The Opioid Epidemic | A Nation In Pain

June 13th, 2019 Posted by Blog 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.

0 overdose deaths recorded in 2017. Let us prevent one more!!

Call our men’s residential center in Edgewater, FL at ☎ 866-622-6309 (24 HRS)

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Avoiding Relapse in Addiction Recovery

March 31st, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover 0 comments on “Avoiding Relapse in Addiction 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.

There will be challenges throughout recovery that increase the risk of relapse. Avoid situations that heighten the temptation to use your substance of choice. Stay away from people, places, and things that are associated with drug or alcohol use. Call a sober friend or relative who can encourage you to stay sober and talk to you when cravings are intense.

Relapse is not a sign of failure. Addiction changes the way the brain functions, and affects mental and physical health. Lifestyle changes must be made to have success in recovery. The brain needs to be re-trained to function normally without depending on drugs or alcohol. Taking the steps to recovery can be very overwhelming and cravings can be strong.

To avoid relapse, discover new healthy, sober activities or hobbies. Journaling is a great way to help you recognize your success in recovery and identify how you worked through past triggers. Writing also allows you to reflect on positive experiences throughout your journey in recovery. Exercise promotes physical and mental health, and good nutrition is extremely important for your overall health.                                                          

Addiction changes your mind, body, and spirit. Relapse can heighten feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and guilt. It can make you feel like giving up. Never give up because of a relapse. Everything about you changes, but you can recover from addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or a substance use disorder, get help now. Do not wait to ask for help. Addiction is incurable, but treatment is available and there is hope in recovery. Take the first step toward a new, rejuvenated, healthy lifestyle in sobriety and 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 866-622-6309.

 

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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!]

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5 Ways to Prepare for Recovery

March 21st, 2019 Posted by Blog, Treatment 0 comments on “5 Ways to Prepare for Recovery”

Treatment prepares you for lifestyle changes in recovery. Treatment also teaches you how to develop a plan to make a seamless transition into a new sober lifestyle. Recovery planning will help you avoid triggers, maintain a healthy diet, sustain emotional wellness, and discover healthy, enjoyable activities.

Each treatment program is tailored to fit each person’s unique needs. In recovery, you need to use the skills and coping strategies you developed while in treatment. Exercise, yoga, reading, and other activities can be integrated into a healthy sober lifestyle when treatment ends.

Here are 5 ways to prepare for a healthy recovery:

  1. Make a plan to live healthy. In treatment, you will learn how to live healthy by making healthy choices. Eat nutritional foods, exercise regularly, discover healthy activities, and develop a support network from sober people in group therapy.
  2. Join a gym or yoga class. Exercise is proven to increase mood and maintain mental and physical wellness.
  3. Avoid triggers. Recognize your triggers and develop a plan to avoid them. Stay away from people associated with drug or alcohol use and places that remind you of these substances. Triggers can cause intense cravings and lead to relapse.
  4. Keep a journal. Keeping a journal is useful for writing down feelings and experiences you have during recovery. It allows you to reflect on how you handled difficult times through the course of recovery. The journal also keeps track of your success and encourages your continuing sobriety.
  5. Attend group meetings after treatment ends. Sometimes new friendships develop through group meetings. It also helps to know that you are not alone. People in group meetings are very supportive and are willing to talk to you when you feel intense cravings. The person can talk to you to keep your mind busy and eliminate thoughts of turning to drugs or alcohol.

Discover your interests and stay active to get the best out of a new sober lifestyle. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Take the first step toward a healthy, sober lifestyle and 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

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

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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

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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

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Good Nutrition for a Healthy Recovery

March 15th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Recover 0 comments on “Good Nutrition for a Healthy Recovery”

Addiction hinders your ability to take care of yourself and eat the right foods. When your body is not fed with good nutrition, it becomes physically and emotionally sick. Taking care of your body is vital in addiction recovery. Good nutrition plays an important role for your physical health and wellness in sobriety.

In treatment, you learn how to care for your body physically and emotionally by maintaining good nutrition, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, and participating in outdoor activities in an oxygen-rich environment.

Holistic addiction therapy encompasses treatment for the mind, body, and spirit. A clear mind will help you discover yourself and become mindful of others. With a clear mind, you can learn about your special interests and healthy activities. Mindfulness allows you to concentrate on keeping your body healthy and nutritionally well.

Addiction makes you neglect self-care. Some drugs make your physical appearance deteriorate, including tooth decay, hair loss, and drastic weight loss due to a lack of good nutrition. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and group fitness motivates clients while providing the opportunity to establish new relationships. Mindfulness and awareness help to produce healthy habits that contribute to your success in recovery.

Nutritional counseling and dietician-designed meals provide guidance in making healthy food choices. Toxins are filtered out through healthy eating and your body is rejuvenated. Eating healthy food reduces disruptive sleep patterns and strengthens self-esteem, confidence, and productivity.

When you take care of your body, you will feel energized, well rested, and restored. A clear mind and good nutrition motivate you to maintain sobriety in a healthy, new lifestyle. The body can heal quicker with good nutrition.

Maintaining good nutrition is essential for a fulfilling, healthy life in recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, get help now. Addiction affects the entire body and feeding your body the right foods will increase self-esteem, confidence, and overall mental and physical health. Do not wait. Take the first step toward sobriety and 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

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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

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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

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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

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Damien’s Story of Alcoholism, Madness and Recovery

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

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

Drinking & Struggling Became Alcoholism & Madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serenity Springs Solution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Freedom from the Chains of Addiction

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

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

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

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

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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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