Posts in Awareness

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Deafening Silence: Uncovering My Son’s Opioid Addiction

March 23rd, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 0 comments on “Deafening Silence: Uncovering My Son’s Opioid Addiction”

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, “his commission did not come through yet.” We noticed that his good friends were no longer coming around our home. He also began going out 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.

We then suddenly notice that Brad was saving trouble processing his thoughts. He repeated stories that he expressed great concern over. Things on the TV seemed to disturb him. Whitney Houston had just been found dead in her bathtub due to an 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!” said Brad, unable to connect sentences that made sense.

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 benzos 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.

My husband decided to take him for a ride to get flowers for me on Valentine’s Day. We had only a moment to speak to one another regarding what course of action 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 his shared apartment. 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!

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… silence. 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…and it was so 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, 30 mg 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!

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. These are real numbers that have been checked and verified by a medical professional who was able to get these numbers for legal purposes due to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).

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 them were for Xanax. Later on, I learned that the opioid and benzo combination 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,

“oxy… lots of 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.

I made a call to the number of a rehab in California that looked very good. At the time, I was standing in my garage, which was at about 30 degrees, Fahrenheit. I spilled out my story through sobs. 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.

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!]

How does Excessive Gaming turn into an Addiction?

How does Excessive Gaming turn into an Addiction?

March 14th, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog 0 comments on “How does Excessive Gaming turn into an Addiction?”

Excessive gaming can affect a person’s physical and mental health, personal relationships, and work or school. Drug or alcohol addiction changes the way the brain functions and the same happens when a person has a gaming addiction. This makes the person continue gaming despite negative consequences. Excessive gaming can lead to isolation, social anxiety, and depression. It can affect relationships, work or school productivity, sleep patterns, and proper nutrition.

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized a gaming disorder as “a new mental health condition included in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases.” The WHO says the new diagnosis adheres to individuals who have lost control over their gaming habits. Gaming addiction allows a person to remain in a virtual world as a way to escape problems in the real world.

In an article by Jocelyn Maminta for WTNH News8 (2019), Robin Seymour, clinical director at Newport Academy said, “Research has shown the chemicals, the same chemicals in the brain that gets stimulated in substance use, those happy feelings, feelings of reward, are also being stimulated when they use games.”

A gaming addiction interferes with a person’s diet. He or she might play games for endless hours without stopping to eat. When a person has a gaming addiction, he or she can become irritable when they cannot play due to special events or occasions.

Signs of a gaming addiction include:

  • Irritability when the game is interrupted. This can put a strain on relationships with loved ones. Gaming becomes the person’s number one priority.
  • Neglects responsibilities. He or she may often be late to school or work, or not show up.
  • Social problems and isolation. The person withdraws from in-person relationships and develops online friendships with other players. For a person who suffers from social anxiety, the online world is more comfortable.
  • Fatigue or insomnia. Sometimes, the person will avoid sleep to continue playing the game.

While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help now. There is hope in recovery. Get help today.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

4 Ways to Avoid a Painkiller Addiction

4 Ways to Avoid a Painkiller Addiction

March 13th, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog 0 comments on “4 Ways to Avoid a Painkiller Addiction”

Medical professionals prescribe painkillers as a way to manage pain from an injury, surgery, or trauma. Painkillers are highly addictive opioids, such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, Dilaudid, and Demerol. These medications are used to treat pain, short-term; however, opioids are also used for long-term illnesses such as cancer.

The opioid epidemic has been declared a national health emergency due to the staggering rise in opioid use, overdoses, and deaths. Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services, determined in 2017 that a public health emergency exists nationwide.

Painkillers cause an intense euphoria from the release of dopamine in your brain. As more medication is taken, more tolerance builds up to achieve the euphoric effects. If you take the painkiller for a long time, you can develop a physical dependence on the drug. The physical dependency puts you at high risk of developing an opioid addiction.

Here are 4 ways to prevent an addiction to painkillers:

  1. Follow the doctor’s orders. If you are taking medication for pain, take the medication as directed by your doctor. When you take more painkillers, more often than prescribed, you put yourself at risk of developing a dependency or addiction.
  2. Seek alternatives. Talk to your doctor about alternatives to opioids. There are addictive medications that can alleviate pain. Check with your doctor for other options that can minimize discomfort.
  3. Ask yourself if you still need painkillers. If your pain is more manageable and you are experiencing less pain, talk to your doctor about discontinuing the medication. If you continue to use them, but no longer need them, you could be at risk of addiction.
  4. Think about other risks. Discuss other factors with your physician that may contribute to your risk of developing an addiction. Talk about your experiences with addiction to drugs or alcohol, or mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

People are dying due to opioid addiction. Opioid addiction can be prevented if you know the risk factors, act responsibly, and maintain communication with your physician. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Addiction is treatable and there is hope in recovery. Get help today so you can enjoy a fulfilling, healthy life in sobriety.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

Suicide: The Hidden Risk of Addiction and Mental Health

Suicide: The Hidden Risk of Addiction and Mental Health

March 7th, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog 0 comments on “Suicide: The Hidden Risk of Addiction and Mental Health”

“We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).”

It can be difficult for a person who suffers from addiction and mental health issues to ask for help. Tragically, the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health can make a person feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Addiction and mental health issues also affect the lives of loved ones.

There is no shame in reaching out when you experience unbearable pain and despair. Suicide is a hidden risk of addiction and mental health. Depression, PTSD, and other trauma-related disorders can lead to suicidal thoughts, which can be amplified with the use of drugs or alcohol. If left untreated, addiction and mental health issues can cause serious health complications or death.

People who appear happy, are wealthy, and in good health are not immune to suicidal thoughts. According to an article by Carolyn C. Ross M.D., M.P.H. for Psychology Today, “Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people may lose inhibitions and take risks they ordinarily would not. Additionally, many people abuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.” The article also states that substance use disorders can increase the risk of a person dying by suicide. About one in three people who die by suicide are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

We can all take action to prevent suicide. According to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others.”

Mental illness often coexists with a substance use disorder or addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health condition and addiction, get help now. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Get help today so you can live a healthy, fulfilling, sober life in recovery. There is no cure for addiction, but it is treatable.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540

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Am I an Addict or Alcoholic?

December 29th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “Am I an Addict or Alcoholic?”

Not everyone who drinks or uses drugs is an addict. So why am I an addict? They say that the first step in addressing any problem is admitting that you have a problem, but admitting I was an addict was the last thing I wanted to do. It seemed to me that admitting that I was a drug addict was admitting that I was a flawed human being, that my willpower was worthless, and I was forever inferior to others. Through talking to other addicts and a lot of research, I learned that just like diabetes, addiction was a disease and, though I didn’t necessarily choose it, I could learn to live with it as soon as I identified as someone who has the disease.

Progression of Addiction

Since the 1950’s, addiction has been known by the AMA (American Medical Association), as a mental disease. A disease is understood as something that is progressive, chronic and fatal, and when I was honest about my condition, it was clear to see that the way I used drugs and alcohol fit into this model.

I remember being 17 and going to parties with friends. It seemed as though everyone around me was interested in socializing with others and listening to the music. Though I was good at pretending, all that I could focus on was the alcohol and pills I saw going around the party. Other people’s observance of me was just an obstacle I had to dart around as I consumed as much as I could. The older I got, the more I became a daily user and adopted new drugs into my regiment, going from alcohol and pills to street drugs like meth and heroin.

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Substances like alcohol and drugs affect the dopamine neurotransmitters, which creates pleasure in the brain. Basically, they make the brain think it is experiencing something great that feels really good, better than the basic pleasures like food and sex. Because of the extreme pleasure, the brain’s natural state, or hedonic set-point is increased. Therefore, basic “feel goods” like food and sex don’t feel as good anymore in comparison.

After repetition of this pattern of consuming drugs and alcohol, the brain stops producing as much dopamine, or “pleasure chemicals,” because it is getting it from an external source. This means that someone who uses substances like these is making it difficult to feel good normally, thus creating a habit or physical dependence on the drugs to feel good. Some people’s brains are more susceptible to a dependence or addiction than others, though anyone has the potential to become addicted.

When did I cross the line of addiction?

I don’t know where I crossed the line from heavy use to addiction, but at about 18 or 19 I was a full blown daily user of opiates and benzos. If I stopped using these drugs everyday, I would get very sick so now I was not just mentally dependent, I was physically dependent. My life started going down hill as I began to flunk classes in college, get in trouble with my family and visited the county jail. I was beginning to think I had a problem.

There are some buzzwords that are commonly connected as a part of addiction and two of these are tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance is described as needing more of the substance one is using to achieve the same affect. This happens after repeated frequent use of the substance. So for an opiate addict, this looks like taking two Vicodin and getting high, to having to take ten Vicodin to get high a few weeks later.

Withdrawal happens when a person becomes physically dependent. Once someone begins to develop a tolerance to a drug, they will probably have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. With opiates, the symptoms may feel like body aches, nausea, restlessness and anxiety. Drug or alcohol withdrawal typically needs to be monitored by medical staff because the symptoms are so uncomfortable that if the person wants to stop, they may feel it is impossible without medical help because the symptoms are so uncomfortable.

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Identifying My Problem

After a few visits to treatment centers many AA meetings, and seeing where I could relate to people in recovery instead of looking at the differences in my story, I too identified “my problem,” as the disease of addiction. I recognized that on my own, I could not stop the patterns of behaviors I was participating in my life. I couldn’t fully commit to staying away from the drugs that my body and mind seemed to crave, even if I got a few months free from them.

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In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, they call this place, “the jumping off point.” I did not yet know how to stay sober and find peace, but I knew I had to change something because I was miserable with the way things were going. Even when I put my best effort into stopping the types of behaviors I was acting upon, I alone was not able to stop. Though it was a scary place to be in, at least in that moment I had some relief in admitting that I too was an addict. At that moment, I could decide to do something different and ask for help.

Changing Behaviors and Recovering from Addiction

Though for some addiction is a fatal disease, many do find recovery. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. For me, recovery has been more of a process of letting go of old beliefs systems that were causing me more harm than good and adopting new ones which become more real through changing my behaviors.

It has been internal growth through intensive therapeutic work and 12-step practices which then is manifested as external successes in my life. Recovery has taken place in my life through both treatment and a continual practice of the 12-step program. Today my recovery is my most precious gift which intertwines into all areas of my life.

Where can someone get treatment?

Serenity Springs Recovery Center and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) offer help to those stuck in their addiction. With medical detoxification and the inpatient treatment, individuals can begin their path to full recovery.

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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.

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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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
AL-ANON: Local Meeting Finder
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Overcoming Codependency Serenity Springs Recovery
Alcoholics Anonymous: Local Meeting Finder
NAR-ANON Overcoming Codependency Serenity Springs Recovery
NAR-ANON: Local Meeting Finder
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Overcoming Codependency Serenity Springs Recovery
Narcotics Anonymous: Local Meeting Finder
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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