direct toxic effects of alcohol on brain cells over many years of heavy drinking. The condition is particularly influenced by nutritional deficiencies, notably thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which is common among those who consume excessive alcohol. Thiamine is crucial for brain function, and its deficiency can lead to severe brain disorders, including Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome, both of which are closely linked to the development of alcoholic dementia​​​​.

Recognizing the Symptoms

The symptoms of alcoholic dementia can vary significantly from one individual to another but generally include:

  • Difficulty staying focused and performing complex tasks
  • Memory loss and problems with information recall
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making abilities
  • Changes in personality and social behavior
  • Problems with balance and coordination

A notable aspect of alcoholic dementia is the impact on the frontal lobes of the brain, which are crucial for planning, controlling impulses, and executing tasks. This results in difficulties with problem-solving, planning, organizing, and controlling emotions​​.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing alcoholic dementia involves a comprehensive assessment, including medical history, physical examinations, cognitive tests, and brain imaging to rule out other causes of dementia. It is crucial to inform healthcare providers about alcohol use history to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for alcoholic dementia primarily focuses on abstaining from alcohol to prevent further damage. Nutritional support, particularly thiamine supplementation, is critical to address deficiencies and support brain health. Rehabilitation programs may also play a vital role in recovery, offering psychological support and strategies to manage symptoms​​​​.

Recovery and Prognosis

Recovery from alcoholic dementia varies among individuals and depends on several factors, including the severity of the condition and the individual’s overall health. Early detection and cessation of alcohol use can lead to significant improvements. While some cognitive functions may recover over time, others, such as executive functions and memory, may have lasting impairments. Support from healthcare professionals, family, and alcohol recovery groups is crucial during the recovery process​​​​.

Prevention and Awareness

Preventing alcoholic dementia starts with awareness and education about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption. Limiting alcohol intake, seeking help for alcohol use disorders, and maintaining a healthy diet rich in thiamine and other essential nutrients are key steps to reduce the risk of developing this condition.

In Conclusion

Alcoholic dementia is a preventable yet often overlooked consequence of chronic alcohol abuse. Recognizing the signs and seeking treatment early can significantly improve quality of life and cognitive function. It’s important for individuals and their loved ones to be informed about the risks associated with heavy drinking and to take proactive steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

Understanding the complex nature of alcoholic dementia and the various factors that contribute to its development can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. By fostering a supportive community and prioritizing mental health, we can help those affected by alcoholic dementia navigate their recovery journey with hope and resilience.

What Is Xylazine (AKA Zombie Drug Tranq)?

In recent years, a veterinary medication named Xylazine, colloquially known as “Tranq” or the “Zombie Drug,” has emerged on the streets, posing significant health risks to humans due to its illicit use. Initially approved for veterinary purposes, this powerful animal tranquilizer is now a subject of concern for public health officials and addiction specialists alike due to its dangerous effects when misused by humans.

What is Xylazine?

Xylazine, a non-opiate sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant, is officially designated for easing handling, enabling medical procedures, and acting as a local anesthetic in veterinary medicine. Its effects include sedation, anesthesia, muscle relaxation, pain relief, and tranquility, making it invaluable for surgical procedures and diagnostic testing in animals such as dogs, cats, horses, and more. Despite its veterinary approval, Xylazine has been increasingly found in illegal substances, contributing to a host of health problems when used by humans​​.

The Journey from a Veterinary Solution to a Street Drug

Developed in 1962 and introduced in the early ’70s for veterinary use, Xylazine’s transition to the black market is a concerning evolution. Its illicit use involves being added to dangerous drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine to increase their potency, often without the users’ knowledge. This shift not only exposes users to the drug’s potent effects but also to a range of severe health risks, including skin infections and lesions at injection sites​​.

Why is Xylazine Called a “Zombie Drug”?

The nickname “Zombie Drug” stems from its severe and potentially fatal side effects, including dangerously low blood pressure, respiratory depression, and bradycardia. Moreover, injecting Xylazine can lead to significant tissue damage, causing skin sores, ulcers, and infections that develop a scaly, necrotic tissue known as eschar, contributing to its “zombie” moniker. The drug’s ability to induce blackouts and extreme sedation further associates it with zombie-like symptoms, disorienting users and increasing the risk of severe health complications​​.

The Rise of Xylazine Use and Associated Risks

The misuse of Xylazine has seen a significant increase, driven by its availability, potency, and the alarming trend of it being cut into illicit drugs. Health professionals warn of the drug’s capacity to significantly increase the potency of opioids, potentially leading to overdose and resistance to overdose-reversing medications. Xylazine’s presence in the drug market has been linked to numerous overdose deaths across the United States, emphasizing the urgent need for awareness and intervention​​.

Side Effects and Signs of Use

The side effects of Xylazine vary in humans but notably include disorientation, drowsiness, blurred vision, skin ulcers, and in severe cases, coma, respiratory depression, and even death. Long-term use can lead to memory impairment, anxiety, and depression. Observing someone for mood swings, withdrawal from social activities, slurred speech, and the development of skin lesions can be indicative of Xylazine use​​.

Combating the Xylazine Crisis

Addressing the Xylazine crisis involves a multifaceted approach, including education, prevention, and treatment strategies. Public health experts recommend carrying naloxone, using test strips to detect Xylazine in substances, and not using drugs alone as ways to mitigate risks. Furthermore, finding treatment for substance misuse and starting a recovery journey are essential steps for individuals affected by Xylazine misuse​​.

In Conclusion

The emergence of Xylazine as a street drug is a distressing development, highlighting the need for concerted efforts to combat its spread and support affected individuals. Understanding the risks, identifying signs of use, and seeking professional help are critical components of addressing this public health challenge. As the “Zombie Drug” continues to impact communities, awareness and intervention become paramount in preventing further harm and fostering recovery.

What Is DXM? The Over-the-Counter Hallucinogen Popular Among Teens

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough and cold medications. While DXM has legitimate medical uses as a cough suppressant, its misuse, especially among teenagers, has become a significant concern. This blog post delves into what DXM is, its medical and recreational use, the risks associated with its abuse, and the treatment options available for those struggling with DXM addiction.

What Is DXM?

DXM is found in a range of medications, including but not limited to Coricidin, Delsym, Robitussin, Dimetapp, Theraflu, Tylenol Cough & Cold, Vicks Dayquil and Nyquil, Pediacare, and Alka Seltzer Plus. It’s sought after for its cough-suppressing capabilities, categorized as an antitussive, and operates by dampening the brain’s cough reflex​​.

Medical Use of DXM

Medically, DXM is used to manage symptoms of the common cold or flu, helping individuals cope with coughing without treating the underlying illness. Its recommended dosage for cough suppression is about 15 to 30 mg every three to four hours, not exceeding 120 mg within 24 hours​​.

Recreational Use and Misuse

However, the narrative shifts when DXM is consumed in quantities far exceeding the advised therapeutic dose, a practice some individuals, particularly teens, engage in to experience a high. This misuse can lead to serious health problems and potentially foster addiction. Users, seeking an intense experience akin to that of LSD or PCP, often consume 250 to 1,500 mg of DXM, engaging in what is colloquially known as “robotripping,” “skittling,” or “dexing”​​.

The Dangers of DXM Abuse

The effects of DXM abuse can be severe, ranging from delusions, dissociation, and paranoia to visual hallucinations, euphoria, and cognitive impairments. The recreational use of DXM mirrors the effects of dissociative drugs like PCP, leading to unpredictable behavior and, in some cases, dangerous situations​​.

Recognizing DXM Abuse

Identifying DXM abuse involves noting signs such as lack of coordination, inappropriate laughter or confusion, agitation, and paranoia. Observing empty cough syrup bottles or medication packets can also indicate misuse​​.

Trends in DXM Misuse

Research indicates that DXM abuse peaked around 2006 and has been on a general decline. However, emergency department visits suggest a significant portion of these cases involve individuals between 12 and 20 years old, highlighting the substance’s popularity among teens​​.

Treatment for DXM Addiction

Treatment for DXM addiction includes a variety of evidence-based methods, such as individual therapy, group therapy, motivational interviewing, and cognitive behavioral therapy. These treatments aim to address both the symptoms of addiction and any underlying mental health issues contributing to substance use​​.

Prevention and Education

Preventing DXM abuse starts with education on its dangers and monitoring over-the-counter medications at home. Parents are encouraged to be vigilant about their teen’s internet usage and to communicate openly about the risks of misusing drugs​​​​.

In conclusion, while DXM is a legally obtainable cough suppressant, its potential for abuse, particularly among teenagers, poses significant risks. Understanding these dangers, recognizing signs of abuse, and seeking appropriate treatment are crucial steps in addressing this issue. Through education and vigilance, we can help prevent the misuse of DXM and protect the health and well-being of our youth.

Alcohol and Inflammation

In the bustling heart of Silicon Valley, where innovation and progress dance hand in hand, there exists a haven of healing – Silicon Valley Recovery. Amidst the relentless pace of technological advancement, this sanctuary offers a serene escape for those battling the formidable duo of Alcohol and Inflammation. As we delve into the intricacies of this symbiotic relationship, let’s explore how the dedicated team at Silicon Valley Recovery embraces a holistic approach to guide individuals toward a life free from the shackles of addiction.

Unraveling the Connection: Alcohol and Inflammation

A Toxic Tango

In the realm of substance abuse, alcohol isn’t just a party crasher; it’s an accomplice to inflammation. The body, a finely tuned orchestra of cells and systems, reacts to excessive alcohol consumption with a cacophony of inflammatory responses. Silicon Valley Recovery recognizes this toxic tango, understanding that to heal from addiction, one must address the physical repercussions on the body’s inflammatory pathways.

Inflammation’s Stealth Onset

Inflammation, often veiled in subtlety, creeps into the body silently. Much like a stealthy intruder, it sets the stage for a cascade of health issues. Silicon Valley Recovery’s approach involves not only liberating individuals from the clutches of alcohol addiction but also delicately dismantling the inflammatory landmines left behind.

Silicon Valley Recovery: A Healing Oasis

Personalized Care as the Compass

At Silicon Valley Recovery, the compass guiding the journey to recovery is personalized care. The staff, finely attuned to the unique needs of each individual, orchestrates a symphony of healing tailored to the nuances of addiction and inflammation. In this oasis, treatment isn’t a rigid protocol but a flexible, evolving process, adapting to the ever-changing landscape of recovery.

Evidence-based Practices: The North Star

Navigating the uncharted waters of recovery requires a reliable North Star. Silicon Valley Recovery grounds its approach in evidence-based practices, intertwining scientific rigor with compassionate care. Here, the pursuit of healing is not a blind leap; it’s a guided expedition backed by the latest advancements in addiction treatment and inflammatory science.

A Heart-Centered Approach

In Silicon Valley Recovery, the heart reigns supreme. It’s not just about healing the body; it’s about nurturing the soul. The staff’s dedication extends beyond eradicating addiction; it embraces the essence of each individual, fostering an environment where recovery transcends the physical and touches the core of one’s being.

Navigating the Journey: Beyond the Stereotypes

Treatment ≠ Confinement

In Silicon Valley Recovery, the notion of being “in treatment” defies conventional stereotypes. It’s not a sterile confinement but a transformative experience. The environment, carefully curated for comfort, resembles more of a cocoon than a clinical setting. It’s a place where healing isn’t a duty but a liberating journey towards self-discovery.

Breaking the Chains of Stigma

Silicon Valley Recovery understands that addiction, like inflammation, carries a burden of stigma. The recovery process becomes a collective effort to break these chains, dismantling societal preconceptions. Here, individuals are not defined by their struggles but celebrated for their courage to embark on a path less traveled.

To Recovery

In the symphony of Silicon Valley, where technological crescendos echo, Silicon Valley Recovery orchestrates a different melody—one of healing, hope, and liberation from the clutches of Alcohol and Inflammation. Let’s not bid farewell but embrace the dawn of a new chapter.

In the tapestry of recovery, Silicon Valley Recovery weaves threads of personalized care, evidence-based practices, and a heart-centered approach. The journey isn’t just about conquering addiction; it’s a celebration of resilience and the unwavering spirit to reclaim one’s life.

So, here’s to healing, to rediscovering purpose, and to the vibrant symphony of recovery echoing through the corridors of Silicon Valley Recovery. May the journey be not just a recovery but a metamorphosis, where individuals emerge not only free from addiction but also enriched with a newfound sense of self and purpose.

Opioid withdrawal – Symptoms, Prevention, Tapering

opioid withdrawal
Opioid withdrawal - Symptoms, Prevention, Tapering Opioid withdrawal Symptoms Prevention Tapering

What is an Opioid?

An opioid is a substance that prevents pain messages from being sent between the brain and the rest of the body. This can provide pain relief while also slowing your heart rate and breathing.

Most opioids, like morphine and codeine, can be used to treat pain, but others, like methadone, can also be used to treat addiction and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Opioids are used to treat moderately severe or severe pain in the short term, such as pain from surgery or an injury. They also aid in the management of pain caused by cancer and other terminal diseases.

Opioids are classified into two types: those that occur naturally and are derived from the opium poppy (such as codeine, morphine, and heroin) and those that are synthesized (such as pethidine and fentanyl).

Why should I stop taking, or reduce, my opioid medicine?

Prescription pain relievers, such as opioids, are necessary for some people, but they are dangerous and should be used with caution. Opioids can cause addiction, life-threatening breathing problems, and even increased pain sensitivity.

Tolerance to opioids can develop, which means that you may require more opioids to achieve the same effect. However, as the dosage increases, so does the risk of harmful side effects.

Approximately four out of every five people with chronic, non-cancer pain who use opioids long-term will experience at least one harmful side effect.

It is critical to review your medications with your doctor on a regular basis and to consider tapering your opioids: gradually reducing the dosage while under medical supervision.

What are opioid withdrawal symptoms?

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can occur if you abruptly discontinue or reduce the dosage of an opioid medication. They can also occur if you take another medication that prevents the opioid from working properly.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant and can make you feel ill, but they are unlikely to be dangerous if withdrawal is managed slowly and carefully under medical supervision. You should not stop taking opioids without first consulting your doctor. 

Withdrawal symptoms for all opioids are similar and can include:

  • sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose
  • yawning and sleep disruption
  • Sweating, goosebumps, and hot and cold flushes
  • feeling tense or irritable
  • opioid compulsions
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite loss
  • tremor (shakenness)

During opioid withdrawal, you may also experience joint, bone, or muscle pain, as well as headaches.

Who is most likely to experience opioid withdrawal symptoms?

Even if you take an opioid medication exactly as prescribed, you can become addicted to it and experience withdrawal symptoms if the dosage is abruptly reduced. Withdrawal symptoms can occur after just two weeks of taking an opioid on a regular basis.

However, there are some predictors of opioid withdrawal symptoms, such as if:

  • The dosage is excessive.
  • You have been on opioids for more than six months.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms begin shortly after your last dose, but the exact timing depends on the opioid and how you take it. Withdrawal symptoms can last for varying lengths of time, depending on the type of opioid, how it is taken, and how long it has been used.

For example, if you regularly use fast-acting opioids (such as oxycodone or morphine), you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms — but they should be brief. If you take a slow-release form of the same medication for an extended period of time, you are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. In this case, if you do get withdrawal symptoms, they will probably last longer.

You are unlikely to experience withdrawal symptoms if you have been taking an opioid medication intermittently for a short period of time.

Fear of withdrawal should not prevent you from discontinuing or reducing your opioid use. In order to reduce the likelihood of experiencing difficult withdrawal symptoms, consult your doctor about gradually reducing the dosage of your opioid medication.

How do you prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms?

Always discontinue or reduce opioid medications under the supervision of your doctor. There are ways to reduce withdrawal symptoms and make you feel more at ease. Some people are able to avoid withdrawal symptoms entirely by gradually reducing their dosage.

This is known as tapering. Your doctor will work with you to develop a day-by-day or week-by-week dosage reduction plan.

This plan will be determined by how urgent you need to stop taking opioids and how long you have been taking opioid medications. Other medications may be recommended by your doctor to help you manage any opioid withdrawal symptoms.

How do you treat opioid withdrawal symptoms?

Tapering opioid medications under medical supervision is the best way to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. However, if you do experience symptoms, keep in mind that they are usually transient and not dangerous. Your doctor can help you manage them.

Non-drug strategies can be used to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Drinking plenty of water will help you avoid dehydration, which can occur during opioid withdrawal and cause you to feel ill. Mind-body therapies such as yoga, relaxation, and meditation are also effective strategies for many people experiencing opioid withdrawal.

It is critical to rely on your support network; and inform your family and friends that you may require additional assistance while going through opioid withdrawal.

First, consult your doctor about any treatments or strategies for dealing with withdrawal symptoms. It is critical to consider the required level of care, insurance coverage, and commitment when selecting the best detox program. Silicon Valley Recovery is the most comprehensive opioid detox center, offering assistance at every stage of your recovery.

Understanding Addiction: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition that affects millions of people around the world, but is sometimes difficult to understand. It is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite the harmful consequences. Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status.

What Causes Addiction?

The causes of addiction are multifaceted and complex. They can vary from person to person and can include genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Some of the most common causes of addiction include:

  1. Genetics: Addiction can be passed down from one generation to another. Research shows that genetic factors can account for up to 50% of the risk for addiction.
  2. Environment: The environment can also play a role in the development of addiction. Factors such as peer pressure, trauma, stress, and access to drugs can increase the risk of addiction.
  3. Mental health: People who suffer from mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD are more likely to develop an addiction.
  4. Early exposure: Early exposure to drugs or alcohol can increase the risk of addiction later in life.

What are the Symptoms of Addiction?

The symptoms of addiction can vary depending on the drug or substance being used. However, some common signs and symptoms of addiction include the following:

  1. Compulsive drug seeking and use.
  2. Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
  3. Continued drug use despite negative consequences.
  4. Withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped.
  5. Increased tolerance to drugs, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects.
  6. Financial problems due to drug use.
  7. Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  8. Changes in behavior, mood, and attitude.

What are the Treatment Options for Addiction?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating addiction. The most effective treatment programs are tailored to the individual and address their specific needs. Some common treatment options for addiction include:

  1. Detoxification: This is the process of removing drugs or alcohol from the body. It is usually the first step in the treatment process and can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis.
  2. Inpatient Rehabilitation: Inpatient rehabilitation programs provide a safe, structured environment for people to recover from addiction. These programs typically last for 30 to 90 days and include a combination of individual and group therapy.
  3. Outpatient Rehabilitation: Outpatient rehabilitation programs allow people to receive treatment while maintaining their daily responsibilities. These programs can be less intensive than inpatient programs and can include individual and group therapy.
  4. Medication-Assisted Treatment: Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a form of treatment that uses medication to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the risk of relapse.
  5. Support Groups: Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can provide a supportive environment for people in recovery.

Addiction is a complex disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors and can have devastating consequences if left untreated. The good news is that addiction is treatable, and recovery is possible. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to seek help. You can overcome addiction and live a healthy, fulfilling life with the proper treatment and support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible. Silicon Valley Recovery offers a variety of addiction treatment programs tailored to meet individual needs. Contact us today at 408-478-9365 to learn more about our services and take the first step toward recovery.

The Alcohol Withdrawal CIWA Protocol

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild sleeplessness and shaky conduct to more serious ones like delirium tremens. Although a person’s medical history and a physical exam are usually enough to make a diagnosis, CIWA protocol makes the treatment process even more efficient. CIWA, which stands for Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment Protocol, gives doctors a way to objectively measure how bad a patient’s alcohol withdrawal is likely to be.

What is the CIWA Protocol? 

The CIWA Protocol is a scale that measures the symptoms used to evaluate and treat people trying to quit drinking. Each symptom on the scale has its score, and when you add up all the scores, physicians get an overall value that shows how bad alcohol withdrawal is. The score for nine of these symptoms is between 0 and 7, and the score for orientation is between 0 and 4. This makes figuring out how to treat the patient more effective.

CIWA Protocol Scoring for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Treatment

We initially mentioned that the CIWA Protocol has a scoring system for ten symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These symptoms have a related question that the therapist asks to determine the requisite point. The point between 0 to 7 for the first nine questions and 0 to 4 for orientation is based on the patient’s response. Let’s check out the Questions, the scoring for responses, and how experts use them to determine the next steps for treatment. 

High Pulse Rate and Sweating

Alcohol affects the CNS and circulation, increasing heart rate and dilating skin blood vessels. Hence, Alcohol withdrawal causes the body’s sweat glands to work overtime and cause ‘night sweats.’ These symptoms are observed and scored based on the CIWA scale below:

  • 0 means Sweating is not evident
  • 1 represents very light perspiration, wet palms
  • 2,3, and 4 are points for dripping sweat on the forehead.
  • Five, six, and seven are points for sweaty pangs.

Tremors in the Hands

This symptom of alcohol withdrawal is a common sign of alcoholism. This symptom often emerges less than 6 hours after drinking alcohol. Alcohol depresses the CNS and causes the brain to release more neurotransmitters than usual. When alcohol use is abruptly interrupted, the brain still believes it should generate enough neurotransmitters for the alcohol it’s accustomed to. This causes hand tremors. Here, Clinicians observe by asking the patient to stretch their hands forward. Points for observations are:

Lack of Sleep or Insomnia

Alcohol impairs the brain’s natural mechanism for determining the sleep duration required every night based on active periods. Alcohol’s diuretic nature increases the desire to use the toilet at night and affects sleep quality. To ascertain this symptom, the Clinician observes the patients.

Nausea and Vomiting

Alcohol withdrawal causes nausea for several reasons. Alcohol dehydrates the body. It also increases urine production and causes dehydration. 

Alcohol irritates the stomach and intestinal lining to cause vomiting. First, nausea from stomach muscles contracting causes alcohol-induced vomiting. Second, ‘dry heaves’ cause the stomach’s biggest section to spasm. Then, the Small intestine’s contents are expelled through the mouth. To ascertain this condition, The Physician asks, “Is your stomach aching or making you want to vomit?”. Your response determines your points on the CIWA Scale. Here,

  • 0 points for not nauseating or vomiting symptoms.
  • 1 for very minimal vomiting.
  • 2,3 and 4 for consistent nausea and dry heaves.
  • 5,6, and 7 for more continuous nausea, vomiting, and dry heaves.

Hallucinations

This symptom is often called ‘delirium Tremens’ which is the medical name for withdrawal-induced hallucinations. This usually happens on the second to third day after withdrawal. The Physician asks here, “Is there anything you’re seeing that makes you uncomfortable? Do you have an uncanny ability to perceive things that aren’t there?”

  • 0 means no presence of hallucinations.
  • 1,2, 3, and 4 represent moderate to light sensitivity 
  • 5 represents terrible hallucinations
  • 6 means Intense hallucinations
  • 7 is the point for Constantly hallucinating 

Anxiety

Although sedating, alcohol disturbs the brain’s normal chemical process. How the body and brain handle alcohol’s abnormal compounds cause alcohol-related anxiety. After extended alcohol consumption, the brain thinks it should manufacture sufficient neurotransmitters to compensate for the consumed alcohol. Experts often ask a question to grade this symptom: “Do you have a heightened sense of anxiety?”. The response is graded as follows:

  • 0 means the patient is at ease.
  • 1 means the patient is moderately anxious.
  • 2,3 and 4 mean the Client is somewhat apprehensive
  • 5,6, and 7 represent chronic states caused by schizophrenia or delirium tremens.

Agitation

Alcohol changes brain chemistry by reducing serotonin levels, which govern memory, sleep, and mood. Low amounts of this substance cause poor sleep, cognitive problems, and mood changes. This symptom is assessed by observation. Here are the points for each:

  • 0 signifies a normal level of activity.
  • 1 represents a little more than the usual activity
  • 2,3,4 represents moderate agitation and restlessness
  • 5,6,7 are scores consistent pacing and thrashing

Grand Mal Seizures

During alcoholism, the body relies on a brain-affecting synthetic chemical and feels it requires it to live. This poison causes shock when removed rapidly. Grand mal seizures are caused by abruptly stopping alcohol use. These convey signals to muscles, nerves, and glands. Disrupting this mechanism may lead the brain to instruct the body’s processes to escalate performance and cause seizures.

Here the Physician asks, “Do you feel any numbness, prickling, burning, itching, or the feeling that something is creeping underneath your skin?” 

  • 0 signifies the absence of any unpleasant sensations
  • 1 signifies a minor itch, tingling, numbness, or burning sensation
  • 2 signifies itching, burning, pins & needles, or numbness.
  • 3 signifies Mild irritation, stinging, and numbness
  • 4 represents mild to moderate hallucinations
  • 5 represents terrible hallucinations
  • 6 stands for Intense hallucinations
  • 7 stands for a pattern of persistent, disturbing delusions

The CIWA score helps doctors determine how bad and fast alcohol withdrawal will be. This makes it easier to plan treatments. In treatments, the goal is to give as little medicine as possible in as little time as possible. This makes an effort to reduce the chance that patient’s become dependent on the detox medicine. Clinicians will be able to use the CIWA-Ar scale to decide which magnesium sulfate, Multivitamins, thiamine, IV fluids, and glucose to provide.

CIWA Protocol
The Alcohol Withdrawal CIWA Protocol Doctor Checking Blood Pressure

How Successful is the CIWA Protocol in the Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Using CIWA-Ar to rate individuals entering medical facilities for alcohol detox has improved results. More patients got discharged from detox centers and hospitals after shorter stays and less usage of shackles.

It was also simpler to treat delirium tremens proactively whenever CIWA-Ar was used since it was more accurate at predicting who would develop the condition.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in The San Francisco Bay Area

 If you’re seeking alcohol addiction treatment in San Francisco Bay Area, our team at Silicon Valley Recovery can help. We’re highly experienced in using the CIWA Protocol to safely and effectively treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Contact us today by calling 408-547-4089 to learn more about our program and how we can help you or your loved one get on the road to recovery.

5 Facts About Ethanol Abuse

Ethanol abuse is a form of alcohol abuse. Ethanol is a clear, colorless liquid in all alcoholic beverages, although amounts vary. If you drink liquor, beer, or wine, it will have some ethanol alcohol.

Ethyl alcohol is another term for ethanol, and in its pure form, it’s a cleaning agent or antiseptic in products like hand sanitizer. Of course, when talking about ethanol, the pure substance is rarely being discussed. Ethanol alcohol tends to be easier to drink since it’s diluted.

  • The production of ethanol occurs when grains or fruit go through fermentation. 
  • The ethanol in alcohol affects your mood and reactions and leads to the effects we commonly associate with drinking.
  • Different drinks are going to have varying concentrations of grain alcohol. The ethanol concentration is typically expressed as a percentage of alcohol by volume, abbreviated as ABV.
  • When you purchase different types of alcohol, you’ll see ABV on the label.
  • When you’re abusing alcohol, it essentially means you’re abusing any alcoholic beverage.
  • Despite the association with clear liquids, ethanol again is in every type of beverage with alcohol.

Does The Amount of Ethanol Vary in Alcoholic Drinks?

Wine, beer, and spirits are different strengths from one another.

  • Spirits, another word for liquor, usually have the highest alcohol concentrations. Most have an ABV of around 40%. 
  • Some vodkas may have around 30% ethanol, and bourbons can have an ABV of around 60%. 
  • High-proof liquor can have as much as 95% ethanol alcohol content.
  • Liqueurs usually have an ABV that’s 20 percent alcohol or lower.
  • Wine has a lower concentration than spirits. The ABV may be around 12-15% for most types of wine, although some are higher.

What is Ethanol Abuse?

Ethanol abuse means someone is abusing alcohol of any kind. Non-problematic use of alcohol might include the occasional cocktail or glass of wine.

For low alcohol use, there may even be an associated lower risk of heart attack and stroke. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the consumption of ethanol, also known by the abbreviation for ethyl alcohol, EtOH should be limited to no more than one drink a day for women or two for men.

Alcohol use can turn into a problem for some people.

Signs of ethanol abuse and substance abuse in general include:

  • Hiding alcohol or storing large amounts
  • Having a high tolerance means you drink increasingly large amounts to feel the desired effects
  • Changes in mood or behavior when drinking
  • Experiencing blackout periods due to drinking
  • Choosing to drink instead of doing other activities
  • Continuing to use alcohol despite known adverse consequences of doing so
  • Lack of control over your consumption of alcohol
  • Frequently drinking more than you plan to

While alcohol abuse doesn’t automatically mean you have an addiction or alcohol use disorder, it often leads to that. When alcohol addiction develops, it increases the risk of short- and long-term health consequences and problems in your daily life and functionality.

There are situations where any amount of alcohol can be considered abuse. For example, drinking can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome if you’re pregnant. The safe limit for alcohol for pregnant women is zero drinks. 

Ethanol Abuse

The following are five facts about ethanol abuse to know.

1. ABV Matters

We mentioned the ABV measure above or alcohol by volume. ABV is specifically a measure of ethanol. If you have a lower-ABV drink, you can conclude that you will feel fewer effects of ethanol in most cases. 

ABV can indicate not only how you feel after drinking something. It can also tell you how something might taste. Compare the taste of liquor with a high ABV to beer with a lower ABV.

ABV is not the same as proof. Both measure the alcohol content a beverage contains, but the proof is twice the alcohol by volume number.

If you have a drink that has a 20% ABV, it’s 40 proof.

2. ABV Isn’t the Same As BAC

Another measure related to alcohol is blood alcohol concentration or BAC. BAC is the percentage of alcohol (ethanol) in your bloodstream.

If you have a BAC of 0.10%, your blood supply has one part of alcohol for every 1000 parts of blood.

Typically, you’re considered intoxicated if you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher in the legal system.

What you drink, how you drink, and your physical characteristics can affect your BAC.

Some of the particular things affecting BAC include:

  • Your sex
  • Number of standard drinks
  • The amount of time you consume drinks
  • Bodyweight
  • Enzyme levels and production
  • Whether you ate
  • Medications

3. A “Standard” Drink is Often Much Smaller Than People Realize

When we see guidelines for safe alcohol consumption or symptoms of ethanol abuse, they’re often accompanied by the term “standard drink.”

For example, when medical and regulatory officials say that it’s likely safe for women to have no more than one standard drink a day, this is a specific measurement.

So many people are shocked to realize how little a standard drink actually is. We’re used to heavy pours, to the point that you could be bordering on alcohol abuse without realizing it. For example, if you have just “two drinks a night,” but they’re the equivalent of four standard drinks, it may be an issue.

The amount of liquid you consume isn’t automatically a standard drink, just because it’s in one glass or container. 

In the United States, a standard drink contains around 14 grams of pure alcohol or ethanol.

That will be the equivalent of five ounces of wine if it’s 12% alcohol. A standard drink would be 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, assuming it’s 40% alcohol, or 12 ounces of beer, with 5% alcohol.

4. Ethanol Abuse Has Serious Short and Long-Term Effects

Heavy drinking can lead to an alcohol use disorder and many serious health effects in both the short and long-term.

Short-term effects of abusing alcohol and alcohol dependence can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Loss of awareness and coordination
  • Blackouts or poor memory
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Dehydration
  • Risky behaviors
  • Injuries

Long-term alcohol abuse effects can include:

  • Liver damage, liver failure, chronic liver disease 
  • Higher risk of cancers
  • Brain damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Weak immune system
  • Addiction
  • Heart disease
  • Pancreas problems
  • Social and financial issues

5. Certain Patterns Are Associated with a Higher Risk of An Alcohol Use Disorder

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), certain drinking patterns might not seem harmful yet can be.

Women who drink three or fewer alcoholic beverages in a day and no more than seven drinks per week may still be at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. Men who have four drinks a day and no more than 14 a week may also be at risk.

Ethanol abuse affects the body, the brain, lifestyle, and relationships. 

If you’re concerned about your alcohol use or concerned about a loved one, reach out to Silicon Valley Recovery by calling 408-547-4089 to learn about treatment programs that are available in the San Francisco bay area.

Coping with Addiction in the Elderly

When we think about addiction or drug and alcohol abuse, we often associate it with younger people. After young adulthood, illicit drug use typically tends to go down, yet there’s a divergent trend happening. More adults who are older are living with substance use disorders.

In 2018, almost one million people 65 and older in the U.S. were thought to have a substance use disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Following the pandemic, that number is likely much higher now.

Why is addiction in the elderly becoming an increasing and worrisome problem? 

Multiple factors play a role in rising rates of drug addiction in elderly people. Understanding these factors is important so that we can help older people who are loved ones and also start to make strides in research and medical care.

What are the Reasons for Addiction in the Elderly?

Drug addiction in elderly people can have many reasons. Often older people are affected by more than one of these factors, which can include:

  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Medical conditions, including chronic pain 
  • Physical disabilities due to rheumatic diseases like arthritis and other conditions more common in late life
  • Financial issues
  • Death of a loved one
  • Mental illnesses including depression, anxiety disorders, and other co-occurring disorders 
  • Financial strain
  • Loss of a sense of purpose
  • Using multiple prescription medications 

As we age, our lives change. People retire, so they’re no longer in the daily routines they likely participated in for decades. This is significantly impacting the baby boomer generation right now. They might relocate or downsize, their family may not live near them, and they can experience more loss in their lives.

These can raise the risk of drug misuse and addiction at any age, and the older adult population is no exception. Drugs or alcohol can become a way to self-medicate or cope in the elderly population. 

Aging can lead to physical and social changes that increase substance abuse vulnerability.

All the addiction risk factors were present in the older age group before COVID-19, but that situation potentially worsened these factors.

Older people were encouraged to isolate socially, which means they may have gone years without seeing loved ones. That sense of disconnection can worsen physical and mental health problems and substance abuse. There were fewer opportunities for loved ones to check in on the well-being of their older relatives throughout the pandemic.

The Effects of Drugs On Older People

There are many risk factors for addiction prevalent in older populations. These substances can have more significant effects on them, too, increasing the risks.

When we age, our bodies metabolize substances more slowly. Our brains can become more sensitive to the effects of drugs and alcohol. Substances can cause more extreme cognitive impairment in older people. 

Older people are more likely to have memory, mood, lung, and heart disorders. Drugs and alcohol can make these conditions worse.

Drugs and alcohol effects, like impaired coordination and reaction time, can lead to falls and car accidents.

Addiction in the Elderly

Commonly Abused Drugs by the Elderly

There are certain drugs that older people are more likely to misuse. Prescription drug misuse is especially high on that list.

Aging people often have a variety of medications they take for chronic health conditions. 

Studies show it’s common among people between the ages of 57 and 85 to mix various prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements. In a study of 3,000 people in this age group, more than 80% used at least one prescription every day.

Opioids

Opioid addiction in elderly people is increasingly more problematic than the abuse of illicit substances. 

Opioids are prescription pain medicine. These medicines interact with the brain and central nervous system to reduce pain. At the same time, they slow down the functionality of the central nervous system.

  • Prescription opioids are highly addictive, and because of the CNS slowdown they cause, they can also lead to overdoses and death due to respiratory depression and brain damage. 
  • When someone has an opioid use disorder, it’s difficult for them to stop using the drugs independently.
  • Stopping opioid prescriptions cold turkey without a safe detox environment can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Opioid medications are prescribed for medical conditions such as chronic pain, heart disease, and advanced severe pain from cancer. 
  • The effects of prescription drug abuse are similar to heroin, which is also an opioid tied to serious addiction issues. 
  • The risk of overdose with these pain medications can go up when combined with certain other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are another prescription drug class. 

These medications include Klonopin and Xanax, among others. Benzodiazepines are for the treatment of panic, anxiety, and insomnia.

They are addictive on their own and, as mentioned, increase the risk of overdose when combined with opioids.

Alcohol

Alcohol use disorder rates increased enormously during the pandemic among most age groups, including older people. 

Alcohol can have more profound effects on older people and increase the risk of being hurt.

Drinking can also cause many health problems or worsen them. For example, it affects liver health and raises the risk of cancer.

Mixing Medications

We’ve talked about this a bit already, but older people are at an especially high risk of dangerous effects that can come from mixing medications that are part of their daily treatment plan. 

  • Older people are more likely to have complex chronic health conditions requiring them to see multiple doctors and specialists. 
  • These medical providers might not know every medication someone is on, so they could inadvertently prescribe something that shouldn’t be taken with another medication.
  • It can be harder for a geriatric patient to remember which medicines to take and when.
  • They might take things together that shouldn’t be or take higher doses than they’re supposed to.

What are the Signs of Addiction in the Elderly?

The signs of addiction in the elderly can be harder to spot than in other age groups because they look similar to symptoms of other co-occurring conditions.

Signs of addiction in the elderly include:

  • Problems with memory
  • Different sleep habits
  • Bruises
  • Depression or sadness
  • Unexplained pain
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Isolation
  • Not keeping up with personal hygiene
  • Disconnecting from loved ones
  • No interest in usual activities

What Can You Do?

If you believe your elderly relative could be experiencing a substance abuse problem, there are things you can do. 

  • First, connect with them more and check in when you can. 
  • If you don’t live nearby, you could set up times to use video calls. 
  • If you live nearby, visit frequently and keep an eye on things like their medicine cabinet.
  • If you can go to doctor’s appointments with your loved one, this will help you learn more about the medications they use, and you can talk about potentially harmful interactions. You can ask their treatment providers any questions you might have. 

There are treatment centers and programs for elderly patients dealing with addiction. You can find the right treatment option for their specific needs. Behavioral therapies are an effective treatment, and other options are available too.

The big thing to remember is that just because someone is an elderly adult doesn’t mean they can’t have a substance use disorder. We have to start recognizing this growing problem, which can diminish the quality of life, negatively affect health and even lead to an earlier death.

If you’d like to learn more about drug and alcohol addiction treatment options, including for the elderly population, please reach out to Silicon Valley Recovery today by calling 408-547-4089.