The Dangers of At-Home Liver Detox

Fad diets, cleanses, and health solutions can promise amazing results. Sometimes these trendy ideas can cause more damage than positive results, though. While you may be tempted to try a liver cleanse, there are many dangers of an at-home liver detox.

Alcohol and Liver Functions

You may be feeling the effects of excessive drinking on your liver. The liver processes every alcoholic beverage you consume, including liquor, beer, and wine. The more you drink, the hard the liver works. If you have an addiction to alcohol, you may have already damaged your liver.

Excessive drinking takes a toll on the liver, destroying cells. A condition known as alcohol-related liver disease includes several conditions. You could be suffering from alcoholic cirrhosis, acute alcoholic hepatitis, or alcoholic fatty liver disease as a result of heavy or long-term drinking. When you know more about alcohol’s impact on your liver function, you may be tempted to try an at-home liver detox.

What is a Liver Detox?

Your liver helps remove wastes and toxins from your body. It also helps you digest medicine and various nutrients. The good news about your liver is that has a huge potential for self-recovery. However, there are many people who promote the false notion that a liver detox can prove beneficial to your health, claiming that you can remove or cleanse the toxins from your body in the process.

These liver detox programs may tout the benefits of fasting, drinking certain juices, going on a restricted diet, or taking herbs and supplements to flush out your liver. They may even promote the use of diuretics or laxatives. In reality, a liver detox can be dangerous and can actually cause liver damage in an otherwise healthy organ.

Dangers of an At-Home Liver Detox

A liver detox can cause serious side effects, including inflammation, a weakened immune system, and kidney damage. Due to the nature of most at-home detox programs, you could also suffer from irritability, weakness or fainting, and the onset of migraine headaches. These dangers could become even more serious if you have diabetes, hepatitis B, kidney disease, or pre-existing liver damage.

Other dangers of an at-home liver detox can result from the restricted diet or unproven herbal supplements typically included as part of the process. Many cleansing diets do not provide balanced nutrition, as they do not contain the nutrients that an individual needs for continued good health. Deficiencies or malnutrition are real concerns, especially for people with diabetes or other medical conditions.

An at-home liver detox may involve the use of an enema, which can cause life-threatening damage to the intestines when not used appropriately. In addition, many liver detox products promote their use in weight loss, and include dietary supplements, but these can actually harm the liver and result in drug-induced injury. Most importantly, there is no clinical data to support the effectiveness of a liver detox for weight loss or any other health benefit.

One of the more serious dangers for the individual who is addicted to alcohol and who has decided to try a liver detox is that other medical issues may go untreated, including the addiction itself.

Supervised Detox

For a healthier liver, and a healthier body and mind overall, a professionally supervised detoxification can help remove alcohol from the individual’s system and start the process toward a healthy recovery. Medical complications can arise from extended use of alcohol, including liver damage, and the sooner supervised detox begins, the greater the opportunity to avoid these health issues.

Medically supervised detox is effective in cleansing the physical body and preparing the individual mentally for addiction treatment. The process of detox and alcohol withdrawal can last a few days or a week or more, depending on the individual’s situation and history, and, most importantly, will be monitored in a safe environment.

Gender-Specific Alcohol Addiction Treatment

When you have developed an alcohol addiction and want to stop drinking, we are here for you. Detox and supervised withdrawal will help you safely process the mental and physical symptoms so you can move forward with a healthy recovery. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our programs and services. We offer gender-specific treatment for men who have a desire to turn their life around. Recovery is possible, and we can help.

Volatile Nitrites, Nitrous Oxide & Solvents: Raising Awareness About Inhalants

National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week is March 22-28. Unlike equally dangerous illegal drugs, inhalants are substances that are typically found in most households. Understanding the facts about inhalants is important for the person addicted to them as well as for their friends and family. Raising awareness about inhalants, including volatile nitrites, nitrous oxide, and solvents, can help save a life.

What are Inhalants?

Inhalants are found in many common household products. They contain volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that, when inhaled, can induce a mind-altering effect. The term inhalant is used to describe substances that are rarely taken by any other route, such as in liquid or pill form. There are four basic categories of inhalants, including volatile solvents, aerosols, nitrites, and gases, which describe the forms in which they are most often found in household, medical, and industrial products.

When a Household Product Becomes an Inhalant

An individual who abuses inhalants may take advantage of any available product. However, some users will go out of their way to get hold of their favorite inhalant. Household products that contain commonly abused inhalants in the four general categories include:

Volatile solvents – liquids that become gas at room temperature. These are typically found in nail polish remover, paint thinner, gasoline, contact cement, and some art or office supplies such as correction fluid, glue, and felt-tip marker fluid.

Aerosols – substances under pressure that are released as a fine spray. These include hair spray, deodorant spray, vegetable oil sprays, and spray paint.

Gases – found in household, commercial, and medical products. These inhalants include refrigerant gases, butane lighters, propane tanks, and anesthesia such as nitrous oxide, ether, and chloroform.

Nitrites – sold in small brown bottles, these inhalants include organic nitrites such as amyl, butyl, and cyclohexyl nitrites; amyl nitrite, sometimes used to diagnose heart problems; and nitrites that are now banned but are still found in small bottles labeled “video head cleaner” or “liquid aroma.”

How Do Inhalants Work?

When these chemicals are inhaled, they are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream through the lungs and then distributed to the brain and other organs throughout the body. Within just a few seconds, the person who has inhaled the substance will experience intoxication and other effects similar to those produced by alcohol. They might experience an inability to coordinate their movements, slurred speech, a sense of euphoria, and dizziness, as well as lightheadedness, delusions, and hallucinations.

The intoxication from inhalants only lasts a few minutes, so the individual will typically seek to prolong the high by inhaling repeatedly over just a few hours’ time, a practice that is very dangerous. With each successive inhalation, the individual’s chances increase of suffering a loss of consciousness and even death.

Inhaling can be done through a variety of methods, including inhaling the vapors directly from open containers or from rags that have been soaked in the chemical substance. A method known as bagging involves inhaling substances sprayed or deposited inside a paper or plastic bag. The individual may also inhale from balloons filled with nitrous oxide or from devices known as snappers and poppers in which inhalants are sold.

Side Effects and Risks

The risks of inhaling nitrites, nitrous oxide, solvents, and other chemical substances can be devastating. A recent study that included over 35,000 inhalant abuse cases found that most abusers were in their teens, although the ages ranged from 6 to over 50. Boys accounted for almost three-fourths of the cases. Most of the patients in the study were being treated in an emergency room. Out of the study participants, 208 died and more than 1,000 experienced life-threatening or permanent disabling illnesses.

Side effects associated with inhalants include strong hallucinations and delusions, dizziness, impaired judgment, belligerence, and apathy. Those who abuse inhalants over the long term experience muscle weakness, lack of coordination, irritability, weight loss, inattentiveness, and depression. In addition, chronic use of inhalants can cause serious and often irreversible damage to the liver, lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain.

Early Identification and Intervention

Severe risks, including death, can occur with just one incident of inhaling these chemical substances. It is critical to identify the behavior and get help for the addiction as soon as possible, before it causes serious health issues. An awareness about inhalants includes knowing the following signs that could mean a friend or loved one is abusing a chemical substance:

  • Hidden empty spray paint or solvent containers, and chemical-soaked rags or clothing
  • Chemical odors on breath or clothing
  • Paint or other stains on face, hands, or clothes
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Slurred speech
  • Drunk or disoriented appearance
  • Inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression.

Addiction and Mental Health Support for Men

At PACE Recovery, we optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your addiction to drugs or alcohol, including an addiction to inhaling chemical substances, and mental health issues. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

The professionals at PACE understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

Alcohol Withdrawal Hallucinations

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is coming up. The week of March 22-28 is a time set aside to be sure you understand the facts about drug and alcohol use. One of those very important facts is about what happens when you suddenly stop drinking when your body has become used to long-term or heavy drinking. Without proper supervision, you could experience some serious health issues, including alcohol withdrawal hallucinations.

Alcohol Abuse and Withdrawal

If you have been abusing alcohol, you may experience severe impairment in your social functions as well as medical problems. Alcohol abuse is more common that it should be, with as much as 20% of the population having exhibited alcohol abuse during their lifetimes.

Of those with a history of alcohol abuse, more than 50% can exhibit alcohol withdrawal symptoms when suddenly discontinuing their alcohol use. Around 3-5% of those individuals exhibit symptoms such as profound confusion, hyperactivity, and cardiovascular collapse. These symptoms are known as alcohol withdrawal delirium, also known as delirium tremens (DTs).

A Serious Issue

The condition known as DTs was first recognized in 1813 as a disorder associated with excessive alcohol abuse. The symptoms of DTs can occur as soon as 48 hours after abruptly stopping the use of alcohol and can last as long as five days. For people who experience DTs and who do not get appropriate treatment, the mortality rate can be up to 37%. It is critical to seek professional help when withdrawing from alcohol use. Identifying the early signs of withdrawal and getting treatment can prevent serious health issues, including a fatality.

The signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:

  • Anxiety, nausea, and insomnia, whole body tremor, vomiting, sweating, and hypertension
  • Visual hallucinations and auditory hallucinations
  • Withdrawal seizures
  • Delirium tremens, which include hallucinations, confusion, agitation, disorientation, fever, hypertension, excessive sweating, hyperactivity, and an extremely high heart rate.

DTs and Hallucinations

When you withdraw from excessive and long-term alcohol use, visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations are a likely side effect. You may see, hear, and feel things that are not really there, from 12 hours to 7 days after you stop drinking. In one study of 532 male patient who had been admitted to a Veterans Affairs Hospital for alcohol withdrawal, 10 percent experienced hallucinations.

The patients who hallucinated tended to be younger when they first developed problems with alcohol use, consumed more alcohol at each drinking occasion, and developed more problems in their life that were directly related to their alcohol use. They also had higher rates of other drug use. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms appear to be more pronounced and more frequent in men than in women.

Alcohol’s Effect on the Brain

When you drink alcohol, it affects the way your nerve cells communicate. Alcohol’s sedating effect is related to the altered function of receptors in your brain. These receptors are specialized proteins located on the surface of nerve cells. They receive chemical signals from other cells that are generally conveyed by chemical messengers released by nearby nerve cells, known as neurotransmitters.

When you drink heavily over the long term, these receptors that are affected by the alcohol undergo adaptive changes to try to maintain their normal function. When you stop drinking, the changes are no longer adaptive and that contributes to the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. The issues that result from alcohol withdrawal can cause significant illness and even death.

Relapse Danger

Once your acute withdrawal has subsided, you may then begin to experience a longer, more drawn out withdrawal process. The persistent changes in your physical functioning, behavior, and mood that accompany this drawn out withdrawal may tempt you to relapse to heavy drinking in an attempt to relieve the symptoms. Returning to your heavy drinking, however, can only make your physical and mental health worse. Supervised detox and withdrawal are critically important to be able to get safely sober.

Men and Alcohol Abuse

The CDC reports that men are more likely than women to drink excessively. In fact, 59% of men reported drinking in the past thirty days, compared with 47% of women. Men are almost twice as likely to binge drink, with approximately 22% of men reporting binge drinking, consuming 8 drinks per binge and doing so 5 times a month. In 2019, 7% of men indicated they had an alcohol use disorder.

Gender-Specific Alcohol Addiction Treatment

When you have developed an alcohol addiction and want to stop drinking, we are here for you. Detox and supervised withdrawal will help you safely process the mental and physical symptoms so you can move forward with a healthy recovery. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our programs and services. We offer gender-specific treatment for men who have a desire to turn their life around. Recovery is possible, and we can help.

The Truth About Self-Harm Among Young Men

Although self-harm behaviors are typically associated with girls and young women, boys and young men also experience self-injury in significant numbers. In fact, the effects can be even more devastating in males. The truth about self-harm among young men is important to uncover, particularly during Self-Harm Awareness Month.

Emotional Distress in Young Adult Men

Self-harm is not a mental illness itself, but self-harm behaviors indicate a need for better coping skills. These behaviors can include cutting, burning, or hair pulling. When someone hurts themselves on purpose, it is a sign of emotional distress. Self-harm may be associated with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The incidence of self-harm is more prevalent in teenagers and young adults, although anyone of any age can engage in self-injury. People at the highest risk are those who have experienced neglect, abuse, or trauma.

Self-Harm Among Young Men

The image of cutting or other self-harm behaviors tends to be associated with young white females. However, between 35 and 50 percent of self-injurers are male. The number has been difficult to pinpoint because male self-injuries are probably underreported or misrepresented. While females are more likely to engage in cutting, males are more prone to bruise themselves, have others hurt them, or hurt themselves while using drugs or alcohol.

The reasons behind the behaviors differ somewhat between females and males also. Research has found that self-injury is associated with depression and anxiety in similar ways for both males and females. Differences lie in areas such as spirituality concerns, borderline personality disorder symptoms, drug use, and sexual assault, which are primarily associated with females, and substance use disorder, associated more with males.

Research has also found an association between self-harm behaviors and physical aggression among males. Females who engage in self-harm behaviors may exhibit anger, hostility, and verbal aggression, but not necessarily physical aggression.

Self-Harm and Suicide

The act of self-harm is not always a suicide attempt, but the actions and mental status of young men who engage in these behaviors may be a strong predictor of later suicide attempts. One study of 1,466 students at colleges in the US over a three-year period found that those individuals who self-injured at the beginning of the study and who did not report suicidal thoughts or plans at the time, but then engaged in 20 or more self-injuring behaviors, were 3.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide by the end of the study.

Men commit suicide at higher rates than women. In 2018, the suicide rate among men was 3.7 times higher than among women. The total suicide rate in the US has increased 35% from 1999 to 2018.

Men and Treatment for Self-Harm

One of the reasons that self-harm may be more typically identified with women than with men is that men are less willing to report their behavior or to seek treatment for it. The truth about self-harm among young men is that treatment is critical to address their mental health and physical health, to help them develop healthier coping skills, and to reduce the likelihood of suicide.

Research studies regarding self-harm and gender have been limited, as few have examined clinical populations. Females significantly outnumber males in clinical populations, as males feel more of a stigma around seeking mental health treatment in general and treatment for self-harm in particular.

In clinical studies, it has been found that females report an earlier age of onset than males, but males report higher self-injury frequency each day with greater pain intensity. Men have also reported a lower intensity of emotions before and after they self-harm.

Help for Young Men at PACE

Contrary to what many people may believe, asking for help is actually a sign of strength. If you have been engaging in self-harm behaviors, particularly if you are also dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is time to reach out to the professionals at PACE Recovery. We optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your mental health and substance use issues. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

At PACE, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.

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