Why counselorssoapbox by David Joel Miller

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Counselorssoapbox.com

Who is this David Joel Miller and why is he writing a blog called counselorssoapbox?

Counselorssoapbox is a blog about recovery, wellness and having a happy life. Yes, you guessed it, I am David Joel Miller and I write this blog. It occurs to me though that I have not explained why I write this blog and why I called it counselorssoapbox.

Someone is snickering under their breath the words “for the money” If you were thinking that then you would be more delusional than I was when I started writing this blog. Not delusional in the psychiatric sense, but delusional in that I had no idea how much work writing a blog on a regular basis would be. As for this blog making money, I definitely will not be quitting my day job, or my night job for that matter, anytime soon.

My first exposure to all things psychological was, like many of you, a few classes in psychology. It was the sixties after all. I have since learned that psychology, the kind we study in high school or most colleges is only a distant relative of counseling and recovery. Clinical Psychology, that takes 6 years of college for a Ph.D. and then you can start looking for the answers to why life is the way it is.

My first exposure to counseling and therapy was as a client. I discovered school counselors could tell me what classes to take if I wanted to make the big bucks but none of them seemed to know how to be happy along the way. Eventually, I ended up seeing some therapists. I discovered that there were helpful therapists and unhelpful therapists.

Becoming a therapist was not in my original plan. I took the classes and became a Drug and alcohol counselor. Along the way, I learned a few things. One was that there was a lot of wisdom in those 12 step programs. The other was that my AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) clients all had families. If I wanted to be helpful to those families, especially the children and the significant others, then I needed more training.

Next stop was the classes in how to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. Originally here in California, this was called a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor. Marriage in this context means any two or more people who have a close, primary, usually sexual, relationship.

Over the years of trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be when I grow up, I discovered that having a job or at least a purpose in life was an immense part of being happy. The answer to the who and what question I am still working on, but at least now I know something about the how of being happy.

To help people with their job issues and substance use issues took me in the direction of Professional Clinician Counseling and today I have that license also. From there I drifted, more like jumped, into teaching and supervising other counselors and therapists. So now you know a little bit about me. More is on my “about me” page.

But I still haven’t told you “Why a blog named counselorssoapbox?”

Throughout my process of becoming a professional in this field I kept thinking about those times I had sat on the other side of the desk and what I had experienced. I decided I did not ever want to forget what it was like to be on the client side of the room.

In graduate school, they explained a lot of stuff to us but honestly, I did not feel like some of these professionals I had seen had explained things to me in the way they were supposed to be explained. I asked about confidentiality and never seemed to get a straight answer.

Therapists were often good listeners but if they knew the answers to the “how to have a happy life question” they wanted me to suffer through the process of finding them myself and they flat resisted giving me any answers to these questions.

Counselorssoapbox started off as a way for me to express my opinions about what worked and what didn’t in the therapy world. I wanted to demystify the therapy process and explain what I had learned. Those times I got a reader question and didn’t have the answer took me back to reading the research and looking for more ideas. Writing a blog meant I needed to keep reading, studying and living wellness and recovery. So I just took it one post at a time.

What quickly happened was you readers prodded me in a few directions. Counselorssoapbox received a lot of questions about the safety of counseling, confidentiality and what gets reported. I was surprised at the number of search terms that involved counselors having sex with clients. So I put up a link to the publication “Professional Counseling Never Includes Sex.”  That post and the link keep getting hits so there remains an interest in this topic.

There has also been some interest in particular diagnoses and their treatment. While I can’t do therapy by blog post I have tried to provide general information on mental health and illness. All sorts of how to have a happy, productive, successful life posts find their way onto the blog also. Whatever tips on having the best life possible I come across I try to share.

There you have it. The answers to the questions who is this David Joel Miller and why a blog called counselorssoapbox.

What’s next? I continue to work on some books, both fiction and nonfiction and I write more blog posts looking for all the things that seem worthy of sharing with you. So if there are questions or comments related to the fields of substance use disorders, mental health, and wellness or living a happy life, send them along. I will do my best to answer questions or send you to someone who can. Comments and information from you or others gets shared here also.

If you read this far an extra thanks. Talk with you again soon.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Does Alcohol make you happy or angry?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Bottles of alcohol.

Alcoholic Beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Set and Setting change perceptions of drug use.

Set and setting, the impact of places and mood on drug user’s experiences plays a large role in the way alcohol and drugs affect the user’s mood and behavior.

Not everyone who takes the same dose of a drug has the same experience. One person who drinks becomes angry and another happy. The time and place of drug use influence the way in which a drug user or problematic alcohol drinker may be affected by their particular drug of choice.

We need to understand these influences to explain why two different people may describe their experience of using a drug in very different ways. The same person may also experience one drug differently at different times. Here are some ways set and setting may alter the drug user’s perceptions.

Set – Mindset matters.

What you expect a drug to do is likely to be the result you get. Well sort of. First the why and then the why not.

Two drinkers each consume the same amount of the very same alcoholic beverage. One becomes angry and combative and the other becomes happy and mellow. Why? Isn’t a drug a drug?

The effects alcohol and other drugs have on people vary with the mood they have when they consume that drug. If someone drinks because they are angry they are more likely to become increasingly angry. The alcohol’s disinhibiting effects allow them to take action, express that anger in ways they would not express it if they were sober.

A happy person, expecting to become happier while drinking, will find that is exactly what happens.  Again disinhibited they may act on that celebratory mood, dance on the table or kiss a stranger but believing that alcohol will make them happy they will become happier.

Sometimes, at least partially, a drug users expectations will override the actual effects of the drug. Mindset also has to do with the reasons for using a drug.

When you take a medication to control pain you are less likely to develop a problem than when you use a drug to change the way you feel emotionally. See physical pain may go away or you may become used to it. But using a drug or alcohol to change the way you feel increases the risk that you will use more and more until eventually that drug no longer makes you feel better but you need it just to feel normal.

Drinking or drugging to change the way you feel is one of the riskiest ways to use substances. Why? Because it works so well. Once you begin using drugs and alcohol to change the way you feel you risk becoming dependent on that drug to change the way you feel.

Setting – where you use a drug matters.

The effect of setting is often underestimated. This leads to strong disagreements about the nature of drug use and addiction.

A patient takes a drug in the hospital. Say they are given morphine for pain. Despite substantial doses over a number of days most people who receive pain medication in a hospital setting do not go on to become addicted.

If that same person were to purchase the very same quantity of this same drug in an alley, there is a high likely hood that addiction would result.

Some religious groups use wine as a part of their service. People rarely behave inappropriately as a result of that one drink at church. But let that same person have a glass of wine late at night in a bar and there is a chance, maybe a good one, that they will behave in a way that they do not normally act.

Drugs, legal and illegal, become a part of the ritual during which they are used. If your ritual is to get high, use all the drugs you can and act violent, that is what you will do. If you believe a small quantity of wine will increase your feeling of religious connection that too will occur.

Both set and setting are tied to placebo and nocebo effects. The way in which you perceive a drug’s use and its effects influence the experience you have.

People who are drinking non-alcoholic drinks but believe they have been given drinks containing alcohol begin to act as though they were becoming disinhibited. They may slur their speech, stagger and become loud and boisterous. They may get louder, joke more and do things that in other settings they would be embarrassed to do. The belief that they were drinking alcohol has altered their behavior.

That does not mean that the effects of drugs or alcohol are purely mental. Give those people who had been drinking a non-alcoholic beverage, but thought it contained alcohol, a reaction-time test and they will suddenly sober up and do just fine.

The converse is that people who drink a lot and develop a tolerance may feel they are not drunk at very high blood alcohol concentrations and with tremendous loss of coordination. While they may think they are fine, those who drank a lot will fail a sobriety test in the lab or in the field.

In any discussion of drug use and abuse, we need to keep in mind the psychological as well as the physical effects of those drugs. Where people use, the setting, and what they are thinking when they use, the mindset, may affect their perceptions of the drug and the risk of developing an addiction or other problems with usage.

Set and setting may alter the way the experience feels but that does not mean that the mind is strong enough to undo the effects of substances. You can think your way into addiction but you can’t think yourself sober. Being clean and sober takes action also.

For more on this see:

Why not everyone ends up addicted to pain medication – set and setting

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Internet affairs? Internet addiction?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Computer

Internet addiction.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Internet affairs? Internet addiction?

The internet is affecting a lot of real-life relationships. Today’s post over at our sister blog counselorfresno.com tells the story of three ways your internet usage may doom your other relationships.

This post is part of a series of posts written for clients of my Counseling and Therapy practice here in Fresno California But I thought it was worth sharing with the rest of you.

How does someone become an addict?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs of addiction

Addiction.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How to become an addict – The process of addiction.

I haven’t met anyone yet who deliberately set out to become an addict. Some people intended to do all the drugs or drink all the alcohol they could, but mostly they did not expect to really become addicted. How does this thing called addiction develop and why don’t people stop before it is too late?

I don’t remember Alcoholic being on the list of occupations in our school career classes. Even without instruction plenty of people go on to become addicted. You would think that highly educated people would know better than to put themselves at risk. Clearly learning and teaching the process of addiction has been left out of our educational system.

Here is how we teach the process of addiction in substance abuse and co-occurring disorder classes.

You too could become an addict in five easy steps. Not everyone goes through all these steps in exactly this order, but most people do. You could go through all of the steps quickly or slowly. Stay on the using course and you should eventually get to the end point of addiction. After the addition, doctors call this chemical dependency; you will find death, incarceration or psychiatric facilities.

Step One – Experimentation with substances.

At some point, the child or young adult tries a substance. Forget what you have heard about pushers. They are too busy making deliveries to do the startup work of creating a new addict. Most kids get their first drug from their parents or grandparents. (See my post on Grandma as a drug pusher.)

The first time for most kids is sneaking some of their parent’s cigarettes or finishing a parent’s beer. Plenty of kids tell me they drank for years emptying out dad’s bottle of vodka half way and then topping it off with water.

This process even happens in families where the parents don’t smoke or drink. Boys usually are introduced to substances by other male relatives, an older brother, cousin, uncle or friends. Girls are often given something by a boyfriend or would be boyfriend.

For a while, this may go a long hit or miss. The person try’s this or that, likes some things and does more of that drug or does not like the feeling and does not do that again.

People from non-smoking and non-drinking homes are not immune from this process. They may find a friend to mentor them in drug use or they may delay the experimentation till they leave home for college, the military or after marriage.

Step Two – Social substance use.

At some point in this process, the person finds that all their friends are into a particular drug. It might be that their crowd smokes cigarettes. Once the underage smoker has lite up that second cigarette there is an 85% chance they will smoke the rest of their life.

But maybe your group of friends gets together somewhere and drinks a few beers or smokes some weed. That shouldn’t lead to an addiction right? Well not directly. You still have time to avoid that consequence but you are moving closer.

Drug users of any type tend to clump together. Each drug of choice has a culture. Beer drinkers party together and so do weed smokers and heroin injectors.

In the beginning drug use is a social thing. When the group you are in or want to be in gets together they drink this stuff, smoke this stuff, do this drug, you do it also or you stop hanging out with them. Why do you want to spend every Friday night with people who are drinking if you don’t drink?

Step Three – substance use becomes a habit.

One week all your friends are gone, out of town, and here you are stuck at home alone. It is Friday night – this is the night that you drink a few beers or smoke some weed right? So you drink a few or light one up.

At this point using a particular drug has moved from being a social activity you do with others to a habit you have. It may stay there for a long while. You may keep your beer drinking or smoking weed to Fridays nights, only but most people don’t.

If you like the drug you would like to do it more than one time a week. If you don’t like it you may move on and try something else. Maybe find a new group of friends and adopt their drug of choice. You might take up drinking coffee or smoking methamphetamine.

One thing about drugs, mild or strong is that they are reliable. You do them and they chance the way you feel. If you like the head change you want more. If you do not like the change you probably will pick a new drug you do like, or stop altogether. But that means you have to get new friends. So your trip down the addiction road continues.

Psychological dependency develops after a while.

One week you find you are alone, you want to drink or smoke and you have to go somewhere with the family or somewhere there will be no drugs. You get upset, you get angry, you may even pick a fight with your family and storm out. Then it is their fault you had to go get high.

At this point, you want the drug more than ever before. You need the drug to get by. You think about her all the time. And when you don’t get to do your drug you are angry about it – or depressed or anxious – until you get to get high again.

You are not yet physically addicted but you have developed a psychological need for the drug. This is the last stop on the path before you reach full chemical dependency. And you are thinking at this point that the drug is your friend and your helper.

Physical Addiction can be the last house on the block.

One day you can’t get the drug. You become sick, psychically or emotionally ill. You may end up in the hospital, the psychiatric ward or the jail. Suddenly you realize that even when you want to quit when you try to go for a few days without that drug, you just can’t do it.

Beyond addiction, now what?

Once you have reached the point of addiction, doctors’ call this chemical dependency, you have very few choices. You can quit, which turns out to be very difficult without help. You could go to some meetings, get a sponsor and work some steps in the process of change. You might go to a program or see a counselor or you might just decide that you are helpless and you will stay addicted. Lots of people chose to stay addicted.

The A.A. big book tells us that beyond addiction, if you chose not to accept help, you are headed for misery, jails, institutions or death. But as with all the stages before this, the choice is of course yours. Lots of addicted people cycle through psychiatric facilities as the drug addiction warps their thinking. We call this joint problem of addiction and mental illness co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

Any questions about my description of how an addiction could develop, be maintained and result in a co-occurring addiction and mental illness?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

5 Steps to addiction

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs of addiction

Addiction.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What does it take to turn a normal person into a drug addict?

I remember some career information when I was in high school. We took a test to see what our abilities were and what careers might interest us the most. I don’t remember drug addict or alcoholic being on the list of possible careers. Even without any guidance a lot of people end up making a lifetime occupation out of their addiction.

How does addiction develop? Take these five steps to find your chemical dependency.

1. Experimentation with substances.

Involvement with chemicals begins with some experimentation. A friend offers you one of their cigarettes and you try it. Forget all you have heard about this or that drug being a gateway drug. Far and away the “gateway” drugs of choice are nicotine and alcohol.

Lots of kids get their start at abusing drugs by swiping a few cigarettes, maybe a pack if they can, from a family member. A leftover beer, a partial bottle sitting around, that is all it takes. Lots of seasoned drug addicts remember with me the time they took some sips on a family member’s beer or drank from mom and dad’s liquor cabinet when the folks were away.

Boys usually get their start with the help and encouragement of a male friend or an older family member. It’s not a drug pusher that gets the disease of addiction going, it is a brother, uncle, cousin or another close male.

Girls most often learn how to use drugs from their first boyfriend. They may go on to share this knowledge with other girlfriends but mostly they all compare notes and then get the next lesson from the next man in their life. Keep the learning up long enough and one of those men will teach you how to save money by sharing needles and then you can share everything that man has, especially the diseases.

2. Social drinking and drug use.

After the first trial of drug use, the budding young experimenter is likely to finds some collaborators in drug learning. The guys or gals get together and drink a few beers, sometimes they get wasted. Eventually, sooner probably, rather than later, someone brings some weed, bomb, some 420 to the party. The group has discovered marijuana; they have also discovered doing an illicit or illegal drug.

Some people have to steal the weed, others buy it, a few have “friends” who in the beginning will front it to you for free. This is probably too early in the trip for the aspiring popular person to have heard the old expression “the first one is free; the second will cost you double.”

Every week the group gets together. Say Friday night. Eventually given enough good stuff, the party stretches over into Saturday morning. There may be some getting drunk, some learning to throw up and to treat hangovers the next day.

There may be some violence, some unplanned, even unwanted sex. People may start doing illegal and dangerous things. Occasionally people get in trouble, get arrested or even killed. Usually, that is someone else in some other town, someone who wasn’t careful enough. It won’t happen to one of your group.

As long as it is social it is all good. But what happens when the group is away?

3. Substance use becomes a habit.

The time will come in everyone’s life when the group is not there that one Friday night.
This is the turning point.

It is Friday. That is the night you drink and party right? Tonight you are alone. What will you do? This is the point where a few will decide enough is enough. A few beers with friends is fine, but this getting drunk and stoned every weekend is too much.

Far too many people at this point decide that it is Friday and on Fridays, we drink and drug. They will go on with the party, friends or no friends. They may look for another group to use with or they may use alone, but at this point, they have turned a social event into a habit. They will use no matter what it takes.

4. Psychological need for substance.

The user will struggle along for a while, months, years, maybe even decades. The use now is accelerating. There is more using alone. The negative consequences begin to mount up.

There may be DUI’s. When using they do things they will regret later. There are fights, violence, possibly arrests. They decide they want to quit. At this point, they have had enough. They vow to stop drinking and drugging, well not stop exactly, but they will cut back.

The person on their way to addiction is at the point where when they try to control their use they find it is so much harder than they thought. They have lost the ability to control their usage. They need to drink more and use more to get the same high. This is called tolerance. They can’t function without the drug.

In those brief periods of not using or drinking they can’t stop thinking about the drug, how long till five and the next time they can drink?

This person is not yet fully psychologically dependent but they have developed a mental need for their drug of choice. Without that drug, they are not happy. Even with the drug they are no longer enjoying the use. They now use just to get back to normal.

5. Physical need for a drug completes the process.

At this juncture, the person is having physical problems. They may get sick when without their drug of choice. They can’t stand the thought of running out. The alcoholic now needs an eye-opener in the morning. The meth addict tries to keep back a taste to help get them out of bed. It is no longer using to feel pleasure, now it is using to get well again.

The alcoholic may have D.T’s. They may risk seizures and death if deprived of their drug. The process has gone to the end. The experiment is over. The drug has taken control of the person.

If you recognize yourself in this story, consider where you are in the process and where you want to go. If you have reached the point where this is a habit or an addiction know that there is help available to stop the disease of addiction before you reach the end.

Beyond psychical addiction, so the story goes, there are three destinations, Jails, institutions, and death.
Changing the outcome is not easy but it is possible.

Are you ready to change your direction or are you on the 5 steps to addiction path?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How safe if your young child from drugs?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs

Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you keeping your child away from drugs?

We would like to think that we can keep our children safe. We expect drug use to be something teens or young adults might do. Not young children. The truth is that younger and younger children are trying drugs. Most kids have been exposed to drugs and alcohol by the end of the third grade. Even kids from drug and alcohol-free homes are at risk. If you are thinking “my kids would never do drugs” you may be fooling yourself.

If you are thinking alcohol, that’s not a drug, think again. Any alcohol use by an eight-year-old is a problem. The younger they begin to use drugs, the more likely there will be problems. Not just the problem of addiction but also changes in emotions and learning. The more a student drinks the lower the GPA they will have. One study said “F” students drink on average twice what “A” student’s drink.

Very young kids get their first drugs at home.

First experiences with drugs frequently happen at home. Sneaking some of their parent’s cigarettes or alcohol is many a child first experience with drugs. That half-consumed beer or the carelessly left pack of cigarettes is an easy way to get started. But there are bigger dangers lurking even if the parents don’t smoke or drink.

Early grade kids get their drugs under the kitchen sink or in the garage.

Those cleaning solvents, the gasoline, the spray paint, all these things can be used to inhale or huff. Spray cans are an easy way to alter consciousness. A lot of inhalant abuse goes unnoticed by parents who think “no not my child” until it has caused permanent health problems.

It is not the “pusher” that gets your kid on drugs.

We used to think that there were unscrupulous people out there trying to get our kids hooked on drugs. Truth is most people are introduced to drugs by a close friend or family member. Boys are often started off by an older male cousin or uncle; girls learn drug use from an old sister, aunt or their first boyfriend.

Most kids who use drugs on a daily basis tell me that at first, they didn’t have to pay for it. Friends gave it to them for free. Later on, the circle of friends began to pool their money to buy it. It is not until the drug habit gets regular and expensive that the kid has to come up with the money to pay.

Street drugs are not the biggest part of the problem

Abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise. In a previous post “Grandma is the drug connect”  I wrote about how unknowing family members, grandma, in particular, are becoming the drug supplier of choice for today’s teen.

When it comes to drug overdoses street drugs are way behind prescription drugs as a cause of death.

So have you really thought about this problem of young kids doing drugs? Just how sure are you that your child is safe from drugs?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Caustic Bath Salts Kill

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

New drugs

Bath salts.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Calling these things bath salts is fiction if I ever heard a fanciful tale.

There are also called plant foods. No one I know of is putting this stuff in water and plants that get this stuff aren’t long for this world. What these so-called “bath salts” do is put people in the hospital emergency room. Sometimes they are fatal.

By calling them bath salts or plant food and putting a notice on the label that says “not intended for human consumption” the manufacturers and sellers of these products are getting around the Controlled Substances Act. These products are often found in head shops and boutiques along with glass pipes and “body detox” products. That the sellers know what people will do with these products is clear.

There are no specific ingredients for these products and manufacturers keep changing their formula to keep ahead of the laws. In the process, one key ingredient is becoming the dominant one. Most of the bath salts contain Methcathinone in one form or another.

Don’t confuse Methcathinone with Methamphetamine or Methadone. Pseudoephedrine is a precursor for both Methcathinone and Methamphetamine but the similarities don’t go much farther than that.

Dr. Smith of the Cookeville (Tennessee) Regional Medical Center wrote a two-part series on bath salts recently which appeared in the drugfree.org newsletter. He reports that the effects of Methcathinone are like those of Ecstasy (MDMA) in the early stages but as time goes on the effects become more like Methamphetamine. While Methcathinone was a rare event in the past Dr. Smith reports that he regularly sees people in the emergency room as a result of bath salts.

Methcathinone is a synthetic version of Khat which I mentioned in my recent post 7 New drugs Parents should be aware of.

The effects Dr. Smith reported seeing in the ER from bath salt users included sweating, high body temperature, high blood pressure, low thirst, paranoia, hallucinations, seizures, violence and self-injurious behavior, including suicidal thoughts and actions.

Deaths have been reported as a result of smoking bath salts, but how common this is, remains unknown. Most toxicology screens are not intended to pick up these rapidly changing synthetic chemicals and they are probably being under-reported.

A further concern is that people who buy their drugs in head shops are consuming an ever-increasing number of synthetic chemicals. The belief here, especially among teens is that since they are being sold legally they are safe or relatively safe. Most young people have no sense of the amount of risk they are taking by using these products.

Adding to their popularity is the belief, not always correctly, that these products will not show on a drug test and therefore are not going to cause any problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a report to physicians on spotting the side effects from smoking synthetic drugs. These drugs, particularly “synthetic marijuana” or synthetic cannabinoids resulted in over 4,500 calls to poison control centers in the United States in a one year period.

Among the reported symptoms of high levels of synthetic cannabinoids are agitation, excess sweating and inability to speak.

The sale and use of synthetic recreational drugs, both bath salts, and synthetic marijuana, is an evolving problem which is currently poorly recognized or treated.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.