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3 Ways to Support a Loved One in Recovery

May 2nd, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover 0 comments on “3 Ways to Support a Loved One in Recovery”

Addiction is a complex disease. The disease of addiction affects both the addicted, and those that are close to the addicted. The stigma of addiction can make it very difficult to ask for help. One who is battling addiction can feel ashamed, guilty, alone, and worthless. Supporting and encouraging your loved one’s sobriety will help in his or her recovery.

3 Ways to Help Loved Ones in Recovery

Below are three quick tips for helping a loved one’s recovery as much as possible without enabling him towards a relapse. It is always good to practice what is referred to as “tough love.” Chances are if you are helping someone, you love that person. Just be advised that feelings and emotions can get in the way of distinguishing the fine line between helping and enabling an addict. Read our three ways and try to determine where that line is for you and your loved one.

1. Learn more about addiction.

     Listen to people in group meetings share their personal experiences with addiction.

2. Attend a support group with your loved one.

     This will show your loved one that you care and you can talk with others in similar situations and learn how to cope.

3. Connect with others in the group.

     New, sober friendships can develop through group meetings. Build a network of people who understand addiction.

Always remember to praise your loved one’s sobriety, while encouraging them to stay sober. Recovery is a life-long process and your loved one will be faced with challenges. Supporting a loved one in recovery requires a lot of love, reinforcement, and motivation. If you or a loved one is battling addiction, do not wait. Addiction is a deadly and baffling disease. If you feel that a loved one is using, it is time that you seek professional help. Addiction is very much treatable and recovery is definitely possible!

supporting someone in recovery infographic by Serenity Springs Recovery Center
How to Support Someone in Addiction Recovery

Understanding the Complexity of Addiction

According to an article by Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for the Hamilton Spectator, “Indicators of success include the person: attending an aftercare program, offering sincere apologies for the impact of the addiction, creating better boundaries regarding friends who may similarly indulge, and being involved in alternate and appropriate activity such as work or recreational pursuits.”

It can be hard for family and friends to understand the complexity of addiction and the intense challenges their loved one faces every day. Addiction hijacks the brain and alters brain chemistry. It interferes with the brain’s neurotransmitters and makes the brain release an increased level of dopamine, which causes euphoric feelings. The brain becomes dependent on the drugs or alcohol to function. A person can experience unpleasant and painful withdrawal symptoms until the drug or alcohol is used again. That is why quitting drugs or alcohol is so difficult.

The Importance of a Good Support System

A positive support system in recovery is crucial and can be very helpful in many ways. Treatment is not “one-size-fits-all” or packaged the same for everyone. It is tailored to the individual’s unique needs. As addicts and alcoholics in recovery, you are surrounded by other addicts and alcoholics on a regular basis. Most of them are those that you network with at meetings or through a treatment program. These are likely to be new relationships because those that you formerly associated with are likely still doing the same things that you are getting away from. This being said, meetings and other social activities can be somewhat or even very uncomfortable or awkward at first.

So it is important to make an addict or alcoholic that is new to the recovery world feel like they have friends and/or loved ones outside of the programs and rooms of recovery. A good family and support system can make all the difference in the world in aiding towards a full recovery from addiction or alcoholism. Sometimes it is nice for an addict to feel a part of something, when they are feeling lost or down. This gives an addict a sense of normalcy and comfort. However, this comfortable feeling will not last long if the addict or alcoholic is not working a program. So, for those of you dealing with addiction, it good to show “tough love” every once in a while. However, it is ultimately on you to figure out the best way to help your loved one.

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My Addicted Son – Deafening Silence Hits Home

March 23rd, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 0 comments on “My Addicted Son – Deafening Silence Hits Home”

Deafening Silence… I heard this two word expression so many times, but I did not put much thought into it. That is until the day my life changed in just a quick moment. Our son’s behavior started to change in subtle ways. He seemed to be secretive and sneaking around at times. We caught him in several lies, even telling different versions of the same story. Like when he needed to borrow money to make car payments, telling us many different lies, such as, “his commission did not come through yet.” We began to notice that his good friends were no longer coming around our home. He also started leaving the house at odd times and returning shortly after leaving. All the signs were there, but we did not pay attention, but our trust was wearing thin.

Delusions, Hallucinations, and Racing Thoughts

We suddenly noticed that Brad was having trouble processing his thoughts. He seemed to be repeating stories that he expressed deep concern over. Things on the TV seemed to disturb him. It was 2012, and Whitney Houston had just been found dead in her bathtub due to an alcohol and Xanax overdose. Each time the story came on the news, he reacted to it as if it were the first time he heard it.

“Did you see this? Dead! She’s gone. Drugs got her!” Brad seemed unable to string his sentences together at this point, piecing together broken sentences.

The weather forecast came on the TV, showing weather across the country. He kept blurting out these delusional statements that we now know are due to the extreme, short and long-term term, multiple drug addictions and from the withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines he was prescribed (i.e. Xanax and klonopin). My husband and I looked at each other, scared and confused. We did not have a clue as to what was happening with our son. We had never seen him like this before. He was a bright, charismatic man who seemed totally out of it. He was very delusional and hallucinatory. He even seemed to be skittish at times. We were very frightened about trying to understand what was happening with our son.

Discovering My Addicted Son’s Opioid Habit

My husband decided go for a ride to get flowers for me on Valentine’s Day and took Brad along. We only had a moment to speak to one another in regards to what course of action we were going to take. He took Brad for a ride, while I went into his room to get some things together in a small bag in case he needed to check into a hospital.

He had been living with us after losing his job, unable to pay rent in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend. His room was a total mess, in a complete state of disarray. There were piles of clothing everywhere and his hamper was overflowing. I started taking things out of the hamper to wash, thinking he might need them. After going through a few things, I discovered an empty pill bottle. It was a prescription for oxycodone!

Deafening Silence Strikes Home

I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. The TV was blaring from one room as well as from another TV on the first floor of the house. For some reason, all I could hear was… s-i-l-e-n-c-e. All of a sudden, I not only knew the meaning of DEAFENING SILENCE, but I was smack in the middle of experiencing it. My eyes and ears were functioning, but I could not see or hear anything. It was extremely loud!

After a small amount of time had elapsed, I continued on my mission. Tears were streaming uncontrollably down the sides of my face. As I picked up items from the hamper, I found more and more empty pill bottles, mostly for oxycodone (generic for Roxicodone or oxycodone hydrochloride), some read alzaprozalam (generic for Xanax) or Methadone. All officially prescribed to him, with his name printed on the bottle. One of those bottles had 240 round pills and 30 milligrams printed on the label. I discovered that these pills were supposed to be for extreme pain–the kind of pain that comes from cancer or lupus.

Prescription Pills and Empty Containers

Several years later, we found out from Brad that bottle was a one-week prescription, and he went there every Monday for a quantity of pain medication that most pharmacies refused to fill. The doctor had to write two, separate prescriptions for this amount to avoid visits from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

EDITOR’S NOTE: This occurred before the official opioid epidemic, when doctor shopping (having multiple doctors prescribe the same medication) was still going on. The quantity above comes to around 35 pills a day, which at $30 per pill comes out to $1050 a day (street value). These numbers are not inflated for the purpose of building a good story. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) brought the prescription narcotic epidemic to a halt.

This program was put in place in hopes of ending prescription drug abuse. They had some success in doing so, however it spawned an influx of heroin users, which everyone now knows as the opioid epidemic. This could no longer go unnoticed in America. There was, and is, more heroin in our streets than ever before. Unfortunately, there are overdoses and heroin or opioid related deaths, which have now become the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50, according to cdc.com.

My heart was pounding and my head was spinning… What do we do now? What is wrong with Brad? I found many other pill containers, all in his name. A bunch of these pills were for Xanax. Later on, I learned that the opioid and benzodiazepine combination that was nicknamed, cock-tailing, and has resulted in a large number of heart-stopping overdoses in America. But in this moment, I was in a state of shock. I called my husband in a frenzy, and told him that our son is a drug addict. I managed to blurt out fragments of sentences that read something like this,

“Oxycodone… many empty bottles, some in his pillow case, hidden in sneakers, etc.”

My poor husband was driving and trying to process this while trying to get our son back home. Brad came home and went to straight to bed. This really had us terrified and worried, there might have been more pills up there. We still had no idea where to go, who to turn to, what to do!! I went on the internet and entered, “son oxy and xanax addiction” into Google, and went with the first thing I saw. I was so desperate and did not want to ask anyone for help. I did not want to potentially expose what we wanted to keep a family secret.

The Search for an Addiction Treatment Center

I made a call to the number of a California rehab that looked very good. At the time, I was standing in my garage, which was freezing cold in the middle of winter. I spilled out my story through sobs and whimpers. A kind and caring man was on the other end and reassured me that help was available. He kept mentioning that we were not to blame for our son’s drug addiction.

We decided to make plans to send Brad to this program. They also sent an interventionist to walk Brad through the airport, who was in the midst of intense withdrawal symptoms from multiple medications. We had no time to think this through; we felt pressure as we fought for our son’s life.

I called for my husband and explained these things to him in our living room. We stood up and began crying in each other’s arms. The next day, the interventionist showed up for Brad. After the intervention process, Brad was very quick to say yes to a desperate attempt at saving his life. He threw some things into a duffel bag and we said our goodbyes, hugging and clinging to eachother. I watched the car drive away to the unknown. Again, that deafening silence took over my mind.

Moving Forward from Addiction in Recovery

I hate that I now understand the emotion and true meaning of this oxymoron, which is defined as,

“an expression for describes something related to shock, usually from an uncomfortable experience.”

I wish I could say that these two times were the only I had, but there have been quite a few more in dealing with Brad’s addiction. Unfortunately, those “deafening silences” can be a part of life. Just remember that right after the hearing returns, we must move forward and deal with whatever comes our way next!

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Damien’s Story of Alcoholism, Madness and Recovery

March 12th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Featured Alums, Treatment 0 comments on “Damien’s Story of Alcoholism, Madness and Recovery”

The day that Damien arrived at Serenity Springs, he was near rock bottom and looking for any kind of answer to get his life back on track. Today, after a long road back, Damien is approaching a year and a half of sobriety from drugs and alcohol. He is an alumnus of Serenity Springs, where he was able to find healing in the mind, body and spirit.

Drinking & Struggling Became Alcoholism & Madness

Damien’s journey through addiction was a slow progression. It started in high school at the age of seventeen, when he was a member of the party-goer crowd. At that time, his family didn’t recognize himself as having an addiction.

“They didn’t notice until I was about 20 because I was just drinking like everyone else.”

Then Damien started to realize he was going harder and longer than most of his friends. He recalls being the last one to stop drinking, to the point where he passed out. This alcoholic behavior became daily alcohol abuse or alcoholism. It was in 2010 that Damien went to recovery for the first time, but it was seven more years of struggling before he found a real, long term answer in Serenity Springs. There was no fear of detox or treatment itself.

“I did it not because I wanted to but because I thought I would get in trouble otherwise.”

He described his alcoholism as having evolved to a level of madness. His only friends at the time were those who were involved in it as well. He saw that he had gone down a dangerous path, but like many struggling with addiction, it took a true breaking point to bring him to truly open his eyes. For Damien, that moment came one night watching his mother.

“I had moved back into my Mom’s house at age 40. I saw her praying on her knees at 2 A.M. and I had the feeling she was praying for me”

Serenity Springs Solution

When asked what he liked most about Serenity Springs, Damien referred to his introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous as one of the most valuable benefits he gained from his time here.

“Serenity Springs offered me a real solution to my problem, which I came to find out was actually me.”

This was something he had not been able to find in past recovery attempts a step-by-step roadmap to real recovery and a long term solution. However, it was not all easy breezy during his time at Serenity Springs. The road to recovery can often have roadblocks and setbacks to overcome. The initial challenge for Damien was realizing the truth of his situation.

“Admitting I was an alcoholic was the hardest part about Serenity and the recovery process… because I had to finally start accepting it.”

After leaving Serenity Springs in November of 2017, Damien was somewhat reluctant to participate in Serenity’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Today, he realizes that it helped him out during his transition from rehab to the real world. Our IOP program has a unique approach. We provide services such as acupuncture and yoga while continuing to focus on the idea of healing mind, body, and spirit (three-part disease of addiction). It was in this program that Damien continued to work through things that he found most difficult during recovery.

“It was hard training myself to stop doing what I was taught before recovery. I felt weird when I was doing things in recovery like I was wrong.”

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Freedom from the Chains of Addiction

Today, Damien is living in Daytona Beach and enjoying his new life of sobriety and freedom from the chains of addiction. As an alumnus, he is always trying to give back what Serenity Springs gave to his life. When asked what the most rewarding part of his recovery, Damien explained that he now has an understanding of what peace of mind really means. Sobriety has allowed him to find and keep relationships that are not centered around alcohol or other negative influences. Like many of our alumni, Damien has a desire to help others that feel the hopelessness that he once knew too well. Serenity gave him a way out, a viable and lasting solution. If Damien could quickly describe what he has been doing after his time here at Serenity Springssimple-living.

WELCOME TO DAYTONA BEACH sign with palm tree on International Speedway Blvd - Serenity Springs Recovery

Damien says he has continued to employ the habits and techniques he learned while he was there that have allowed him to remain sober and happy.

“I focus on prayer and meditation, as well as regularly attending meetings to keep myself on track.”

Serenity taught him viable alternatives to alcohol when feeling the urge, including a reliance on God and being open with others about his struggle. Unlike many recovery centers, Serenity goes beyond just helping one heal physically and get away from the addiction. Our recovery plan also focuses on the mind and spirit, because believe recovery must be all-encompassing to truly break free from it.

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2 Drugged Drivers → 3 Deaths and School Bus Crash in NJ

February 21st, 2019 Posted by Disease of Addiction, News, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “2 Drugged Drivers → 3 Deaths and School Bus Crash in NJ”

A substitute bus driver, Lisa Byrd drove a school bus and twelve children into a tree after overdosing on heroin. She lost consciousness and the bus from 14th Avenue School in Newark, NJ slowly rolled off the road. According to CNN, she was arrested by the Newark police on Wednesday after being revived by Narcan.

1. School Bus Driver Overdoses, Crashes in NJ
2. Fiery Crash Leaves Three Dead in Wayne, NJ

On Tuesday, Jason Vanderee, a 29-year-old male from Glenwood, NJ crashed his vehicle into a gas station in Wayne, NJ, killing three in a vicious head-on collision. According to northjersey.com, He was high and driving reckless while under the influence of heroin. Again, he was revived with Narcan by local police. Police found 9 bags of heroin in his vehicle, arrested Mr. Vanderee and charged him with 3 counts of death by auto, 3 counts of aggravated manslaughter, and driving while intoxicated.

Drug Overdoses are Dangerous for Everyone

The two stories out of New Jersey occurred over the past few days. This is very frightening to think that these types of drivers are out there and we might have to dodge an oncoming, overdosed driver at some point. However, no one can live there lives like this. Drunk drivers have been on the loose for quite some time now. Please stay alert on the road!!

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We are again asking the same question here. Where are we right now in this country in terms of stopping this opioid epidemic? It seems to be doing a bit of a roller coaster routine again and not showing any signs of slowing down. Just when we thought it was cooling off, New Jersey strikes again.

Will the opioid epidemic slow down?

Stories like the aforementioned will put knots in your stomach or fear in your hearts. We are in a scary place as Americans for a number of reasons, but we are not going to get into politics. In terms of addiction and the epidemic, there is no clear cut answer. Obviously, as citizens or human beings, we wish these stories and epidemic would disappear for good.

The truth is drugs are here to stay and we have to hope that scientists continue to improve methods for combating the disease of addiction like our amino acid therapy or the bridge device. All we can do is continue to live our lives, focusing on our goals one day at a time. Writing this actually brought on some déjà vu from this blog post below where we asked very similar questions, and the results have not changed much!

An excerpt from, “Fentanyl Epidemic: Week in Review,” posted 10/16/2017:

What can we do to stop this?

As of today, there is really no answer for why, when or how this epidemic is going to end. It seems that drugs will always be a problem in this country and throughout the world regardless of the efforts made by police, armed forces, government, citizens, etc. of any country. At Serenity Springs Recovery Center, we do not worry about the numbers or politics involved, even though these are hot topics in America. We are here to offer a solution for addiction and change the lives of suffering addicts and alcoholics. These changes come from the knowledge and spiritual principles that we instill into their daily lives. This can and will happen for all that thoroughly work our program of recovery.

stop sign with trees in background

Recovery from Addiction is Possible

Not good when we are coming to the same conclusion from 16 months ago. However, we will keep fighting this thing from our corner, here in Volusia County, FL. We have seen many recover and will continue to recover opioid addicts, alcoholics, meth addicts, benzo addicts, we have even seen a few internet/pornography addicts recover at Serenity Springs. It is on the individual, if they want it, the solution is waiting for them and will always be available to those that seek freedom from addiction!

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How Drugs Affect the Brain: Stimulants & Depressants

October 17th, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “How Drugs Affect the Brain: Stimulants & Depressants”

The science of addiction spans across multiple areas of the body. When we explore how drugs affect the brain, we have to consider the various types of substances people abuse and how each of them impacts different areas of the brain and central nervous system. Understanding the effects of drugs on the brain and health can put addiction into perspective and encourage people to re-evaluate their choice to use.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 28 million Americans over the age of 12 used illicit drugs in 2016. Approximately one in 10 of those individuals had used illicit drugs in the past month.

With so many people around the country using drugs, it’s important to understand how they affect our health and ability to make the right choices for our own well-being. Just because a drug is legalized, for example, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

The Different Types of Drugs and Their Effects

No two drugs are the same. Before we cover the different ways drugs affect the brain, we must define the different types of drugs people use. Here is an overview:

Depressants

how drugs affect the brain

Often called “downers,” depressants suppress brain function, inhibit communication, and leave people feeling relaxed. Popular depressant drugs include alcohol, barbiturates like Amytal, and benzodiazepines like Xanax.

Depressants sedate and slow down the central nervous system, leading to feelings of drowsiness and tranquility. Many people who abuse depressants were originally prescribed a sleep aid, sedative, or antipsychotic drug but ended up developing substance use disorder (SUD). Although their medication was prescribed by a doctor, people with SUD develop a tolerance for a drug and require higher quantities to achieve the desired effects.

Over time, the dependence on the medication leads to issues at work or school and negatively impacts personal relationships. The calming sensation brought on by depressants alleviates many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression, so people become addicted to the sleepy, dream-like state. Many people who have been prescribed a depressant are shocked to find themselves requiring treatment for drug addiction later on.

Stimulants

ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin are often abused by people who want the hyper-focused concentration and attention levels that come from abusing stimulants. Other drugs like crack cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), and MDMA trigger a “rush” of energy and euphoria that makes people feel more alert, attentive, and sensitive to their environment.

Many college students abuse stimulants to help them study and meet important deadlines. Non-prescriptive use of stimulants can lead to chemical imbalances that result in depression, insomnia, and even seizures and heart failure.

Psychoactive Drugs

Drugs that change a user’s perspective of reality are called hallucinogens. When people go on a “trip,” they are prone to seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there. Common types of hallucinogenic drugs are:

  • LSD
  • Mushrooms
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana (in high doses)
  • Mescaline

Hallucinogens are dangerous and unpredictable. The mood, setting, and emotions of a user will impact their experience, and it’s not uncommon for people to have a “bad trip” that leaves them feeling paranoid, panicked, anxious, or out of touch with reality. People on a trip are less likely to understand the consequences of an action and take risks that can endanger their lives and others.

Narcotics

The list of medicinal or prescription drugs that are often taken for non-health-related purposes includes narcotics. A few of the most frequently abused narcotics are heroin, opium, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and morphine.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared opioid abuse a national health emergency. According to the HHS, 11.4 million people abuse prescription drugs, and an estimated 2.1 million have an opioid use disorder.

Prescription drug abuse is only second to marijuana use in the United States. The rise of addiction must be addressed by providing greater resources, information, and services to people who find themselves struggling with SUD.

Areas of the Brain Affected by Drugs

There are three areas of the brain most affected by substance use: the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the limbic system. The cerebral cortex is the main operating center of the brain. It is divided into areas that support unique functions and control our senses as well as our ability to think clearly and solve problems. The cerebrum is the part of the brain that houses the cerebral cortex and limbic system. It makes up 85 percent of the brain’s weight.

The brain stem controls our most innate functions, including our breathing and heart rate. The brain stem also regulates sleeping patterns. In addition, it connects our brain to other parts of the body. When people are high on drugs, many of the physical side-effects, such as a rapid or slowed heart rate, respiratory changes, and issues with balance and coordination, originate in the brain stem.

The limbic system houses the brain’s reward center. Multiple structures in the limbic system work together and help people experience pleasure. Positive and negative emotions are also regulated in the limbic system. A chemical imbalance brought on by drug use can result in unexpected and unpredictable mood swings and lead to worsening mental health issues.

Many drugs trigger the internal reward system and create feelings of overwhelming pleasure and euphoria. Over time, however, overuse causes the reward system to weaken. People develop drug dependencies and have to take higher doses of a drug to feel the same effects.

How Depressants Affect the Brain

Depressants affect people mentally and physically by repressing the central nervous system (CNS). When someone takes a depressant, they usually want to achieve a drowsy, relaxed effect. Depressants speed up the movement of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

GABA blocks certain impulses between nerve cells and the brain. People who have taken a depressant will experience reduced brain function, fatigue, lower blood pressure, slurred speech, slower pulse and breathing, and general sluggishness and lack of coordination.

In high doses, depressants can cause people to fall unconscious into a coma. A high enough dose can slow the breathing and stop the heart. Depressant abuse has also been linked to depression, chronic fatigue, and breathing problems.

How Stimulants Affect the Brain

While depressants slow the brain function down, stimulants speed it up. Enhanced attention, concentration, and greater focus are some of the reasons people begin using stimulants. Stimulants are also the drugs responsible for the rush of euphoria and happiness we think of when we envision a “high.”

As mentioned earlier, stimulants include ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which are often abused in an academic setting. These substances are also abused by professionals who work in high-stress environments that require ultimate focus.

Other common stimulants include crack cocaine, methamphetamines, and even everyday chemicals like nicotine and caffeine. While a cup of coffee a day won’t likely have negative effects on your health, abusing drugs that overstimulate the brain can ultimately lead to depression and put you in a dangerous position. Stimulants trigger the rewards center in the limbic system and cause the body to be flooded with a rush of dopamine.

Dopamine, often referred to as the “feel-good hormone,” is responsible for humans’ ability to feel pleasure and find enjoyment in things. Prolonged stimulant use results in a dopamine imbalance that leaves people chasing the energized high of being on drugs. Without elevated levels of dopamine in their system, stimulant users are more likely to feel depressed.

How the Brain Gets Addicted to Drugs

Drugs change the way our brains process information. Just like with anything in life, our brain develops certain associations with drugs in our system and learns to only produce certain effects and reactions when specific chemicals are present. Nerve cells no longer send and receive information the same way once drugs have been thrown into the mix. Over time, the natural balance of the brain’s chemistry is affected.

Our own natural needs are diminished as the brain becomes fixated on receiving pleasure. Dopamine levels surge and then plummet after we use drugs that promote this feeling of pleasure in our brains. Over a period of time, the brain adapts to the process and begins to crave the same feeling over and over again.

Some people become addicted to drugs after only a few times while others may use for weeks or months before they develop an addiction. When learning about how drugs affect the brain, it’s important to also understand how long the effects last.

The Brain’s Recovery from Drug Addiction

Drug addiction destroys brain cells. Memory loss, learning difficulties, and emotional problems are often reported by people who are in the midst of recovering from an addiction. Healing the brain after drug use takes a lot of time, but thankfully, it can be done. The brain is a powerful organ that is known for its plasticity.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and develop over time. Even when parts of the brain are damaged or neural pathways have been destroyed, the brain is capable of functioning on its own while simultaneously repairing the damage. Because so many of the brain’s functions are spread throughout different areas, brain damage from drug addiction can still occur even as other parts of the brain evolve and readapt to perform different jobs.

The first step toward healing the brain from drugs is eliminating them from your system. Drug withdrawal has many mental and physical side-effects that are best handled by a professional. Depending on the severity of an addiction, withdrawal can even be life-threatening, which is why we don’t advise anyone to quit on their own. Having the support and resources you need to deal with substance use disorder is vital in the recovery process.

Addiction isn’t cured overnight, but learning about the recovery process and various treatment options available is the first important step toward getting sober. During the initial detox period, the brain may struggle to regain proper functioning without the help of drugs. However, over time, the brain is able to become strong and healthy on its own, and you will be able to go on and live a life free from the burden of addiction.

Healing Your Brain After Drugs

Research has found that alcoholics who quit drinking were able to grow new brain cells for years. People once believed that brain cells are only developed early in life, but now we know that adults can also grow new brain cells. In fact, they can continue to develop throughout the course of a person’s life even if that person has been addicted to drugs.

is drinking ruining your relationship

Is Drinking Ruining Your Relationship?

October 1st, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “Is Drinking Ruining Your Relationship?”

The reasons why people drink alcohol are as varied and numerous as the individuals themselves. Some drink socially while others drink to relieve stress or chronic pain. Regardless of the reason why people drink, it can have an effect on the relationships with those they love. The foundation of any successful relationship is built on love and trust. When relationship problems start, it can be difficult to see the connection between drinking and the relationship difficulties.

If you are wondering if alcohol consumption may be related to the relationship problems in your life, this guide will help you understand the connection better and when it may be time to get help.

 

What is Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

Since the 1930s, the definition of what constitutes an alcohol problem has changed. Models that define alcohol use disorder have grown beyond the number of drinks you have or how often you have them. Now, the definition of alcohol use disorder takes into account how alcohol affects your life. Nearly 14 million Americans are considered to have alcohol use disorder.

The most important thing to understand is that alcohol use disorder occurs along a continuum. For some people, it can mean binge drinking on the weekend but does not have a significant effect on their ability to maintain a job, have a relationship or affect other areas of their life. For others, it can be a significant part of a relationship that is headed for the rocks. The relationship problems only compound a myriad of other issues. In its most serious form, alcohol use disorder can lead to:

  • Financial difficulties
  • Marital conflict
  • Partner violence
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Jealousy
  • Infidelity
  • Divorce

The emotional scars of a relationship affected by alcohol use disorder can last a lifetime, even long after the relationship has ended. It has an effect on any children in the family too. Many couples fail to recognize the role that alcohol plays in their relationship problems. Alcohol use disorder has its own set of problems, but recognizing its role in a relationship can mean the difference between having a loving support system and additional stress and conflict. Here are some of the signs that alcohol is affecting your relationship.

Forgetting the Relationship

Keeping the connections that we feel for others requires work and does not happen automatically. If you have chosen to drink over spending time with your loved one or keeping promises to them, this is one of the first symptoms that alcohol is affecting your relationship. If you have ever had to cancel plans because you were hung over, or you’ve forgotten a special date or anniversary due to drinking, this is a warning sign that alcohol may have become more important to you.

One of the symptoms of alcoholism is impulsiveness when you drink. If you have ever been out drinking with your buddies and suddenly decided to cancel a date with your significant other, it will have an impact on your relationship. If you promised to be home at a certain time and then don’t come home for hours or all night because you were drinking, this is another sign of an issue. From the other person’s perspective, you are giving them the signal that they are not the top priority in your life anymore.

woman on bench looking away from her boyfriend in disgust while boyfriend has head down into hands showing disappointment and frustration on a park bench together

Your Activities Have Changed

When alcohol begins to take control of your life, you may lose interest in other activities and things that you used to enjoy. This applies whether you are in a relationship or not, but if you are in a relationship, the other person may wonder why you no longer do the things that once had meaning in your relationship. Alcohol can affect your sex drive, which is another sign that alcohol may be affecting your relationship. Doing things as a couple plays an important role in keeping the spark alive. Love is not a one-time occurrence; doing things that you enjoy together as a couple can build the connection and keep it alive.

Going on dates together and doing things that you enjoy can keep your relationship stable when life’s troubles try to get in the way. If you are missing out on the things that you used to enjoy as a couple, it may be time to consider whether alcohol is playing a role in your relationship troubles.

Personality Changes

This can be a difficult one to spot in yourself. If you become a different person when you drink, it could have a significant impact on your relationship. For instance, if alcohol makes you violent, or perhaps you tend to fling insults at your partner when you drink, it can lead to serious trouble. You may think that what you are doing is all in fun and not having an effect, but these little insults and injuries add up over time and can destroy a relationship.

Your partner may or may not tell you that what you are doing when you drink hurts them, but this doesn’t mean that they are not hurt. Some people feel that they become more sociable and likable when they drink, but not everyone sees it the same way. Your partner may not say it directly, but the way you become when you drink could make them feel uncomfortable to be around you. If your partner has become disinterested in going places with you when you will be drinking, it may be time to consider that this is a sign they do not like who you become when you drink.

Red Flags

If your partner has ever said to you directly that they do not like who you become when you drink, you should take it to heart. Another sign of more serious relationship problems is if you have started hiding your drinking from your partner. If you have ever hidden money that you spent for alcohol or actions that you took while you were drinking, it may be one of the signs that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Relationships are built on trust, and the other person needs to be able to trust that you will not do things that could place them in financial jeopardy or make them feel emotionally vulnerable. There are many different elements to building and keeping trust in a relationship. Unfortunately, once this trust has been broken, it can be difficult or impossible to recover.

When to Get Help

If any of these scenarios sound like you, it may be time to take a serious look at how alcohol is affecting your relationships and the other areas of your life. Most people focus on relationships with a spouse or significant other, but alcohol also affects relationships with family and close friends as well. If any of your relationships seem like they are in decline and you cannot seem to figure out the reason, you need to take a serious look at whether alcohol could be the culprit. If this is the case, getting help sooner rather than later is the key to getting your life back on track and repairing damaged relationships.

Can the Relationship Be Saved?

If you have had the realization that alcohol may be ruining your relationship and it is time to get help, the next question you’re probably wondering is whether the relationship can be saved. First, there is no easy answer that will apply to every situation. It can depend on the dynamics of the relationship before alcohol was involved, how long the problem has been going on, how far the problem has progressed and other factors that may affect the ability to recover. The amount of damage that has already been done and the personalities of the two people will be keys to determining whether the relationship can be repaired.

The worst thing that you can do is become involved in the blame game. It is easy to lay the blame on the other person and to see them as the reason for your own actions. This is the road to a failed relationship and must be stopped before it gets started if the relationship is to stand a chance of being saved. Regardless of how it seems, the problems are usually not the result of one person. It takes two to make a relationship, and it takes two to break it.

The only thing that’s certain is that the problems will not get better until the underlying issues are addressed. You will have a better chance of recovering your relationship if your partner sees that you have taken responsibility and are getting help for the problems in your life caused by alcohol. Even if the relationship is too far gone to save, getting help to move on and rebuild a stable life is an important part of the recovery process for both of you.

The Recovery Process

It is important to understand that even if the both of you decide to continue the relationship, you cannot expect to go back to the same relationship you had before the damage occurred. Many times, the best that can happen is to build a new relationship built on communication, trust and new skills that you both learned through the recovery process. Regardless of the outcome, couples therapy, individual therapy and treatment for alcohol use disorder are all a part of the recovery process.

You did not get where you are now overnight, and you cannot expect for all of the problems to simply go away immediately. Recovery and rebuilding relationships will take hard work from the both of you. Repairing relationships is an important part of the recovery process from alcohol use disorder. Having a support network of people that you can trust is a predictor of a successful alcohol abstinence program.

If you feel that alcohol is having an effect on any of your relationships, the most important thing that you can do is call for help and take the first steps in the recovery process. Many people try to do it alone, but alcohol is a harsh taskmaster; there is no reason why you should ever feel that you have to do it alone.

Engaging the help of a professional who understands addiction recovery and how to prevent alcohol from ruining your relationships can help give you insight that will help not only you but also those you care about. If you feel that alcohol is having an effect on your life and relationships, the act of simply reaching out may bring a sense of relief. Talking to someone who has the answers can help you see the path to recovery and taking back your life.

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Relapse Prevention Guide

September 19th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Recover 0 comments on “Relapse Prevention Guide”

relapse preventionMaintaining sobriety and meeting treatment goals after completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can be the most difficult part of recovery. However, many people with a substance use disorder do recover from addiction and enjoy a lasting and satisfying sober lifestyle.

A number of those in recovery could relapse after treatment. Preventing or reducing the incidence of relapse by following a comprehensive relapse planning guide has helped many to enjoy drug and alcohol free lives in spite of potential relapses.

Planning and mastering the art of relapse prevention begins while you’re still in treatment. Relapse is not an out-of-the-blue event. Rather, it’s a process with a beginning, a middle and an end. As such, it can be monitored. If necessary, adjustments can be made to your relapse prevention planning to help you avoid relapse in the future.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

A 2014 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 21.5 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, a substance use disorder is “a chronic brain disease, with behavioral, biological, social, emotional and physical aspects, that is characterized by an inability to control substance abuse.”

What Is Relapse?

A substance use disorder relapse occurs when someone resumes using substances after a period of abstinence. A return to active substance use can vary in duration and intensity from one person to another.

According to the Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy journal, relapse is “a setback that occurs during the behavior change process, such that progress toward the initiation or maintenance of a behavior change goal (e.g., abstinence from drug use) is interrupted by a reversion to the target behavior.”

Relapse Is Not Failure

Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment didn’t work. For many with a substance use disorder, relapse is considered a stepping stone instead of an end point. When relapse happens, it simply indicates that treatment goals must be revisited and revised in some way.

Relapse prevention can include increased attendance at support group meetings. It can mean trying new types of therapy. It might involve that improvements in diet and nutrition or additional inpatient or outpatient treatment is necessary.

Relapse Can Be Part of the Recovery Process

With chronic addiction, relapse can be considered part of the disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent. Those percentage rates are similar to those seen in other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma and type 1 diabetes.

Common Relapse Triggers

Although everyone in recovery is unique, there are some common situations, also called triggers, that seem to be especially difficult for those recovering from a substance use disorder:

  • Negative emotional states
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea and weakness
  • Emotional withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, boredom, depression, frustration and irritability
  • Time spent with friends who use
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Visitation of places where you’ve used
  • Relationships that become stressful if something goes wrong
  • Isolating behavior
  • Complacency and letting down your guard
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Peer pressure to use
  • Positive and celebratory emotional states
  • Commercials and advertisements
  • The use of will power or trying to recover by yourself
  • Behavior that tries to control your using

Negative emotional states correlate with the highest relapse rates according to a study by Marlatt and Gordon in 1985. Interpersonal conflict and negative emotional states taken together triggered half of all relapses. Being in social situations where people were using accounted for 20 percent of relapses.

Concurrent Mental Health Conditions

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 7.9 million Americans with a substance use disorder have a concurrent mental health condition.

Untreated mental health conditions can trigger relapse. Treating the substance use disorder as well as the mental health condition can increase the probability of maintaining abstinence. Although substances like drugs and alcohol provide temporary relief from the symptoms of a mental health condition, they actually increase the unpleasant symptoms that those conditions generate.

Phases of Relapse

When you view relapse as a process rather than an event, it has three distinct stages. These stages are emotional, mental and physical relapse.

Emotional Relapse

You might not be thinking of using. However, if you’re harboring negative emotions and participating in high-risk behaviors, you’re creating the groundwork for relapse in the future. The emotional stage of relapse is the easiest to overcome. The later stages get progressively harder to resist.

The trick is to recognize that you’re currently in a state of emotional relapse and change your thoughts and behaviors accordingly. If you remain for too long in a state of emotional relapse, you’ll progress to a state of exhaustion. This exhausted state is called mental relapse, and it will make you want to escape.

Mental Relapse

Once you reach a state of exhaustion, you’re likely to stop taking care of yourself. You could develop poor eating and sleeping habits. You might start to feel resentful and anxious or uncomfortable in your own skin.

In a state of mental relapse, you’re likely to isolate and not ask for help. Your mind is fighting with itself about whether or not to use. You might be thinking about using even though you haven’t picked up. In the mental relapse stage, it’s common to romanticize your using days and to wonder whether you have a substance use disorder after all.

You might think that you can now control your using. You could start hanging out with friends from your using days and fantasize about picking up. You might think you can get away with using because no one will know. The longer you continue to think along those lines, the greater the likelihood that you will pick up.

Coping With the Desire to Use

When you feel like using, here are some tips to reduce the possibility of relapse:

  • Tell someone that you’re thinking of picking up.
  • Do something to turn your thoughts in another direction.
  • Go to a support group meeting and tell the group what you’re feeling.
  • Hold off on using for 30 minutes. Most urges to use will pass after half an hour.
  • Don’t use until tomorrow. By tomorrow, you probably won’t want to.
  • Stay in the now. Don’t tell yourself that you can never use again. Just don’t use today.
  • Do something that you enjoy to help you relax and unwind.
  • Go out for dinner with friends. Putting food in your stomach can take the edge off cravings.

Physical Relapse

If you don’t take preventative action while in the mental relapse mode, you’re headed for physical relapse. At that point, you’ll feel so uncomfortable that you’ll have very little defense against picking up. Relapse can still be prevented, but when you already feel an intense level of mental and emotional distress that could be eliminated by picking up, it’s very difficult to shift your train of thought and change your course of action.

What If You Relapse?

If you resume using, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Instead, seek help as soon as possible. The important thing now is to keep the relapse from progressing. If you act quickly, you can lessen the duration and severity of the experience.

Substance Use Disorder and Brain Chemistry

Substances like heroin, alcohol, cocaine and prescription painkillers all disrupt the neural pathways in the brain. These pathways affect things like impulse control, decision-making, feelings of well-being and how you experience pleasure and pain.

With regular use, you’ll need more and more of a substance to feel okay. When your brain no longer functions properly without substances, you’ll have what’s called a physical dependence.

With physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms and cravings will develop if you try to stop using. You’ll no longer feel normal if the drug is not present in your brain in sufficiently high concentrations.

When you reach this level of discomfort, it’s very easy to convince yourself that using would be a good idea. It would eliminate the cravings and withdrawal symptoms so that you can get back on track. With this mindset, it’s easy to view using as a reasonable form of self-medication instead of a relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Thinking Positive in Recovery

Physical detox clears substances out of your body, but that alone won’t keep you sober. After physical dependence has been addressed, treatment focuses on how to maintain a sober lifestyle while living substance-free. Sober living requires attention to the mental, emotional and behavioral aspects of a substance use disorder.

A form of behavioral therapy called CBT is often used to treat those recovering from addiction. According to the journal of the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, “abstinence rates may be increased with the use of CBT methods.”

Your habitual thoughts affect your health, your mental state, your emotional well-being and your behavior. CBT is used to explore the various ways that your thoughts affect your recovery. CBT can help you to replace the old, negative thought patterns so common in active addiction with positive thought patterns that support a healthy and satisfying sober lifestyle.

CBT and Learning Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress

Everyday stress is one of the most common causes of relapse. CBT can teach you new coping skills that will help you deal with stress in a healthy and effective manner.

CBT can also help you cope with the anxiety, depression, anger and emotional mood swings that make recovery so difficult. Studies published in the Psychiatric Times journal suggest that “CBT may actually help to improve a person’s neurobiological circuits in the brain.”

Length of Time in Treatment

It you’re in treatment for a substance use disorder, you can reduce the potential for relapse by completing your full course of treatment. The longer you remain in treatment, the more opportunity you’ll have to learn and establish new coping mechanisms before resuming a normal life in the real world. According to Psych Central, the length of time spent in treatment correlates with how long a recovering person is able to maintain abstinence.

The Role of Medication

Medication can help to regulate moods and reduce cravings. In many programs, medication is an essential element of a comprehensive substance use disorder treatment approach that combines pharmacological therapy with behavioral therapy.

Activities That Support the Recovery Process

Here are some examples of basic holistic activities that can help you to avoid relapse by improving your overall feelings of well-being:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eight hours of sleep
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Good nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindful meditation
  • Massage therapy

Effects of the Environment on Recovery From a Substance Use Disorder

Some environments are more supportive of long-term recovery than others. Relationships with family members can help or hinder the recovery process. Family counseling and therapy for those who have loved ones in treatment can be helpful for family members as well as for the recovering person.

Counseling sessions can help family members to develop good communication skills. Clear communication makes it easier to support the treatment goals of the family member with a substance use disorder.

During counseling, loved ones are educated about how the disease of addiction works. When family members understand what the recovering person is going through, they are better equipped to help that person cope with stress more effectively. They can also help the recovering person to avoid triggers that could lead to relapse.

The Importance of a Strong Support System

Studies show that those in recovery who have received treatment and participate in twelve-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are more likely to stay sober and remain abstinent.

Recovering people who surround themselves with others who are also in recovery receive regular healthy peer pressure and experience a sense of connection and fellowship with others. That ongoing support helps them to maintain a clean and sober lifestyle. Being part of a recovering community also helps those with a substance use disorder to avoid relapse.

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Florida’s New Opioid Prescription Law

August 31st, 2018 Posted by Blog, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “Florida’s New Opioid Prescription Law”

It’s undeniable that opioids have significant utility as tools for healing. These types of drugs are incredibly effective at numbing pain that would otherwise seriously imp

act a person’s ability to function effectively in the world. However, just like anything else that is inherently powerful, opioids are prone to abuse, and the state of Florida has recently taken action to combat the potential misuse of opioids.

A New Approach to the Opioid Crisis

florida new opioid law

As of July 1st, 2018, Florida has a new opioid prescription law that limits the prescription of opioids. This new opioid law limits the term of most opioid prescriptions to three days. This development means that, in most situations, you can only get a three-day supply of opioids when you are prescribed OxyContin, PERCOCET, or any other type of prescription opioid.

However, in certain cases, physicians in Florida may prescribe seven-day supplies of opioids for acute pain, which is defined under Florida law as being a “normal, predicted, psychological and time-limited response to an adverse chemical, thermal or mechanical stimulus, associated with surgery, trauma or acute illness.” If you have acute pain that lasts more than seven days, you’ll need to either reduce the amount of opioids that you use each day or return to your doctor for a second prescription after seven days.

This new Florida opioid law doesn’t apply to opioid prescriptions that are used to treat terminal conditions. The treatment of serious traumatic injuries is also exempt, and so is cancer treatment. While these new legal measures may interrupt the supply of some people who habitually use opioids, there are plenty of good reasons why this law has been instated at this particular point in American history.

Opioids Defined

An opioid is a type of drug that mimics the effects of opium. Some opioids are directly derived from poppies, but others are created synthetically in a lab. Traditionally known as “the milk of the poppy,” pure opium is produced by harvesting the thick, crusty syrup that emerges from a mature poppy when it is cut. Opium has been used recreationally and for medical purposes in India for centuries, and this drug experienced a brief surge of popularity in China in the 19th century due to British trade influence.

While community facilities for opium use had already been relatively popular in India, the popular cultural image of the “opium den” is derived from this drug’s use in underground facilities in China. An opium den is pictured as a dark, illicit chamber in which people lounge around in a near-catatonic state on beds next to opium pipes. While this stylized trope may not be exactly representative of opioid use today, it’s true that using opiates knocks out any ambition you may have had and usually makes it hard even to walk or talk.

Here are some of the ways that opioids affect the minds and bodies of their users:

  • The reason for opium’s sedative effect is partially chemical, but it is also psychological.
  • Use of high doses of opioids imparts a feeling of bliss that causes other incentives to pale in comparison.
  • Some heroin addicts and other heavy opioid users report the feeling of using opioids as being similar to the bliss that is felt by a child being coddled by their mother.

In order to return to this feeling of original bliss, opioid addicts are willing to give a lot away.

American physicians have been aware of the medical benefits of the poppy since the days of the nation’s founding. An isolate of one of the active ingredients in poppy milk, known as morphine, was created in the early 1800s, and it became widely used after the hypodermic syringe was invented in the mid-19th century. Physicians were aware of the potential of morphine abuse from the early days of its use in a medical setting, but drug abuse didn’t become a significant problem in the United States until the normalization of drug culture that occurred in the mid-20th century.

In the first couple of decades of the 20th century, a discovery was made that would prove fateful to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Oxycodone was first created in 1917. This opioid is a semi-synthetic compound, which means that it is a mixture of natural and artificial opioids. Oxycodone is sold under brand names such as PERCOCET and OxyContin, and many versions of oxycodone are also cut with a drug called naloxone, which supposedly blocks the effects of this opioid when it is injected. Naloxone is included in oxycodone drugs due to its anti-addiction benefits, but these benefits have been called under scrutiny in light of the practically unbelievable rate of opioid addiction in the United States today.

An Unprecedented Epidemic

In the early days of OxyContin and PERCOCET, prescription opioids were represented as safe alternatives to other pain-relieving drugs. In particular, opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, told physicians and customers that their opioids were non-addictive and that they had negligible side effects.

It has since come out that Purdue Pharma was fully aware of the potential dangers of their drugs and that they willfully lied about the risks of OxyContin and other opioids. The results of this fabrication include the addiction of thousands of Americans to toxic and dangerous substances and an opioid culture in which the use of OxyContin and other drugs was normalized.

In some cases, the normalization of opioids had consequences that were incredibly beneficial to drug companies but were almost unbelievably impactful in rural American communities. For instance, in 2013, health care providers in West Virginia wrote 110 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in that state. This ratio of prescriptions to people has had a significantly harmful impact on the people of West Virginia. This state has subsequently become one of the epicenters of the opioid crisis.

It’s obvious that the actions of drug manufacturers and health care providers have directly led to decreased quality of life for thousands of Americans. Some citizens of our country have never known a life without opioids; in West Virginia, the instance of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which is when a baby is born addicted to opioids, rose from 7.7 to 33.4 cases per 1,000 live births per year between 2007 and 2013. Babies born with opioid addiction will suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives.

West Virginia is just one striking example of where opioid addiction has resulted in a harsh toll on human life, but this phenomenon is widespread throughout the entire nation. Opioid addiction and overdose are ravaging the United States, and more and more people suffer from the direct or indirect effects of opioid abuse every year.

Around a quarter of the people in the United States who have been prescribed opioids misuse their drugs, and even a short period of misuse drastically increases your potential for opioid addiction. Even if you never misuse your opioid medication, you can still become addicted.

From Legal to Illegal

Once drug users become hooked on opioids, they’ll search for a different source of the drug they need if they run out. For instance, if their health care provider has an ethical breakthrough or has to comply with state law and decides not to prescribe them any more OxyContin, they’re still addicted to the drug, and they’ll seek alternate ways to get their fix. Unfortunately, illicit forms of opioids are also rampant in the United States, and it’s easy for addicts to get their hands on drugs that are even more dangerous than prescription opioids.

It’s been demonstrated that users are 19 times more likely to start using heroin if they have abused pain relievers before. If illicit opioids were roughly the same strength as prescription options, transferring from legal to illegal opioids wouldn’t cause many more problems than those that are associated with the abuse of prescription medication. However, it’s estimated that fentanyl, which is largely manufactured in China and then smuggled over the Mexican border, is 100 times more potent than morphine.

If an opioid user who has dabbled in heroin, for instance, buys a heroin bag that happens to contain fentanyl, their risk of overdose becomes much higher. Some users decide willingly to try fentanyl, but others are inadvertently exposed to this incredibly potent substance without their knowledge. Since people are much more likely to start using highly dangerous drugs like fentanyl if they have previously been prescribed opiates in a medical setting, the best way to limit the exposure of the American people to this scourge is to impose stricter controls on the opioid prescription protocols in our country.

Why Has Florida Taken Action?

Now that we understand the true nature of opioids, it’s easy to see why the state of Florida has taken action to limit the prescription of these drugs. Over the last few decades, state and federal lawmakers have largely stood by and watched as their communities have been ravaged, as their young generations have been crippled, and as opioids have served as gateway drugs to potent black-market alternatives like fentanyl. Finally, however, public servants around the country are waking up to the serious danger that opioids pose to their constituents, and Florida’s recent reaction to the opioid menace is symptomatic of a great awakening that is occurring across the country.

Everywhere you turn, the tide of opioids, which once seemed unstoppable, is being curbed on every front. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are being held accountable for their lies and greed, and drug lobbyists are losing their influence in Washington. The White House has taken a hard-line approach toward opioids, and a national state of emergency has been declared to push back against the opioid epidemic. Every week, new stories come out about massive drug busts on the U.S./Mexican border, and organized crime syndicates who have profited for too long from the illegal sale of opioids in our county are becoming weakened due to lack of funding.

In the past, opioids were viewed as relatively benign substances with practically limitless potential to help people. Through the early 2000s, miracle stories about PERCOCET and other drugs were promulgated through the mass media apparatus. Thousands of people who wouldn’t have ever considered themselves drug users started trying opioids, and a permissive culture with lots of kickbacks to prescribing physicians caused this drug’s popularity to rise.

However, practically everyone knows someone whose life was destroyed by opioids. When they have adequate access to their drug of choice, opioid addicts are distant, forgetful, and neglectful of their families and friends. If they are ever denied their drugs, however, things can get truly dire.

People experiencing opioid withdrawal can endure profound feelings of nausea or stomach pain. They waste away, and they are often incapable of eating anything besides liquid foods. They complain of intense cramping and pain throughout their bodies, and they are unable to sleep. Due to their intense discomfort, they act out in intense and sometimes terrifying ways, and they may scream or moan at night as they lay in agony unable to sleep.

In some cases, the bodies of opioid addicts begin to break down when they are separated from the drugs upon which they have become addicted, and they need to be carefully guided through the detoxification process to avoid injury. That’s why it’s so important to work with the experts while withdrawing from opioids.

With all of these significant dangers in mind, Florida lawmakers sat down to devise a solution. While limiting the length of opioid prescriptions doesn’t do anything to solve the issues of unwarranted supply and our nation’s permissive drug culture, this new legislation does require that people who use opioids for conditions that aren’t serious stay in close contact with their doctors as they use these potentially dangerous drugs. Most importantly, Florida’s new opioid prescription law brings attention to the dangers that these drugs can cause, and it helps spur on a vital national conversation that has been decades in the making.

how drug abuse hurts relationships

How Drug Abuse Hurts Relationships

August 8th, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “How Drug Abuse Hurts Relationships”

As human beings, we need more than air, water, and food to survive. We also need healthy social relationships. Those with substance use disorder often experience isolation and deteriorating social relationships. When family ties deteriorate, it can lead to increased substance use as the person tries to cope.

Many times, the focus of addiction treatment is on the person who is using, but those around them are also affected in many significant ways. The quality of social support networks in one’s life is a criterion used by psychologists to determine the degree to which substance use affects one’s quality of life. If you are the family member or friend of a substance user, you need to understand how their addiction affects you and all of your relationships.

Damaged Trust

As substance use progresses, the person using often becomes so focused on using the substance that relationships begin to suffer. The person begins to focus more on getting the next high than maintaining social connections. For most people, social networks create a sense of well-being and connection. For the person with substance use disorder, however, these interactions cannot compete with the feeling that they get from using.

Drug abuse leads to hiding the addiction. The person may fear the judgment of the people in their lives. They may begin to be secretive about where they have been, who they were with, and what happened to them. The people in their lives may notice changes in their personality and behavior, but when loved ones confront them about this, the substance user will often make something up or simply dismiss it.

Money may start to go missing from bank accounts, or credit card bills may begin to show cash advances. Dealing with money issues that threaten their financial security and that of their family may increase the stress on the user and make them want to get high even more. As they continually attempt to hide their behavior, trust issues may begin to develop. This can lead to jealousy, fear, and resentment from loved ones. Often, at this point, the loved one may feel that they are being replaced by something, but they may not know what it is.

Anger Issues Develop

One of the most profound changes in a person with substance use disorder is that they may develop anger or violence issues. This can occur even in someone who was relatively mild-mannered in the past. If the person does not have a history of anger or violence, their family may be confused and concerned about this new behavior.

Anger can stem from the frustration and stressful feelings that occur when substance use begins to cause serious problems. The substance user often feels out of control and will lash out in violence to gain back some control. This can lead to a cycle where they feel even more out of control as their family connections break down and their social circle diminishes.

Certain substances are known to increase anger and violent behavior. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ritalin
  • Steroids
  • Cocaine

In many cases, this anger can lead to domestic violence on the part of the substance user or even a loved one. This can, in turn, lead to a cycle of anger and substance use that affects the foundation of the family structure.

Enabling and Codependency

Sometimes, friends and relatives are unwilling to accept the reality of their loved one’s addiction, and they may try to keep everything as normal as possible. In an attempt to keep the status quo, they may take on additional responsibilities to make up for the behaviors and feelings of the one who is addicted. They must often cover up for the actions of the substance user and will spend a considerable amount of time trying to minimize the negative consequences of what the substance user has done. This often occurs when children are involved.

Often, an enabler will accept blame for the actions of the substance user. For instance, when the user strikes out in anger against them, they will turn it around and make it their own fault.

An enabler will also make excuses for the substance user and try to cover up the effects that their addiction is having on their life and on the lives of others. This can lead to friction in the entire family unit because children may feel that the enabling parent has abandoned them in favor of the substance user.

Codependency is similar to enabling, but it represents the next level in the destructive cycle of drug addiction. At this stage, the supportive family member will sacrifice their own needs for their substance-using loved one. They will often develop low self-esteem and become focused entirely on the substance user. They can also become controlling and unaware of the emotional changes that are going on in their own relationships outside the family.

Often, their relationship with the substance user will become lopsided. The person remains committed to the substance user even though their efforts are not reciprocated.

Loss of a Support Network

According to SAMHSA, having a support network is one of the most important parts of the recovery process. However, many times, before the person begins the treatment process, their own support networks have already deteriorated, and they may find themselves isolated and cut off from loved ones.

Not all social connections are beneficial to the recovery process, however. For instance, an enabler or a spouse who has become codependent will be more likely to defend the person who is using rather than giving them the help they need. The enabler or codependent will often cut themselves off from or be cut off by their own support network. Eventually, friends will drift away, and families may feel helpless and start to avoid them.

Having connections with others who provide unconditional love, support, hope, and friendship is an important part of the recovery process. This goes not just for those in the family circle but for the community as well. Unfortunately, many substance users also find themselves cut off from community connections. This feeling of isolation only helps to fuel the substance use.

Healing All of the Relationships

Understanding how substance use affects the user as well as their family and friends underscores how important it is to seek help for the entire family and support network. Both the addicted person and those they care for could benefit from therapy. Treatment that includes individual therapy for family members can help them understand how enabling and codependent behaviors are not helping their loved one. They can also learn to cope with the behaviors of the substance user in a way that will help them recover.

Friendships and family connections should never be a one-way street. The patterns and behaviors of those around the substance user can either contribute to further substance use or serve to help the person regain control of their life. When the non-using partner develops enabling and codependent tendencies, they need to relearn how to engage in the self-care that they need to keep themselves healthy. They can only offer the best support if they focus on their own health first. This is something that a trained professional therapist can help the non-using partner to understand.

Mending Relationships

Couples and family counseling are an important part of the recovery process for everyone involved. Strong connections take time and energy, and relationships that have been damaged cannot be expected to be repaired overnight. Just as the recovery process is a long road, so is the road to repairing connections. This is why family therapy and couples therapy are so important to the recovery process.

For relationships to mend, both partners need to acknowledge the damage of the past and develop strategies so that they will not revert to dysfunctional patterns when similar situations occur in the future. They need to end current destructive behaviors and learn to develop healthier relationships with each other and those in their individual family circles.

A family counselor can help a substance user and their loved one(s) learn to relate to each other in a way that may help to repair their relationship. In the end, some relationships become even stronger than before, but this is not always the case.

Sometimes, the relationship may have gone beyond the point where it can be repaired. Family and couples therapy is also important in this situation because it can help both parties make a break in a way that will result in a healthy future for each person. It can also assist both parties in coping with the loss without feelings of resentment. If the relationship ends, family counseling can help each party make a plan for moving on and developing a support network to assist during and after the breakup.

Whole-Family Recovery

Without the support of the entire family, the recovery process for the substance user can be much more difficult. Unless the patterns that have developed as a result of the substance use in the family are broken, the substance user will have a more difficult time controlling the addiction.

Learning to communicate in a way that is productive and that demonstrates a level of respect is one of the most important outcomes of family counseling and couples therapy. Couples therapy will help both parties learn new skills and ways of communicating that will result in better-quality relationships not only with each other but with friends and other family members.

Setting healthy limits is another important component of healthy relationships. Limit setting involves expressing expectations and the consequences of failing to meet them. In many relationships that involve substance use and either enabling or codependent behavior, the two parties fail to set any limits for one another.

It is not enough to just set limits, however. One must also learn to follow through consistently. For instance, saying that the substance use is not an acceptable part of the relationship but then continuing to allow it or even support it will not help the substance user break the cycle. Family counseling can help both parties learn to set healthy limits and follow through when the other person does not live up to expectations.

Importance of Seeking Family Counseling

Relationships are important for everyone. They are also an essential part of the recovery process for those dealing with substance use. It is important to understand how drug abuse affects relationships. Substance use causes isolation for the substance user and those around them. Having a healthy social network will help family members offer the best support that they can during the recovery process.

Even though the focus of the recovery process is typically on the substance user, family members and friends should not be ignored. Having healthy relationships that enhance one’s quality of life creates a better chance for a successful and complete recovery. Caregivers must understand that they are not doing the substance user any good by ignoring their own needs.

Often, it is difficult to recognize enabling behaviors or codependency in oneself. An experienced counselor can provide a new perspective on the dynamics of the relationship. A counselor can also assist the person in understanding the damage that has occurred while helping them learn how to move forward in a positive way. Family counseling will help both individuals and relationships evolve in a way that creates a bright future for everyone.

Getting to the Root of Addiction

April 17th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Treatment 0 comments on “Getting to the Root of Addiction”

Addiction is an insidious affliction that affects millions of people of all ages, races, sexes, and circumstances. Because of this, most addicts and their family members are disbelieving when they or their loved one falls victim to addiction.

Understandably, the first question is often, “Why me?”

First, it is important to understand that addiction does not discriminate and those who become addicted are not “bad” or “weak.” Rather, there are many reasons addiction might be affecting you or your loved one, and it is vital to figure out what the root cause(s) of the addiction may be. Without doing this, the addiction may never go away or may be replaced by another addiction.

Genetics/Inherited

Researchers have discovered a link between addiction and genetics/environment and are continuing to expand their studies regarding this connection. Youth who have been subject to drug abuse or alcoholism are more likely to begin using legal and/or illegal substances in their teens and early twenties but this tendency changes as they age. The US National Library of Medicine states that “Family, adoption, and twin studies reveal that an individual’s risk tends to be proportional to the degree of genetic relationship to an addicted relative.” This assertion suggests that one struggling with addiction may have been raised with increased exposure to someone suffering from a similar addiction, and their experience can influence behaviors.

Mental Health Disorders

Almost 8 million people in the US experience what is called “dual diagnosis,” a substance abuse disorder along with a mental health issue. There are many types of dual diagnoses but common co-occurring disorders include:

  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder

Addictive Personality Disorder

Some people have psychological and behavioral traits that might make them more inclined to become addicted. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the population does not know when to stop abusing a substance or activity. Such individuals are generally risk-takers who can be impulsive and somewhat isolated.

The Brain and Addiction

Sometimes addiction takes over where the substance was initially intended for healing. An example is pain medications used to recover from an injury or surgery. When these substances are used for the correct purpose, they help the person feel more comfortable. However, with continued use after the purpose of the prescription has expired, the brain begins to be affected in ways that make the body want more.
Specifically, the brain’s stem, cerebral cortex, and limbic system are all impacted by drugs and alcohol. Eventually, the brain’s “reward” center is activated with feelings of euphoria. With each time this happens, the need for the substance is increased.

Why people fall into addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is no one factor that determines who will become addicted. However, they say a person’s biology, environment, and development (or any combination of these things), can play a significant role in the risks of addiction.

Why get to the root of addiction

Addiction is like a weed: It must be removed from the root. Ultimately, addiction stems from the need to not feel something bad. Whether it’s physical pain or mental pain, most addicts are attempting to free themselves of something that is causing them distress in some way.

By finding out the source of that distress, addicts are better able to conquer their addictions. Without finding the root cause, the risk of relapse is amplified dramatically.

How to get to the root of addiction

The first step to recovery is to get clean. This will clear your mind so you can make an informed decision about your treatment. Getting to the root of your addiction is a personal journey and one only you can take. For this reason, a personalized system that addresses all of your needs – not just your addiction – is an integral part of recovering.

At Serenity Springs, we are passionate about helping our clients recover completely so they can live the rest of their lives substance-free. To do this, we understand how vital it is to treat the whole person, not just the addict. Contact us today to find out ways you can overcome your addiction and live a drug-free, fulfilling life.

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Do You Suffer from Chronic Relapse

April 11th, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “Do You Suffer from Chronic Relapse”

Do You Suffer from Chronic Relapse?

Do you suffer from chronic relapse of a substance for which you are fully aware of damages caused by it? If so then we must tell you that unfortunately you or the person you know who suffers from chronic relapse disease is not alone. Did you know more than 50 percent of people recovering from drug addiction relapse? According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people recovering from substance abuse addiction do eventually relapse. This high percentage leaves many especially loved ones shaking their head in disappointment and frustration. In order to lower this shocking statistic we first have to understand who, why and what causes those to chronic relapse? Once this understanding takes place it is then where the addict and their loved can permanently eliminate the drug and alcohol relapse from a life of recovery.

What is a Chronic Relapse?

Chronic Relapse RehabWhen you’re struggling with chronic relapse of drug and alcohol addiction, just the idea of sobriety can feel like an impossible, terrifying challenge. Even when you manage to maintain a sober streak, with or without rehab, there’s always a nagging doubt in your mind about whether you can make it last. Your addiction thinks it knows the answer, and it’s “no, you’ll come back to me eventually.” And somehow, for some reason, you always do. You are what is known as a “chronic relapser.”

Causes of Chronic Relapse

Recovering from addiction isn’t easy for everyone so, don’t despair; you’re not alone. Chronic relapse is a common part of recovery. And, although relapse — living in a repeating cycle of sobriety and drug/alcohol abuse that seems unbreakable — can be agonizing, there’s hope for a lasting, meaningful recovery afterwards. If you want to get a hold of your addiction, you can. You just might need to get there on a different path than the rare person who manages to find sustained sobriety on the first try.

Relapse Rates Differ With Different Substance Abuse Disorders

A great comparison citing how different abuse substance disorders have different relapse rates comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Data was collected  between the years of 1994-2004 that defines the following illicit substances have a higher than the average relapse rate associated and compared with all other for all substance use disorders:

A Mindfulness Relapse Prevention Plan
Serenity Springs, has years of experience helping clients with a history of chronic relapse achieve lasting, meaningful recovery by permanently sustaining a mindfulness relapse prevention plan. We share a common philosophy among many of the worlds top substance abuse treatment providers including top addiction professionals that anyone can overcome these odds. Anyone we feel can begin to develop a solution recovery that will bring permanent sobriety to their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Here are a few lessons we have learned about it along the way that might help you get started on your journey to recovery.

Relapse Is a Chance to Learn Your Triggers

When recovering from your addiction, to break out of a chronic relapse cycle, the first and most important lesson for the chronic relapser is the realization that a relapse can teach you something about how you can recover if you know what to look for. Every relapse has a trigger. Some common ones are an upset or disruption in a person’s life (such as losing a job or a relationship), finding yourself around other people using your drug of choice, and putting yourself (intentionally or not) into situations where you’re vulnerable or where your defenses are lowered (such as when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired). At Serenity Springs one of our goals is to help you learn from your last relapse to identify where the triggers were so that you can develop a plan to avoid them in the future and avoid chronic relapse.

Your Brain is Wired for Relapse, but You Can Rewire It

Chronic relapsers also need to understand that addiction has caused physical changes in their brains. Over time, using your drug of choice reinforced neural pathways, in effect teaching you to have cravings. The good news is, your brain has the capacity to change again. It just takes a while in rehab recovery for that rewiring to occur. That’s why, even when you’re not using, you still feel those cravings, and why sometimes you succumb to them. At Serenity Springs, we focus on teaching you mindfulness and other techniques that, over time, will lead to the weakening of the neural pathways your addiction laid down, and the development of new pathways that help keep you on the road to recovering from your addiction and away from chronic relapse.

Successful Recovery is a Journey and a Destination

Chronic Relapse RecoveryThose who suffer from chronic relapse often believe that if they’ve tried rehab and relapsed, they’re no longer “in recovery.” They’re experts at making themselves feel worthless after a relapse. At Serenity Springs, we teach you to take a different perspective to rehabilitation, to see recovery as not simply stopping drug and alcohol use, but as a way of practicing your life in a more mindful, deliberate, and joyful way. Yes, your goal is to stop drinking and taking drugs — to get sober and stay sober — and that is our goal for you. But we also teach you the skills to accept and move on from a relapse or chronic relapse if it does occur, to reflect on that experience and grow from it. We want you to learn to see that you are living a new and better life, even if there might still be struggles along the way.

Reach out to us today, (386) 423-4540, to find out how we can help in your recovery.

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FDA Approves Monthly Injection for Opioid Addiction – But is it the Answer?

February 27th, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “FDA Approves Monthly Injection for Opioid Addiction – But is it the Answer?”

Health officials in the U.S. have approved an injectable medication intended to treat addiction to opioids, painkillers and heroin. The active ingredient, buprenorphine, is already used in several orally-administered medications that come in the form of sublingual tablets and dissolvable strips, most commonly under the trade names Suboxone and Subutex.

Besides route of ingestion, the major difference between Suboxone/Subutex and this new injectable formula, marketed as Sublocade, lies in the price point. A monthly dose of Sublocade costs $1,580, while Suboxone costs about $100 per month. This injectable formulation is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2018.

This is not the only recently developed innovation containing buprenorphine. In May 2016, the FDA also approved the first buprenorphine implant for the treatment of opioid abuse. Naltrexone, also known as Revia or Vivitrol, has been used for years as an injected medication to treat both opioid and alcohol dependence. This is chemically different than buprenorphine in that it does not attach to receptors in the brain because naltrexone is not an opioid. Naltrexone also requires that a patient detox first, while buprenorphine can be taken right at the onset of withdrawal symptoms.

Like methadone, buprenorphine was envisioned to decrease opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and when used in this capacity, it proves to be a suitable detoxification medication. An issue arises, however, when these opioid-containing medications, used to treat opioid abuse, are administered over long periods of time. Dependence inevitably results from long-term buprenorphine-based treatments, begging the question of how one is supposed to detox from the medicine that itself was marketed as a detox aid. Perhaps in the form of yet another high-priced medication? And the cycle of chemical dependence is perpetuated on and on…

While it appears commendable that pharmaceutical companies are putting forth serious effort to combat the increasingly deadly opioid epidemic, we must be wary of their possible motivation to financially exploit the desperation of addicts and their families with a “solution” of disputable efficacy. After all, the pharmaceutical industry has never proven itself to not stoop to these tactics. While it may be true that the availability of Sublocade may reduce the overall death toll associated with the drug epidemic, bupreonorphine treatment in and of itself does not constitute a successful, sustainable program of recovery.

These types of medications are best employed in the short-term so that one may be in a condition, physically and mentally, to undergo a true program of recovery that entails long-lasting sobriety and spiritual awakening. This is the type of program that Serenity Springs places its trust in and it is because of this program that so many alumni of Serenity Springs enjoy the fruits of living a life without drugs or alcohol.

To learn more about how Serenity Springs can show you or your loved one the way to this happy, joyous and free way of life, please contact us today.

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Rutgers University Launches First Drug Counselor Program

December 29th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog 0 comments on “Rutgers University Launches First Drug Counselor Program”

Rutgers Collegiate Recovery Program

In the midst of a drug epidemic sweeping the nation, largely fueled by opioid abuse, Rutgers Recovery Program Launches First Drug Counselor Program. Rutgers collegiate recovery program will initiate an apprenticeship program to train Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors. This will be the first time in the nation that such a program has been presented in the earn-while-you-learn model, according to the news site Patch.com. The state university of New Jersey will receive $1.3 million in state funding to secure this program.

Chris Christie

Chris Christie on Rutgers Collegiate Recovery Program

who has been a prominent voice of reform to address this epidemic, was present on campus for the announced plans of the program. “One of my priorities has been to put more certified alcohol and drug counselors on the ground to tackle the disease of addiction one person at a time,” Christie said. “This successful program creates a pathway for those interested in helping those with substance use disorder through paid on-the-job training. Thank you to Rutgers Collegiate Recovery Program and [Rutgers] President Barchi in seeing this need and partnering with us to provide this crucial training throughout the state.”

According to the same news article, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a growth of 20 percent growth in employment of substance abuse and behavioral counselors from 2016 to 2026, which far exceeds the projected average increase of all other professions.The state grant will allow for the school to train around 200 new Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors in 2018. New Jersey Labor and Workforce Development will contribute up to $6,000 per worker, with their employer matching half of the training cost. For its part, Rutgers will assist with job placement following completion of on-the-job training and passing of the certification exam.

Opioid Epidemic: New Jersey

While every state in the nation has been affected by the opioid epidemic, New Jersey has been hit exceptionally hard, with over an estimated 2,000 deaths in 2016 alone. While most of these deaths are attributable to heroin and synthetic opioids, new and incredibly dangerous opioid cocktails, such as “grey death”, have plagued the state as well.

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Serenity Springs Applauds NJ and Rutgers Collegiate Recovery Program

Serenity Springs applauds this crucial step in Rutgers Collegiate Recovery Program and New Jersey’s continued endeavor to fight the opioid epidemic. It is our hope the rest of our country’s local leaders, universities and institutions similarly follow suit to further efforts to bolster education and assistance to treat the disease of addiction, rather than relying on a punitive, non-rehabilitative approach that has proven to be both ineffective and misguided. Serenity Springs is proud of its New Jersey roots, with board members and employees having been born and raised there and we are pleased that important headway is being made in the Garden State.

If you or a loved one is battling drug addiction or alcoholism, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Overcoming Codependency: Am I Enabling or Codependent?

December 17th, 2017 Posted by Awareness 0 comments on “Overcoming Codependency: Am I Enabling or Codependent?”

Overcoming codependency starts with knowing the symptoms and signs that cause its behavior. Identifying traits of codependency can be challenging if the relationship dynamic involves a person struggling with substance abuse. Consequently, family members have difficulty understanding if they are helping or if they’re enabling their loved one’s drug addiction. First, let’s take a look at the two behaviors which define codependency and enabling, making sure we aren’t quick to label ourselves or loved ones.  If you believe you might be codependent and enabling a substance abuser, this information will help begin the journey to overcome codependency. 

What is Codependency?

Codependency refers to the dysfunctional behavior associated with helping or supporting another person substance abuse dependence, poor mental health, or maladaptive lifestyle. Codependent people who themselves are not addicted to drugs and alcohol are considered enablers.

What is Enabling?

Enabling presents itself when the addicted individual’s family or friends support his or her addiction to alcohol and drugs.  Through thoughts and actions those who enable serve as a defense of substance abuse dependent individuals; resulting in the addict’s inability or lack of need to recognize the consequences of their addiction.


The Codependent Enabler

Enabling behaviors, often, result from codependent behavior in a relationship dynamic where addiction is present in one person. The individual’s entire sense of self is dependent on the other. Enabling crosses the line of “support” and allows the addict to continue and escape necessary consequences of their behavior. Keeping the substance abuser dependent isnt what the enabling person wants to do. However, for the codependent enabler to continue to feed their own need, there must be someone to help or support.

Children of Alcoholics: Codependent children of alcoholics and addicts are primarily attracted to substance abusers.  When a parent suffers from addiction, its probably the child grows up despising alcohol and drugs. Notably, as an adult, it is common that they are in a relationship dynamic with an addicted person. Their motive for seeking out people with addictions is to help and fix them, instead make up for the alcoholic parent they couldn’t help or fix.

Parents of the Addict: who their son or daughter is addicted can easly fall into patterns of codepency and enabling.  Instead of letting that child experience consequence and take responsibility, they enable, hence the codependent relationship forms. Many families believe that they are protecting their child. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of their freedom and sanity.

Enabling or Support: Enabling crosses the line of “support” and allows the substance abuser to remain addicted. Keeping a loved one addicted isn’t the codependent enablers desire. Consequently, to feed their codependent needs, there must be someone to enable and the result when we enable, we become codependent. In conclusion, to avoid having to overcome codependency and enable a loved one’s drug addiction you must set boundaries around the addicts’ art of manipulative behaviors.

Overcoming Codependency and Enabling - Serenity SpringsSix Signs of Codependent Enabling

 

1. Patterns of Low Self Esteem

The codependent enablers self-esteem primarily on the behavior of the unhealthy friend or family member. Gaining a false sense of self-worth, self-importance, and power by solving the addict or alcoholics problems drives the behavior of the codependent loved one.

2. Control and Manage 

With control, the codependent believes they know what is best for the addict or alcoholic. Continually managing how the addicted person should behave. They exhibit and use tactics such as guilt, manipulation, coercion, and advice giving to ensure they’re in control of the person and their addiction.

3. Embracing Responsibility

The codependent enables by cleaning up various messes for the addict such as financial responsibilities, legal problems, and emotional chaos. As a result, it interrupts the natural consequences initiated by the addicts’ negative actions and behaviors. Parents and loved ones, as a result, will most likely never overcome codependence when constantly in tune with addicts responsibility and not their responsibility to get well themselves.

4. Denial

Ignoring or pretending the addicted individual doesnt have a problem. The codependent enabler will purposely believe the addict’s fabrications by frequently lying to themselves; staying convinced tomorrow will be different.

5. Protecting Image or Social Position

Offering too much protection for the addict and alcoholic is a typical behavior characteristic most frequently talked about when journeying towards overcoming codependency. The stigma of addiction results in protection of social position or one’s image, creating a co-dependent enabling environment. The codependent enabler shelters the drug addict providing a false sense of comfort to the enabler. As a result, they do not have to experience the loss of control that natural consequences might create.

6. Repression and Dependency

The codependent’s mood defined by the mood of the dependent individual and the dysfunctional atmosphere created by the drug addiction. Putting aside their interest and quality of life while illustrating signs of being addicted to a person dependent on drugs and alcohol.


Codependents lose their sense of self and cannot differentiate where they stop and the other starts. Their role becomes controlling and managing the addict, while the addict’s purpose is to regulate and maintain their addiction. These tactics do not work but will endure for years or a lifetime. The enabler often has the best intentions. They want to care for their loved one. Unfortunately, enablers are unaware of the harm they’re creating. The perpetuation of addiction and a life without ever overcoming codependency is a consequence of enabling which will stop at nothing.

Overcoming Codependency by Setting Boundaries

The substance abuser considers their need for a substance as severe as their need for air or oxygen. The result of this intense demand for addictive substances creates a lying manipulation machine that runs over anything and anyone to get their next fix. Most notably Addiction needs support, and it will find the person who will support it. Overcoming codependency the rely on the ability to set boundaries. First, we have to understand what behaviors and actions not to support or defend.Parents and loved ones are tempted to believe the lies and manipulation the addict and alcoholic have to offer. Know the signs of addictive behavior and overcome codependency. Here are some of the substance abuser’s common manipulations.

Common Ways Addicts Manipulate

  • The addict’s various need for more money.
  • Excuses for being jobless.
  • The insistence on leaving treatment centers or aftercare programs early.
  • Lies as to why not show up for a family function or significant event.
  • Covering up the primary issue of addiction, with things like physical health, mental health, etc.
  • Schemes to get their way.
  • Buying the subtle or aggressive manipulation, the addict uses to place guilt on the parents for their using.
  • The financial assistance to prevent the addict from “needing to steal.”
  • Empty promises the alcoholic offers that things are getting better “any day now.”
  • The claim that they are taking action around self-improvement: “if they can just get a little more money, a little more time, a car, a fill in the blank.”

Begin Your Journey to Overcome Codependency

There is a powerful resistance towards admitting and ultimately surrendering to codependency and enabling. Similar to the opposition the addict feels towards quitting the disease of addiction, so too does the codependent enabler. There are specific steps and many resources that treat and offer large support to reach your goal in overcoming codependency.

Co-Dependents Anonymous CoDA is an excellent resource for those with the desire to overcome codependency. CoDA is a free public twelve-step program similar to the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. CoDA has grown to offer over thousand meetings in the United States. Internationally Coda is active in 60 other countries in addition to offering meetings online.

AL-ANON Overcoming Codependency Serenity Springs Recovery
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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Overcoming Codependency Serenity Springs Recovery
Alcoholics Anonymous: Local Meeting Finder
NAR-ANON Overcoming Codependency Serenity Springs Recovery
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Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Overcoming Codependency Serenity Springs Recovery
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Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction - cover image for Serenity Springs Recovery Blog

Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction

December 2nd, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction”

The holiday season, many believe, is a time to spend together and to appreciate one another. But for someone experiencing a substance abuse issue or in recovery, this time might become incredibly stressful. (more…)

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