Carfentanil is one of the latest drugs spreading despair and destruction across the country. The drug’s growing impact and devastating effects have a growing number of people asking, “What is carfentanil, and what does it do?” The concern is that this drug is even more dangerous than many of those already contributing to the opioid crisis.
What are Opioids
The name ‘opioids’ is used to describe both natural and synthetic drugs. Although both natural and synthetic opioids have similar properties, they aren’t the same. The class of drugs known as opiates are made from the poppy plant. Codeine and morphine are examples of opiate drugs. They are effective painkillers that work by binding to opioid receptors in brain cells. The medication triggers cells to release signals that decrease your sense of pain while boosting feelings of pleasure. The same feeling of euphoria that makes them effective at treating pain also makes them addictive.
Opioids are synthetic drugs made in a lab and formulated to have similar effects as opiates. Heroin, fentanyl, and methadone are examples of opioids. These drugs produce the same euphoric feeling and are just as addictive as opiates.
Both opiates and opioids are used as prescription painkillers. When used as prescribed, they are effective at treating moderate to severe pain. When misused, these drugs are very dangerous. They are not only highly addictive; they also come with a high risk of overdose.
When sold on the street, drug cartels sometimes cut opiates with opioids like fentanyl to make them cheaper to produce. This makes buying and using illegally produced drugs even more dangerous. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is also as much as 50 times more potent than heroin.
What is Carfentanil and Where Does it Fit into the Picture?
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that has already led to many overdoses and deaths. Like fentanyl, drug dealers are using carfentanil to cut heroin and selling it as pure heroin. It has a white, powder-like appearance that is similar to that of cocaine and heroin. The drug was previously known as “Wildnil.” Its only use was as an animal tranquilizer because of its ability to immobilize the largest animals almost instantly. Carfentanil is a clone of fentanyl but it is 100 times stronger.
It only takes a tiny bit of the drug to cause an overdose in humans. The practice of cutting heroin with the carfentanil puts users at risk without their ever knowing it. Once a person uses it, even by mistake, they may never have the chance to use it again.
Even in large animals, misusing the drug can lead to severe respiratory and cardiovascular problems. It’s not difficult to see how a drug that is potent enough to drop an elephant can have a devastating impact on a human being! That’s why veterinarians who administer the drug wear rubber gloves and face masks to avoid exposure.
Fentanyl has already led to many overdoses and deaths from being mixed into heroin without the user’s knowledge. Now, a drug that is many times more potent is finding its way into the market.
Carfentanil as a Recreational Drug
Getting carfentanil without knowing it is only one way that the synthetic opioid is causing problems. Some recreational drug users are seeking out the ‘intense heroin’ to intensify their experience. Some people who have developed a tolerance to heroin like the idea of boosting the drug’s effect. When dealers promise a more potent form of heroin, they go for it without realizing the potential danger.
Heroin is normally cut with sugars, powdered milk, starch, or quinine. Users can snort, smoke, or inject the drug. It is also offered in tablet, powder, spray, and blotter paper. Another reason carfentanil is even scarier is that inhaling it or absorbing it through your skin is just as deadly. Law enforcement officers and bystanders should think twice before helping a heroin overdose victim. While first responders typically have the necessary equipment to protect them, others without it are putting themselves at risk. Inhaling or absorbing carfentanil through their skin can be fatal.
How dangerous is carfentanil? So much so that some dealers provide Narcan with their clients’ purchases. Narcan is a drug used to reverse overdoses. Some ambitious sellers even administer the Narcan themselves.
What does Carfentanil Exposure Look Like?
Carfentanil exposure causes an intense and rapid onset. Some of the symptoms that might occur include:
• Clammy Skin
• Slow Pulse and Heart Rate
• Pinpoint Pupils
• Cold to the Touch
• Bluish Tinge to Skin, Nails, and Lips
• Difficult or Absent Breathing
Although Narcan is often provided as a means to reverse an overdose, doing so with carfentanil is more difficult than with other drugs. It often takes multiple doses and still may not be effective. Depending on the amount of the drug taken and the amount of time between the exposure and the attempted reversal, the Narcan may not be successful. The person may incur brain damage, go into a coma, or die. If the drug is mixed with other drugs, either deliberately or without their knowledge, the risk of overdose is much greater.
Potential Health Effects of Using Carfentanil
Physical dependence is a potential risk associated with any opioid drug. With one as potent as carfentanil, the risk is even more serious. Like all opioids, this one binds to opioid receptors in the brain. This results in a much greater production of dopamine, giving the user a feeling of euphoria.
If the person uses the drug repeatedly, the brain becomes dependent on the drug. This leads to a physical need for the drug. Addiction to the drug grows until getting more of it is the most important thing in their world.
What is Carfentanil Classified as?
Carfentanil is classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. Drugs in this category have a high potential for abuse, have currently accepted medical use, and the potential for abuse to lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Other opioids, including codeine and morphine, are classified in the same way. Although carfentanil has many of the same characteristics as other opioids, it is the drug’s potency which sets it apart. Carfentanil is the most potent opioid being marketed today.
Carfentanil is considered a ‘fentanyl analog’ and is often grouped together in statistics related to opioid use, overdoses, and related deaths. Increasingly, those numbers include more numbers due to carfentanil use. The drug is believed to have been manufactured in China and sent to the United States. Reports of its use began during 2016 when the initial use began in Ohio. From July to December of that year, the state reported almost 400 carfentanil related deaths. Other states which reported carfentanil and other fentanyl analog deaths during 2016 and 2017 include:
• New Hampshire
• New Mexico
• Rhode Island
• West Virginia
What's the Drug Doing in 2018?
One of the main factors that drive drug use is accessibility. Getting legal prescriptions to opioids is challenging unless you have a serious condition that requires painkillers. Getting synthetic opioids from drug dealers is a different matter. If you’re willing to pay the price, finding them isn’t that difficult. Especially if you search online!
Americans aren’t alone in the battle against synthetic opioids. But they are the largest consumers and the hardest hit. An average of 116 people die in this country from an opioid overdose every day. In comparison, carfentanil has the potential to exceed this number exponentially.
The majority of the drug comes from China due to poor regulations of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. This is one area where imposing stiff tariffs might benefit the country. For now, the president and house are only considering cracking down on users and imposing stiffer penalties.
Medicare officials are also attempting to address the problem of opioid use by cracking down on prescriptions for opioids. However, many experts worry that this will only cause people who really need the drugs to go to less reputable sources to get relief. This approach also won’t help with the growing carfentanil problem. It has no medical use and isn’t distributed by prescription.
What is the Estimated Use to be in the Future
Carfentanil use and misuse have continued to grow since 2016. Canada now refers to the drug as the ‘Drug of massive destruction.’ If previous drugs like methadone, fentanyl, and oxycontin are any indication, its use is only going to grow. The practice of cutting heroin with the synthetic opioid makes it very appealing to drug dealers and more dangerous to users.
Stopping the flow of carfentanil into this county will be very challenging. To date, the efforts made by the U.S. government have not been very effective at reducing the problem. The fact is that, even if we stop the influx of drugs from China, the drug is fairly easy to make in a home lab.
One thing we can do is to increase awareness. The more people know about carfentanil and its effects, the less likely they will be to encounter it. It takes only a particle the size of a spec of dust to cause a lethal overdose! If drug dealers are cutting heroin with it to save on costs, how much are they using?
People who use carfentanil are much more likely to overdose than with other opioids. For many, it’s not a worry about becoming addicted. It’s a matter of surviving.
Those who do become addicted to the drug can enter an opioid treatment program for recovery. The best approach is to enter a recovery program as soon as possible.
Parents need to educate their children on drug use and the potential hazards of all opioids. They need to realize the risk of exposure to carfentanil, even when they aren’t the ones using the drug. This is one drug that can be toxic, just by exposing yourself to someone else who uses it. There’s no safe way to use it and no guaranteed way to avoid it if you buy drugs illegally. Some of the bags of drugs confiscated in raids have been marked with a warning that they contain the dangerous opioid. Others don’t have any indication.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction
People with any type of addiction to opioids or other drugs or alcohol can benefit from special treatment. Getting beyond the use of heroin is one way to ensure you don’t run into carfentanil without realizing it. You also avoid the risks associated with that drug.
The Health and Human Services announced five priorities for dealing with the opioid crisis including:
1. Giving users better access to treatment and recovery services. Having available treatment in a dependable, compassionate center where they can recover away from the pressures that lead to addiction.
2. Increasing the use of overdose-reversing drugs. Drugs like Narcan are more effective against other opioids than carfentanil. Making them more available to first responders could reduce the number of deaths caused by opioids.
3. Increasing awareness and the understanding of the epidemic by implementing better public health surveillance. Understanding the cause of addiction and the role it plays in everyone’s life and community.
4. Providing cutting-edge research for a better understanding of pain and addiction.
5. Better methods of pain management. Making the access to opioids unnecessary due to the introduction of other medications without the same risks.
Some medications used to treat opioid use disorder are highly underutilized. Methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine have the potential to help a lot of people. Finding a treatment center that makes use of medically assisted treatment helps make the process easier.
The opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions in this country. Although every person who uses opioid drugs won’t become addicted, many will. Carfentanil promises to be the next major problem in what is already a nationwide crisis. Don’t let illegal drug use put you at risk for an overdose.
Bringing Awareness to Substance Use & Recovery
This September marks the 23rd National Recovery Month. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors the event in observance of the benefits prevention, treatment, and recovery have on society. It’s a celebration of people in recovery and the service providers that work with them to move beyond a life with substance abuse.
Every year, SAMHSA creates a Recovery Month toolkit for individuals and organizations. They also offer logos, flyers, television, and web banners on the Recovery Month website. Additional resources include television, radio broadcasts, and social media outreach. No one knows more than recovery professionals what a difference a positive outlook has for individuals dealing with substance abuse.
Why it Matters to Everyone
Substance abuse isn’t just an issue that affects “other people.” Already, millions have been helped by the various programs offered around the world. In addition, 140 federal, state, and local government entities make up the Recovery Month Planning Partners’ group. The group also includes a number of non-profit organizations and associations that play a role in the prevention, treatment, and recovery of mental and substance abuse disorders. The goal of the event is to educate people about how others with mental and/or substance use disorders can lead a healthy, rewarding life.
This year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.” The month-long event explores the efforts that go into recovery. It also focuses on the successes and the different areas of life that substance abuse impacts.
Substance abuse doesn’t just affect the individual; it affects their loved ones and everyone in their lives. Parents might feel ashamed when they learn their children are abusing drugs or alcohol. A spouse might tolerate aggressive behavior, making excuses to others who notice it. Some people feel guilty and confused about what to do.
They might try to keep the issue secret from other relatives and friends while trying to figure out how to help their loved one. They want to make things better for them but don’t know how to go about it. Sometimes they lash out in anger and frustration. No one can understand what their loved one is going through. Substance abuse affects the physical and mental health of the individual. It can also impact the health of their loved ones.
The professionals who work to help individuals with substance abuse recover do understand. The war on substance abuse is a long and evolving one in this country. Currently, the focus is on the widespread abuse of opioid drugs. But the substance of choice isn’t always the same. The situation differs from one case to the next, depending on the substance, how much is used, and how often.
There are ways to get past substance abuse. Recovery specialists know how to turn an issue that affects everyone negatively into a better outcome. Recovery can and does happen. That’s what National Recovery Month is all about!
Breaking Down This Year's Theme
The theme for this year’s event covers a lot of areas. It asks everyone to invest in health, home, purpose, and community. Drug abuse impacts each of these areas; recovery does too. When every person gets behind the advancement of recovery, that’s when they invest in a better future for us all.
People choose specific drugs to use because of how they make them feel. The euphoric feeling that opioids cause is one reason abuse of these drugs has reached epidemic proportions. Some people begin using them as a prescription painkiller. These drugs are highly addictive, sometimes leading to addiction even with short-term use. People often become addicted when they use them other than the way they are prescribed. Once they build a tolerance, they need more of the drug to get the same effects.
Some will resort to feigning injuries, doctor shopping, or stealing drugs from others with prescriptions. Sometimes they buy synthetic opioids on the street, putting themselves at an even greater risk.
While most people are aware of the opioid crisis in this country, they aren’t the only drugs being abused. Some of the most common include:
Different drugs, the amount and method of use, and the person’s existing health conditions all play a role in the impact drug use has on a person’s health. They may affect a person’s appetite, ability to sleep, their heart rate and/or blood pressure. Some drugs cause changes in mood or lead to psychosis. They also put the person at a greater risk for stroke and heart attack.
Mental disorders often accompany substance abuse. The drugs change the way their brain works and their decision-making skills. Poor decisions put them at a greater risk of developing HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. They are also at a greater risk of getting hepatitis.
Some of these same health effects can happen to the person’s loved ones. They are at a greater risk for stress-induced sleep and eating disorders, violence, and trauma. They may also be exposed to communicable diseases. Women who give birth while abusing drugs also risk causing health problems in their babies. For some, substance abuse leads to overdose and death.
People who have gone through years of substance abuse have some frightening and unique stories to tell. They have experienced emotional and physical trauma that most other people will never know. Many of them also have stories of recovery, success, and living a worthwhile life. Every story of abuse doesn’t end with a story of success. But those that do offer hope. They make it even more important to keep trying to find the answers for every individual.
A home is a lot more than a structure where a person lives: It’s about family. Any person in a family might wear a number of hats. They work for income, perform chores around the house, prepare meals, get an education, take care of the lawn…
Each member of a family has a role to play. They know their responsibilities and the consequences of failing to meet them. When any family member begins to abuse drugs, the changes they go through throw the family dynamic off-balance. The person begins to fall behind in their responsibilities. Their attitude towards the other family members may change. The other family members may respond differently to the situation. One might make excuses for their behavior. Another might ‘laugh off’ the changes.
Without addressing the root problem and getting the affected person into recovery, one person’s substance abuse can destroy the relationships of every family member. The recovery center can help family members understand the effects of addiction. Through family counseling, they can learn the best way to help their family member and start the healing process.
Everyone needs to feel a sense of purpose; a reason for being. Sometimes the lack of purpose is what leads a person to substance abuse in the first place. They may look to drug use as a way to fill a void. But that isn’t always the case.
For others, substance abuse begins seemingly by accident. It might start as a social activity they do with friends. They may initially be successful in the various areas of their life. They might not even realize when using their drug of choice becomes more meaningful to them than everything that mattered to them before.
One of the most important components of a successful recovery is purpose. One reason that many people contribute to the activities during National Recovery Month is to give them purpose. It’s one way that they can share their experiences to make life better for someone else.
Substance abuse affects nearly every community, and even every family to some degree. It could be your teen who has fallen into the wrong crowd. It might be the homeless person walking down your street – the burglar who broke into your home – or the caregiver looking after your grandparent. The impact might be direct or indirect, short-term or long-term. It isn’t limited to ‘certain types’ of neighborhoods or a ‘lower class’ of people. Even if substance abuse isn’t in your home, it’s across the street or just around the corner.
These are just some of the common misconceptions about drug abuse. Many people also think that it’s up to the individual to just stop using. Although the person initially can stop taking the drug, repeated use leads to changes in the brain. Depending on the drug, they may need more to satisfy their craving. At some point, they are unable to quit without having symptoms of withdrawal. Ongoing substance abuse can lead to addiction. Trying to overcome addiction on their own can lead to severe symptoms of withdrawal. It can even cause death.
All people that use drugs aren’t addicted to them. A number of factors, including genetics, psychological factors, family life, and past trauma, make some people more prone to addiction than others. Too often, the person believes they have the mental fortitude to resist addiction.
Another misconception about substance abuse is that it only happens to weak-minded people. People think quitting is a matter of having enough willpower. The reality is that addiction happens in a lot of different ways. It also affects all kinds of people. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they are a drug abuser. Drug abuse and addiction occur to all kinds of people in every walk of life.
What Makes Recovery Successful
The first step towards recovery is detoxification. This process removes all of the abusive substance in the body. Withdrawal symptoms like sweating, nausea & vomiting, chills, anxiety, diarrhea, and tremors are a normal part of the detoxification process. Severe withdrawal symptoms are dangerous and require professionals who know how to lessen their impact.
Once detox is complete, the person will go through various types of therapy. Including their family members is one factor that helps make the recovery more successful. It teaches family members what to do once the treatment is over and the risk of a relapse is at its greatest.
During treatment, experts will examine the mental reasons that led to the person to substance abuse. They will learn what caused them to start abusing drugs. They also learn skills that help them deal with situations that caused them to use drugs in the past.
Once the individual returns to their previous life, they are most likely to start using drugs again. Sometimes, individuals will substitute a new drug in place of the one they used before treatment. Being around the same people and having access to drugs puts them at a greater risk of relapse.
Recovery isn’t something that addicts and drug abusers go through, finish, and get past. They must take an active role in their recovery for the rest of their lives. They will use the skills they learned during treatment to help them make better choices every day and in every situation.
Make National Recovery Month Matter More
This month offers an opportunity for recovery professionals to get the word out about the many successful recoveries that happen every day. They make family members, co-workers, and friends aware of what their loved ones are going through. Many of the so-called facts of drug abuse are really just myths. The more people who realize what goes into recovery, the better we all will be at preventing and stopping substance abuse of all kinds.
Even our country's leaders are taking a hard line approach in response to pleas for help in fighting drug abuse in many areas of the country. Instead of offering a helping hand, they are advocating for stricter legal penalties for drug-related crimes. The president and attorney general have even called for the death penalty in some cases. Now is the time for individuals to step up and make a difference in how we treat people with substance abuse problems.
If you or a loved one is struggling with medication dependence or a substance use disorder, contact Pemarro Recovery Center. We offer expert care based on compassion, kindness, and respect. Let September be the month that you take the first step towards recovery. Make a difference in your life or in that of a loved one who is struggling with the impact of substance abuse.
The Difficult Road to Closure and Growth
The idea of forgiveness is one deep-rooted in our society. For millennia, followers of religions across the world - from Christianity to Islam to Hinduism and to even more ancient faiths - have placed a high value on the concepts of forgiving and of refraining from judgement.
Outside of religion, we see the positive aspects of forgiveness every day. The humanist concepts of altruism, empathy, sympathy, release, and closure are all closely centered on forgiveness in one form or another, and only the most cold-hearted among us would ever completely turn their back on the possibility of absolution.
So, no matter which culture we come from, no matter which faith we follow, if any, forgiveness is universally understood and is accepted as necessary in many cases. However, when it comes to our own parents - when it comes to facing up to a household damaged and fractured by the trauma of addiction - the path of forgiveness is not always so easy to walk.
This is something we will be exploring in more detail in this article, as we examine how to forgive parents whose lives have been blighted by drug addiction.
The True Meaning of Forgiveness
There is no universal experience of growing up in a home where drug addiction is a real factor. No two peoples' stories will be the same. However, there are common elements which are reported time and time again.
Children growing up with drug-addicted parents will very often be neglected. This ranges from a parent 'forgetting' to pick a child up from school or from a friend's home, to a child not having access to necessary food, sustenance, and medical care.
In many cases, children growing up in homes like these will be actively abused. This abuse takes many forms and can be emotional, physical, or sexual.
At the very least, children in these situations have been exposed to a world that should not have been allowed into their young experience - which should not have been allowed to touch upon their formative years. So, while, yes, it is true that no experience can be compared to another, the implications for a child with drug-addicted parents are often very grave indeed.
And so there is trauma. There are wounds which are left unhealed - wounds which refuse to be healed - of both a psychological and an emotional nature. There are underlying issues and simmering resentments which do not fade away. This makes forgiveness a difficult issue and an awkward concept to reconcile.
It should be made clear from the outset - forgiveness is not a minimization of suffering or trauma. Forgiveness is not a means of 'explaining away' or 'sweeping under the rug' the horrors of what has been before. Instead, it is a method of healing; a means of stepping beyond the pain and ugliness which went before, in favor of something new.
Understanding and Moving Beyond
We have established that forgiveness, in this instance, is something which needs to be carefully negotiated by both parties. Forgiveness must not be seen as a concession or a defeat on the part of the son or daughter, nor can it be received as a validation or an endorsement on behalf of the parent. Mutual understanding is vital from the very beginning.
The act of forgiveness involves letting go. It involves a conscious process of moving beyond the trauma and casting off any hang-ups or anxieties which may have become associated with this. Consider it this way - by holding on to the pain and resentment, you are only causing further anger and torment. You are not fighting back against your parents, you are worsening the damage they have done and exacerbating the problem.
There must also be a process of rationalization involved. When you work to forgive your parents, you must first be able to place their actions within a logical framework. In the vast majority of cases, it was never your parents' intention to cause harm or pain to you or to other children in their charge. The damage done came at the end of a long line of mistakes and negative influences. Working to understand these influences is a good place to start.
A parent may have suffered abuse as a child themselves or may have been neglected by parents and guardians. This may have led them to normalize such behavior and then to carry this behavior forward into adulthood and into their relationship with their own kids. They may have even become consumed with anger and resentment of their own, to the extent that they were unable to assume the responsibility of parenthood - this understanding will serve as an impetus to break the cycle of abuse and neglect for the next generation.
Remember, at every step, forgiveness is about understanding; it is never about excusing.
Dispelling Misconceptions of Forgiveness
Forgiveness, by its very nature, is a difficult subject. It is a concept which many of us view as being simple and straightforward, but is in fact extremely complex. As a result, there are many misconceptions which have sprung up around forgiveness - particularly in relation to drug-addicted parents.
These misconceptions only serve to muddy the waters further, making it even more difficult to negotiate a way towards a positive outcome. We have covered some of the most common misconceptions below, to help you better understand your route towards a happier, healthier, and more whole you.
Forgiveness and Apology are not Linked
An enormous misconception surrounding forgiveness is that the concepts of forgiveness and apology are in some way linked. The idea that forgiveness should follow an apology, or that it must be followed by an apology in order to be valid, is simply not true. In fact, by waiting for an apology or by expecting an apology, you are only doing yourself further harm.
This is because of the convergence of pride and denial. Many people, even if they know they have done wrong, are too hung up on notions of pride and self-importance to admit this, even to themselves. Meanwhile, the nature of drug addiction and the lifestyle that comes with it makes it difficult to think precisely and to be honest. This means that many people suffering from addiction find it difficult even to recognize that any problem has ever existed.
So, why would you put yourself through this? Why would you delay your own healing simply because someone else can't admit that they have a problem, for whatever reason? Don't worry about the apology - forget about meaningless words like 'sorry' - and do what you have to do in order to step beyond the trauma.
Forgiveness is not a Validation
One factor that many makes people who have been wronged baulk at the idea of forgiveness is the sense that to forgive is to somehow accept or even validate the behavior of the wrongdoer. For example, if your parent has neglected and abused you, you might feel that forgiving this behavior is to somehow send a signal that this is ok - that this is a normal way to be.
No - this is not the case. Forgiveness is a necessary step on the road towards healing and towards personal growth. You are not excusing the actions of another; instead, you are simply releasing yourself from their power. You are stepping beyond, to a place in which you can no longer be hurt.
Don't be held back by this fear. Do not feel that you are somehow delivering power, or victory to those who have hurt you in the past. In fact, you are severing that power, and you are laying the groundwork for a successful and fulfilled future for yourself.
Forgiveness is not the Beginning of a New Relationship
What comes after forgiveness? Happy families? A new beginning? A clean slate?
No, of course not. This is simply impossible. Just because the torment that you have been put through has been dealt with and has been processed does not mean that it ceases to exist. The hurt that you have experienced is still there, even once you have moved on.
Drug addiction is a terrible thing. The toll that drug addiction takes on the human body, on human life, and on society as a whole, is similarly terrible. Drug addicts are often victims of circumstance. Often, the weight of a few bad choices made and left unrectified gets too great, and, quickly, the situation gets out of control. A degree of understanding is important when dealing with people who have fallen victim to this kind of personal tragedy, but that is all.
Wounds do not fully heal, unfortunately. Just because you have forgiven your parent or parents does not mean that you should allow them complete access to your life once again. How much of this access you do decide to allow is up to you, and up to you alone. Do not feel pressured into having an active relationship with your parents going forward, or even any relationship at all.
The Practical Route to Forgiving Drug Addicted Parents
Even when equipped with prior knowledge of the nature of forgiveness, the actual process of forgiving can be difficult. We have compiled a list of some practical tips you can use to move forward and to achieve the life that you deserve.
Consider Personal Growth
Nothing in life is in vain. Even the most unpleasant or negative experiences bring us opportunities for growth and personal development. What you have gone through will never be positive, but it has made you what you are today.
Consider this. Consider how you have grown as a person over the years. Consider your achievements and the things you can be proud of, in spite of everything. This will help you as you transition to the next phase of your life.
Take as Long as You Need
There is no set time frame for forgiveness. There is no single accepted route towards letting go. There are simply individual people, each with their own way of processing emotions and dealing with personal issues.
This means, take as much time as you need. There is no right or wrong way to go about this - you simply need to get the closure you require to move on. Cut yourself some slack and do not put yourself under pressure.
Speak to the Experts
No one needs to suffer alone. If you are having trouble with the process of forgiving, or if you are not sure precisely how best to go about it, speak to a professional team. One of the services we offer at Pemarro is expert and warm family counseling, ideal for those processing the trauma of growing up with drug-addicted parents.
We also provide individual counseling and other services if you feel that this would be a better solution for you.
Prepare for What Comes Next
We have already discussed what doesn't come next, or what doesn't necessarily have to come next, but what does come next, after forgiveness? What can you expect in this post-forgiveness landscape?
A new world, perhaps. A new outlook on life. The person that you are once you have experienced the release of forgiveness will still be 'you', but it will be a version of 'you' with greater potential and with a world of possibility just waiting for you.
It will be at this point that you begin to recognize forgiveness for what it is. You are not absolving anyone of their sins. You are not explaining or excusing anyone's behavior. You are simply lifting a weight from off your shoulders. You are drawing a line under the damage done. You are saying: "no more!"
What comes next is up to you, but no longer needing to carry that weight around your neck will leave you feeling freer and more attuned to your potential than ever before. Take your first steps towards forgiveness, and never look back.
Need help from our professional counselors? Want to embark on one of our detox programs? Simply need further advice regarding drug addiction and abuse? Our team are always here to help. Get in touch today.
Every year, drug and alcohol treatment saves countless lives in the United States, turning what could have been a seriously negative situation into a positive one.
In some cases, treatment programs are entered into on a wholly voluntary basis. The individual assesses their life, takes a look at their habits and their actions, and recognizes they have a problem. From here, they simply take the steps they need to live a life free from addiction, often enlisting professional help along the way.
Other cases, however, may be more complicated than this. The nature of drug addiction makes it all too easy for victims to slip into phases of denial, or self delusion. They may not realize that they have a problem — or they might not want to realize it. What follows in these instances is a downward spiral of increased dependency and ever riskier behaviors.
So what happens in case like these; cases in which the individual is unwilling or unable to seek the treatment they so desperately need? It is down to another — usually a friend or family member — to make that call.
Naturally, this is a difficult issue, and potentially risky terrain upon which to tread. However, it is necessary. You owe it to your loved ones to do the best you can for them, just as they would owe it to you if the roles were reversed. With this in mind, inaction is impossible — something needs to be done.
This guide, prepared by the Pemarro team, is designed to help you understand this journey better, and to do the very best for those close to you.
How Do I Know If My Loved One Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol?
The key to knowing whether or not drugs and alcohol treatment is required comes down to a single word: 'problem'. Basically, is your loved one using drugs or alcohol to an extent that it is causing a problem in their life, or are they on a track towards experiencing severe problems?
These problems can manifest themselves in many different ways. Here are a few of the most common areas in which drug and alcohol abuse can start to take its toll on a life;
•Health and fitness — Drug and alcohol abuse ravages the body, making it even more difficult for an addict to maintain a good — or even a normal — level of fitness.
•Professional — Overuse of drugs and alcohol is a release from responsibility in and of itself, and so it can become difficult to adopt a responsible attitude towards work.
•Social — Drugs and alcohol lead to risky behavior and often to confrontation or neglect of friends and family, which, in turn, takes its toll on social life.
•Appearance — The ravages of drugs and alcohol can cause premature ageing and other negative effects that are evident in the individual's appearance.
•Psychological — A combination of the above, or the convergence of other factors, can cause serious depression and other psychological illness.
These are the areas in which your loved one's problems might begin to manifest themselves. It is in these areas that a casual — although still risky — habit can hit that tipping point, giving way to a genuine issue.
But what about the signs of drug or alcohol abuse? How can you tell — or begin to tell — when a problem exists, or when a problem is forming? There are no hard and fast rules here, and much of this depends on your knowledge of your loved one's personality, but there are some warning signs you can look out for:
•Drinking to the point of unconsciousness
•Drinking alcohol alone with frequency
•Repeated refills on prescription drugs
•Closer relationships with known or suspected drug dealers
•Attempts to conceal drug or alcohol consumption
•Legal issues arising from drinking and drug use
•Sudden deterioration in health or physical appearance
•Absences from work or missed school time due to drugs or alcohol
•Feelings of depression or evidence of risky or disturbing behavior
•Feeling unable to shake addiction or to bring substance abuse
•Shame and feelings of guilt stemming from alcohol and drug use
It should be noted that this is certainly not a complete list. However, this does provide a useful guide to the kinds of things you should be looking out for. Don't forget that the Pemerro team are on hand to provide you with assistance and guidance, so get in touch.
What Should I Do If I Notice Drug and Alcohol Symptoms in Loved Ones?
Noticing drug or alcohol addiction in your loved one is an important step in the process, but it is only the beginning of the journey. From here, you need to know what to do to get your loved one back on the right track.
Every case is different, of course, and no two individuals will respond to intervention like this in the same way. However, by following our general guide, you can bring about the best outcomes for someone you truly care about.
Avoid Judgement and CondescensionAll of us are human beings. All of us have made mistakes in our lives, or gone down the wrong avenue. Often, the circumstances we find ourselves in are as much a product of bad luck as bad choices. With this in mind, do not seek to judge or patronize a victim of addiction.
Instead, seek to understand. Speak to your loved one like the esteemed, respected, equal that they are. Demonstrate that this is a case of a friend or family member reaching out a hand of assistance, and nothing more.
Feelings of delusions, shame, and embarrassment; these elements can cloud the process. By speaking to your loved one as an equal, you are minimizing these unhelpful emotions, and taking steps towards something better and more positive.
Make It Clear That Seeking Treatment Is Not Weakness
This is something that needs to be understood — by both parties; you and your loved one — from the very beginning. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is a shrewd recognition of a problem and of a way to get out of such a problem — in short, it is a smart move.
The desire to avoid appearing weak or seeking assistance tends to make the spiral of addiction and abuse much deeper. Either we think we can handle the situation ourselves, or we bury our heads in the sand and we ignore the situation altogether, and all the while we grow more addicted and more dependent.
Reinforce this idea with your loved one: help and assistance are natural, they are necessary, and they represent the key which unlocks a life free from the horrors of addiction.
Work with Your Loved One to Recognize and Understand the Problem
The words 'understanding' and 'recognition' have cropped up time and time again in this guide. This is because they are fundamental elements on the road to freedom from addiction.
It is important that you work gently towards mutual understanding. You cannot chastize your loved one, or shame them into changing their situation. Instead, you need to understand the factors that have led them to this point, and work with them to form an understanding that you can both accept.
From here, recognition will follow, and you can begin to take the necessary steps towards treatment and subsequent freedom.
Consider Other Underlying Factors
It is important never to lose sight of other factors which may be at work. Drug addiction and alcoholism rarely exist in isolation. It is unusual that these illnesses and afflictions spring from nowhere. There may be other issues, such as underlying trauma, mental health problems, negative influence from peers, or other negative factors. Be prepared for this.
Let your loved one speak. They may have stories that they need to get off their chest, and this might help them to understand their situation a little more clearly. Together, the two of your can work through any demons they are battling and explore counseling and other services alongside drug rehab.
However, do not let your loved one explain away their troubles. Self medicating through alcohol, for example, is not a healthy way to deal with past trauma, just as drug use can never be viewed as way to cope with stress and anxiety. Understand these factors, but focus on healing and growth as your goal.
These things take time. As much as you would like to provide a quick fix for your loved one, and to get their life back on track sooner rather than later, this often will simply not be possible. By forcing or pushing the individual in the direction you feel is best for them, you might not be having the positive influence you expected, and you may be engendering more resistance and resentment in your loved one.
Think about it from their point of view. Which do you think would work best? Gentle encouragement and coaxing, or a more aggressive and urgent form of convincing? In almost every situation, the former is the better option.
Consider this when you sit down to talk things out with your loved one. Prepare yourself for a potentially long, but ultimately rewarding, journey.
Which Programs Are the Most Effective?
It is difficult to say precisely which program will work best in your situation, as no two cases are the same. At Pemarro, we provide a range of different programs and services designed to provide comprehensive treatment and detoxification services as you move towards a life free from the horrors of addiction.
These include the following:
Sub-Acute Medically Managed Detoxification
Detoxification must be overseen by an expert team of medical professionals. The process can be tough on the physical and psychological condition of the patient, and so, supervision is key.
As drug addiction and alcohol abuse are linked so inherently to psychiatric concerns, this sort of assessment is extremely important. A good quality psychiatric assessment will include screening and a co-occurring exam.
In some circumstances, a group counseling session with family members present is a positive exercise, helping people to work through their problems and to move towards a positive future as a family.
It may beneficial for your loved one to talk through their problems in a group, gaining inspiration and motivation from their peers as they battle against addiction.
As the name suggests, individual counseling is delivered on a one to one basis, with more direct attention given to the patient. Many find this to be the most effective means of beating addiction, but it can be deployed among other methods.
Continuum of Care Tailored to the Individual
Care is an ongoing thing. The battle against addiction is, similarly, an ongoing thing. Medical and rehabilitative teams need to work with patients to develop and ongoing system of care.
Referral and Transport to Next Level of Appropriate Care
A specific team or facility may not always be equipped to handle complete and comprehensive levels of care. However, all facilities will exist within the same network of care, and so referrals may be necessary to ensure that the patient has what he or she needs at all times.
What About Other Underlying Issues?
Drug and alcohol abuse are incredibly serious conditions; often more serious than many realize. The toll that these two forms of addiction take on the emotional, psychological, and physical state of the victim is enormous, and its extent may not be immediately evident.
As such, great care must be taken at all stages of the patient's drug and alcohol treatment procedure, to ensure that the patient's needs are being met, without fail and without exposing your loved one to any further suffering or danger.
At Pemarro, we employ a skilled team of advisors who are on hand to give you the support you need at each and every step. It is easy to forget about yourself when you are offering help to a loved one, but you need a helping hand too, and there is no shame in asking for one.
Get in touch with our team today and let us help you find the best path for you and your loved one.
Our psychological well-being is so critical to our all-round health, and yet all too often we don't give it the time and attention it needs. Physical health is, of course, important - for example, if we have the flu or a muscle strain, we must take steps to put this right - but psychological well-being is no less vital. This is why self soothing is a key skill - or set of skills - to learn.
But not everyone has embraced the concept of self soothing. Some of us remain resistant or skeptical towards the idea and towards its possible benefits. After all, if we are physically sick, we take medicine, and we get better, whereas the outcomes of self soothing are a little more subtle and require more effort if they are to be successful.
In this blog, we will examine precisely what self soothing is, take a closer look at its advantages, and help you to decide whether or not it will work for you.
What Is Self Soothing?
Self soothing is a skill which most of us pick up during our very early childhood but then forget as we grow older. To explain the concept in simple terms, consider the experience of a baby, exploring their environment for the first time.
This environment is confusing and unfamiliar to the baby, and therefore frightening, but even in this unfamiliar world, the baby must find the time to sleep and to 'recharge' the energy supplies they need as they grow. So, when the infant is placed in its crib, he or she must remain calm, bringing stress levels down naturally and comforting themselves until sleep is possible.
The same applies when the baby wakes itself up in the night. Now, the process starts again. But the learned skills are still there and the little one is able to bring his or herself back down to a restful condition, ready for sleep to take over once again.
Different infants learn these skills at different rates, but one thing is for certain; each and every one of us has the foundation of this knowledge within ourselves. Unfortunately, in most cases, we have forgotten them, preferring to ease our stress and our psychological strain in other ways; ways which may or may not be beneficial to our overall health.
Reconnecting with the skill of self soothing could bring with it a wide range of different benefits.
The Advantages of Self Soothing
To understand the advantages of self soothing, it is important to first understand the mechanics of the mind. While our psychology is intrinsic to what makes us us, it can often feel like we have no control over our own mindset.
We may feel sad for no reason, we may suddenly become disheartened our doubtful of ourselves after the slightest of negative stimulus, we may feel that the world is against us, even though we have no evidence for this; all of these are examples of the 'dark clouds' which sometimes come to rest on our consciousness. They demonstrate how, sometimes, our mental outlook can get the better of us.
But, the flipside of this psychological and emotional weakness is psychological and emotional strength. If we consider that these negative triggers come from inside of us, we must also recognize that the means we can use to combat these triggers come from within. In fact, the tools we need are already within us. Working on our self soothing abilities can help us to unlock these inherent tools.
In turn, this will bring about the following advantages;
A healthy connection to sleep, and all that comes with it
Sleep is vital to our health and well-being. Without high-quality sleep, we simply cannot function during the day, which places a great deal of strain on our professional and personal lives.
Mastering a skill like self soothing can help us to reconnect with sleep in a positive way, securing the levels of great quality sleep we really need.
At one point or another, many people experience sleeplessness or even chronic insomnia to some degree. This is often a miserable experience and one which can be severely detrimental to our psychological health. Through self soothing, we can learn to relax and calm our minds, laying the groundwork for a good night's sleep.
Respite from the stresses and rigors of daily life
Modern life can be tough. Pressure from work, social anxiety, and a range of other psychological triggers can make life feel relentless - like we have no place to hide from the litany of commitments and responsibilities which constitute our daily routine. The ultra-connected nature of modern society - driven by social media and round the clock news coverage - only add to this claustrophobic atmosphere.
Respite can be found in self soothing. By learning these techniques, it is possible to manage stress and to create a psychological barrier between the strains of everyday life and the sanctity of the self. In effect, we create our own safe space within ourselves, into which we can retreat and recharge at the end of each day or at any time we feel overwhelmed.
Cultivation of positive habits
There are many things that people turn to when they feel stressed or unhappy. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and other things detrimental to health are all frequently used to manage unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Self soothing is a more positive way of dealing with such psychological hardship and leads to the cultivation of positive habits within ourselves.
But this cultivation of positive habits does not always need to be so extreme. While an alternative to negative stimuli is certainly welcome, self soothing can bring about a wide range of other positive behavioral changes, including moves towards mindfulness and being present in the moment and forms of gentle meditation.
These are habits which strengthen our sense of well-being and positivity, and lay the groundwork for better approaches to living. Unlocking the benefits of self soothing may just be the beginning. It represents the first step on the track of continual psychological improvement.
Support for mind and body
Self soothing is considered to be a primarily psychological and emotional strategy, designed to bring about the changes in our state of mind that are necessary to feel good and positive about our situation. But this does not mean that there are not physical benefits to self soothing too.
By removing stressors and negative influences from our lives, or by managing our responses to such influences in the right way, we are providing support to the physical and psychological aspects of our health.
Stress has been linked to the following physical conditions;
•Headaches and jaw pain
•Dizziness and fainting feelings
•Reduced immunity to common illnesses, such as colds or infections
•High blood pressure
These represent only a handful of the conditions which can be caused by negative responses to stress and do not include conditions linked to alcohol dependency, over/under eating, or other harmful behaviors. By bringing self soothing techniques into our lives, we can lessen the severity of such conditions.
So what are the techniques which can be used to self sooth and to bring about these positive changes? We will discuss these in the next section.
Self Soothing Techniques
Is self soothing right for you? Well, to answer this question, you first need to know the techniques which will be used to foster these positive habits and to recognize how straightforward introducing them into your daily life can be.
Focusing on self soothing - and experiencing the benefits which come with this - is really not so difficult, or so time-consuming. There is a range of techniques which you can use to make this change in your own life. We have covered some of the most effective below.
Embracing the five senses
Humans are sensory beings. The knowledge that we gather about the world around us comes from our five senses. These sensory interactions have a marked impact on our psychology and our emotions.
However, increasingly, we are becoming visually oriented. Computer screens, smartphones, televisions; all of these things provide an endless stream of visual stimuli which we use to gather information or to distract ourselves from daily life. While these stimuli can certainly be beneficial to us, they are also a source of constant connection to the world outside of ourselves. This can be stressful in itself.
We should not ignore the visual sense but we should embrace all five senses when we seek to self soothe. Listening to gentle music or tranquil, ambient sounds, soaking ourselves in a warm bath, savoring the taste and smell of your favorite food, running your fingers across pleasant, tactile surfaces, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin; these are ways in which the calming influence of the senses can be harnessed.
Concentrating on breathing
Controlled breathing is a tried and tested means of dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. Even if the symptoms of your stress are not so extreme as this, deep and measured breathing is necessary for laying the groundwork for self soothing.
Find an isolated place in which you won't be disturbed, such as a bedroom or a comfortable part of your home, and begin breathing deeply, counting the breaths as they come and as they go. Breathe down to your diaphragm, place your hand just above your stomach and feel the movement in and our. The physically calming and soothing effects of this will soon become apparent.
Decelerating the pace of life
Modern life moves quickly. It can feel stressful and pressurizing. In many instances - such as at work - this pace of life may feel necessary but this does not mean that you must submit to it all the time.
Whenever you have the chance, take the opportunity to decelerate. Clear your schedule and make time for yourself. By creating these moments of respite and shelter, you are giving yourself a window in which to soothe yourself and to repair your psychological and emotional state.
It may feel difficult to find this time at first but over time the positive habit will form.
Becoming present in the moment
Our life is filled with moments, many of which pass us by. When we try to make time to decelerate the pace of life, we should also consider these moments as they breeze past us and to try to become present in them.
Going for a walk and simply standing still for a moment, listening to the wind in the trees and the birdsong, is one way to accomplish this. Another way is to recognize the true joy which comes from special moments, perhaps with family, friends, or loved ones, and appreciating this for what it is - not what it has been or will be - but for what is right there and then.
Removing oneself from stressors and negativity
It is not always easy to detach yourself from the stress and negativity which weighs upon you, but as you practice the techniques listed above, forming this invisible barrier will become increasingly easy.
Get into the routine of allowing yourself the time and space required to self soothe. Continue to put the techniques you have learned into practice. Be prepared to put in the time, effort, and mindfulness required to make it work. Over time, the action of removing yourself from the sources of stress and negativity will become less of a chore and more of a natural progression that you take each day.
There simply isn't time to run and re-run all those negative thoughts through your head. No one has the energy to stay switched on, 24-7. Instead, practice taking a step away from the stress and strain.
Need help and assistance with fostering these positive habits in your own life? Want to learn more about self soothing and to decide whether or not it is a good fit for your situation? Get in touch with the Pemarro team today.
Learning to live a life that no longer involves drinking or getting high can leave you at a loss for coming up with things you can actually do. During the summer when the days are warmer and longer, you could become restless and unsure of how to keep yourself active with only sober activities to occupy yourself with.
But, you'd be amazed at how many things there really are that are fun and easy and don't involve alcohol or drugs. Keeping yourself occupied can even take your mind off using and enjoying another day of clean living. We've come up with a few ideas to help get you started.
Visit a coffee shop. Even the smallest towns have a coffee shop these days. Grab your laptop or tablet and take advantage of the free wifi that most have to offer. You can easily spend a couple of hours surfing the web while you're there. If web surfing is not your thing, take along a book or a magazine to read.
Ride a bike. Roads are becoming more bike-friendly with bicycle-only designated lanes. Look up nearby bike trails and take advantage of a pretty day. You'll get some fresh air and exercise at the same time.
Take a walk. Do a bit of research and find out if there are any nice walking trails nearby. If not, a daily walk around the block will get you more familiar with your neighborhood. You could even get to know your neighbors better and make new friends.
Go to the movies. Watching reruns on TV at home gets boring. Find out what's playing at the local theater and get out and enjoy a movie. The seats are very comfortable these days. Some are even better than your recliner at home!
Take up gardening. Planting seeds and watching them grow is fulfilling and rewarding. You could even lose a little weight as you work in your garden. At any rate, you'll eat a lot healthier with all of the fruits and vegetables you produce.
Listen to music. Depending on the kind of music you listen to, it can either help you relax or it can boost your mood. Spending some time listening to your favorite songs, whether they are oldies or the latest pop music, can be a fun way to spend an afternoon. You can use music to motivate you as you work out or do your housecleaning. Not only is it an enjoyable way to spend a few hours - the therapeutic rewards make it well worth it.
Dance. As you listen to your favorite music, it's only natural to want to get up and dance. If you're too shy to dance in public, you can even do this at home. You don't have to dance to impress anyone. It's a great way to burn energy. You work many different muscle groups with this activity, and it's an effective cardio exercise. Dancing is a key way to relieve stress and clear your mind.
Visit friends. You may have a few friends you haven't seen in a while that would be really happy if you paid them a visit. This could be someone in your neighborhood, or maybe you could plan a day trip to visit someone who lives a few hours away.
Volunteer. When you volunteer your time for a cause you believe in, you not only help others - you help yourself, as well. It gives you a sense of purpose and pride to know that you've contributed to something worthwhile. What's more, if you decide this work is your life's passion, your past volunteer work will look good on your resume.
Go swimming. Swimming is a great stress reliever and can help you regain muscle strength. In the water, you don't put weight on your bones, which allows you to move more freely. In turn, you build and strengthen your muscles.
Remodel or redecorate a room. Give yourself a change of scenery, right in your very own home. Rearrange your furniture or replace a few old pieces with newer ones. Add splashes of color with new decorations, or go for a completely new color scheme, using throw rugs or furniture covers. Repaint the walls or paint just one wall to pep up the room.
Draw or color.If you've enjoyed doodling on a scratch pad, why not try your skills on canvas? Draw your first original work of art. Add color to it with paint or your other favorite medium. If you don't trust your drawing skills, there are plenty of adult coloring books with great pictures that you can color as you wish.
Go shopping. Even if it's just a trip to the grocery store, it gets you out of the house. If there is a store close by, walk - don't drive, especially if it's just to pick up a few things. Alternately, take a trip to the mall and buy yourself something nice. You deserve it.
Get a manicure or a pedicure. It can be enjoyable and even relaxing to get your nails done. Plus, they will be much nicer to look at afterward.
Call a friend or relative. These days, people spend a lot of time chatting back and forth on their cell phones via text. This form of communication has become somewhat impersonal, and there's only so much you can convey in a text. By calling someone and speaking to them, you can hear and express emotions so much better. It takes the confusion out of the message. Plus, it's nice to hear someone's voice if you haven't talked to them in a while.
Get a dog. Dogs require love and attention. Plus, they need to be walked regularly. There are many designated dog parks in almost all cities and towns today, and you could meet people who are also enjoying a sunny summer walk with their pets. If you're not ready to take on the responsibility of pet ownership, you could walk with a friend who has one. More than likely, they will appreciate the company.
Try a new recipe. With all of the fresh fruits and vegetables available in the summer months, why not try out some new recipes? It could be something simple like a salad dressing to pour over fresh from the garden lettuce and tomatoes. If you're feeling more daring, plan a sober dinner party and prepare a few dishes for your friends.
Take up yoga. Yoga is not only good for toning your body - it also helps you learn to relax your mind. In turn, you may find it easier to meditate. Meditation could have positive effects on your conscious awareness and help you relax. Even if you don't meditate, yoga will help you get in tune with your own body. You'll become more aware of your breathing and sensory perceptions, and you'll discover things about your own body that you never imagined.
Crochet or knit. If you already know how to crochet or knit, that's great. If not, it might be a nice hobby to start. It's relaxing, yet motivating, once you've created a few pieces on your own. Summer is the perfect time to get started on scarves, caps, and mittens that you'll be sporting all winter. You could even come up with your own ornaments for holiday decorating.
Take summer classes. If you've been thinking about continuing your education, look for summer courses or classes you can take. These can be for college credits or to help you gain new skills for a potentially better job. The more education you have, the better it looks on your resume.
Read a book.Stay on top of the latest releases and go for the season's bestsellers. Or choose something educational. If you find a writer or series that you really like, pick up Book One and go through the entire collection. Once you get started, it can be hard to put a good book down.
Play a game. Games come in a variety of forms. There are console games, board games, card games and online games. You can choose to play a game of solitaire either with a deck of cards (the old-fashioned way), on your computer, or on your cell phone. There are also apps for puzzle or memory games that can be played alone. These days, you can even play interactive games with teams or against an online opponent. Games can be so much fun that you can easily spend a good part of the day playing them. Keep a clock nearby so you don't lose track of time while you're playing.
Get a new hairstyle. Summer is the perfect time for a new 'do. Look up a few do-it-yourself videos and spend some time practicing until you feel confident. If you don't think that's for you, you can spend some time at a hair salon. Go for the latest style or just get a couple of inches taken off so that you can keep cooler in hot weather.
Start a blog. If you're not one for journaling, then blogging could be another outlet. You can share your thoughts and experiences with the world, or keep them private for yourself. Doing so can help you to go back and see just how far you've come in your recovery. You may also have tips or vital information to share with others who are seeking help and insight.
Go sightseeing.You don't even have to go far. Often, there are places of interest right in our own neighborhood that we take for granted. Visit a local museum or art gallery. New items come in all the time, so even if you have been there in the past, there could be lots of interesting and one-of-a-kind items that you haven't seen.
Travel.Plan a trip to a place that you've never been. Learning about different cultures firsthand can be a memorable experience. You're sure to taste new foods and discover that people go about their daily lives in other ways than we do. It can add perspective to your own life and change the way you feel about the world.
Play an instrument.If you already know how to play an instrument, now could be a good time to perfect your skills. You may already know the effect that music has on your sensory skills. It can lift your mood and take your mind off your worries. Studies have shown that musicians are more likely to have increased brain function than non-musicians. If you don't already know how to play an instrument, it's never too late to learn. There are many free tutorials to be found online. Playing an instrument can be the ultimate stress reliever.
Plan a picnic. Map out a nice spot ahead of time, then pack a lunch and enjoy the day. Schedule a picnic with friends and have everyone bring a dish or a side. City parks make great spots to meet up. It's also a great place to spend a few hours if you or your friends have children.
Create a daily plan. When you map out your activities for the day ahead of time, it can help you stay on track and focused. By filling your day up with things that keep you busy, you're hardly likely to steer yourself off track. Just don't be too hard on yourself. There are really only so many things you can do in a day, so plan accordingly. Don't rush through things. Take your time and enjoy the moment.
Remember, detoxification is only the first step in your recovery. Maintaining a healthy, sober life afterward takes a conscious effort, but it can be done. By keeping yourself occupied, you can live a fulfilling life without drugs or alcohol. Summertime offers the best opportunity for outdoor sober activities, but there are plenty of things you can do indoors, as well.
Hopefully, these suggestions can help you to discover fun activities or rediscover old pastimes you had long forgotten about. Have a great time and don't forget the sunscreen! Should you have any questions or just need to speak to someone, we're here 24/7 to answer your call.
Many people who successfully complete a detox program are surprised when they continue to crave their addictive substance. Effective relapse prevention requires an understanding of the different types of cravings and why they happen. Taking the first step towards treating your substance use disorder can be scary and overwhelming. The more prepared you are for the obstacles that often lead to relapse; the more likely you’ll be to have a successful long-term recovery.
Two Phases of Withdrawal
Withdrawal, as it is related to drug or substance abuse, refers to the painful physical and psychological symptoms experienced after purging the substance from the body. The first phase of withdrawal is detox, or acute withdrawal. Once detox ends, the second phase kicks in. This phase is called post-acute withdrawal, or PAW.
The duration and intensity of PAW symptoms depend on the addictive substance, how frequently, and how long it was used. The severe symptoms of withdrawal occur during this phase. Even after the last traces of the substance are gone from the body, symptoms persist. These symptoms are especially prevalent in those who have a long-term history of opioid use.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms usually come and go, interfering with the person’s ability to concentrate. They may have difficulty focusing on tasks, poor appetite, memory, and sleep problems. Their moods vary from feeling anxious and irritable to being unreasonably angry or depressed.
PAW isn’t something that some people in recovery go through; it is a necessary process that everyone who goes through recovery will experience. Addiction results from chemical changes to the brain. These changes make it more difficult for users to enjoy the same level of pleasure from other things without the chemical in their body. It takes more than getting the chemicals out of the brain and body to get back to life substance-free. The body and brain have to adjust to the changes detox puts them through.
Detox isn’t easy, and there are genuine risks associated with the process. That’s why no one should try to go through the process alone at home. Sometimes people fail to successfully get through detox and go back to using the addictive substance. There’s also the possibility that an emergency situation will arise. When it does, they are much better off to be in a facility that specializes in detox. A staff that understands the challenges and the dangers will help them have a safer, more successful recovery.
Every person and every addiction is different starting with the abusive substance. Every person has a unique story about their path to addiction. It isn’t surprising then that they also have different triggers and temptations. For some, engaging in their previous behaviors is a way to experience certain feelings. They are drawn to the effects they know the substance causes. For others, it’s a way to escape situations and emotions that cause them pain.
The Most Common Triggers That Cause Relapse
There are many triggers that result in relapse, but some are much more common than others. These include the settings and situations that led to addiction in the first place. They may have a positive or negative connotation, including:
1. Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Withdrawal Detox is the first step towards recovery. It causes many uncomfortable symptoms as the abusive substance is flushed from their body. Some people struggle with nausea, anxiety, or loss of energy they experience during this necessary phase of recovery. Some simply give in to the symptoms and return to the substance of choice to get relief from these painful or unpleasant symptoms. These include the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal as described above.
2. Inability to Cope With Self-Care Recovery is a time to change bad behaviors into good ones. That includes eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and dealing with stressful situations in different ways than through substance abuse. Failing to provide a high level of self-care can cause them to relapse.
3. Re-Entering the Abusive Environment Once they complete the recovery program, most return to the same environment where they used before. They are surrounded by the same people and the same triggers that caused them to use before. Sometimes the appeal to use is more than they can ignore.
4. Relationships & Sex These issues are emotional. When things don’t go wrong, the negative feelings and stress can lead them to abuse the substance again.
5. Isolation & Loneliness Leaving situations where they are in contact with the friends they used to use with can have a different impact. They have too much time to think about their situation and may medicate their loneliness with their substance of choice.
6. Overconfidence Some people refuse to acknowledge that they are an addict or think that their recovery puts their problem in the past. Failing to acknowledge the addiction is a sure way to trigger a relapse.
7. Experiencing Uncomfortable Emotions H.A.L.T. is a tool that some people use for relapse prevention. The acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. When these basic needs aren’t met, relapse becomes more likely. HALT serves as a reminder to take a moment to consider whether they are taking care of themselves and are aware of any emotions that they should treat as a warning.
Hunger refers to a physical or emotional need. It isn’t enough to just eat out of convenience. It’s crucial that a recovering addict maintains a nutritious diet that keeps their body functioning and feeling well.
When the hunger is emotional, it can be for affection, compassion, or accomplishment. The person uses the HALT system to recognize these needs and find positive ways to meet them.
Anger is an emotion that we all feel sometimes. For the recovering addict, it’s important not only to recognize the emotion, but also to get to the cause. They need to analyze their reasons for feeling angry and identify the target. Then, they can figure out what to do to resolve the situation in a good way.
They don’t have to be alone to experience Loneliness. Even in a crowd, it’s possible for them to feel different, misunderstood, and alone. Using the HALT system reminds them to ask whether they have made an effort to reach out to other people. They can make an effort to reach out to a loved one or friend to get rid of feelings of loneliness. A little effort can change the feelings of loneliness into much happier emotions.
Anyone can experience Tiredness when they put an extra burden on their body or mind. It’s important for the recovering addict to take the time they need to get enough sleep and rejuvenate. Depending on their specific needs, they may need a short nap, a relaxing yoga class, or a relaxing massage.
Relapse: How It Happens
Relapse doesn’t happen all at once. It’s not a single event where the person slips back into their old behaviors. It occurs in stages that begin weeks or months earlier. That’s why understanding the triggers is such an essential part of relapse prevention. Knowing what to do during each stage of relapse also makes it easier to prevent relapse from occurring. The three stages include emotional, mental, and physical relapse and each has unique techniques for preventing relapse.
1. Emotional Relapse During emotional relapse, the person still remembers the last time they relapsed and they don’t want to repeat it. They don’t have the desire to use again but their emotions and behaviors are preparing them for a future relapse. They are in denial that they haven’t gotten past their addiction and that relapse is a possibility.
They experience a broad range of emotions including anxiety, anger, defensiveness, and intolerance. These emotions extend to their behaviors, causing them to isolate, failing to go to meetings, and having poor eating and sleeping habits.
This early stage of relapse is the easiest to pull back from. The first step is for the person to recognize the symptoms of emotional relapse and to acknowledge their changes in behavior. Practicing better self-care will provide the changes they need. It will also help them get the rest they need to prevent them from moving to the next stage of relapse.
2. Mental Relapse The next stage in the process is mental relapse. Now, the person is divided between wanting to use and not. If the battle in their mind continues, their resistance will wear down. The need to escape will grow stronger, and they will give in.
Mental relapse is marked by cravings for their abusive substance, thinking about the places and people associated with past use, and looking for opportunities to use. During this stage of relapse, the person begins to minimize the consequences, preferring to glamorize their past use. The plan for relapse begins to take shape.
The person has been down this road before. When they think the previous scenarios through, they know that the fantasies in their mind aren’t realistic. Every person who has undergone substance abuse recovery knows that the consequences are real. The best method of mental relapse prevention is to talk with someone about the urges. This is the best way to make those urges disappear.
Another technique is to start planning something else to distract them. When they get their mind focused on something else, it’s easier to keep the urges at bay.
Finally, they should wait thirty minutes before acting on the urges. Most urges last between fifteen and thirty minutes. Once they pass, it’s easier to move onto something else.
3. Physical Relapse Physical relapse refers to the actual physical use of the substance. What may begin as “just one drink” or “just one use” can easily turn into a loss of control. Often, the physical relapse comes about as a result of opportunity. The person takes advantage of a time when they think they won’t get caught.
At this point, relapse prevention is nearly impossible. Once the process of acquiring the substance and using it once, it isn’t likely to stop at that point. It’s important for the person to recognize the early signs of relapse so they can stop it before it ever reaches the physical stage.
Dealing with Cravings
The cravings that occur immediately after detox are normal. That doesn’t make it any easier for the person to deal with them. Ideally, they will focus on self-care and face the cravings for what they are: temptations that only they have the power to overcome.
The cravings are their strongest during detox, making it a prime time for relapse. Prevention takes effort and learned skills to deal with the temptations during each phase. The fact is that failing to take care of themselves physically and mentally during the post-acute period drives the risk of relapse to its highest level. The good news is that cravings usually last no more than 30 minutes and they aren’t always present. If they know the feeling will pass, they can often fend off the urge to act.
It takes time, but the good days become more common as the cravings diminish. It takes work, effort, and above all, self-awareness to get there. The more they understand about addiction and withdrawal, the easier it is to develop effective skills for effective relapse prevention at every stage.
Relapse can occur at any stage of the recovery process. Nothing is more important than having the support needed to deal with emotions, cravings, and worries every step of the way. No one ever has to go it alone, and they shouldn’t! Don’t wait to get into detox and get the support of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Contact Pemarro today and schedule a free and confidential consultation. Get the expert care you need from a team of highly educated, experienced, and caring individuals in the field of addiction. A number of our staff members have been in your shoes. We know what you’re going through and we will treat you with the kindness, compassion, and respect that you deserve.
You might have seen articles about mindfulness, and using it to help with everything from weight loss and work pressure to chronic pain management and addiction recovery. But even after reading those articles, you probably find yourself asking “what is mindfulness” exactly? Because it is more about a way of doing things than something you actually do, it is difficult to define.
In fact, a quick search of the internet brings up dozens of different definitions. The Google definition, which is based on the Oxford English Dictionary says it is:
“a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Scott Bishop, a psychologist who studies the effects of mindfulness meditation on stress describes mindfulness as a:
“Non-elaborative, non-judgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, sensation that arises ... is acknowledged and accepted as it is.”
And if you read this article from the Positive Psychology Program site, you will find another 20 definitions collected from a variety of different sources. So as you can see, not even the experts can agree on a single answer to the “what is mindfulness?” question. However, there are three things that all of these definitions have in common.
Mindfulness means being consciously aware
Showering, driving, making coffee, breathing. These are all things we do every day. But we do them subconsciously, without really thinking about what we are doing. Instead we are thinking about a hundred other things. Like the argument you had with your partner last night. The meeting you’re headed to. The post you just saw on Facebook. The holiday you’re planning for Christmas.
If you’ve ever driven a car that isn’t yours and turned on the wipers instead of your flashers, you’ll know what we’re talking about. You’re on autopilot, and the autopilot says flashers are on the right. When you’re being mindful, you are consciously and deliberately focusing your attention on yourself, your surroundings and what you’re doing.
Mindfulness is about this moment right now
Whenever we aren’t fully focused on the task at hand, our mind wanders off on a little mission of its own. We might get caught up in replaying memories from the past, whether that past memory is from an hour ago or a decade ago. Or we’ll head into the future; daydreaming, planning, wondering, worrying, hoping about a multitude of things.
Although we are often told to live in the moment, we very rarely do. Being mindful means being completely engaged in the experience of the current moment. You don’t think about the past, you stop worrying about the future. You are here, in this moment – and all your thoughts are about what you are experiencing right now.
Mindfulness is non-judgmental
If you are angry right now, then say “I am angry”. It doesn’t matter if your anger is deserved or righteous or foolish. You are angry and that is okay. Being mindful does not mean that you should be controlling, suppressing or stopping your thoughts or feelings. It just means that you trying to pay attention to them as they occur – without attaching a label or judging them in any way.
Think of being mindful as standing to one side and watching yourself feeling, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling or touching those things. Distancing yourself like this allows you to be consciously aware of those thoughts, emotions and sense perceptions without getting swept away by them. And that means you’re less likely to allow your autopilot to do whatever it usually does in a moment like this.
This might mean eating a little slower because you savor each bite a little more. It might mean not punching a wall, even though you’re spitting mad. It might mean calling a recovery center instead of satisfying that craving because you’re struggling to cope. Because you are consciously aware of what you are feeling right now, and you accept that those feelings exist. And this allows you to make a conscious decision about what you’re going to do next.
So where does mindfulness come from?
Although it is only in the last decade or so that mindfulness has become a popular practice, it has actually been around for thousands of years. Or let’s rather say that the original form of mindfulness has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years. Back in 1979 Jon Kabat-Zinn stripped away all religious overtones and developed his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The initial aim of this eight week program was to help patients deal with chronic pain while avoiding addiction to painkillers. He realized that patients were trying to mentally escape or avoid the pain, which ultimately caused more mental distress and exhaustion. In other words, they were making their situation worse by trying to avoid the problem.
Because mindfulness as we know it today is not dependant on any belief system or ideology, anyone can try it. Whether you are Christian or Pagan, Muslim or Atheist, or follow any of the many religions out there – you can practice mindfulness. And although it was originally designed for pain management, mindfulness is beneficial in a wide variety of situations. Some prime examples include:
Does mindfulness really work?
Although mindfulness is not like full blown meditation, it is meditative. Combine that with the fact that it is derived from Buddhist traditions, and you might start thinking that it is far too “New Agey” or “woowoo spiritual” to really work as advertised. You would be wrong though, because there are literally dozens of studies and research papers about the effectiveness and benefits of mindfulness. These studies include the following:
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Now that you know what mindfulness is, and that it is effective – you might be wondering what the benefits are. Well here are just a few of them, along with links to studies showing those benefits.
How to get started with practicing mindfulness
Take 3 mindful breaths
The first and easiest way to start being mindful is to take three mindful breaths, no matter where you are, what you’re doing or the time of day. You breathe all the time, without ever thinking about it. By focusing your attention on your breath you are able to still your mind, step into the present moment and give your system a “soft reboot”.
Perform a body scan
A body scan is a meditative process where you consciously think about and notice everything your body is feeling. From how your toes feel in your shoes, to the air moving against your face. It can be done sitting up or lying down, and a single body scan can last anywhere from 3 minutes to 45 minutes or more.
While evidence shows that people who practice body scans for longer reap more benefits, it doesn’t really matter how long you do it for. And if you’re not sure how to actually do a body scan, then just search for a guided body scan or script and choose the one that suits you best.
Do one routine activity mindfully
Whether it is washing your hands, drinking coffee or eating lunch – choose one thing that you are going to give your full attention to. In the beginning it may be best to do this somewhere that people won’t interrupt you, but in time you could do it during a meeting, at your desk or while friends and family are with you. Just remember that “single tasking” is not a good idea if you need to be focused on several things at once – such as while you’re driving!
Your mind will probably wander, but don’t beat yourself up because you lost focus. Just return to your breath, then carry on from the last point you remember.
A final note
By now, you should have a good idea of what mindfulness is and where it originated. You know that there is clinical research and numerous studies about how effective it is. You are aware of the benefits and you may have even read some of the articles and studies about those benefits. And although you might not be searching for a mindfulness course near you right now – you have some simple mindfulness exercises that you can start practicing on your own.
Just remember that while there are dozens of benefits to practicing mindfulness, sometimes it is better to set your mind free and let it wander. In fact, it has been reported that creativity and insight might depend on a little bit of unrestricted daydreaming. So take into consideration that Buddhism is about finding a middle way between spiritual and worldly concerns.
So learn to find the balance between letting your mind take a break and being aware of everything about yourself and your immediate environment. If you are interested in the use of mindfulness as part of a treatment program for substance misuse disorder or relapse prevention then contact the caring experts at Pemarro for more information and guidance.
When it comes to overcoming an addiction, such as drugs, detoxing is always a challenge despite your desire to get clean, and overcoming alcohol is no different. But trying to perform your alcohol detox at home makes the challenge even greater, and possibly even a danger to your health.
As an addict, one of the most rewarding feelings in your life will be the day you can finally proclaim that you are sober, whether it be from drugs, alcohol, or another addiction. However, quite often that vision of sobriety and success is not enough drive alone to carry an addict to sobriety through an alcohol detox at home.
Detoxing is not only difficult, but it poses both emotional and physical risks. So, by trying to detox at home, and furthermore on your own, you are only increasing those risks by that much more.
Think about it like this - have you ever tried to never eat chocolate again while sitting in front of your absolute favorite chocolate cake? The temptation is constant and chances are, you will give in faster than you even realize what is happening. When it comes to giving up something that has been a major aspect of your life for any extended period of time, it takes help. Just like it takes an army to raise a child, it takes an army to overcome addiction.
The Cold, Hard Facts
Alcoholism, by definition, describes someone who has a physical and/or psychological desire to consume alcohol beyond their capacity to control it, and they continue to make this choice despite the effects it has on their life. An alcoholic is someone who can watch this substance destroy their family, and still give in to the craving at the end of the day. But, they aren’t alone – millions of Americans are suffering from this same scenario.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. And of those 21.5 million Americans suffering from a substance use disorder, almost 80 percent struggled with an alcohol use disorder.
However, thanks to the proper treatment, resources, and hard work, many Americans are able to successfully recover from their addiction. But when it comes time for you to start your journey to sobriety, don’t give in to the temptation to go it alone and do an alcohol detox at home because the following risks are just lying in wait for you.
A key factor in what separates alcoholics from just recreational drinkers is the fact that their body is now physically dependent on it. They are unable to function normally without it, meaning their body literally now needs the alcohol to be normal. As a result of this developed dependence on it, as alcoholics begin to stop drinking, they also begin to experience withdrawals.
A withdrawal is a natural process that removes the toxins from their system, however, it also causes extremely uncomfortable physical and emotional experiences. As the detox begins, the addict's body is now realizing that something is missing – the alcohol. While the body is working hard to return itself to normal, it is not used to functioning without the alcohol and therefore triggers these uncomfortable experiences.
Withdrawals are not only uncomfortable but could also become deadly if you are attempting to detox from alcohol at home and don't have immediate access to help in a time of emergency.
When people are alcoholics, they feel a sense of ease and relaxation when they drink, and then become addicted to this feeling. The primary neurotransmitter tied to the production of this feeling of relaxation and ease is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The excessive use of alcohol causes addicts to have a GABA imbalance, this imbalance is what results in negative withdrawal symptoms during detox, which can be both emotional and physical symptoms.
In addition to affecting the neurotransmitter GABA, alcohol abuse also negatively affects dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to the body’s reward system. This reward system is housed in the pleasure center of your brain which regulates your energy, motivation, and enjoyment. This specific neurotransmitter is also responsible for other important aspects of a person’s life and mental well-being, such as sense of attention, cognition, and mood.
As an addict begins to detox from alcohol, they lack that dopamine that the alcohol was triggering, which triggered some of the happy feelings an addict craves. The more someone drinks, the more immune their body gets to the dopamine, therefore the more they require. As a result, when they suddenly stop drinking and the dopamine production comes to a halt, they can experience negative emotional consequences such as anxiety and depression.
During a sensitive time like recovery, the anxiety and depression are already triggered by such a sudden lifestyle change and often a loss of friends or other triggers and enablers. This depression and anxiety are then also increased by the physiological effects of an alcohol detox.
This emotional factor alone is one of the biggest risks of an alcohol detox at home – emotional support is so desperately needed at a time like this.
Being an alcoholic clearly takes a toll on your body – it negatively affects several neurotransmitters and damages your normal bodily functions, such as the normal processes of your liver. And just as this can cause several negative emotional responses, it can also cause just as many or more negative physical responses, including insomnia, headaches, tremors, and seizures.
While these symptoms are not necessarily avoidable, by doing your alcohol detox in a professional facility as opposed to at home, you can have access to the resources you need to help ease the symptoms. And unfortunately, sometimes these symptoms can cause medical emergencies, requiring medical professional intervention.
Being at home would not only isolate you from the resources to ease your symptoms, but it could also prevent you from getting the help you need should one of these symptoms turn potentially deadly.
Temptation is always around us – and the temptation to drink is no different. Alcohol is advertised from restaurant to restaurant, at the grocery store, on commercials and even on clothing. It just seems like the normal thing to do.
While these constant images of alcohol might not bother some, for a recovering alcoholic, it might just be the tip of a relapse iceberg. By focusing on your recovery at a professional facility, you can eliminate these temptations, as you will not be surrounded by alcohol ads and people drinking. You will be in a safe and inviting environment, with others who have similar experiences as you.
Temptations and triggers are similar – a temptation could just be someone drinking around you, which makes it tempting to drink. However, a trigger is something that has caused you to drink in the past – it is more like something you have an emotional attachment to. For example, if you always drank at one specific bar because that is where you and your girlfriend broke up, visiting that bar will likely cause you to drink.
Like temptations, triggers are also something you can most likely separate yourself from at a professional facility. Triggers are difficult to overcome, especially when they are something emotional, and you will need help to fight the urge.
The topic of availability is plain and simple – is it really that difficult to walk into a liquor store and buy alcohol? No. But, is it really that difficult to find alcohol readily available and to get drunk at a professional rehabilitation facility? Yes.
Common triggers include:
It is much easier to give into triggers and temptations when the only thing stopping you is you opening the door of the liquor store. By placing yourself in a safe space where alcohol is not readily advertised or available, it makes giving in that much more work. And when it comes to recovery, you are that much less likely to give into the temptations and triggers if you really have to work for it. But if getting the alcohol is easy, it might be a whole different story.
Just like we mentioned temptation earlier, peer pressure falls right next to that. When you are surrounded by temptation, you might also find yourself feeling peer pressured into drinking as those around you are. It could be a result of them offering it to you, encouraging it, or just not being cautious of the fact that being around it could tempt you.
Peer pressure causes a lot of people to do a lot of things and it is just another risk that you expose yourself to if you decide to try and do an alcohol detox at home.
Lack of Support
Your support system during recovery is one of the most important keys to success. While you might have family at home, you also need a team of experienced professionals who can provide you support around the clock. Additionally, it is important to be surrounded by others who have gone or are going through the same thing and can directly relate to how you feel physically and emotionally.
There is no denying that trying to do your alcohol detox at home will not include the amount of support you will have at an actual facility. This can leave you feeling alone, which can often lead to negative choices and outcomes.
Benefits of a Professional Facility
As you can see, detoxing from alcohol is challenging - mentally and physically. It takes great strength, several various resources, and a lot of support.
A professional facility can offer you access to all of the things you need to succeed. And by doing your research and locating the best facility for you, you can also find a place that has a program designed for you and one that you feel will help you be the most successful.
Having that extra support and the correct tools can really make all the difference when it comes to detoxing from alcohol. Make the decision today to recover in a professional facility and make the decision today to become a part of one of the many Americans who do recover.
The Road to Success
When it comes to detoxing from alcohol, you should be familiar with the acronym, HALT. HALT is something that will follow you through your detox and recovery.
H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired
These four items are things you should avoid – they are considered high-risk situations for those who are in recovery. Trying to do your alcohol detox at home could continuously subject you to at least one, if not all four of these dangerous situations and emotions. The risk is all around you and it is just waiting for you to fail. However, it does not have to be that way.
The road to sobriety from alcohol begins with making the decision that it is time to detox from alcohol, get clean, and take back control of your life. However, the real road to recovery begins with making the decision of where and how you will detox from alcohol. Choosing the facility and the program that will best fit you is one of the most reliable ways to succeed in your journey to sobriety.
Attempting to pursue your alcohol detox journey at home poses many risks and might lead you to finding yourself as bad or worse off than you already were. Do the benefits really overrule the risks?
If you are ready to begin your journey to a new life, we encourage you to contact our treatment facility. We offer a safe haven where you will be equipped with the tools and support you need as you detox from alcohol. We want to ensure that you start your journey off on the right foot and feel enabled to succeed from the beginning.
Contact us today to find out more about our facility, treatment philosophy, and what our team can do for you or your loved one who is suffering from a crippling alcohol addiction.
Benzodiazepines can be useful for treating different conditions; however, withdrawal can be very serious. It's important to understand how they work, what conditions they're used to treat, the different signs of addiction, what benzodiazepines withdrawal is like and how treatment programs are structured.
What are benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are drugs that slow down the nervous system.
They're often used to treat severe anxiety, feelings of depression, agitation, anxiety attacks, muscle spasms, seizures, lack of sleep, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome, and a serious brain disorder called status epilepticus. This disorder causes seizures to occur one after another. They can also be used to sedate people during surgery.
Common effects of short-term benzodiazepine use include:
Common side effects of benzodiazepine use include:
Less common side effects include:
Anyone experiencing less common side effects should consult their doctor. They may be taking too much or may need to switch medications.
How do they work?
Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA reduces nerve activity in the brain. Benzodiazepine medications help it work better by forcing it to reduce brain activity even more.
What are some common benzodiazepines and what do they treat?
Common benzodiazepines include:
All of these medications are available in tablet form. People who have problems swallowing tablets can take alprazolam, clobazam, diazepam, and lorazepam in liquid form. Diazepam is also available as a rectal gel.
How do people get addicted to benzodiazepines?
When doctors prescribe benzodiazepines to treat one of the previously-mentioned conditions, the patient's body may adjust prescribed dosage, and they may need more medication to treat the condition. They may also discover they get a "high" from the drug and start abusing it.
What are the long-term effects of benzodiazepine use?
Other than the risk of becoming addicted to benzodiazepines, long-term use can have lasting effects on the brain and body. These include depression, suicidal thoughts, irritability, and problems with memory.
How is benzodiazepine addiction treated?
Many treatment centers start the recovery process by gradually reducing the amount of medication the patient is taking until they're completely off of it to minimize the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. After the drug is out of their system, the patient receives counseling. They may also participate in group therapy and 12 Step Programs to deal with the issues that caused them to become addicted to benzodiazepines. Once they've dealt with these issues, they'll be able to commit to developing behaviors that will help them stay away from benzodiazepines for the rest of their life.
Some treatment centers also provide nutrition plans, fitness plans, and adventure therapy to help patients overcome their benzodiazepine addiction.
Choosing a Treatment Center
When choosing a center for benzodiazepine treatment, it's important to examine different factors. The most important factor to consider is the experience of the staff. Doctors and staff should know how to treat patients with benzodiazepine addiction. When looking at different treatment centers, be sure to contact them to find out more about their staff. It can also be helpful to read the information on their website.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient treatment
Patients with benzodiazepine addiction can be treated as inpatients or outpatients.
Outpatient treatment may be more appropriate for people who don't have severe addictions to benzodiazepines. It allows them to stay in the same setting and be around supportive people in a familiar setting. Outpatient treatment can also be detrimental, however, because patients are still around people and situations that caused them to become addicted to benzodiazepines in the first place. That's why many people end up going to inpatient treatment centers for benzodiazepine treatment.
Being in a remote setting keeps patients away from people and triggers that may have contributed to their benzodiazepine addiction. Doctors and staff still make sure that patients get any other medication they need.
What is withdrawal like?
Withdrawal symptoms are different for each person Here are a few snippets from one story about Madelon, who took benzodiazepines to deal with anxiety, then started to experience adverse symptoms from them and had to come off of them. She experienced severe symptoms several times, but still continued to try and detox, and now no longer has to rely on them:
I was violently ill for the whole time in there, and it did not look like it was going to ease up, something that puzzled the staff. I was also the only one coming off a prescribed pill, so it was very difficult for me to relate to the other women, particular since they were doing fine. I did not see others with the same symptoms at all.
As time went on, my days were filled behind the computer and telephone, neglecting my family and household till I realized I had to find a balance somewhere. I was a sponge for information and researched anything I could find on these drugs.
I joined women's groups, I spoke out about the dangers and my own experience with these drugs, and slowly people started to know me and several invitations came for lectures at Rehabs for women, University groups, addiction specialists, etc.
My body and brain were at war it seems. I burned all over, my eyes felt like they had fallen out of their sockets, my vision it seemed had to be dragged all the way from the back of my head, I could not see nor hear, I was full of fear and panic, paranoia which made me climb walls, I could not eat or drink, my scalp felt like it was being burned by sizzling coals and I wanted to die. Soon, rage would get the better of me and everything that was not attached to a wall or floor would fly across the room without warning. This behavior concerned my family and it scared me too and so Paris was called for a consultation.
I had to learn to "accept" what had happened, to learn to live with the left over symptoms and to slowly build up and put back together the pieces of my life again. The benzo experience has forced me to grow up in a hurry, to change some of my thinking and to take one day at a time, to enjoy each moment and to stay in the moment. I can't think too much about the future yet as this is too much for my brain to deal with, and so, while at first I couldn't think further than one minute to the next, this over the years has reached as far as several months.
I struggled with long and short-term memory loss, concentration and focusing and severe eyesight problems. I had difficulties performing several things at once, difficulties being in groups or social gatherings and following conversations, not to mention having to take part in the conversations.
Many times I felt I had complete amnesia and this would put me in a desperate state of depression and fear. My husband urged me to start reading the daily newspaper, to start writing, and to use the computer to find others in the world who had experienced this. And I did.......many...... and my gratitude goes out in particular Dr. Reg Peart who was there every time I called him and who patiently explained what had happened to me and so many others before me. He dragged me through the first year, while repeating and repeating it was still early days till I finally could stand on my own two feet.
As time went on, my days were filled behind the computer and telephone, neglecting my family and household till I realized I had to find a balance somewhere. I was a sponge for information and researched anything I could find on these drugs.
I joined women's groups, I spoke out about the dangers and my own experience with these drugs and slowly people started to know me and several invitations came for lectures at Rehabs for women, University groups, addiction specialists, etc.
My husband and two daughters, now in their twenties, have been my rocks while going through this traumatic experience and without them I know I wouldn't be here today.
A concentration and memory test, done last year, came back with flying colours - better then the average person who had never been on benzos, so this was good news. My brain specialist has played a big role as well in my recovery. His compassion, his warmth, his huge knowledge about the brain, his patience towards a patient with a mind of her own and not willing to do everything he said, his humor as well as his putting up with my shit several times........without him, again, I wouldn't have made it this far.
Am I a success story?? I'll let you decide.........I think personally we all are a success story once we have gotten off no matter how long it took us and no matter how we did it.
What other things can patients do to cope with benzodiazepine withdrawal while in therapy?
There are other tips that can help patients cope with benzodiazepine withdrawal, such as:
Affirmations and positive self-talk - Using affirmations and positive self-talk are great ways to cope with worrying thoughts that may come up while going through benzodiazepine withdrawal. Affirmations patients can use include "Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better." Patients can also tell themselves to "stop" when they feel a negative emotion coming on and switch to a positive affirmation.
Breathing - Deep breathing is another effective way to cope with worrying thoughts. As you breathe in and out, focus on the rhythm. There are many effective breathing techniques you can use. The key is to find one that works for you and stick to it.
Exercise - Exercise is another excellent method of dealing with withdrawal symptoms. Patients should be careful when exercising during withdrawal; it can sometimes worsen symptoms - the key is to know what your body can handle. If it can only handle a short walk, don't try to do a vigorous workout.
Sleep - Sleep will be difficult in the beginning, but it's important to start establishing a normal sleep pattern. The best thing patients can do to start establishing a normal sleep pattern is eliminating caffeine, alcohol, TV, late news, mental stimulation, loud noises, and bright lights. They can try using sleep CDs and deep breathing techniques to relax and fall asleep. However, they may find that nothing works when they first start going through withdrawal. Eventually, they will start sleeping for a few hours at a time and then start having a deep, restful night's sleep again.
Acceptance - The best thing patients can do when going through benzodiazepine withdrawal is accept that they'll have to experience the withdrawal symptoms. If they acknowledge that the symptoms are temporary, and that they're a necessary step to recovery, they may be less inclined to fight them.
Benzodiazepine addiction can be very serious, but it is treatable. Once a patient acknowledges that they're addicted to benzodiazepines, they've taken the first step towards recovery. The next step is to look at their needs and choose a treatment program that it's best for them. Before choosing a treatment program, look at the information in this article so you'll be better prepared for the experience, and contact us if you have any questions.