Can Building Up Your Immune System Help You Fight Addiction?

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When your body faces an illness, whether it’s a case of the flu or a tumor, the immune system responds, often sending copious white blood cells to the inflamed area and shutting down other functions in order to apply all resources to overcoming the illness.

When addiction is the illness in question, your immune system responds in a similar manner. Your personality changes as your body focuses on dealing with repercussions of chronic drug and alcohol abuse, and your ability to fight off other ailments is diminished as well. And when you stop taking your drug of choice, watch out. The body responds with a host of withdrawal symptoms that vary patient to patient but often look a lot like physical illness.

So how best can we manage the impact that chronic drug and alcohol abuse – and the strain of detox – take on the body in recovery?

Building Up Your Immune Response

Dealing with withdrawal symptoms is not like fighting off the flu, no matter how similar the symptoms may appear in some cases. You can’t take zinc lozenges to shorten your experience in detox or overload on vitamin C and expect to positively impact your body’s ability to fight off the effects of addiction.

However, the concept of increasing your body’s ability to flush out the toxins that have built up during drug use and more swiftly move toward physical stability in abstinence is a solid one. Feeling bad physically is one of the biggest reasons people relapse in early recovery, giving up before they really have a chance to get started. Working to feel better can provide positive focus and every little bit of positivity helps during this difficult time.

In order to fend off relapse and give yourself every opportunity to succeed, there are a number of little changes you can make that will help the process along and ease your experience along the way, including:


  • Drink lots of fluids. Staying hydrated can make sure that your body has the ability to flush out toxins, improve mood, and move more quickly toward full detox.
  • Eat, but eat well. Some people gorge themselves during the first weeks of recovery; others feel so poorly that they have no appetite. It’s important to eat but to focus on good nutrition. You need fruits, vegetables and protein to make sure that you have a range of nutrients as well as the energy to get through the detox process but limited amounts of sugar, saturated fats, and processed foods.
  • Get gentle exercise. This is not the time to start training for a marathon, but yoga, long walks, swimming, and other gentle physical activities can help you to feel better and sleep better as you heal.
  • Give and get support from others. Detox is not easy, which is why it is recommended that those who undergo the process do so in an inpatient treatment facility. Here you can get the support you need from substance abuse treatment professionals and peers going through the same issues as you get closer and closer to a place of balance in recovery.


Start Today


Don’t wait to get started on the rehabilitation experience that can change your life. Contact us at Alta Mira now to learn more about the options we provide in detox and addiction treatment.


The Troubling Truth About Long-Term Use of Buprenorphine

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Buprenorphine, a medication approved by the FDA for nothing but the treatment of opiate addiction, is dispensed in its pure form, Subutex, or in combination with naloxone, an opiate-blocking agent, in the form of Suboxone. These two medications can be used in the treatment of dependence upon heroin and other opiate drugs in some cases.

For some patients, buprenorphine is a lifesaver, providing them with the freedom they crave from their drug of choice and the opportunity to pursue a meaningful recovery through therapy.

For others, buprenorphine is a door to even more problems with addiction and potential death due to overdose. Once touted as a drug that was impossible to abuse, it’s clear now that that is not the case. In combination with other substances or used alone for recreational purposes, it has taken the lives of many.

Are the drug’s positive attributes worth the risks?

Growing Problems

The New York Times reports that a minimum of 1,350 of the 12,780+ doctors certified to prescribe buprenorphine across the country have been charged with a range of offenses related to the drug, including:

  • Excessive prescriptions
  • Insurance fraud
  • Practicing medicine while impaired
  • Sexual misconduct

Many have been arrested or suspended from practicing medicine, which has left the patients who are genuinely attempting to recover from addiction using the drug without support that they need.

Additionally, the following problems have been increasingly associated with buprenorphine use and abuse in the past few years:

  • Illegal use in jails and prisons
  • Illegal use causing high rates of drug seizure by law enforcement
  • High rate of calls to poison control and admissions to the ER
  • High rate of pediatric hospital admissions when children accidentally ingest the drug

Potential Benefits

Many argue that there are other substances that are legal for use medically that can be harmful when abused as well. Prescription painkillers and sedatives, for example, can lead to addiction and overdose, but they are still widely prescribed for the treatment of a number of medical ailments.

They also point to all the success stories of those who were living with a debilitating addiction and found their way to abstinence by way of buprenorphine. For a number of patients, the use of medications like buprenorphine is the only way to get through detox without relapse and get to the work of building a life in recovery.

However, the long-term nature of recovery using this method may not be the best choice for those who would benefit from more quickly breaking free from dependence upon any substance.

Is Medicated Detox the Right Choice for Your Loved One?

No two people are alike in their needs during recovery. Depending upon your loved one’s experience in addiction and/or past efforts in treatment as well as their goals for recovery, the answer to that question will vary.

Contact us at Alta Mira now to speak to someone about the specifics of your loved one’s needs and help them begin the process of treatment today.

The Reflex of Addiction: What It Means to Break Free

Long-term drug use and abuse create changes in the brain – changes that can last long after the person goes through detox and stops using their drug of choice and other illicit substances as well. Some define the continued chemical reaction in the brain documented through brain imaging studies when the person is exposed to images or reminders of drug use as proof positive that addiction becomes a reflex for an addict.

Dr. Charles P. O’Brien is the co-founder of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania. He told NPR: “Addiction is a memory, it’s a reflex. It’s training your brain in something which is harmful to yourself.”

So for those who have developed an addiction, will this reflex haunt them for life? Or will treatment help them to turn over a new leaf?

The Chronic Nature of Addiction

The “reflex” of addiction does not need to negatively define a life spent in recovery after active addiction. Rather it can be attributed to one of the many issues that must be dealt with as one learns to turn the wheel in a different direction and avoid circling back to destructive behaviors.

Addiction is defined as a chronic disease. It has no cure, and thus patients are advised to avoid complacency in recovery. This means starting out their journey with a comprehensive addiction treatment program and following it up with months, if not years, of ongoing support. This can come in the form of any combination of the following:

  • 12-step meetings
  • Personal therapy
  • Alumni groups
  • Sober living
  • Holistic treatments (e.g., yoga, nutritional counseling, acupuncture, etc.)

Retraining the Brain

All bad habits can be broken, and if drug and alcohol use is a reflex response to certain stimuli, then it can be replaced with more positive behaviors. Which positive behaviors will be the most suitable replacement will vary from person to person. Often, a part of intensive recovery is to help find the right combination of options that best suits each patient. Some options include:

  • Medication. Especially when co-occurring mental health symptoms are an issue, medication can be helpful to mitigate relapse.
  • Sports and exercise. When people feel better physically, they may be less inclined to indulge in behaviors that they know will do them harm.
  • Job skills and career. Working toward improving career options can be highly motivational and the knowledge that a return to drug abuse will destroy all they’ve worked for can help to manage cravings.
  • New hobbies. A new craft, a new skill, a class at the local college, a renewed interest in an old hobby – all these can help to provide a positive outlet for those attempting to avoid drug and alcohol abuse.

Start Out on the Right Foot

If your loved one is attempting to overcome drug and alcohol abuse or addiction, the first step is professional treatment. Call us at Alta Mira today to learn more about our evidence-based program.

Gabapentin May Decrease Relapse Rates in Heavy Drinkers


Helping addicts and alcoholics to overcome the severe withdrawal symptoms that often accompany detox and aiding in their long-term recovery from addiction is the goal of many researchers. To that end, a group of scientists recently looked into a drug called gabapentin and its ability to help those who are alcohol-dependent to avoid withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoria
  • Cravings for alcohol

By diminishing these symptoms, the hope is that patients will more readily avoid relapse and remain in recovery longer, thus exposing themselves for a longer period of time to the benefits of therapy that will help them come back strong and build a new life for themselves that doesn’t include substance abuse.

The results of the double-blind, placebo-controlled study were published in the journal JAMA: Internal Medicine and found that, though only an estimated 9 percent of those in recovery for alcoholism are prescribed any of the currently approved detox medications, gabapentin was found to be highly successful in helping participants to remain in treatment and avoid relapse for the length of the 12-week study.

Is Relapse Normal?

Because there is no cure for alcoholism or addiction, it is not uncommon for patients to struggle with relapse during their recovery. Relapse is not, however, normal. A large part of therapeutic treatment in alcohol rehab is focused on helping patients to prevent relapse by utilizing a range of coping skills, including:

  • Identifying triggers to relapse
  • Learning how to avoid triggers or mitigate their effect
  • Developing an actionable plan that will help them avoid relapse when cravings strike
  • Maintaining close contact with a support system that provides accountability

In early recovery, especially when in the throes of detox, cravings and the urge to drink can be overwhelming. Though medication is not designed to replace therapy and is recommended only with medical supervision, it can be hugely helpful in stabilizing the patient during this critical and difficult time, helping them to more quickly move toward the therapeutic recovery that will help them to find long-term sobriety.

Comprehensive Treatment Is Key

It’s not enough to undergo a detox program when alcohol withdrawal symptoms strike and expect for alcoholism to be “cured.” An intensive and long-term treatment program is usually recommended when dependence upon alcohol and/or other substances is disruptive and overwhelming. The longer one spends in treatment, the more solid their foundation in recovery and the more likely it is that they will be able to withstand relapse for the long-term.

Ready to learn more about the benefits of intensive and comprehensive rehabilitation for alcohol abuse and addiction? Contact us at Alta Mira today at the phone number listed above with your questions. We’ll get you the answers you need to help your loved one begin their journey toward wellness and health.

A Focus on Trauma May Improve Drug Rehab Success Rates

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There are a number of co-occurring issues that can lead to or exacerbate a substance abuse problem. Just a few of these include:

  • Mental health issues
  • Chronic physical illness
  • Sexual or physical abuse or experience of other trauma
  • Brain injury

A traumatic brain injury can cause significant changes in a person’s quality of life, altering their personality and increasing their difficulties with managing day-to-day stressors and responsibilities. It can also increase the likelihood that they will struggle with drugs and alcohol, and often, when the two issues co-occur, it can be explosive for them and those who love them.

How can families best address the issue when both addiction and trauma exist? Intensive treatment that proactively addresses both issues at the same time.

Personalized Treatment

One pitfall that often stops those living with traumatic brain injury from getting the comprehensive care they need is the rigid structure of many drug rehab programs. Families often believe that the primary problematic issue for their loved one is their drug or alcohol abuse; they may not even realize that a brain injury is also part of the problem or that it’s a significant cause of the ongoing trouble experienced by their loved one. Unfortunately, due to the limited nature of many rehabilitation programs, patients don’t get the personalized care they need that will help them to overcome all the obstacles they face as they move toward recovery. As a result, they often struggle with relapse and high rates of dropout.

A Solid Diagnosis

The first step to getting the best possible treatment is a thorough evaluation process in order to secure an accurate diagnosis of all troublesome issues. If a brain injury – or the extent of the damage caused by brain trauma – is not identified, its treatment cannot be incorporated into a comprehensive treatment program.

Addiction, too, must be addressed in full and the best way to do that is to identify all the issues that are driving that addiction. Anything that stops the person from being fully functional in everyday life should be tackled head on during rehabilitation. Treatment and therapeutic options should be chosen accordingly and may include:

  • Family therapy to address relationship issues at home
  • Job skills training to improve employability
  • Life coaching to aid in finding direction and purpose in sober life
  • Nutritional therapy and other holistic measures to assist with healing on all fronts

Call Now

If you would like to learn more about the comprehensive treatment available to you or your loved one here at Alta Mira, we’re standing by to assist you. Contact us at the phone number above now.

Is Your Addiction Your Parents’ Fault?

Alta Mira's Outpatient Services

Alta Mira’s Outpatient Services

A new study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that a parent’s struggle with an addiction might be connected to the depression experienced by their children in adulthood. Several studies, in fact, have found evidence to support this theory – both research done clinically and population-based studies as well.

But does the effect of a parent’s addiction stop there? Since depression and substance abuse are often connected, and genetics, too, can play a part in the development of addiction, are your parent’s addiction issues the reason why you have a problem with drugs and alcohol?

Biology of Addiction

Biology, or genetics, can certainly play a part in the development of addiction. The closer the relative who struggled with either drug or alcohol dependence – a parent or a sibling – the more likely it is that when you use drugs or alcohol for any reason, you may be prone to the development of addiction.

However, having a genetic predisposition for the development of addiction by no means guarantees that you will end up with the disorder. You do have to choose to use an illicit substance, first of all, and the experience of seeing firsthand and up close all the negative consequences of drug use and abuse can be a great deterrent from even mild use of drugs or alcohol.

Other Causes

In most cases, there is no one single cause of addiction. Usually, a combination of factors contributes to the development of drug dependence. In addition to genetics, certain other issues may be contributing causes:


  • Early age of first use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Easy and regular access to drugs of abuse, including alcohol
  • Growing up in or regular exposure to a permissive attitude about drug and alcohol use
  • Living with a co-occurring mental health issue (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.)

If you struggle with depression and grew up with a biological parent who abused drugs or alcohol, you do have a genetic predisposition to the development of addiction plus exposure to a permissive environment for drug and alcohol abuse – not to mention early access to illicit substances. If you developed a depression disorder as well, then there’s yet another common factor.

However, even in the face of all these potential causes, it is possible to escape the sentence of addiction, and even those who do develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol aren’t doomed to a life of pain, health problems and self-destruction. Treatment is always an option.

Treatment Changes Lives

It doesn’t matter what happened in your childhood or the experience of your parents or friends or other family members. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been drinking or using drugs or whether or not you are living with mental health symptoms as well. You always have the choice to get the treatment that will help you create the life you were meant to live.

Contact us at Alta Mira today to learn more about our intensive treatment program and find out how to get started now.