Suicidal Ideation 19 Sep 2019

BY: Alexandrea Holder

Addiction / Depression

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Suicide Prevention Month: Understanding Suicidal Ideation

It is a sad fact about modern society that mental health crises have become so commonplace. One in five people surveyed in 2018 admitted to having mental health issues. One in twenty-five people experienced serious mental illness. Considering the amount of people struggling with life, it’s inevitable that suicide would become a more pressing problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the U.S. The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by thirty-one percent since 2001.

This is a scourge that must be dealt with sooner rather than later. No one deserves this much anguish on a daily basis. The first step to dealing with any problem, regardless of its gravity, is to understand what you’re looking for. What causes someone to believe that killing themselves is the only way out? What does a suicidal person look like? Mental health disorders do not care about social status, popularity, money, or any of the other things that people incorrectly believe can be a simple panacea to a tormented soul. It’s vital to look past basic stereotypes and treat the person that needs help. 

It’s not always obvious that someone is considering suicide. Thoughts about self-harm, also known as suicidal ideation, can take various different forms, but typically fall into two main categories of suicidal ideation: active and passive.

Active suicidal ideation is easier to notice. This is when someone is intent on committing the act and has present plans to do so. But before anyone gets to that point, they engage in passive suicidal ideation. This is when someone intermittently imagines their death, or how they would want to die, but has no plans to follow through on the notions. In a way, this form is more insidious because it is often overlooked both by both health professionals and family members who don’t realize what their sibling or relative is going through.

It’s a terrifying thought: that frustrated thoughts about a person’s job or self-image could morph into something fatal. But there is a silver lining to this reality. Nearly everyone has struggled with their career, unsure about their connections to society, or been anxious about the future. Our personal plights are more relatable than we realize. We are more alike than we are different. We have the ability to take better care of each other if we try. 

There are dozens of factors that can cause a person to think about suicide, but no matter the reason, it all boils down to an unending feeling of hopelessness. Whatever treatment plan is used to help a suicidal person has to find a way to bring hope back into the suicidal person’s life. The first step to doing that is to discover what made them so hopeless in the first place. Every suicidal person needs a personalized treatment plan, but the most consistent ways to help are:

  • Therapy: Speaking to a licensed professional about your problems is a great way to view your pain from a different perspective and gain insights you might not be able to find on your own.
  • A stable support group: Let your friends and family know what you’re dealing with so they can lift you when you’re low and keep you from feeling isolated or lonely. If you are the friend or family member reading this, then make it a point to ask this person how they’re feeling (mental illness often makes emotional vulnerability feel more dangerous than it is) and tell them how much you care about them. 
  • Lifestyle changes: Ultimately, all substantial changes to a person’s life must be made by the person who needs the changes. Becoming more aware of harmful stressors, improving your eating and sleeping habits, and developing healthier habits will do wonders for your mental state. 

Helping people rediscover the joys of life is an immensely difficult job, but we have a moral imperative to help those lost in the abyss. 

All of this is easier said than done, of course. For those stricken with mental illness, it can often feel impossible to overcome them. Many disorders cannot be “beaten” or “fixed”. They are long term conditions that have to be managed. The path to self-acceptance is a winding road full of roadblocks. But if you approach the issues with empathy and patience for the victim you’re dealing with – whether it’s you or someone else in your life – the light will soon reappear. Everyone deserves to have that chance.  

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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Depression Among people Living With Substance Abuse Disorders

Depression also referred to as major depressive disorder, is a common and serious mental health condition that negatively affects many Americans. One feels sad, anxious and loses interest in activities that they once enjoyed. It can drastically reduce one’s ability to function at home and also at work due to physical and emotional problems caused.

Some people resort to harmful coping mechanisms by abusing substances which include alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and even prescription medication. Unfortunately, what begins as a seemingly harmless recreation leads to serious repercussions that negatively impact on the individual, family, friends and the society at large. People living with substance abuse disorders must not be treated as social outcasts. Instead, the root cause of their behavior – depression- must be addressed.

How to recognize people living with substance abuse disorders

There are several behavioral and physical symptoms that may raise red flags, indicating that one may be abusing substances. One may suddenly or uncharacteristically:

  • Become careless about personal hygiene and grooming
  • Withdraw from family members and friends
  • Have mood swings, sometimes violent
  • Change behavior and act irrationally
  • Lose interest in sports or other favorite activities

These and other symptoms are warning signs that all may not be well. Once noticed, it’s advisable to take the affected individual for counselling to address the root causes. Fortunately, depression is very treatable. Research shows that 80% – 90% of those diagnosed with depression gain relief from their symptoms and respond well to treatment. Usually, the person with a substance abuse disorder should undergo a thorough physical examination and diagnostic valuation. The next step is to plan a course of action based on the diagnosis. Several treatment options the professional may recommend include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication, including administration of antidepressants
  • Exercise
  • Brain Stimulation therapy
  • Alternative approaches like faith-based healing, acupuncture and nutrition

Can a person living with substance abuse disorder suddenly quit?

In very rare instances, one can stop abusing substances are abrupt as they began them. However, ‘cold turkey’ detox poses high risks to the individual. There may be severe withdrawal symptoms to contend with, some that could be life-threatening. It is essential that substance detox is done under the close supervision of a professional health provider to avoid the danger of relapse. Substance abuse recovery is more than a detox. It is a gradual readjustment towards a healthier and balanced life. Contact us today for more information or support. 

PTSD and Substance Abuse 21 Jun 2019

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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Substance Abuse and PTSD Commonly Manifest Together

Why Do Those With PTSD Use Substances?

If you’re one of the individuals seeking help for your substance abuse disorder, it’s also 50% likely you also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But, you don’t need to be told this. In a way, it makes perfect sense that those experiencing immense psychological pain would occasionally turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.

PTSD occurs when an individual experiences an event—or numerous events—so frightening that they begin to experience distressing symptoms that limit their ability to function in the world.

Anyone can suffer from PTSD, not simply those who have served in the military. The condition can affect anyone who has experienced something extremely disorienting, scary, or overwhelming. This is especially the case if the event involved a threat to their or someone else’s life. Even secondhand exposure to such details can cause PTSD.

Substance abuse is when an individual uses drugs or alcohol to the point that they become addicted and begin to suffer consequences throughout their life. One defining characteristic of the disorder is that these consequences often don’t lead the individual to curb or end their substance use.

The Complexity of Co-Occurring Disorders

Those suffering from co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders have a more difficult time overcoming their disorders. Their substance abuse also tends to be more complicated.

For example, they report greater cravings and may even relapse quicker following substance abuse treatment. They may also experience an increased risk of developing other psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, and suicidality.

We’ve already talked a little about why someone with PTSD might use substances to help cope with their pain.

Still, there’s another component. It may also be the case that characteristics making someone more likely to develop PTSD also mean they are more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Some of these characteristics may even be genetic.

Or, they may be a result of environmental factors. Examples could be living in an abusive household or a poverty-stricken neighborhood. This is why PTSD and substance abuse are so likely to manifest at the same time.  

Suffering from co-occurring substance abuse and post-traumatic disorders only means it’s that more imperative you seek help from the professionals there to help you navigate these complex conditions. Help is out there. You’re not alone.

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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Men’s Health Week: Substance Abuse Warning Signs and How to Overcome Addiction

Everyone has a drink just to take the edge off, right? Though sometimes you wonder if you’re having more drinks than most people you know. Maybe you also enjoy using drugs recreationally with friends to forget about the stress you’re experiencing. Or maybe you keep filling that painkiller prescription that was meant to help with pain from a past injury, even though it is well healed by now. Do you worry that you have a drug or substance abuse problem?

Drug addiction and alcoholism occur when the body and brain collectively adapt to a substance, to the point of users experiencing cravings for the substance. This can be a slippery slope and those with a substance abuse disorder can quickly lose control of their lives. Users can experience physical changes in their body and brain that makes them dependent on the substance they are using. As the user consumes more and more of the substance their tolerance increases. This causes them to have to use even more of the substance to get to their desired state of mind.

Understanding the signs and potential causes of substance abuse are the first steps to recovering and getting your life back under your control.

Warning Signs

If you worry about your alcohol consumption it is important to know what an average amount of alcohol consumption looks like. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that a moderate amount of alcohol for an adult male is 2 drinks per day. To put this into perspective, 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces (commonly referred to as a shot) of 80-proof liquor are all equivalent to 1 drink.

In general, you can recognize if you have a problem with alcohol or drugs by considering how much you need in order to get drunk or high. If you need a large amount of the substance, you may be becoming dependent on it. Research studies have shown that men are overall more likely to abuse substances than women. 

Consequences of substance abuse for males can result in erectile dysfunction, infertility, testicle shrinkage, a higher risk of heart attack, and loss of hair. This is on top of all the other health consequences of using substances such as the higher risk of stroke, neurological damage, risk of contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), etc. 

Those who struggle with mental illness are more likely to start abusing alcohol or drugs. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) claims that about half of the population who already has a mental illness also abuses alcohol or drugs. It is important to pay attention to your substance use if you already struggle with mental health issues. Many want to self medicate but this will probably have adverse effects on your condition.

A significant warning sign is if your alcohol or drug use has affected other parts of your life. This matters even more so if your substance use has disrupted your life and you still continue to use it.

Getting Help

The next step in eliminating substance abuse is seeking help. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 62% of clients who seek substance abuse treatment are male. Taking action is the hardest part. There is a stigma around asking for help but it is more important that you get the help you need. To reach out and get help, you can contact:

  • Your primary care physician.
  • A local treatment facility. You can find a rehabilitation center near you by searching through SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.
  • A local 12-step program specifically designed for alcohol (Alcoholics Anonymous) or other substances. This option is beneficial alongside medical intervention. Meeting others who struggle in similar ways to you can help you feel less alone. Support is important, especially during recovery.

Physicians and support groups are nonjudgmental resources that understand what you are going through and exist to support and guide you back to sobriety. To learn more about substance abuse and overcoming addiction, please call Tangu Recovery today.

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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It Takes 33 Milliseconds to Trigger Relapse: Here’s How to Stop It

The Implications of Relapse

Relapse is ground zero.

Relapse is waking up in a hospital bed— if you wake up at all.

Relapse, for many, is the end of the road.

Once the body has lost its tolerance for an addictive substance the chances of overdose increase dramatically.

Thankfully, relapse is not a death sentence, and we can prepare for it.

What Is a Trigger Anway?

A trigger for relapse is a strong urge to use an addictive substance. Triggers exist both organically in the world or manifest in our thoughts. Without creating a trigger plan, one is more likely to succumb to their triggers.

Common triggers to stay away from our old friends and associates one used to partake in addictive substances with, places one used to frequent to get high, and old environments where general drug-related foolery occurred.

Tools to Redirect Your Triggers

Even if you’re overly dedicated to avoiding triggers at all costs— you cannot control the external world.

So if you see him or her or you can’t stop the gnawing feeling of emptiness, you’ll need to reach inwardly.


Practicing mindfulness is scientifically proven to reduce stress. Once “triggered” remind yourself this moment is temporary. Redirect your thoughts to regaining homeostasis.

Your Personal Goals

Recovery is the single most transformational time of your life. Your personal goals are somewhat of a beacon on your journey. During the throes of addiction, we tend to lose sight of what we wanted to accomplish, and who we want to become.

Use your personal goals as a memento to recenter yourself and as a daily reminder to choose better. Take the steps ushering yourself into a positive mental and physical environment conducive to recovery.

If you don’t have any concrete goals, why not answer the following?

  • What kind of person do you want to be? What does that look like?
  • What are your career objectives?
  • What childhood dreams do you still want to achieve?
  • Where do you want to be in a year, five, ten?

Family, Friends, & Your Recovery Network

If you’re panicked, suffering from anxiety, or are suffering from cravings, reach out! Your loved ones want to help you succeed— you are not a burden.

Trust us, your loved ones would rather be on the phone with you offering comfort— even if they’re in the middle of doing something.

Don’t make them visit you in the morgue.


Crazy as it sounds, establishing a regular meditation practice is wonderful for your mental health— and is a skill you may call upon during times of crisis.

What tips do you have for dealing with triggers? Comment below!

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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15 Quotes to Inspire You on Your Recovery Journey

     The road to recovery can be long and hard. Though you may stumble and fall along the way, it is not the end of the journey. When you’re in recovery, sometimes you’ll have to reach deep inside yourself to find the strength to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and continue the climb to sobriety. Here are some quotes to carry with you and to give you strength when you need it most. 

  1. “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” -Confucius 
  2. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'” –Muhammad Ali
  3. “Recovery is something you have to work on every single day, and it’s something that doesn’t get a day off.” -Demi Lovato 
  4. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” -Maya Angelou 
  5. “I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” -Og Mandino
  6. “If you’re going through hell, keep going. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Never, never, never give up.” -Winston Churchill 
  7. “It is better to be alone than in bad company.” -George Washington
  8. “Self belief and hard work will always earn you success.” – Virat Kohli
  9. “There is no substitute for hard work. Never give up. Never stop believing. Never stop fighting.” -Hope Hicks
  10. “There is no shortcut. It takes time to build a better, stronger version of yourself.” -Unknown
  11. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
  12. “It is wise to focus your anger towards problems-not people, to focus your energies on answers-not excuses.” -William Arthur Ward
  13. “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt 
  14. “It takes courage….to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” -Marianne Williamson
  15. “Hate the sin. Love the Sinner.” -Gandhi 

The Devastating Impact Of Addiction On Families 26 Apr 2019

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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The Devastating Impact Of Addiction On Families

Substance abuse is often thought of as an individual disease. Unfortunately, one person’s addiction usually has a ripple effect on family members. Let’s look at how substance abuse takes a toll on families. 

Destruction of Trust

Trust takes a long time to develop and an instant to break. Someone suffering from substance abuse may lie or deceive others to keep their secret from family members. Furthermore, due to relapse issues, any trust that is gained may be broken over and over again.

Growing Up Too Fast

Children of addicted persons are often forced to take on parental roles at a young age. This is especially true when the person suffering from substance abuse is a single parent. Kids are robbed of their childhood and are forced to deal with situations before they are developmentally ready. In addition, parents suffering from addiction are often overly critical and inconsistent in implementing rules, leading to ineffective and injurious parenting practices.


Drugs and alcohol cost money. For those who are addicted, purchasing drugs takes priority over other expenses. This puts families in a poor financial situation, where essential bills may go unpaid due to the need for a consistent fix. 

Social Isolation

There is considerable shame associated with substance abuse. Families are often embarrassed by the behavior of their family member and choose to remove themselves from social situations rather than face the chance of inappropriate incidents. This may lead to increased isolation and a lack of needed social support.  

Legal Trouble

One in five people is locked up for a nonviolent drug offense. It is impossible to know how many of these people are dealing with substance abuse issues, but we can reasonably conclude that addiction played a role for many of them. Legal trouble due to substance abuse comes at a significant price. Not only does legal representation cost money, but it also takes time and effort to fight charges. Additionally, if a family member ends up in jail, they are unable to contribute to the necessary responsibilities. Families must also deal with the stigma of having one of its members being charged with a crime.

A Vicious Cycle

The financial, emotional, social, and legal strain of substance abuse often leads to even more stressful situations. Someone who suffers from addiction will often cope with stress by using drugs or alcohol. Therefore, a vicious cycle is initiated that is difficult to break. 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance abuse please contact us. With support, treatment, and guidance we can help you or your loved one conquer their addiction.


Coping With Stress: 5 Ways To Avoid Relapse 17 Apr 2019

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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Coping With Stress: 5 Ways To Avoid Relapse

Stress can be particularly harmful to those struggling with substance abuse. During Stress Awareness Month, it is essential we focus on ways to cope effectively with the strains of life. Here are 5 suggestions for helping you ward off the impact of stress. 

Reframe Thoughts

You may have heard the phrase “perception is reality”. How we look at a situation has a tremendous impact on how we feel. For example, if you have a positive outlook on your job, you are more likely to feel good about going to work. Looking at your life in negative terms leads to depressive feelings, which have been associated with relapse behavior. Therefore, if you are feeling down, try to view your situation in more positive terms. 


Sleep is one of the major building blocks for physical and mental health. Our ability to deal with problems is severely limited when we are tired. It is recommended that the average adult get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Follow these suggestions for proper sleep hygiene


The need for social connection is especially important for people in danger of relapse. Connecting with friends and family prevents isolation and allows one to receive the necessary social support. In addition, spending time with loved ones is a positive way to have fun. The most effective way to put yourself in an optimistic mindset is to have a good time. 


Exercise is a constructive physical outlet for our problems. It increases endorphins, the natural stress fighters in our body. It also helps with our self-esteem. Who doesn’t feel good about themselves after some physical activity? For those people who have difficulty motivating to exercise, start with some simple walking. Other mind-body pursuits that will aid with coping include meditation and relaxation exercises. 


Being organized inoculates you against stress. It is much easier to cope with your difficulties when you feel like you have a handle on your responsibilities. Take 10 minutes and figure out a plan for your day. What needs to be done? What are your priorities? How will you accomplish your daily tasks? Organizing yourself may not defeat stress on its own, but you will almost certainly feel less flustered if have an idea of how to attack your daily routine.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance abuse please contact us. With support, treatment, and guidance we can help you or your loved one conquer their addiction.

8 Places to Have Fun in Atlanta When You Want to Stay Sober 02 Apr 2019

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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8 Places to Have Fun in Atlanta Without Risking Your Sobriety

Finding ways to have fun in the city while maintaining sobriety can be a challenge for people living with substance abuse disorders. Fortunately, there are recovery-friendly things to do in big cities such as Atlanta, Georgia. Here is a list of places to have fun and stay sober in and around Atlanta.

1. World of Coca-Cola

At World of Coca-Cola, you’ll learn about the soft drink company in a fun way. Drink as much of Coca-Cola’s products as you like in the tasting room, which has more than 100 beverages sold around the world. Walk through and look at memorabilia, see how beverages are bottled, and watch a short film about Coke. Admission is $17 for adults, and $15 for seniors 65 and older. 

2. Segway Tours

Have fun in Atlanta touring the city by Segway. ATL Cruzers offers Segway tours in several districts around Atlanta. The cost is $49-$59 depending on the tour. ATL Cruzers also offers an electric car tour for $29.

3. Drive-In Movies

Take your family or friends to see a movie outdoors in your vehicle at the Starlite Drive-In Theater. Bring your own snacks and beverages, or visit the snack bar — no alcohol or drugs are allowed at the theater. Admission is $9 ($1 for children 5-9), which allows you to see two consecutive movies from your parking spot.

4. Alcohol-Free Restaurant

A Hawaiian-style restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol can be hard to find, but that’s what Truett’s Luau is. About 45 minutes from downtown, this restaurant was started by late Chik-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. The restaurant has island-inspired decor like tikis and ukuleles. The menu includes Chik-fil-A’s famous chicken sandwich and nuggets, along with dishes like fish tacos, steak, and shrimp.

5. Stone Mountain

East of Atlanta is Stone Mountain Theme Park. Hike up the dome of granite and quartz, or take the Summit Skyride to the top, where you can see for 60 miles in good visibility. The park also includes a museum, petting zoo, mini golf, ropes course, and a train ride that takes you around the base of the mountain. In the winter, man-made snow offers a chance to go snow tubing. There’s a lot of fun here without alcohol. Admission prices vary based on the season and which bundled attraction pass you choose.

6. City Parks

Get outdoors in one of the Atlanta-area parks. Centennial Olympic Park downtown is an Atlanta landmark. The park sometimes hosts events with vendors, but when no events are taking place, it’s a great area to just walk around and look at the surrounding cityscape. In another part of the city, take the trail around Clear Creek Basin at Historic Fourth Ward Park. Bike or walk around the scenic 200-acre Piedmont Park, which offers bird-watching walks and fitness classes.

7. Carriage Rides

For something different, take a horse-drawn carriage ride of downtown Atlanta. The carriage tour is $100 for 30 minutes. Reservations are recommended.

8. Coffee Shops

Visit one of Atlanta’s popular coffee shops like Ebrik Coffee Room, East Pole Coffee Co., Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, Condesa Coffee, Hodgepodge Coffee House, and Brash Coffee

These are a handful of places that show you can have fun and stay sober in Atlanta. There are enjoyable activities out there that are conducive to recovery.

National Kidney Month: Alcohol Abuse and Kidney Damage 27 Mar 2019

BY: Alexandrea Holder


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National Kidney Month: Alcohol Abuse and Kidney Damage

March is National Kidney Month, meant to raise awareness about Chronic Kidney Disease and remind the public to take proper care of this vital organ. Kidneys perform several important functions including:

  • filtering the blood
  • removing waste and toxins
  • maintaining fluid balance
  • stimulating the production of red blood cells
  • producing hormones for bone health
  • regulating blood pressure

Although kidneys are so important to everyday life, it is estimated that about 30 million adults in the United States have Chronic Kidney Disease. 

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood properly. Excess fluid and waste that would normally be filtered remain in the bloodstream, and this can cause other problems including heart disease, stroke, increased risk of infection, or anemia. CKD can be treated to slow its progress, but it will get worse over time and can eventually cause kidney failure. In these cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to survive.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Kidneys?

One of the main risk factors for developing CKD is high blood pressure, and regular alcohol consumption can play a large part in this. Binge drinking is defined as drinking enough to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration over .08%. While infrequent occurrences of this will only cause temporary blood pressure elevation, doing so consistently can have long-term negative effects. Frequent heavy drinking can cause chronic high blood pressure, putting the kidney at a higher risk of being damaged.

The kidneys are also affected by heavy alcohol consumption because of the strain that it puts on the liver. It is well known that chronic drinking can cause liver disease, and if the liver is not functioning properly, the kidneys have to work much harder. Damage to the liver impairs its ability to regulate blood flow going into the kidneys, and without this regulation, the kidneys cannot filter the blood properly. Because of this, liver disease and kidney disease often go hand in hand.

How to Prevent Chronic Kidney Disease

There are several things that can be done to help prevent kidney damage including: 

  • eating a healthy, low-salt diet
  • exercising regularly
  • monitoring and treating high blood pressure
  • refraining from smoking tobacco
  • limiting alcohol consumption

Alcoholism or frequent heavy drinking can cause a multitude of health problems, including kidney damage or disease, but treatment or rehabilitation can help prevent this from occurring. Make your health a priority and live a longer, fuller life by contacting Niznik Behavioral Health for a free consultation and assistance with treatment.

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