The Mishaps of Marijuana

As things always happen to do, another trend has been resurfacing for the past decade, and that trend, is marijuana use. Marijuana seems to be a fairly common drug used by young adolescents and adults alike that gets its hype for not being quite as “lethal” as some of the other drugs out there. While this may be true to some extent, marijuana use can have its consequences, including early-onset schizophrenia in teen users, psychosis, and physiological complications in the heart and digestive system.

What is Marijuana?

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According to the NIDA, marijuana is a product extracted from the plant Cannabis sativa that can be smoked, inhaled, eaten, etc. (2021). There are two main types of Marijuana (arguably the most common forms that we hear about in the media): CBD and THC. Both of these chemical compounds are similar, in fact they have almost the same chemical structure, yet they have different effects when consumed by humans. CBD aka cannabidiol lacks the psychotic component—this means that it does not alter your mental state at normal dosages—and can be used to medicinally treat seizures, inflammation, chronic joint pain, IBS, migraines, and even mental disorders like anxiety and depression. On the other hand, THC aka tetrahydrocannabinol. THC does alter one’s mental state, causing the feeling of a “high.” THC alters your senses, mood, cognition and problem solving, impair your memory, and may even induce paranoid, hallucinations, and delusions if taken at high enough doses or used over a long period of time. Both CBD and THC act on endocannabinoid receptors in the brain to release dopamine, but the effects are very different (Holland, 2020).

How Does Marijuana Affect You?

For those addicted to marijuana, the most concerning aspect of the drug is the side effect of avolition, or the complete lack of motivation to do anything—this avolition can prevent you from wanting to bathe, dress, go to work, go to class, take out the trash, and take the necessary steps to managing your addiction (Pacheco-Colón, et al., R, 2018). In addition, early use of marijuana (teens and young adults) can induce schizophrenia, a chronic mental disorder characterized by hallucinations and/or delusions, disorganized speech, and avolition. Age, duration of use, and genetics play a large role in the development of schizophrenia from marijuana use, but the likelihood is much greater for those who use marijuana as teenagers (Pearson & Berry, 2019).

To Summarize:

First, remember that an addiction is a chronic relapsing disease where the structure and function of the brain have changed in response to the use of alcohol or a substance, including marijuana. Second, while marijuana may have some positive uses and may not be as deadly as alcohol or fentanyl, it can still be harmful to an individual who uses it without restraint. Marijuana can cause psychotic symptoms and even permanent brain damage, inducing schizophrenia in teens who use too early. Likewise, marijuana can lead to a lack of motivation, which can lead you to not want to do anything and make you complacent with occupations or circumstances that are less than ideal. Lastly, you need to harvest and maximize your potential, and overcoming your addiction to marijuana is a critical step towards doing so.


Torres, Felix M.D., MBA, DFAPA. (2022, August). What is schizophrenia? American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from,thinking%20and%20lack%20of%20motivation.

Holland, K. (2020, July 20). What’s the difference between CBD vs. THC? Healthline. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021, June 7). Marijuana drugfacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from

Pacheco-Colón, I., Limia, J. M., & Gonzalez, R. (2018). Nonacute effects of cannabis use on motivation and reward sensitivity in humans: A systematic review. Psychology of addictive behaviors: journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors, 32(5), 497–507.

Pearson, N. T., & Berry, J. H. (2019). Cannabis and Psychosis Through the Lens of DSM-5. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(21), 4149.

Alcoholism in Families

If You Grew Up In A Family With Alcohol and Drug Addiction, How Can You Cope?

With alcoholism in families, there are a number of components for which anyone should be concerned, primarily the genetic components of an addiction and the genetic components of mental health or mental illness issue which is about 60%. If someone in your family has an addiction and as you’re growing up and you have the opportunity to observe that or participate in that addiction. If both mom and dad have the addiction or are addicted to alcohol and they drink every night then part of your growth and development is going to think drinking is a component as part of what people do. That then can be a learned behavior in addition to a genetic behavior or genetic predisposition.

Consequently, the concern a parent should have is the age of onset by which someone begins engaging in those activities and its pretty common nowadays for young kids to explore, kids 12 or 13 years of age. Parents should also be concerned about what the impact of that use of a substance is, especially given that mom and dad are using. Parents should be concerned and children should even be concerned with the potential of developing an addiction to a substance, especially if there is a genetic predisposition and parents actively use those substances in the home.

Will I Have An Addiction to Alcohol if My Parent Does?

No, just because your parents have an addiction to alcohol doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a direct correlation. It certainly increases the probability. The other option is because you have witnessed your parents having a substance abuse disorder or an addiction to alcohol, that may have forearmed you to be wary of the impact this might have on you and steer clear of those types of behaviors you have witnessed your parents doing.

At the same time, we still have the genetic disposition to do that, just an increased awareness of the potential of what can happen to you, not with just a substance abuse disorder but also with other mental health issues whether is anxiety, depression, or something else. People should be aware that a mental health evaluation is appropriate to see what the potential is for a person to develop that and become a patient at a clinic.

Have Addiction Questions or concerned and seeking help for a loved one?

Contact us at (618) 692-6880

What Did You Learn?

What Did You Learn?

A new year is dawning! People around the globe are writing down their resolutions or goals for the year of 2022 in order to make it the best year yet. Goals to work out more, spend more time with family, do more, see more, and be more. These goals can see insurmountable at first, idealistic, which makes it both easier and harder to loose traction, especially over the length of the entire year. This isn’t a fault in the motivation or inspiration, but rather, the goal was too large.

Break It Down!

Goals for managing your addiction can see unachievable and difficult at first, so you need to break it down in achievable baby steps—as with anything. If you want to run a marathon by summertime, you can’t just start running 13 miles the first day of January! You need to break it down over a longer period of time. Maybe January first, you will run a mile and repeat this three days a week for the two few weeks until you increase it to two. By the time February rolls around, say you’re doing 3 miles! While you are not up to 13, you are a lot closer than what you started with and that is PROGRESS! Similarly, learning and managing your addiction is the same way. It takes a lot of time (more than 30 days!) and effort from both the individual and their support system in order to successful tackle one’s addiction. And even then, there are set backs—but minor setbacks (or relapses) should not get in the way of one’s PROGRESS. If you are running 3 miles and you stumble halfway through, it does not negate the 1.5 miles you have already ran. It just means you need to catch your breath and keep moving forward.

The term “relapse” implies a negative connotation that essential means one has reverted back to the original state or starting line—to individuals, it feels like we have failed or ruined all our progress. This can lead to the abstinence violation effect, where a person feels that they have completely ruined all their progress so they might as well go overboard. We see this a lot in the dieting world. Have you ever decided to abstain from chocolate or coffee or carbs? What happens when you cheat on your diet and eat chocolate? You may be inclined to just indulge in the entire Oreo package or chocolate ice cream tub instead of a single spoonful because you already broke your streak of abstinence. It is easy to feel this way. A minor setback or “relapse” can make you feel like a failure or incapable of getting back on track, but you can. If you do stumble, ask the important question: what did you learn? What did you learn from stumbling? Did something/someone/some situation trip you up? Did you learn a new strategy to help you get back on your feet? Focus on what is ahead of you rather than what is behind you. Dwelling on the negative feelings of guilt, remorse, and depression can further activate the “addiction loop” and keep you in the cycle of use. To prevent this, just keep moving forward and do your standard routine tasks (make your bed, do push ups, write in your journal, go to work, etc.) and ask: what did I learn?

End Goals Can Differentiate

The end goals of managing an addiction can look different from one another too. One’s goal may be to be completely abstinent from alcohol or a particular drug. Other’s may just want to decrease frequency of use or have the control to quit using once they have gotten started. While it is important to have a goal in mind, it is even more important to keep moving FORWARD. Also, goals can change. Maybe you start out believing that by the end of treatment, you never want to touch alcohol again, and over the course of learning about yourself, you find out that is not your ultimate goal. One size shoe does not fit all.

So What Should My New Year’s Resolution Be?

Set goals that are short, attainable and lead to a long-term, larger goal. If you fall down, keep moving forward and learn from your past mistakes and behavior. Relish in the progress that you have made so far on your path to becoming healthy. The path to stability is not linear!

References (2022, January 3). .” encyclopedia of drugs, alcohol, and addictive behavior. . 28 Dec. 2021 . Retrieved January 3, 2022, from

Working Your Way Back to Health

Ever feel devoid of energy? Tired, rundown, depressed to the point where it feels something is working against you internally even though you are going through addiction treatment? This may be due to a nutrient or mineral deficiency in your body caused by prolonged alcohol or drug use.

Not only does alcohol and drugs impair cognitive functioning and leave you with the uncomfortable physical symptoms of withdrawal, but it can also lead to “biochemical imbalance (or exacerbate preexisting ones), nutrient deficiencies, and digestion problems” (Miller, 2010). More specifically, having an addiction can cause digestive problems like the overgrowth of yeast and the decreased ability for your intestines to absorb the nutrients. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies of amino acids, vitamins B1 (thiamine), C, and A, as well as mineral deficiencies, including zinc, chromium, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, selenium, and many more, which can damage your organs and lead to other health problems down the road.

161,940 Salad Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

From Getty Images

Amino acids are important components to synthesizing neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that deliver signals from one neuron to the next, propagating a signal throughout your nervous system—this is how we deliver information like “the stove top is hot and I need to pull my hand away” or “this movie is really sad because it reminds me of an old memory.” Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is involved in the formation of memories in the hippocampus of the brain; Serotonin is the neurotransmitter involved in regulating emotions, sleep cycle, and appetite; and Dopamine is involved in the feeling of pleasure and reward that is involved in forming an addiction in the brain (Queensland Brain Institute, 2017). Because an addiction prevents the acquisition of amino acids, it can lead to the disruption of the formation of these neurotransmitters, resulting in the common memory issues, dysregulation of sleep, appetite and emotions (prompting the feelings of anxiety and depression), and feelings of satiety with use of the drug or alcohol.

Not only can an addiction decrease the amino acids that are being absorbed by your body, but it can also decrease the levels of Vitamins and minerals in the body. One common syndrome that is seen in chronic alcohol abusers is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), which is the a neurological condition characterized by anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories), retrograde amnesia (the inability to remember past memories), and the impairment of learning and other cognitive processes (Langlais, 1995). In addition, the lack of these vital nutrients can decrease organ functioning (liver, heart, eyes, etc.) and immune functioning.

What Can You Do?

One way to combat these feelings is to eat foods that are high in protein, which will provide the body with more amino acids and increase the probability for the body to absorb more of them even when the intestines are operating at a reduced capacity. Some high protein foods include meat (chicken, beef, pork), fish and seafood, eggs, nuts, and dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt). Also, it is important to eat foods with tryptophan—a key ingredient in serotonin—which include protein-filled foods like meat and dairy products as well as carbohydrate-rich foods like pumpkin, sunflower, seeds, bananas, hazelnuts, and almonds (Miller, 2010; Brennan, 2020). Exercising can also help increase these neurotransmitters and release natural endorphins to counteract these feelings of tiredness and languid.

While the alcohol and drugs do impede the absorption of the nutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc. discussed above, it is mainly the dietary habits of the individual that are the main causes of such deficiencies. Common behavioral patterns observed were a high consumption of sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods as well as a low consumption of proteins, fruits, and vegetables (Miller, 2010). These habits provide “too much sugar and too few vital nutrients” that can lead to further health issues. One major way to rectify this is to eat more nutritious and healthy foods. Foods rich in zinc, chromium, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, Vitamin C, A, B1 (or any combination of these) are good investments for one’s long-term health and maintenance of addiction. And the foods that most often have these are fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and fish.


Chronic use of a substance is linked to nutritional deficiencies and long-term health consequences, including but not limited to, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, compromised immune system, and brain damage. Alcohol and drugs can impede the body’s natural ability to absorb the essential Vitamins and nutrients it needs to sustain itself, and thus, chronic use can lead to future problems. The good news is that chronic users and those that are working to maintain their addiction CAN DO SOMETHING to minimize or prevent nutritional deficiencies by eating better and exercising. Rather than skipping meals or cutting a food group to become healthy, try eating a balanced meal with some carbs (noodles, bread, chips.), protein (meat, eggs, dairy, nuts), and a colorful food with antioxidants and vitamins (fruits, veggies, jam/jelly). In addition to eating more nutritious foods, incorporating exercise into your daily/weekly routine can do wonders for your body—commit to just 30 mins a day or at least 60 mins 3 times a week. With time and effort, you can begin to work your way back to health.


Brennan, D. (2020, November 3). 9 foods high in tryptophan and Why you need it. WebMD. Retrieved December 22, 2021, from

Langlais P. J. (1995). Alcohol-Related Thiamine Deficiency: Impact on Cognitive and Memory Functioning. Alcohol health and research world, 19(2), 113–121.

Miller RP. Nutrition in addiction recovery. Barre, MA: Many Hands Sustainability Center, 2010.

What are neurotransmitters? Queensland Brain Institute. (2017, November 9). Retrieved December 22, 2021, from

Neural Circuits of Addiction

Neural Circuits of Addiction

How does one learn how to play an instrument like the violin? How does one learn a new language or the lines of their favorite movie or song? How does one develop an addiction? The answer is in learning.

5,573 American Flag Waving Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty  Images

From Getty Images

When you learn something, neurons in your brain fire and form new connections. These physical connections, or representations of you learning something, are called engrams. Engrams are not just a singular connection between two neurons, rather, it is a complex network of neurons that all fire collectively (Whitaker and Hope, 2018). For example, envision the American flag: red, white, and blue with stars and stripes. Maybe you also hear the national anthem or stories of Independence day. Or maybe you remember posting the colors and folding the flag during grade school. This singular image connected us to visual memories (the flag itself) but also auditory memories and possibly memories that we had forgotten about. This is the power of neural circuitry! Our brain links things together in order to strengthen our memories. And once these memories are stored in our long-term memory storehouse, it is permanent!


But how does this work exactly? And how does this relate to the formation of an addiction?

Well, there are many ways that we learn something. One major way is through conditioning, which involves the presence of stimuli and responses. Pavlov is the psychologist who founded the concept of classical conditioning when he discovered a dog would salivate in response to his dinner bell ringing—even when his dog food was not present (Mcleod, 1970). It was natural for the dog to salivate at his food, but unnatural (learned) for the dog to salivate to a bell without his food present. Another form of learning is called operant conditioning, and this is where we learn a behavior based on the rewards or punishments we receive—this is utilized in schools to promote certain behaviors in students (Cherry, 2020). Kids may learn that when they are quiet during class, they will receive a sticker for good behavior—this is called positive reinforcement because the kids received a reward to promote a certain behavior. Parents may become “trained” by their own kids, who scream or throw a temper tantrum in order to get candy. The kids scream so that their parents will give in to their demands in order to make them quiet down —this is called negative reinforcement because a negative stimulus (i.e., the screaming) was removed/stopped when the parents performed a certain behavior (gave the child candy). Addiction works this same way.

First, the person learns to associate a particular substance with a feeling of pleasure or relief. This is due to the release of dopamine in the nucleus acumbens or the reward center of your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in motivation, learned rewards, and movement (think Parkinson’s disease). When a dopamatergic neuron fires in response to a stimuli, dopamine is released into the synapse and lands on different types of dopamine receptors, which tell subsequent cells to propagate this signal. Dopamine receptor 1 is a specific type of dopamine receptor that is necessary for someone to feel the rewarding effects of drugs and for triggering conditioned responses. Conditioned stimuli or cues associated with the reward (acquiring the drug, environment, etc.) trigger dopamine cell firing and the activation of D1 receptors (Koob and Volkow, 2010). Continued activation of this pathway or neural loop strengthens these neuronal connections and allows for faster and more efficient firing in the future—this creates a stronger motivation to use the drug in the future.

Next, the person learns that by taking a particular substance, they alleviate feelings of stress or discomfort—whether this is stress built up at the end of a work week or a constant feeling of stress that they are feeling. And the substance or additive stimuli can include caffeine, Xanax, marijuana, alcohol, chocolate, gambling, sex, and many other things. This is essentially the application of negative reinforcement because the person is using a substance in order to remove or stop a feeling of discomfort. Withdrawal-induced use is the same because a person will continue to use their drug-of-choice in order to alleviate the awful physical symptoms of withdrawal.

This pattern of substance use strengthens this addiction circuit in the brain—addiction physically alters the structure of your brain!–and develops over the span of months and/or years, which is why it is difficult and time consuming to treat addictions. With time, medication that blocks or helps with cravings and compulsions to use (both caused by the firing of this neural circuit), and cognitive behavioral therapy, one can begin to rewire the brain and form stronger, healthier reward pathways in order to control or prevent substance use in the future.



Cherry, K. (2020, June 4). What is operant conditioning and how does it work? Verywell Mind. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from

Koob, G. F., & Volkow, N. D. (2010). Neurocircuitry of addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 217–238.

Mcleod], [S. (1970, January 1). [classical conditioning: How it works with examples]. Simply Psychology. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from

Whitaker, L. R., & Hope, B. T. (2018). Chasing the addicted engram: Identifying functional alterations in fos-expressing neuronal ensembles that mediate drug-related learned behavior. Learning & Memory, 25(9), 455–460.

Exercise: The Key to Brain Growth

Exercise: The Key to Brain Growth

It is common knowledge that exercise is beneficial to our physical health. Studies have shown decreases in the rates of cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, and obesity in those who exercise regularly. What is regularly? About 30 minutes at least 5 days a week is considered to be the most beneficial. Aerobic exercises, or ones that are physically more demanding, are also preferred over anaerobic exercises. You can get your heart pumping by running, swimming, cycling, rowing, playing sports (soccer, tennis, racquetball), yoga, dance, etc.

Not only is exercise is important to your physical health but it is very important to your mental health as well! Aerobic exercises can release endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever, which temporarily alleviate pain, stress, and even feelings of depression. Over the long haul, exercise can raise a person’s threshold of stress, making a person less timid and better able to manage problems when they arise in the future. In addition, aerobic exercise can also improve memory and cognition for both short-term and long-term periods. But how does this happen?

When we perform aerobic exercises, a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) aka “Miracle Grow for the brain” is created and released in the brain. BDNF stimulates changes in gene expression that can lead to neural growth and synaptic plasticity. On a cellular level, this means that there is increase in “axon growth, dendritic branching, synaptic assembly and neurotransmission” of neurons in the brain, especially the hippocampus (Hötting, 2016). The hippocampus is an area of the forebrain that is involved in the consolidation of memories from short-term to long-term, and this area of the brain is damaged with exposure to prolonged stress—hippocampal shrinkage is often found in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as those with alcohol addictions (Logue, 2018; Mira, 2020).

Impaired memory and cognition (executive functioning, critical thinking, planning, organizing, impulse control) is a regular symptom of chronic alcohol and/or drug abuse in individuals. An addiction is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) as a chronic relapsing disease where the structure and function of the brain has been altered. No matter the substance (caffeine, sugar, marijuana, alcohol, fentanyl, cocaine, etc.), it will alter the reward center of the brain: the nucleus acumbens (Scofield, 2016). Addictive substances rewire the brain and create neurological loops that fire when activated by stimuli associated with the substance use, including the substance itself, the events leading up to getting the substance, the normal environment one uses in, social crowd, stressors, etc.

One means of helping rewire the brain’s reward system in people who have addictions is to engage in frequent aerobic exercise. Exercise will help build another neurological loop that is stronger than the one associated with the addiction to help the person regain some control over their cravings as well as release natural feel-good hormones that assist in alleviating mood in the individual. Also, exercise will augment the rebuilding of synaptic connections between neurons through the production and release of BDNF in the brain and hippocampus.

If you would like to learn more about exercise and its important to those learning to maintain their addictions, please check out the below references, read the book Spark (by Ratey, MD), and/or see the ATS patient manual (Yellow page 25, Yellow page 26, Red page 13).

Photograph: Getty Images


Hötting, K., Schickert, N., Kaiser, J., Röder, B., & Schmidt-Kassow, M. (2016). The effects of acute physical exercise on memory, peripheral BDNF, and cortisol in young adults. Neural Plasticity, 2016, 1–12.
Logue, M. W., van Rooij, S., Dennis, E. L., Davis, S. L., Hayes, J. P., Stevens, J. S., Densmore, M., Haswell, C. C., Ipser, J., Koch, S., Korgaonkar, M., Lebois, L., Peverill, M., Baker, J. T., Boedhoe, P., Frijling, J. L., Gruber, S. A., Harpaz-Rotem, I., Jahanshad, N., Koopowitz, S., … Morey, R. A. (2018). Smaller Hippocampal Volume in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Multisite ENIGMA-PGC Study: Subcortical Volumetry Results From Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Consortia. Biological psychiatry, 83(3), 244–253.

Mira, R. G., Lira, M., Tapia-Rojas, C., Rebolledo, D. L., Quintanilla, R. A., & Cerpa, W. (2020). Effect of Alcohol on Hippocampal-Dependent Plasticity and Behavior: Role of Glutamatergic Synaptic Transmission. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 13, 288.

Scofield, M. D., Heinsbroek, J. A., Gipson, C. D., Kupchik, Y. M., Spencer, S., Smith, A. C., Roberts-Wolfe, D., & Kalivas, P. W. (2016). The Nucleus Accumbens: Mechanisms of Addiction across Drug Classes Reflect the Importance of Glutamate Homeostasis. Pharmacological reviews, 68(3), 816–871.

COVID-19 Update


Dear ATS Patients,

I know that you all are thinking about safety during the current coronavirus spread. I am writing today not to alarm you, but to put you more at ease in knowing the steps we are taking at ATS to keep you safe and healthy. The virus is likely to cause only mild symptoms in most of us, but it is crucial that we all do our part in preventing its spread.

As always, the staff will be thoroughly washing hands before each patient but will also have hand sanitizer for additional use . We will be thorough in cleaning the rooms including furniture, doorknobs and between each patient by using disinfectants to reduce risk of exposure.


Staff will be checking themselves for fever or symptoms and will take time away from clinic as warranted.
We also have hand sanitizer available or you can use the bathroom sink to wash with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
Please stay home if you have a dry cough, shortness of breath or have had a fever in the past 21 days.
If you become exposed to anyone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, we humbly ask that you not come in, (and consider self-quarantine) for 21 days. While many are advising 14 days, there are cases of people spreading it up to 21 days.

Maintain healthy lifestyle habits. Sleep deprivation, stress, excess alcohol or caffeine all decrease immune function. Set yourself up for success with good self-care. Nourish your body with healthy whole foods and drink plenty of fluids.
Consider stocking up on healthful pantry items such as frozen veggies and berries, frozen meats, poultry and fish, bone broth, soup, nuts, seeds, canned beans, grains and teas in case you need to spend an extended time at home.

Thanks in advance for your understanding and patience as we navigate implementing best practices during this time. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

John P. Crum LCPC

Why is fentanyl dangerous

Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Most individuals who have an addiction are looking to recreate the initial high they had the first time they tried it. What’s happening as a result of that is, people who are selling the drugs, manufacturing, or adding to heroin or other substances, whether they’re cutting it with doorman, cutting it with brick dust, or cutting it with baking soda, they are also adding fentanyl to it. Fentanyl is measured in micrograms which means its a hundred times or a thousand times more powerful than heroin itself.

Adding fentanyl to other drugs makes them lethal, as well. Since the FDA does not control heroin,  the use of heroin, or who is manufacturing it – what then happens is the heroine is getting stronger and stronger and there’s no way in the world to tell how much or what percentage of the heroin is present or how pure the heroin is. In addition, one cannot determine how much fentanyl has been added to a substance. It’s basically a roll of the dice to see what’s happening when someone ingests fentanyl.

The latest trend in adding fentanyl to a substance is the ignition of lidocaine. Lidocaine is making patients go through very severe withdrawals – so with the addition of both fentanyl and lidocaine, patients are upping their use of heroin at a lot quicker rate. This is increasing tolerance in the individual and also increases the potential for lethality.

With all these things, this is what’s dangerous about both fentanyl and heroin.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, read some of our previous posts to learn more or contact us at (618) 692-6880


Alcoholism Signs and Treatment

How Do You Recognize the Signs of Alcoholism and Help a Family Member?

That’s a difficult question. There is a number of variables, the age of the person, in terms of whether we’re talking about a young person sixteen or seventeen, or we’re talking about someone who’s in their thirties or forties. The most simplistic answer is if someone’s consuming a large amount of alcohol on a regular basis, perhaps, for example, they’re employed. They start missing work, their personal hygiene deteriorates, they no longer have the motivation to do anything other than drink, seek substances or their daily chores around the home start to fall off. All those things are for sure signs and symptoms in some of the elementary things. It’s primarily an inability to control the amount that they’re drinking with a continued increase in that volume and the inability and the inability to stop using.

Professional Treatment is the Way

It’s going to be very difficult to have that person seek treatment because, for the most part, the reward salience of that substance has now overpowered the part of the brain that’s responsible for regulations. The executive function of the prefrontal cortex is no longer able to stop the person from engaging in that behavior. Often times when that occurs the patient becomes extremely deceitful. Family members may know it, but the patient may not know they need treatment. So the most effective way to get those people involved in some type of treatment is to get them to a professional, have them, have them do a substance abuse assessment or a clinical history of what it is they’re consuming.

ATS Approach

What we look for here at ATS is what impact the drinking is having in four areas; health, legal, vocational, and relationships. Health-related issues, in terms of alcohol, what we’re looking for are elevated liver enzymes, we would send blood work off and urine work off, make sure liver enzymes are within normal limits. Legal implications, if they have a DUI or multiple DUIS or transportation of alcohol, those are always an issue. Vocational would cover if they have lost a job, are they at risk of losing a job as the result of their substance abuse, and is it interfering with a relationship.

Health, legal vocational, and relational issues are always questions we ask in an initial interview. Most places will do an interview for nothing or minimal cost to see if a person actually needs treatment.

Contact us at (618) 692-6880