Posts in Disease of Addiction

The Opioid Epidemic – A Nation In Pain

June 13th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “The Opioid Epidemic – A Nation In Pain”

The Opioid Epidemic

For more than a decade, the US has been experiencing an opioid epidemic. Each year the number of deaths by drug overdose continue to increase in the United States. Every day in America, on average, there are 130 deaths due to opioid overdose. In the United States, more than 700,200 people suffered death by drug overdose between the years 1999 and 2017.

These numbers are shocking, and unless we confront this tragedy, which is The Opioid Epidemic, it won’t be long before it begins to face all of us. Not just the addict, but the entire United States, every year is becoming more affected by the opioid epidemic. In this article, we are going to cover the brief history of why we are now witnessing this eternal destruction caused by the recent rise in both legal and illegal opioids. This article also provides anyone seeking drug and alcohol treatment the proper information in order to transition into a Florida Recovery Center like Serenity Springs. If you been affected by opioids like so many other Americans, we suggest reading this article on The Opioid Epidemic. If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, call a Serenity Springs addiction professional today. [1]

What is an Opioid?

what is an opioid - info-graphic

Opioids are substances that act on the brain’s receptors producing morphine-like effects. Medically, opioids are primarily prescribed to patients who require pain relief. Opioids are also used as a form of anesthesia.

Opioids fall under the class of drugs, which include heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers. (morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone) [2]

What is an Epidemic?

The Meriam Webster definition of an epidemic is:

  1. An outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time : an outbreak of epidemic disease.
  2. Affecting or tending to affect a disproportionate large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.

The Opioid Crisis

The roots of the opioid crisis are more deep-seated than popular narrative suggests. Examining the onset of America’s opioid epidemic brings precisely how and why we got here to light. Was this an honest push by honest medical professionals to aid patients pain with ethical narcotics? These are same narcotics they stood in fear of prescribing even terminal cancer patients up until opioid crisis info-graphicthe 1990s. Is the cause of this ever-growing American tragedy an accident? Or, was it a calculated marketing effort by big pharma and the rest of the usual medical suspects? Time to examine the facts.

Opioid Epidemic in the 1970s

Before the Big Pharma opioid push of the late 1990s, physicians were reluctant to prescribe opioid medication for fearing that patients would become addicted. Into the 1970s physicians and nurses were trained to give minimal opioids for pain, often less than prescribed, unless death seemed imminent. However, this common practice of neglecting opioids to treat pain, specifically for cancer patients, was about to be reversed for the first time.

What was to follow has been nothing short of a nightmare for many American citizens, both young and old, rich or poor. This US nightmare began as an ethical attempt to treat everyday Americans who where experiencing physical discomfort and pain. One can argue the irony that has taken place as a result of what began with opioid prescription medication. Medication that was designed to take away the pain for suffering individuals. The adverse result is a country in more pain due to the inundation and addiction of less restricted, much deadlier, illegal street opioids like heroin and fentanyl. [4]

Opioid Epidemic in the 1980s

In the 1980s, the medical community began to treat acute pain frequently with opioids. Propoxyphene, a powerful prescription opiate, became the second-most dispensed drug in the United States. Top cancer specialist Kathleen Foley published two articles, in 1981/86, illustrating low rates of addiction in small groups of cancer and non-cancer patients. These articles started a massive debate between pain management specialists and professionals, arguing that long-term opioid therapy was safe. Several pain management specialists pointed out the high risks of opioid dependence, opioid overdose, and side effects caused by opioid addiction. Foley’s articles, along with other efforts, started a 20-year campaign to prescribe opioids for long-term pain management. This campaign included long-term, opioid pain management for both cancer and non-cancer patients.[4]

What followed was nothing short of a nightmare for many American citizens. This nightmare began as an ethical attempt to treat regular people that were experiencing physical discomfort and/or pain. No one could have predicted what this sudden reversal of medical opinion on opioid medication would do to the citizens of the United States. This change of opinion had a colossal impact on the American People. As of June 13th, 2019, there is no end in sight. It is fascinating to explore how quickly the United States became flooded with opioid prescriptions, the world’s purest heroin, and the most deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl.

From 1990 to 1995, prescriptions for opioids increased by 2-3 million each year.

Opioid Epidemic in the 1990s

The medical community received a reassurance from Big Pharma, stating that patients needing pain relief would not become addicted to opioid-based pain medication. Consequently, this led to widespread misuse of these medications before the truth came out… these medications were and are highly addictive. As a result, opioid overdose rates began to increase and have not slowed down since.

number of deaths by opioid overdose-1999/2017The Institute of Medicine issued a report attributing the rise in chronic pain prevalence during the 1990s to the following:

    • Higher patient expectations for pain relief.
    • Musculoskeletal disorders of an aging population.
    • Increase in Obesity in the US.
    • Increased survivorship after injury & cancer
    • Increasing frequency & complexity of surgery.

Opioids in 2017

    • Death by opioid overdose killed more than 47,000 Americans, which included prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl.
    • An estimated 1.7 million Americans suffered from substance abuse addiction related to prescription opioid pain relievers.
    • More than 652,000 suffered from heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive).

Three Waves of the Opioid Epidemic

The first wave ignited during the mid to late 1990s when overdose deaths from opioids began to increase. During this time, most overdose deaths involved prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone).

The second wave began in 2010 with the beginning of a massive increase in overdose deaths involving heroin; here is why. With the rising dependency and tolerance of prescription opioids, many people transitioned to a more potent and cheaper alternative, including heroin/fentanyl. During this time frame, uncrushable Oxycontin was introduced, making it more challenging to use intravenously and through the nasal. As a result, those individuals addicted to prescription pain killers turned to the more potent, less expensive heroin/fentanyl.

The third wave started in 2013 and continues to this present day. The United States began to see more efficient global supply chains like China inundating illegal heroin/opioid markets with the more potent synthetic opioid, fentanyl. What is fentanyl? Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent and shockingly deadlier. Between the years of 2013 through 2016, death by fentanyl-related overdose climbed over 540% nationally. This very rapid, very deadly acceleration of the opioid epidemic has led to the United States government declaring this crisis as a national public health emergency.

every 25 minutes a baby is born in opioid withdrawal-info-graphicConsequences of the Opioid Epidemic

    • Americans in 2019 consume 80% of the entire world’s supply of opioid pain medications. 
    • The overall life expectancy in the United States has dropped for the first time since 1993, particularly for those under age 65 years.
    • The highest increase as the cause of death (with a 6.7% increase between 2014 and 2015) was from unintentional injuries, including drug overdoses.
    • Drug overdose has surpassed firearms and motor vehicle trauma as the most common cause of accidental death among adults.
    • County-level estimates highlight that nearly every geographic area in the country has seen marked increases of opioid-related deaths
    • In 2017, 81,000 people in the United Stated used heroin for the first time.

Opioid Prevention

The harsh consequences that opioid abuse and addiction has created across the United States has resulted in opioid prevention becoming a vital part of our society. More than any time in history, government officials, treatment centers, medical professionals, law enforcement, and entire communities are coming together and taking part in opioid prevention. The following are some ways to help prevent opioid abuse or help someone recover if they are currently addicted.

  1. 12-Step programs – Programs like AA, NA, and HA are a tremendous help and support for someone to recover from opiate addiction. These programs help prevent opioid addiction and abuse by helping someone who is addicted heal internally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  2. Monitor your doses of prescription pain meds – If it is necessary to take opioids/opiates to recover from surgery, or for chronic pain, it can be helpful to have a family member or loved one administer the medication. Having accountability will help prevent opioid abuse and addiction.
  3. Individual counseling – Although opiates are created to curb physical pain, many times someone who is abusing opiates uses the drug to feel less emotional pain. Mental health issues and traumas like PTSD are many times at the root of an opioid/opiate addiction.
  4. Vivitrol and Naltrexone – Both are non-narcotic drugs used in opioid prevention. Vivitrol and naltrexone both contain properties that block opiate receptors. Therefore, someone who is on either medication will not experience the high if they try to take on opiate.
  5. Amino Acid Therapy – Amino acid IV therapy is another great tool in preventing future opioid abuse. A specific combination of amino acids are given to an individual to help repair damage done to receptor sites by the opiates. The process can help spark a speedy recovery from opiates and help curb future opioid cravings and withdrawals.
  6. Residential and Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) – Many times it is necessary for someone addicted to opiates to have a more structured setting in order to fully recover. Outcomes for people recovering from addiction are usually greater in those who received a well-structured treatment program.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center Residential CampusTo learn more about opioid prevention and how to deal with opiate or opioid addiction, call an addiction specialist at Serenity Springs Addiction Hotline

Content Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , National Institute of Drug Abuse, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Poison Control

 

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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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Avoiding Relapse and Temptation in Recovery

March 31st, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Relapse Prevention 0 comments on “Avoiding Relapse and Temptation in Recovery”

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process and treatment for addiction varies for each individual based on individual needs. Treatment programs teach clients how to focus on healthy, sober activities as a way to cope with anxiety, stress, depression, or PTSD. The coping mechanisms that you learn in treatment must be used throughout recovery to maintain a new, healthy, sober lifestyle. Avoiding relapse can be very challenging, or very easy depending on how bad the individual wants to live a clean and enjoyable life. (more…)

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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!

The Addicted Brain

March 20th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction 0 comments on “The Addicted Brain”

Addiction is a complex brain disease and changes the brain chemically and physiologically. The addicted brain is a vital organ in the human body. It controls how we move, walk, talk, and speak. The brain adapts to environmental changes and allows us to cope with negative emotions, form memories, and learn.

Drugs and alcohol affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, which release an excess level of dopamine causing temporary pleasurable feelings and euphoria. The brain registers all pleasures in a similar way, whether they begin with a psychoactive drug, reward, sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal.

“Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behavior causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it.” (Harvard Medical School, 2011). This prompts us to seek the source of pleasure.

Over time, the addicted brain adapts in a way that actually makes the sought-after substance or activity less pleasurable. Eventually, it becomes increasingly difficult to get the release of more dopamine to feel the same pleasure. This makes a person want more drugs and alcohol with a higher potency, or more risky and addictive activities.  

According to Dr. George Koob, director of NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2015), “The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain.”

Even if people understand the cycle of addiction and how it changes the addicted brain, they cannot stop on their own. When in treatment, a person’s brain needs to be re-trained to function normally, without toxic substances. It will take time for the brain to re-adjust to a sober, healthy lifestyle.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Get help today so you can enjoy a fulfilling and healthy life in sobriety. There is hope in recovery.

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

How Addiction Makes it Difficult to Quit Drugs and Alcohol blog image - exploding fragmented head - Serenity Springs Recovery

How Addiction Makes it Difficult to Quit Drugs and Alcohol

March 19th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction 0 comments on “How Addiction Makes it Difficult to Quit Drugs and Alcohol”

Addiction makes it difficult to quit drugs and alcohol, and puts a person at risk of developing serious mental and physical health problems. Drugs and alcohol hijack the brain and change the way the brain works to control a body’s functions. Eventually, the brain becomes dependent on the drugs and alcohol and needs more of the substances to make the individual feel comfortable.

Drug and alcohol use interferes with the brain’s neurotransmitters, which release increased levels of dopamine. This causes the individual to experience pleasurable feelings. Quitting drugs or alcohol alone is not recommended.

Ending drug use alone can cause intense withdrawal symptoms, depending on the type of drug used, duration of use, and the severity of addiction. Some withdrawals from drugs such as heroin will cause flu-like symptoms. The uncomfortable and sometimes painful withdrawals can influence a relapse and increases the risk of overdose or death.

Many people use drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. Drugs and alcohol can increase the symptoms of mental health problems. When drug or alcohol use stops, the person can feel very sick and experience strong cravings. Medication-assisted detox is a safe and more comfortable way of quitting drugs and alcohol. Medical professionals can monitor the detox process and manage medication if needed.

There will be challenges during detox, rehab, and throughout the lifelong recovery process. Support groups and meetings provide a great network of other people recovering from addiction who can give advice and encouragement.

In recovery, an individual needs to learn how to live without substances to cope. People, places, and things associated with drug or alcohol use must be avoided. Meeting people in support groups can lead to new, sober friendships. Strategies for staying away from things that can cause a relapse will help avoid some difficult situations.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help now. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Make the life-saving decision to get help today.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

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

The Link Between Verbal Abuse and Addiction blog image woman coddling daughter on couch - Serenity Springs

The Link Between Verbal Abuse and Addiction

March 18th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction 0 comments on “The Link Between Verbal Abuse and Addiction”

“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 1-800-273-8255.”

Abuse comes in many forms and sometimes leaves scars we cannot see. Verbal abuse destroys a person’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. Threats, rejection, and name-calling are de-humanizing and degrading, and leave the victim feeling alone, isolated, and unworthy. The victim lives in fear of confrontations or arguments. Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse and leaves scars that never go away.

A verbally abused person lives with constant self-doubt. The victim constantly wonders what he or she did wrong. In childhood, the victim might be overly shy to avoid conflict or be indecisive when it comes to making decisions later in adulthood. To counteract fear, shame, anger, and other disturbing emotions, the victim might turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Trauma is often linked to substance abuse and addiction.

In an article on substance abuse for Domestic Shelters (2016), Susan Bernstein, licensed social worker and MA-based therapist who specializes in trauma states, “[some] survivors use drugs or alcohol to dull or numb or block any sort of emotional upheaval that the abuse causes. It becomes their coping mechanism.”

When a person feels hurt and powerless on an emotional level, they are at high risk to use. Verbal abuse can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to a study by researchers at the University of Vermont, childhood emotional abuse is linked to opioid abuse in adulthood (2017). Matthew Price, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Science at the University of Vermont, and the paper’s senior author states, “To protect themselves from strong emotions and from trauma cues that can bring on PTSD symptoms, people with this kind of childhood experience frequently adopt a strategy of avoidance, which can include opioid use.”

Verbal and emotional abuse may have been unavoidable in childhood, but as an adult, you can decide what types of relationships to keep in your life and choose your connections. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health condition and addiction, get help now. Treatment is available for a dual diagnosis.   

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

Discovering why Your Loved One is Addicted - mother daughter looking upset with man - Serenity Springs Recovery

Discovering why Your Loved One is Addicted

March 12th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction 0 comments on “Discovering why Your Loved One is Addicted”

Addiction does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone from any background, social status, race, and gender. When your loved one is addicted, it can be difficult to understand why he or she developed an addiction. Some people are at higher risk of developing an addiction than others are. There are factors that contribute to a person developing an addiction. Genetics, family history, mental health, and environment are some of the reasons why some people are more susceptible to addiction.

Addiction has an inherited component, often runs in families, and can be passed down through generations. An article on genes and addictions by L. Bevilacqua and D. Goldman for the Laboratory of Neurogenetics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health explains, “Addictions are moderately to highly heritable. 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.”

Environmental factors can contribute to someone’s substance abuse. Young adolescents who lack parental involvement or live in an abusive home might turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their emotions. Teens are faced with peer pressure and can easily be influenced to experiment with drugs or alcohol to feel accepted.

Metabolism is another reason why some people develop an addiction. Each person absorbs and processes compounds differently and can determine the effect a drug will have on the body. (Medical News Today (2018).

Mental health conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety can increase the risk of developing an addiction or substance use disorder. Some individuals use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope, but certain substances increase depression and anxiety.

Alcohol is a depressant and increases symptoms of depression. Opioids are often prescribed after an illness, injury, or surgery to temporarily manage pain and recovery. Painkillers are addictive but safe when taken as prescribed. A person without any of the risk factors can also become addicted at any time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Addiction is complicated but is treatable. Take the first step toward a healthy, fulfilling, life in sobriety and get help today. There is hope in recovery.

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

Getting Help for Benzodiazepine Abuse - group circle helping woman in group - Serenity Springs Recovery

Getting Help for Benzodiazepine Abuse

March 11th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction 0 comments on “Getting Help for Benzodiazepine Abuse”

Benzodiazepines (benzos), such as Xanax are prescribed for those who struggle with anxiety disorders. Benzos are addictive and put a person at risk of developing an addiction. Benzos provide temporary relief from the symptoms of anxiety. Mental health management and therapy are a long-term solution to those who suffer from mental health problems.

People often self-medicate as an immediate fix to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. This includes using other drugs or alcohol to cope, which puts a person at risk of developing an addiction.

Although benzos provide an immediate calming effect, more of the medication is needed to replicate that feeling and puts a person at risk of overdose. The combination of tolerance and dependence makes it hard to quit without medical treatment. Just like alcohol, benzos can cause blackouts. A person does not need to be addicted to experience a blackout.

Young people often engage in risky, spontaneous, and harmful behavior. The risk of harmful behavior is increased when young people use benzos. This can include stealing, accidents, and rape. A blackout is anterograde amnesia, and prevents the brain from forming new memories. When a person has a blackout, the risk of it occurring again increases.

Xanax works quickly and is very effective when taken as prescribed. Taking Xanax without a prescription from a medical professional is illegal and dangerous. Fake Xan bars are tablets that look like Xanax but are actually a deadly combination of Xanax and fentanyl, a cheap synthetic opioid that is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine. Rather than risk an overdose or early death, young people need to get help for any underlying mental health conditions with a professional who can offer treatment.

In an article by BIll Melugin (2018) for FOX5, John Clark, chief security office for Pfizer said, “Almost 100 percent of what’s being sold out there is counterfeit.” He also stated, “They’re putting whatever they want into it, fentanyl, boric acid, whatever ingredients are available they’ll put into it and sell it as Xanax, if the intent is to kill kids then they’re doing a good job of it.”

Mental health disorders, such as anxiety, are common and treatable. If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health condition and substance use disorder or addiction, get help now. Both conditions must be treated as a dual diagnosis for success in recovery.

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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Addicted to Crack Cocaine

March 8th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction 1 comment on “Addicted to Crack Cocaine”

Addiction does not discriminate and can happen to anyone. The risk of a person becoming addicted depends on the drug used, the duration of use, family history, genetics, and mental health. Crack cocaine, also known as crack, is a very addictive substance that is smoked, which causes immediate pleasurable feelings.

A person can become addicted to crack after one use. People who use crack often become engaged in risky, dangerous, and reckless behavior. Crack cocaine use can lead to severe health complications and death. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, (2013), “The effects are quick to be felt, peak quickly, and then end after only 2-20 minutes. Because the high is so short-lived, users often abuse crack in a binges. The binge and crash cycle of use adds to the risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction.”

When a person is addicted to crack, he or she will experience changes in their physical health, mental health, and behavior. Physical signs of crack addiction include dilated pupils, weight loss, lack of appetite, and deterioration in physical appearance. Behavioral symptoms include lack of interest in activities, a decline in motivation, financial problems, and changes in relationships.

Some psychological signs can occur, such as irritability, aggression, mood changes, and paranoia just to name a few. Crack addiction can lead to financial complications, job loss, personal relationship issues, family problems, and even incarceration.

Behavioral therapies can be used to treat crack addiction. Some offer incentives to reward people for their drug abstinence. For example, the person suffering from addiction receives some type of reward for drug-free tests and reaches goals set by treatment professionals. The incentives are motivational and might include points that accumulate over a short time for a reward.

Other therapies help the patient to recognize potential triggers such as people associated with his or her drug use and places where it was used. Treatment can be tailored to each person’s unique individual needs. Treatment specialists can help identify a plan to help the patient cope, offer suggestions, and develop a plan for ongoing therapy after treatment ends.

Crack is a powerful, deadly drug, but addiction is treatable. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help now. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Get help today so you can enjoy a healthy, fulfilling, sober lifestyle in recovery.

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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How to Heal When a Loved One is Addicted

March 6th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction 0 comments on “How to Heal When a Loved One is Addicted”

When a loved one is addicted, family and friends are affected. Relationships deteriorate and family members experience emotional stress and agony over their loved one’s addictive behavior. Addiction makes a person limit his or her time around loved ones, which results in long-term absences from special events. Guilt, shame, and low self-esteem are amplified from addiction, which can make your loved one feel isolated.

There are ways to help you heal when a loved one suffers from addiction or a substance use disorder. Learning that addiction is a complex disease is a good way to start. Go to AA or NA meetings and listen to what others say about their experiences with addiction. Meet people in similar circumstances. Join a forum online or a group on social media that relates to drug and alcohol addiction. Ask questions and get advice or suggestions from others.

Encourage your loved one to get help, and stay supportive. Addiction sometimes co-occurs with an underlying mental health issue. Using shameful words or a negative tone could contribute to your loved one continuing his or her harmful drug and alcohol use. Set boundaries to show your loved one what is off limits. Boundaries will teach him or her to respect your rules and space. Plan expectations in advance and follow through with consequences.

Make sure you keep communication open with your loved one and stay positive. Go to group therapy or family counseling together. Family and friends suffer a range of emotions from guilt, anger, frustration, and helplessness. Understand you cannot control your loved one’s behavior.

Addiction affects the individual who suffers from it and family and friends. A person cannot be forced into treatment and recovery, but he or she can be encouraged to get help with love, support, and encouragement from loved ones. If you or a loved one is battling addiction, do not wait to get help. Addiction is isolating, but treatment is available and there is hope in recovery. Do not suffer alone. Get help today to start a 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

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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<br /> 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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My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me

February 8th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me”

This is a story of a different experience of addiction, his addiction that became our addiction. Fortunately, I am not an addict or an alcoholic. I am considered by most to be a “good girl,” raised with values and morals in my very close family in the Philippines. I was the baby of four sisters and when I finally made it to America at age fifteen. It was here in the States that I met the love of my life, Joey, who suffers from the powerful disease of addiction.

(more…)

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New Year’s Resolution: No More Drugs or Alcohol

January 1st, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 1 comment on “New Year’s Resolution: No More Drugs or Alcohol”

No more drugs or alcohol!?! This is something most addicts or alcoholics have said to themselves or others at least once or twice without success. With today being the first day of 2019, I decided to consider my own resolutions. Reflecting on my past resolutions, I realized a common thread. Resolutions are only successful when I integrate some sort of new behaviors into my life to substitute for the old behaviors.

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RESOLUTION (definition)

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a firm decision to do or not to do something

Why do all my New Year’s resolutions fail?

When considering my sobriety, I remember countless times I would decide, no more drugs or alcohol from now on! After some time and repetition, I would get so uncomfortable being sober I would feel like I was going crazy. My anxiety and depression were extremely high, which brought out irritability or anger towards anyone around me. Eventually, I would get extremely uncomfortable with myself and very insecure. I resorted back to justifying another drink or drug, saying I will just do a little this time and learn to control it.

The problem was, I could never control it even though my mind told me otherwise. The days of having a couple of beers and a joint in the first week after a relapse turned into using dangerous street drugs…. AGAIN!! With that came misery and delusion leading to suicidal thoughts and severe depression. Even more frightening were the health complications that only more drug use could cure. Of course the end result, hospitals and jails. Better than dying at least!

Changing Behaviors Through the 12 Steps

After completing residential treatment, studying the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and listening to happy sober people in meetings, I began to understand that I needed to do some serious “internal housecleaning” to have a chance at staying sober. This meant, I needed to actually replace my addiction with something else in order to achieve sobriety. This meant that I needed to work the steps and connect to a higher power or higher purpose in my life. After doing some intensive therapeutic work, I came to the same conclusion. My old ways of thinking and behaving needed a major upheaval if I wanted a shot at staying sober. I had to replace my behaviors with new behaviors which then would lead to new thoughts and insights about myself.

The Doctor’s Opinion

Men and woman drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The effect is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the truth from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort that comes at once by taking a few drinks-drinks they see others taking with impunity.

After they have succumbed to the desire again as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope for his recovery.

Big Book of Alcoholic’s Anonymous

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Addiction Cycle (Emotional Trigger, Craving, Ritual, Using, Guilt)

Feeling Connected and Aware of My Surroundings

After completing drug and alcohol rehab and working the 12 steps, my internal feelings began to shift.

I was starting to feel relief in sobriety.

Soon, the desire to get high and drink was removed from my consciousness and I started to feel more connected to the world and people around me. Because my attitude was getting better, my external world was getting better as well. I was able to hold a job and make money and clean up my legal issues. I was also able to amend some old relationships and become a better friend and family member. The more positive feedback I received from my new lifestyle practices, the more that I wanted to expand my new healthy choices and belief systems.

Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit

Today my recovery consists of implementing health into all 3 areas of my life which are my mind, body and spirit. I fuel my body with healthier choices like better eating habits and doing yoga. I fuel my mind by attempting to learn through reading and writing, as well as challenging myself every day to think critically and focus on my goals for self-improvement. And, both my mind and body seem to thrive better when I work on my spiritual condition. I work on this through practicing things like meditation, the 12 steps, going to meetings and trying to contribute to my society and the world. In these ways I feel connected to a higher power and the thought of using and drinking ceases to exist for me.

woman meditating black and white with bushes behind her

Loving My New Way of Life

Today, instead of waking up every morning trying to, “just say no to using,” I’m saying “YES” to so many other aspects of life, and the need to cover up my insecurities, ceases to exist.

Now no more drugs and alcohol is a reality…. I DON’T WANT TO LIVE THAT WAY!

Today, by practicing this new way of life by replacing old behaviors with the new, I get to love who I am and love life which for this addict/alcoholic, is a complete miracle.

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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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