Posts tagged "xanax"

woman holding index finger over lips for deafening silence blog post on recovery blog

My Addicted Son – Deafening Silence Hits Home

March 23rd, 2019 Posted by Awareness, 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, “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!]

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

MY BOYFRIEND, HIS ADDICTION, AND ME blog post header couple on brick wall - Serenity Springs Recovery

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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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.

woman lying on bar with alcoholic beverage in hand, alone - am i an addict or alcoholic blog

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.

woman deep in thought looking out to river to left - am i an addict blog

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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Heroin Addiction: Through a Mother’s Eyes

October 18th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 2 comments on “Heroin Addiction: Through a Mother’s Eyes”

As an expectant mom, I ate healthily, did not drink coffee or alcohol, and I delivered my babies without any drugs, “Lamaze Natural Child Birth,” and that with 8-9 pound babies with big, round heads. I breastfed and even made baby food. I wanted my children to have a jumpstart on a healthy life. My husband and I encouraged healthy eating, exercise, being good students, and attending church. We were extremely involved in their lives.

My husband did a number of things with them: coached them in sports, Boy Scouts, fishing, camping, and taught them to be honest and loyal. He also taught them that hard work would result in success and satisfaction. So upon discovering that two of our three sons were dealing with addiction to opiates/opioids (Oxy, Methadone, Morphine) and benzos (Xanax & Klonopin), we frequently asked ourselves,

“What did we do wrong? What else could we have done to prevent this?”

Professionals, friends, and family reassured us that it was not what we did or did not do. THIS WAS NOT OUR FAULT! As responsible, supportive parents, this was very difficult to accept. We had no answers. Even after our sons reassured us that it was no fault of our own, but rather the poor choices they made, we felt like we failed as parents.

two brothers one mocking the other in matching plaid shirts - younger and older brothers

Life was Difficult

We sent them to detox after the two of them spent a week at our home, with much pain & discomfort on their end, and stress on our end. We did not know what to do! This was very dangerous!! Their detox from the staggering number of benzodiazepines they were ingesting was done without any medication or professional advice. They could not stomach much, they could not sleep, they couldn’t even put words or thoughts together. Out of our love and hope to “fix” their problems and “cure” their drug addiction, we sent them to a drug & alcohol rehab. This is what parents do, right? But their four-month stint in rehab was finished, what is next?

What came after rehab?

They came home to live with us after completing detox and rehab, and we lived on pins and needles. We worried every time they went out. We worried why they were struggling with finding work, both with college degrees. They were known in town for their athleticism, well-liked for their senses of humor and charisma. But their lives were so different now. They were not used to this lifestyle.

son is looking through the window
"They were not used to this lifestyle."

So many of their friends we dropping out of their lives, Several friends were struggling with addiction as well (NOTE FROM SSRC: This was 2012 and doctor shopping was over, which in turn meant fewer prescription opioids or painkillers on the streets at higher prices. Heroin addiction was rapidly spreading throughout the country, fueling the opioid epidemic). At one point, we had to hide purses and wallets, as we suspected money was disappearing. We were in denial about the power of opioid addiction and addiction in general, saying to ourselves,

“They wouldn’t steal from us… maybe we misplaced it?”

We were afraid to leave our home for long periods of time, unsure of what would go on in our home. The stress in our lives put a damper on living as we definitely imagined our lives would much easier at this point. The most difficult thing was learning the difference between assisting and enabling! To this day, we still do not know. It is a fine line between the two, and neither the assisting or enabling are defined (more about this here). I know we made plenty of mistakes in this area. Another mother, who lived with this for more than twenty years, said something I will never forget. She said,

“Addicts have mastered the skill of lying, and as parents, we really want to believe them.”

mother hugging happy son

I can honestly say that hindsight makes it easy to criticize our own actions and mistakes. One thing I know, I love them UNCONDITIONALLY. Most parents will continue to fight, love, and support their children. This thing called addiction is tough; we are forced to take it one day at a time. My youngest calls me every day now, knowing how the worry affects me.

Neither of us wants those feelings of shame (for him) and worry (for me) to happen again. Relapses have occurred, but he still calls regardless after he heard how this affected me as a mother. He is now in Florida and no longer lost or alone, 1000+ miles away, as we remain cold most of the year in New Jersey. His older brother, unfortunately, passed away two and half years ago.

We Appreciate Serenity Springs

Our son went to Serenity Springs Recovery Center in Edgewater, FL almost three years ago.The support of their staff, alumni, and even their owners/managers have helped him stay on track. It is remarkable to hear this after witnessing other treatment centers would send him right back into life without any type of structure to ease back in. Relapses occurred on both drugs and alcohol, getting worse each time. He even added a few new additions to his rough journey of recovering from his “pill problem.” At one point, he was convinced that his problem was strictly Oxy and Xanax. Everything else was fair game. That went on for a while, each time ending with state-run rehab, arrests and/or jail time. We believe he has finally stopped the bleeding and struggling to find happiness and fulfillment. Again I have to extend a big thank you from our family to Serenity Springs in Florida. That phrase that I was unsure of is making sense now!

STOP RECOVERING AND RECOVER

Want to know the real meaning?

STOP RECOVERING

AND RECOVERING

NEVER GIVE UP HOPE

We did not and will not give up on the daily struggle that addiction continues to be. We have taken our lumps in stride as a family. Our family is now stronger and our son’s second family has become larger in New Smyrna Beach, FL. One thing remains the same though: while our lives keep moving, we continue to live ONE DAY AT A TIME!

 

Written By: Louise (mother of a Serenity Springs Alumni)

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