Is There a Connection Between Social Media and Drug Use?

Is There a Connection Between Social Media and Drug Use?

News, information, and entertainment travel quickly today. In decades past, one had to wait to turn on the nightly news or for the local paper to publish their weekend edition to learn about the goings-on both locally and worldwide. The internet and social media have changed that. Today, things are available to view, download and forward on at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, this also means positive and negative information and insight travel with equal swiftness and can significantly impact everyone they touch. 

What Are the Popular Forms of Social Media? 

Before considering the connection between social media and drug use, it is important to understand what social media is. Social media is often loosely defined as a series of smartphone apps that can easily communicate with friends and family. Further simplified, social media consists of various social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Social media is an internet-based technology that helps to facilitate the sharing and exchange of ideas, thoughts, and information across virtual networks and communities. Social media platforms provide users with an instant means of communication with those close by or those on the other side of the world. 

Today, more than three billion people worldwide use common forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, among others. Data from the Pew Research Center indicates as many as ninety percent of people between ages nineteen and twenty-nine use at least one type of social media. 

Is There a Connection Between Social Media and Drug Use? 

Drug and alcohol misuse and abuse are not new problems in the United States.  Each year, over twenty-one million people meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder. Struggles with drug use have been a problem long before the advent of social media. However, social media outlets provide a new and concerning opportunity for people to be exposed to drugs in ways they may not have found before. Although people of all ages are vulnerable to the effects of what they see on social media, teens and adolescents are likely more susceptible due to the strength of peer pressure and peer influence. Common social media sites, including Facebook and Snapchat, offer up an easy to access environment where people are exposed to people engaging in behaviors involving drugs and alcohol or discussing the use of drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, consistent exposure to celebrities, friends, or family engaging in substance use inevitably influences those who view the content. The constant presence of drug and alcohol use on social media may normalize or glamorize the behavior making people who wouldn’t usually turn to drugs believe that it’s OK to experiment with illicit or prescription drugs, for example.

Information from a survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed that teenagers who regularly viewed popular social media sites were more likely to use drugs than adolescents who did not use social media. The same survey showed that this group of individuals was two times more likely to use marijuana than those who did not frequently utilize social media outlets.

For impressionable people on social media, seeking others on social media, partying and engaging in risky behaviors can lead them to turn to drugs or alcohol to “fit in.” Some studies indicate as many as 75% of young adults who see photos of others on social media sites smoking weed or using other substances encourage them to experiment in similar ways. Unfortunately, the same social media posts do not tend to encourage those struggling with addiction to seek addiction treatment to overcome drug addiction

Reach Out to Us Today at Relevance Recovery 

Social media outlets provide increased opportunities for people of all ages to be exposed to substance use. Either through photographs, chats, or open discussion, information about drug use and abuse is far more widely available today than ever before, leading to new or worsening struggles with addiction for many. If you would like to learn more about how Relevance Recovery can help you overcome an addiction to drugs, contact us today

What Is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)?

What Is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)?

Therapy is an essential element of addiction treatment. Some may even say it is the cornerstone of addiction treatment programs regardless of the type of addiction for which you might be seeking treatment. The most common form of addiction treatment therapy is called cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. The premise behind cognitive behavioral therapy is helping people to change negative thoughts and irrational beliefs by thinking about the roots of their emotions and learning to build positive belief systems. Rational motive behavioral therapy or REBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. But what is REBT, and what are its goals? Again, this therapy type focuses on helping those in addiction treatment learn to change irrational beliefs around addiction. REBT (and other types of cognitive-behavioral therapy are often referred to as “action-oriented” approaches to psychotherapy that are designed to help you or your loved ones in treatment manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in a positive, healthy way.

REBT Therapy Explained

Albert Ellis, the creator of REBT, believed that people were not disturbed by things, but rather by how they viewed those things. The fundamental idea behind REBT is that the way people feel is significantly influenced by how they think. When people hold irrational views of themselves (or others around them), problems can arise. The goal of REBT is to help you alter the illogical beliefs and negative thinking patterns that have led to addictive behavior.

REBT is best understood by looking at the steps of the therapeutic process. The first step asks you to identify the irrational thought patterns and beliefs that have led to addictive behaviors. In many cases, these are reflected as absolutes, such as “I can’t” or “I must.” Continuing to hold onto such beliefs makes it nearly impossible to respond to triggering situations in a positive and healthy way. The next step is working towards changing irrational beliefs. Once they have been identified, your therapist, skilled in REBT techniques, will help you dispute these beliefs through various methods. The final step involves gaining insight and changing behaviors. 

The REBT process can indeed be challenging as it asks you to face difficult thoughts and emotions that have been perceived as fact for some time, and accepting these thoughts as unhealthy is not easy for anyone. REBT strives to help you learn from mistakes and respond in a healthy way to triggering situations. 

How Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Is Used in Addiction Treatment

REBT has proven to be a highly effective therapy model if you are struggling with a substance abuse disorder. The core essence of REBT is to change the way you think about your addiction and the situations that contribute to your addiction. Participation in REBT sessions, either individually or in a group format, can help you learn how to have more positive reactions to triggers, which, in turn, will help you resist turning to substances to cope with emotional situations. If you are struggling with an addiction, REBT can help you reduce the powerful impact of your emotions. The ability to minimize the effects of emotions leads to fewer self-defeating behaviors, such as using.

There are two primary ways REBT can help you defeat your addiction. First, it helps you learn how to react to situations in more realistic ways instead of irrational thoughts. It also allows you to realize there are things in life you cannot control, but you can control how you react to the specific situation.  REBT is often combined with other treatment methods, such as medical treatments, alternative therapies (or holistic therapies), and other forms of psychotherapy.

Seek Sobriety at Relevance Recovery 

REBT is a highly effective form of therapy that has helped many people meet and defeat their addiction since it was first introduced over seventy years ago. REBT is an evidence-based, validated treatment model that can help you change your negative thoughts and responses to lead a happier, sober life. If you are ready to seek addiction treatment or have questions about how REBT or other treatments may be able to help, contact the caring, compassionate team at Relevance Recovery today. You are relevant.

Seeking Addiction Treatment: What Is Outpatient Rehab?

what is outpatient rehab

What is outpatient treatment? When people think about addiction rehab, they often envision inpatient treatment centers where those seeking help with their addiction spend time away from home while healing. This type of treatment setting is not for everyone, and many seek alternate treatment program options that do not involve a residential component. There are situations where outpatient treatment programs can provide a successful treatment and recovery option for those struggling with a variety of addictions. 

Defining Outpatient Rehab

Unlike an inpatient program, which requires people to move into a facility for a specific period of time (typically 30 to 90 days), an outpatient program allows people to stay home and, in their communities, while they work on their addiction challenges. Some outpatient programs have a set schedule, in which people who enroll are expected to appear in groups with other members of the program. These times cannot be varied or changed, which promotes accountability by participants. Other programs may have appointment-based systems that could accommodate issues such as work or childcare. 

Outpatient programs are often considered a less intense form of addiction care. There is no around the clock supervision involved with these programs, and often no clinicians available when a crisis hits off hours. As a result, these programs are usually recommended for new addiction cases and those in good mental health.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

Some of the most significant benefits to outpatient rehab revolve around being able to remain at home. Outpatient programs provide you with the flexibility to maintain your household, school, and work responsibilities while going through the stages of treatment and recovery. Also, remaining close to home allows you to lean on family and friends, helping to reduce the isolation so often experienced when attempting to overcome addiction. Outpatient rehab programs are also less costly than inpatient rehab programs, which may be one of the primary reasons people choose them.

Outpatient Rehab vs. Inpatient: What’s the Difference?

Addiction treatment programs typically fall into two categories: inpatient or outpatient treatment. But how are they different? While each has its benefits, the decision about which treatment is needed should be based on the patient’s individual needs at that time. 

Inpatient Rehab

For most people struggling with addiction, detox at an inpatient rehab provides an excellent start to achieving sobriety and recovery. Inpatient rehab, also called residential treatment or residential rehab, requires the person remain on-site at the treatment facility for the duration of their program. This arrangement gives a person complete focus on their treatment. It also provides the opportunity for medically assisted withdrawal from drugs and alcohol if needed. 

At an inpatient rehab program, clients are provided with a structured environment designed to keep everyone focused on recovery. Immersive, evidence-based care concentrates on individual, group, and family therapies; all focused on promoting healing.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient is an excellent choice for people with substance abuse challenges that are milder, where they have not become physically dependent on substances, but realize they have a growing problem. Outpatient treatment is also an effective means for continuing treatment progress when transitioning from an inpatient facility. Most notably, outpatient treatment offers convenience and flexibility not available in inpatient settings.

Outpatient programs include a wide variety of options, including detox, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and opportunities for alternative and holistic treatment options.

Sobriety Is Possible at Relevance Recovery

If you are ready to seek addiction treatment but aren’t sure which type of program is right for you, contact Relevance Recovery to learn more about how our outpatient treatment programs can help you achieve sobriety and lasting recovery! 

Benefits of Holistic Treatment for Drug Addiction

Most drug and alcohol treatment programs generally include a variety of traditional treatment models, including individual and group psychotherapy, family therapy, and aftercare planning. As knowledge about addiction and how people react to treatment has changed, treatment options have evolved to include several holistic (or alternative) treatments for addiction.

Holistic therapies are non-medicinal recovery methods used to complement traditional treatment practices. The goal of holistic recovery is to bring the mind, body, and spirit into alignment to improve healing outcomes. Holistic therapy focuses on the addicted individual’s overall well-being while also treating the physical symptoms associated with addiction and withdrawal.

What Is Holistic Treatment for Drug Addiction?

Holistic treatment programs are centered around personalized, non-medical methods of addiction recovery. Therapists trained in the application of specific therapy techniques treat the physical and mental symptoms as well as emotional and nutritional imbalances that arise during 

detox and treatment. Holistic therapy can help treat a lack of sleep, poor diet, and emotional stress, all of which are potential obstacles to addiction treatment. Holistic addiction treatment follows the belief that addiction can be treated more successfully by exploring how a person could be harmed by their substance abuse. Extending beyond just the most severe or the most clearly noticeable symptoms. Examples of common holistic treatments for addiction include meditation, mindfulness and stress management, massage, and equine therapy.

What Are the Benefits of Holistic Therapy for Addiction?

One significant benefit to holistic treatment for drug addiction is flexibility. This ensures treatment programs can be modified to cater to the needs of the individual. Every individual working to overcome addiction has their own unique needs regarding what type of treatment works for them. Addiction treatment programs that offer only traditional forms of treatment can be significantly limited in this regard. Holistic treatment programs are more likely to provide a greater variety of treatment options providing more opportunities for patients to discover the treatment that best suits their needs. 

Another benefit to holistic treatments is the ongoing impacts once treatment ends and aftercare begins. Many holistic treatments, such as meditation, yoga, and exercise, can easily continue once a primary treatment program ends. Additionally, these methods serve as excellent, low-cost coping strategies that can be utilized post-treatment when a triggering situation arises.

Also, holistic therapies like mindfulness and meditation practices have proven to provide lasting benefits for many issues commonly experienced by those with chronic substance abuse disorders. A few of the potential long-term benefits of common holistic treatments include improved sleep, stress relief, development of healthy exercise habits, improved nutrition, and reduced substance cravings.

Holistic Treatment Offered at Relevance Behavioral Health

At Relevance Behavioral Health, we understand that everyone heals differently. For this reason, we offer our clients the option to participate in several different holistic therapies to enhance the vital components of the healing and self-care process. Successful addiction treatment requires more than merely healing the body. One must health the spirit, mind, and emotions as well.

Within our holistic programs, clients have the opportunity to explore how addiction has impacted their entire person and begin the path towards recovery. Our treatment programs at Relevance Behavioral Health integrate the benefit of both traditional and holistic treatments to offer the most comprehensive opportunity to achieve sobriety and recovery. 

If you are interested in how treatment options such as equine therapy, acupuncture, massage, meditation, Biosound, Yoga, and others may help you achieve a life free of addiction, contact us at Relevance Behavioral Health today. Our dedicated treatment professionals will work with you to create a customized treatment program that combines holistic and traditional addiction treatment to help you reach your treatment goals. 

Finding A Drug Rehab Center In New Jersey

Drug and alcohol addiction impacts millions of lives across the United States each day. Unfortunately, only one out of every ten people who struggle with a substance abuse disorder or addiction will ever seek or successfully enter an addiction treatment program. Some individuals will forego or avoid rehab due to the stigma that still surrounds addiction and addiction treatment. Others do not believe or do not realize they have a substance abuse problem.  

Establishing If You Need Rehab

Determining if you need rehab is a multi-step process. First, it should include an honest self-assessment of your substance use. It can be challenging to be objective and admit that you have an addiction. However, if ongoing substance abuse is causing negative impacts in your life, it is time to take a closer look and consider that you might have an addiction for which treatment is necessary. Once you have made this decision, you have already taken the first and most crucial step on the path to recovery. Next, you must decide where and how you will achieve sobriety.

Determining if you need rehab depends on the severity and symptoms of addiction which you exhibit. One of the early signs that you may have an addiction – and not a physical dependence on substances- is the presence of new or ongoing destructive behaviors. These behaviors are often in response to uncontrollable cravings related to changes in the brain that arise from chronic substance abuse. 

For those that struggle with a substance use disorder, there are certain signs and symptoms to look for, which indicate treatment is essential to ongoing health and well-being. Symptoms of addiction can and do vary from person to person, yet they generally have physical, mental, and social impacts. If your life and relationships are being adversely affected by substance use, you likely have an addiction. The severity of your addiction may range from mild to severe, depending on a list of symptoms indicative of addiction. There are eleven in total, including lack of control, inability to quit (despite the desire to), cravings, tolerance, withdrawal, and several others. Even if you have a mild diagnosis, you should still seek help to get sober. 

Benefits of Going to A Drug Treatment Center in New Jersey

Several factors go into deciding where to seek treatment. Whether New Jersey is home or you have chosen to travel for rehab, it is essential to select a rehab facility that provides individual, evidence-based, holistic care. Addiction symptoms present differently for everyone, and therefore no one treatment will work for everyone struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The best drug and alcohol rehab centers provide a full continuum of care from admission to comprehensive after-care with programs explicitly designed to meet each client’s needs.

Why You Should Choose Relevance Behavioral Health

Achieving sobriety and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is a challenging road. At Relevance Behavioral Health, our treatment team understands these challenges better than many, as we have lived them firsthand. Our intensive outpatient program was created to solve addiction’s underlying causes, teach new coping skills, and heal all aspects of the mind, body, and spirit. The professionals at Relevance Behavioral Health strive to ensure that all clients leave treatment feeling healthy, motivated, and ready to begin a new life free from the struggles of addiction. Our outstanding team will custom tailor a drug and alcohol abuse treatment plan to help you or your loved one recover from addiction. Our state of the art, individualized treatment plans are designed to meet all types of treatment needs both during and after treatment as we remain by your side throughout the first years of your recovery. If you or a loved one are ready for a different kind of addiction program where everyone is relevant, contact Relevance Behavioral Health today to learn more.  

How much can we blame our genes for addictive behavior?

The Oscar-nominated actor Robert Downey Jr., star of countless films including Chaplin, the Iron Man series, Tropic Thunder and Zodiac, started making movies when he was just five years old. He’s also famous for his descent into drug addiction, which he says started even earlier than age five.

Downey has told a number of interviewers that he believes he has an addictive personality, and that he may have passed that personality on to his son, Indio, who recently pled guilty to felony cocaine possession and entered a rehabilitation program. Meanwhile, Downey (the elder) has talked about how his own father introduced him to drugs.

Downey’s stories beg critical questions about how humans handle drugs and addiction:

  • Is addiction inherited, and genetic?

  • Is addiction more a cultural and environmental phenomenon?

  • Is there such a thing as an addictive personality?

Drug rehabilitation, medical and psychological treatments and even the criminal justice system depend heavily on the right answers to those questions.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (one of the National Institutes of Health), illegal drug abuse costs the United States more than $181 billion each year “in health care, productivity loss, crime, incarceration and drug enforcement.” And these costs are based on an assumption that drug addiction, as NIDA puts it, “is a chronic, relapsing brain disease.”

But that doesn’t necessarily make it genetic. Nor does a pattern of heritability for, say, alcoholism, make that disorder entirely genetic. Researchers are looking at addiction as a complex interaction of genes, metabolism, environment and behavior. This has come a long way from the early 20th century, when addiction was seen more as a morality problem, or even since the 1980s, when we witnessed the primitive eggs-on-a-frying pan “this is your brain on drugs” advertisements. Researchers have largely abandoned the search for an overarching “addictive personality,” in which a person shows an archetypal vulnerability for any addiction, be it cigarettes, alcohol, heroin, or gambling.


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If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact us today by calling 732-702-2242.

Case for genes

Of all the people who try alcohol or illegal drugs, only 10 to 20 percent get addicted. No single gene has ever been isolated for people who get hooked on alcohol, drugs or other substances. But a number of studies show that genetics does play some significant role:

  • Identical twin studies have shown a fairly strong concordance (sharing a behavior and genetic trait), but even these show some variability. For example, a Medical College of Virginia twin study on cocaine use showed a 54 concordance rate for identical twins versus 42 percent for fraternal twins, but for cocaine abuse showed a 47 percent concordance for identical twins and only eight percent for fraternal twins.

  • Other studies showed some differences depending on type of substance. A Washington University, St. Louis, review showed that 33 to 71 percent of the variation in nicotine addiction was inherited, while 48 to 66 percent of variation in alcohol addiction was inherited, and 49 percent of variation in gambling addiction was inherited.

  • A search for genes has uncovered a number of genetic clusters that affect behavior and mood, and could be connected with addiction. Genes on no fewer than eight chromosomes have been tagged for some role in chemical dependence.

Related article:  Plant-based meat industry start-up Daring targeting chicken-free ‘chicken’, the world’s favorite protein

Case for the environment

Also taking a step away from the early focus on moral fiber, behavioral scientists have been examining external factors that could lead to addiction:

  • Twin studies, this time looking at identical twins who did not have the exact same upbringing, showed that the twin who had experienced childhood sexual abuse did show a strong tendency toward substance abuse, while the twin who did not have these experiences did not share this addiction.

  • Some researchers have pointed to social structures as a key factor in addiction. Monkey studies have shown that those who were dominated by other monkeys are more likely to take cocaine than more socially powerful monkeys. Others have looked at poverty, and living on the fringes of society as something that prods addiction.

  • Certain behavioral disorders, like anxiety or impulsive behavior, have been suspected of driving addiction. Feeling anxious can fuel the need to consume drugs that alleviate these feelings and other social fears, while teenagers may become addicted because they can’t yet control their emotions effectively.

Case for nature and nurture

  • Many alcohol abuse studies have focused on the gene ALDH2, which controls the conversion of acetaldehyde, a rather toxic metabolite of alcohol. Some variants of ALDH2 don’t convert acetaldehyde into acetate very well, particularly in Asian populations. While some studies show that people with this version of ALDH2 were far less likely to get addicted to alcohol, the heavy-drinking business culture that developed in Japan and other Asian nations in the 1980s and 1990s forced businessmen (mostly men) to drink anyway.

  • While addicts may behave as if they have a disease state (compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences), and addiction does change how certain neurotransmitters like dopamine are metabolized, they also can completely recover on their own, at rates up to 80 percent.

  • Epigenetic changes, as we’ve written about in the Genetic Literacy Project, have been shown to also affect who becomes an addict and why. Excessive cocaine and alcohol use can determine how genes that protect against addiction are regulated, while increases in dopamine receptor numbers (and activity) can help prevent addiction.

Was Robert Downey Jr. right?

Recently, a NIDA director estimated that the genetic risk of addiction averages about 50 percent. So, Downey may have passed on a tendency for substance abuse to his son, but it may have just as much been the same way he was influenced by his father as it was through his own DNA.

Habit vs. Addiction: What’s the Difference?

From a mental health point of view, the difference between habit vs. addiction can be as perplexing as it is overwhelming. The line that separates the two can be unclear, and habit-forming and addictive behaviors can overlap in a lot of unexpected ways. Understanding the differences between the two can help us make better decisions and avoid losing control.

What Is a Habit?

A habit can be summed up as a routine or regular behavior that gets harder to give up the longer that behavior goes on. The best examples of habits can be seen in how people start the day. Morning rituals largely consist of a variety of habits, like brushing teeth, taking a shower, making coffee, etc. Over time, the sequence of these behaviors can become consistent for people.

An article in Forbes unpacked the ways people develop positive habits or “rational addictions.” These kinds of healthy habits can only arise, though, when people are more aware of their own behaviors. The article was based in the context of a study that found “as ‘rational addicts,’ people can weigh the costs and benefits of their current behavior taking into consideration its implications for the future, and still choose to engage.” When people know more about how their positive behaviors benefit their lives – and how their negative behaviors do the opposite – they’re much more likely to engage in healthy habits.


At the same time, though, it’s hard to shake habits as we engage with them over and over. Jasmine Bittar of Addiction Center offered tips on how to break bad habits and build new, healthy ones. Centrally, she suggested people exit their comfort zones. Comfort feeds into habits, which is why it’s important for people to try on unfamiliar behaviors to develop healthier, more constructive ones. She recommended four primary goals to develop new habits:

  • Take baby steps to develop new routines.

    • Avoid comfortable or enabling triggers that will tempt you to indulge your habit.

    • Attempt to exchange old behaviors with new, comparable habits.

    • Refrain from self-destructive, self-deprecating thoughts.

In order to understand how habits work, it’s necessary to look at how they affect decision making. Author and New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, discussed the role of habits within the workplace in an interview with Harvard Business Review. He said, “About 40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.” This sentiment helps explain the sort of unconscious thought process we go through when making choices. Duhigg went on to say that as habits become more automatic and routine, they become harder to shake later. After people identifying an unhealthy habit, it’s important they “diagnose the cue and the reward.” Then, people can successfully work toward developing new habits.

What Is an Addiction?

Addictions, on the other hand, are much more powerful than habits. In these instances, for the most part, people will make sacrifices to their lives out of an obligation to pursue a substance or practice.

Defining addiction is difficult, but the American Psychiatric Association provides a simple explanation for what brings on certain addictive behaviors. The organization wrote, “People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life.” As a result, people who are addicted to something experience different modes of thinking and altered brain functions. People who exhibit addictive qualities are sometimes aware of their mental health problem yet continue to engage in risky, problematic behaviors.

Addictions don’t have to be centered on consuming substances, though. Instead, as explored in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, certain behaviors can be just as addicting. The researchers stated that “behaviorally addicted individuals have certain symptoms and will undergo the same consequences brought about by addiction to alcohol and drugs as well as other obsessive behaviors.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse looks more thoroughly into the way the brain functions in people who are addicted to something. The organization stated that “surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.” By indulging in the substance or behavior, over time the dopamine that triggers in the brain lessens and lessens. This ultimately reduces the “high” that people get from their addiction, which motivates them to seek out the substance or behavior more and more.

The Significance Between Habit vs. Addiction

Probably the most important distinction between habit vs. addiction is how choice, to an extent, is still possible with habit-forming behaviors. When it comes to addiction, people generally have a harder time making decisions because of their dependence on a substance or behavior. Typically, these factors are linked to the rewards systems in the brain, which helps explain their overarching power in stripping people from the ability to make rational decisions.

The debate between habit vs. addiction has become more intense for mental health experts. Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., of Psychology Today analyzed the ability for people to choose their habits or addictions. Mental health professionals fiercely debate this topic, but he found that both camps are right; habit formation is more choice-based while addictive behaviors can be more neurologically and biologically bound.

“In the end, it comes down to training,” Jaffe said. “If we want to end up with a different set of behaviors, we have to understand the mechanisms and processes that got us there and make a change.” Although this certainly isn’t a definitive end to the debate, it does add a layer of understanding to the difference between addiction vs. habit.

Developmental neuroscientist Marc Lewis, writing for the New York Times, explored how addictions and habits might not be as different as they seem at first. This controversial opinion is comes from the idea that as brain functions change, so do habits. He found that “addiction is brought about by the repeated pursuit of highly attractive goals and corresponding inattention to alternative goals.” This definition frames addictive behaviors as being similar to habit-based ones.

Alternatively, the research Barry J. Everitt, writing for the European Journal of Neuroscience, compared the starker difference between habit vs. addiction. He focused primarily on the treatment side of drug addiction, but he made a point to discuss how habits can lead to acute addictions. He wrote, addiction to drugs is “the endpoint of a series of transitions from initial voluntary, or recreational, drug taking through progressive loss of control over drug use.” In this context, a habit can be seen as the precursor to addiction.

Not all habits will lead to addictive behaviors in the end, but it’s still important to recognize the dependent nature of some substances and practices. It’s not often that people begin with full-blown addictions; instead, addictions develop over the course of time. During the early stages of habit formation, people may still have the power to mold their behaviors and practices.

If you think you’re developing an addiction, or if you think you know someone who is, please contact us at 732-702-2242

Is your loved one headed for relapse?

Getting sober and committing to a life free of drugs, alcohol and all other mood altering substances comes with many different challenges.  Relapse is a harsh reality that many people going through recovery will face. The best way that you could help your loved one is to be mindful of the different warning signs that may arise when your loved once is nearing a relapse or has recently gone through a relapse. Being aware of the signs is key to ensuring that your loved one can receive assistance during this difficult time. Some of the signs that someone is heading towards a relapse are subtle, while some of the signs can easily be missed. 

Typically, a relapse happens mentally before the person actually gets to the point of picking up their substance of choice. The mental relapse can happen when a person begins to think about and glorify some of their past habits or goes back to spending time with some of their old friends, ultimately thinking about the positives from their time spent doing drugs and forgetting the pain and turmoil that their substance use had caused. Following the internal struggle of a mental relapse comes the physical relapse. 

The physical relapse is what we think of most when we hear the term “relapse”. A physical relapse is when the person consumes a substance, ultimately breaking their sobriety. Once the relapse happens a person can quickly fall back into old, dangerous habits and put their own lives at risk.


There are behaviors to watch out for that may be an indicator that your loved one is heading towards or has reached a relapse:

  • Changes in the persons behavior

    • Depressed mood, impulsive behavior, easily agitated, forgetfulness, becoming defiant, sudden mood swings

  • Changes in appearance

    • When abusing a substance, a persons physical appearance as well as their living environment becomes a secondary priority. 

  • Asking to borrow money or taking items that do not belong to them

    • Financial problems or irresponsible financial planning can be a sign of relapse because people often prioritize purchasing their substance over purchasing what is necessary for their daily living. 

  • Missing treatment days, therapy appointments and/or support meetings 

    • Distancing yourself from your support system and those who are holding you accountable is a common behavior that helps the person avoid conversations surrounding their substance use. 

  • Reconnecting with old friends or contacts 

  • Participating in old habits 

    • This could range from lying, to not attending work and/or school, coming home at late hours or not coming home at all, staying awake or sleeping for long periods of time. 

These key behaviors are important to watch out for when you are questioning if your loved one is heading towards or has reached a substance relapse. As much as it is important to be aware of these relapse signs, it is also important to know that help is here and recovery is possible.  

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a prescription opioid used to treat opiate addiction, and prescribed under its brand name, Subutex or Suboxone, among others. This drug is an opioid partial antagonist, meaning that it produces an effect similar to narcotic opioids without getting the user high. Buprenorphine essentially tricks the brain into thinking that addictive chemical substances like heroin are being introduced into the bloodstream; it does this by binding to certain receptors within the brain. Some might take excessive amounts of buprenorphine in attempts to get high – this will not work for several reasons. The reasons are as follows:

  • Buprenorphine has a much lower potential for abuse than addictive chemical substances like heroin and prescription painkillers. 

  • This prescription medication affects the way opiates interact with the brain and body by putting a ceiling on the effects of opiates. This means that no matter how much of an addictive substance an individual takes while on buprenorphine, he or she will not experience a high past a certain point. 

  • It is much harder to become physically dependent on buprenorphine, and those who take this medication in excessive amounts will not experience the side effects they would experience when taking an addictive opiate like heroin, such as euphoria or central nervous system repression. 

  • Those who take this medication will experience less intense symptoms of withdrawal upon ceased use.


When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine will result in the following:

  • Reduced withdrawal symptoms, including physical symptoms like muscle cramping, stomach issues, profuse sweating, and sleep-related issues such as insomnia. 

  • Decreased opiate cravings. When an individual is undergoing heroin withdrawal, buprenorphine may be used to prevent relapse that would otherwise result from unmanageable and intense psychological cravings. 

  • A reduced propensity for illicit opiate abuse, usually based on a reduction of cravings. 

  • Increased propensity to stay engaged and active in addiction treatment. 

Taking Opiates While on Buprenorphine

Some individuals may attempt to take opiates like heroin or prescription painkillers while they are actively taking buprenorphine or a similar opioid antagonist. They may do so thinking that the prescription medication will enhance the effects of the opiate they are ingesting. The drug is taken sublingually (meaning it is placed under the tongue and dissolved), so an individual may assume that taking another opiate via a different method of consumption (such as intravenous injection) will lead to a more intense high.

This is not true – as previously mentioned, buprenorphine reduces the effects of other opiates. If the two are taken in conjunction, an overdose is possible, seeing as the individual will take the addictive opiate and greater amounts in an attempt to combat the lack of a high. It is extremely dangerous to take this medication other than as prescribed or to take it in conjunction with an opioid narcotic. 

What is tramadol?

Potent and Fast-Acting

Tramadol is considered a fast-acting painkiller, meaning the effects take hold rather quickly – generally within 30 minutes to an hour. This is part of the reason why the medication is used to treat short-term pain, like the pain that results from a surgical procedure or the pain that sets in after an injury (an injury that will quickly heal). When it comes to prescribing this specific medication, physicians will determine an appropriate dosage. The dosage will vary on a person-to-person basis. Prescribing physicians should conduct an in-depth assessment before administering a drug as strong as Tramadol, taking things like genetic propensity for addiction and all underlying disorders into account. However, because the drug is so addictive, it is impossible to determine who will develop a substance abuse disorder and who will not.

There are simply certain factors that make the development of a serious issue more likely. If you or someone you love has been struggling with a Tramadol addiction, seeking professional help at your earliest possible convenience will be necessary. At Relevance, we have extensive experience treating those who have developed physical and psychological dependencies to Tramadol and all other potent painkillers. Simply give us a call to learn more about our comprehensive Tramadol addiction recovery program. 


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Tramadol Addiction Recovery

If the signs of Tramadol abuse are recognized and treated early on, the development of physician dependency will be less likely. Some of the more common symptoms of Tramadol abuse include changes in appetite that often lead to weight loss, drowsiness, slurred speech, and an inability to focus the eyes/loss of vision, nausea and vomiting, intense headaches, and impaired coordination. Some of the more common symptoms of Tramadol addiction include extreme gastrointestinal issues, high fever, profuse sweating, dizziness, muscle spasms, anxiety, and depression.

As previously mentioned, the highest dosage that should be consumed in one day is 400mg. Those who take this specific drug in higher doses are likely to experience serious and often life-threatening health-related complications, such as seizures, strokes, and coma. In short – Tramadol is strong. It is a potent painkiller, and those that take it for an extended period will generally experience some degree of consequences – whether those consequences have to do with severe side effects or the ultimate development of a Tramadol addiction disorder. If you or someone you love has been struggling with painkiller addiction and is looking for a way out, give us a call today to learn more about our comprehensive and effective addiction treatment programs at Relevance.