Category: Addiction Recovery Tips

“Fluffy” or “Fido” and your addiction

Several blogs and articles have appeared online recently about people in recovery how animanls have helped their recovery. One woman stated that before seeking treatment for her addiction, she’d divorced her husband, let him take the family cats and attempted suicide. Once she completed a treatment program, she felt like something was missing in her life. A conversation with her aftercare counselor led her to the decision that the time was right to adopt a pet. She adopted two kittens from a shelter, siblings. Knowing these young animals depended on her, helped keep her from relapsing on some particularly hard days. Caring for these cats forced her to stay clean, hold a job so she could stay in a nice, pet-friendly apartment. They also helped alleviate the depression and loneliness she had been feeling, which easily could have led her to a relapse.

In many cases, treatment professionals advise clients not to enter into new relationships or make any drastic changes in their lives for the first year of recovery. They say you need to focus on your recovery and learning to take care of yourself. If you need to nurture something, start with something simple like a houseplant. However, when you are ready for a more committed human-pet relationship, here are five good reasons pets will help you in recovery.

1 – Pet owners are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure and are not as stressed as non-pet owners. Think of the joy animals bring when they are taken to nursing homes to visit the residents and all of the programs that use pet therapy – pets are calming.

2 – New sober activities – if you have a dog, you will need to walk the dog and may take it to the pet park. These activities can allow you to be acquainted with new individuals and keep your mind busy rather than wanting to use. On top of that, a good dog walk or time spent playing catch in the park is good exercise for both you and your dog.

3 – Love – your pet does not care if you had a good day or a bad day, they love you unconditionally. While people can be insensitive and say/do mean spirited things, your pet never will.

4 – Responsibility – As mentioned earlier, when you have a pet, you have someone else who is dependent on you, requiring you to be responsible about providing them food, shelter and at times, medical attention.

5 – Accountability – one article of a pet owner in recovery stated that he believed his dog recognized behavior changes and knew when the man had been drinking. He claimed that he felt the dog looked at him with disappointed eyes. In his opinion, the dog held him accountable for his actions.

Related Blog:  Addiction and Family

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

 

Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 2

Substance abuse leads to many problems within a community. Issues can range from crime, accidents and injuries as well as death. Many communities across the country have made commitments to fund substance abuse treatment centers in hopes of reducing issues that stem from drug addiction.

Related Blog: Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 1

Here are some facts and stats:

  1. Substance abuse is often the primary reason why children are removed from the custody of their parents. Think about it, how many news reports have you heard about children being taken from a home where drugs were found inside, where children were found home alone because the parents were out buying/using drugs, not to mention the deplorable conditions where these children are often found? The act of taking a child from their parents involves multiple community/state agencies ranging from DCF, to foster care to the legal system where custody issues are heard. Who pays for this? Taxpayers.
  2. In 2008, 65% of Florida prison inmates were identified as needing treatment for substance abuse, which cost the state $2.4 billion that year in crime. This figure includes the cost for law enforcement, jails, the judicial system and incarceration or court-mandated treatment, probation and/or parole. Other things factored in include losses to the victim (theft, etc.) and medical expenses if the individual caused others to suffer injuries during the commission of the crime. Who pays for this? You do through your tax dollars and insurance premiums.
  3. Each hour in Florida, one person loses their life due to alcohol and/or drug use. Annually, $7.2 billion is spent due to traffic accidents. The annual cost of hospital stays due to drug abuse related situations and illnesses cost $103 million. Who pays for this? You do through tax dollars and insurance premiums.

In total, a study published in 2009 showed that each year in Florida, all of the negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse cost $43.7 billion.

Treatment is less expensive and more effective than incarceration. Treatment keeps families together or allows for the opportunity of reunification. Treatment reduces the amount of time, money and energy spent on drug-related medical expenses. Treatment saves lives. If you are wondering if your investment to pay for treatment for a family member is worthwhile, the answer is yes, yes, yes. Without treatment, your family member could be one of these statistics.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program.  Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 1

Some people struggle with the idea of paying for substance abuse treatment and wonder if the expense is worthwhile. In most cases, the answer is yes.

Related Blog: Why Investing in Addiction Treatment is Worth it- Part 2

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are weighing this decision.

  1. Without substance abuse treatment, chances are, you will never live a life of recovery. While a few individuals may walk away from drugs/alcohol without any sort of intervention, for someone with the disease of addiction this is very rare. While substance abuse/addiction is not curable, it is manageable. Part of the treatment and recovery process is learning how to manage the disease. Those who never seek treatment often die from an overdose or medical complications due to the substance abuse.
  2. There are individuals who enter treatment and relapse a short period after leaving the treatment facility. Often times, these individuals either did not fully engage in treatment, utilize the 12-Step community recovery meetings or attend aftercare meetings. Or, they returned to the same living/work situation where they were regularly presented with opportunities to drink/use drugs. Sometimes, it takes multiple treatment episodes before individuals put all of these pieces together successfully.
  3. Those who complete treatment and embrace their recovery make comments stating how they wish they’d gotten help sooner, that their life has never been so good, and that a bad day in recovery is still better than any day when they were using. Being in recovery allows people to regain control over their life. One aspect of treatment teaches people how to do this. From the standpoint of a treatment facility, nothing is more rewarding than hearing that a client who has been clean for one, two, three, five, 10, 15, 20 or more years has maintained their sobriety and is doing well both personally and professionally.
  4. Even if you are clean for a long period of time and then relapse, your experience in treatment and recovery will help you put the pieces together after your relapse. Regardless if it is calling a sponsor, attending a recovery meeting or reaching out to your old counselor, you know how good life in recovery can be and the steps you need to take to get back to the recovery community.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program.  Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works.  For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

 

Pros and Cons of Medication-Assisted Treatment

There are mixed beliefs about using products such as Methadone and Suboxone to help those addicted to drugs. Traditionally, abstinence from opiates (most prescription drugs, heroin, etc.) is very challenging. Medication-assisted treatment can be used to wean individuals from using these drugs, making the withdrawal process more tolerable. Both suppress the user’s desire to use opiates. Both drugs will produce a “high,” and in theory, this is great.

Related Blog: Recovery and Prescription Medications

However, both have a long list of potential side effects and present dangers if not used properly. In addition, both can become a crutch and are open to being abused.

Methadone is used to provide assistance to heroin users and make the detox process less uncomfortable. However, the detox from methadone can be more painful than the detox from opiates. The problem associated with it is that many people begin using it as a crutch and become dependent on the methadone. Suboxone also causes the user to lose the urge to use. If they do use, they do not get the normal high they would get if they were not using Suboxone.

While these medications may be helpful in some cases, they only treat part of the situation. Medication-assisted treatment does not address emotional or traumatic issues that may have led to substance abuse. Anyone receiving medication-assisted treatment should also be engaged in either residential or outpatient counseling sessions.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Therapy Techniques for Treating Trauma

The link between trauma and substance abuse is very strong. Many clients come to Pathways and express the challenges they have faced in their lives – physical or verbal abuse as a child or in adulthood, vehicle accidents, as victims of violent crimes and in soe cases, military experience. Treating the trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a key component to treating the individual’s substance abuse disorder because until the trauma is resolved, the person will continue to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and/or cope with the trauma they’ve faced.

Related Blog: Trauma and Addiction

Several evidence-based treatment methods have proven effective in working with trauma/PTSD clients. The most common ones are listed below.

Prolonged-exposure therapy – A therapist guides the client to recall traumatic memories in a controlled fashion so that clients eventually regain mastery of their thoughts and feelings around the incident. While exposing people to the very events that caused their trauma may seem counterintuitive, when done in a gradual, controlled and repeated manner, until the person can evaluate their circumstances realistically and understand they can safely return to the activities in their current lives that they had been avoiding.

Cognitive-processing therapy – A form of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, developed to treat rape victims and later applied to PTSD. This treatment includes an exposure component but places greater emphasis on cognitive strategies to help people alter erroneous thinking that has emerged because of the event. Practitioners may work with clients on false beliefs that the world is no longer safe, for example, or that they are incompetent because they have “let” a terrible event happen to them.

Stress-inoculation training – Another form of CBT, where practitioners teach clients techniques to manage and reduce anxiety, such as breathing, muscle relaxation and positive self-talk.

Certified Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT) – A revolutionary and holistic psychotherapeutic approach to healing and positive behavioral change that eliminates the negative, emotional and behavioral influence of traumatic events, clearing, organizing and optimizing the mind so that the root cause of problems are cleared and positive change can endure.

Not all treatment centers hire counselors who have experience in these treatment methods. Pathways has multiple counselors who specialize in and/or are certified in PTSD/trauma methodologies and use either CBT or RRT techniques.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Why Recovery Meetings Alone May Not be Working

There are many people in society that make a decision to get sober and start living a clean, healthy life in recovery.  Once this decision is made, there are many paths that people can take to reach their goal.  The choices can seem like a maze with road blocks and dead ends.

Related Blog: Co-dependency Can Hinder Recovery Results

While some will attempt to detox on their own and quit “cold turkey,” others will go for a professional, medically-supervised detox.  Once you reach detox, there are new treatment options – outpatient, residential or none.  For some who opt not to go to treatment, but feel that they need some sort of support network, 12-Step recovery meetings provide yet another option.

For many people, simply going through detox (alone or supervised) and attending 12-Step meetings is not enough to establish a firm foundation in recovery.  Addiction is a complicated disease and learning how to manage it generally takes intense counseling so the client can re-program thoughts and beliefs.  Often, there are underlying factors that led to the initial substance abuse and until these issues are resolved, the possibility of relapse remains high.

Treatment provides clients with counseling services, teaches about the disease of addiction as well as coping skills and the development of relapse prevention plans.  Attending and participating in 12-Step recovery meetings is part of the relapse prevention plan.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program.  Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works.  For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Co-dependency Can Hinder Recovery Results

As we work with our clients to get them on the road to recovery from drugs or alcohol, one of the things we do is look for issues in the client’s personal history that require resolution and trigger points that could cause a relapse. Understanding and overcoming co-dependency is part of the treatment process for many.

Related Blog: Recovery is More than Detox

What is co-dependency?
According to Mental Health America, “Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with co-dependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. The disorder was first identified about 10 years ago as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.”

Why does this hinder recovery efforts? If an individual is co-dependent on another individual recovery efforts can be undermined if the relationship continues. For example, Becky is a female who is an alcoholic. Her boyfriend Brad is also an alcoholic. Brad has a tendency to belittle and be verbally abusive to Becky, which eats away at her self-esteem. She began drinking with Brad trying to dull the pain of his verbal assaults. At one point in Becky’s life, she is in a treatment facility – this may be due to her own decision to change her life, a family intervention or possibly a court-ordered treatment program because she’s received multiple driving under the influence charges. Treatment is difficult for Becky at first. She doesn’t like being away from Brad and worries what he’s doing and who he is with. She spends her time thinking about him rather than focusing on her own issues. Finally, one day in group, she hears another client speak about an abusive spouse. The words ring true to her and she begins to open up to her counselor and other clients about the situation. She begins to understand that the best thing for her is to end her relationship with Brad and get a fresh start on life, but….

Some of the common “buts” are “but, I love him/her,” “but I’m financially dependent on him/her,” “but we have children together,” “but I think he’ll/she’ll change,” “but I don’t want to be alone.” As long as the “but” is part of the client’s belief system and thought process, this individual’s long-term recovery is in jeopardy.

Overcoming co-dependency is challenging for most, but a necessary piece to developing a firm foothold in recovery because the subject of the co-dependent person is also often the trigger for substance use.

At Pathways, we understand that many clients have issues beyond substance abuse, such as co-dependency, and for full success, these challenges need to be overcome. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Co-dependency Quiz

Do you think you have a co-dependency issue? Take a look at the questions below:

1 – When someone else acts inappropriately, I often feel guilty for him or her.

2 – It is hard for me to accept compliments from others.

3 – It is hard for me to say “no” when someone asks for help.

4 – I feel terrible about myself when I make mistakes.

5 – I have an overwhelming desire to feel needed by other people.

6 – I stay quiet to avoid arguments.

7 – I value others’ opinions of me more than I value my own.

8 – I feel resentment toward people who will not let me help them.

9 – I am often preoccupied with other people’s problems.

10 – I feel rejected when my significant other spends time with friends.

If you agree with most of these statements, you possess traits/beliefs shared by many people who are co-dependent. You may want to consider seeking professional help.

Addiction and Family

Most people think of addiction as the problem of an individual. In reality, it is a problem that affects an entire family. The disease of addiction causes individuals to do things that they’d have never dreamed of doing before their addiction began, including stealing from friends or family members, lying and other manipulative behaviors.

Related Blog: The Effect of Addiction in My Family

A parent of an addict spoke of sleeping with his wallet under his pillow so his son would not steal money from him in the middle of the night.

A spouse of an addict opened a new bank account, restricting his wife’s access to the account so she could not spend money earmarked to pay the family bills on drugs or alcohol.

A parent loans adult child money to pay rent because the child has fallen on hard times and can’t find a new job. The parent does not realize that the hard times were caused by showing up at work under the influence, or maybe not showing up at all.

Valuables are placed in a safe inside the home or possibly safe deposit boxes are rented at a local bank with the hope of keeping these items out of the hands of a family member who would sell these items for drugs.

Children are pulled from their parent’s custody and placed with a family member or in the foster system because of signs of neglect, which traces back to the parent’s substance abuse problem.

When someone is an addict, their only goal in life is to obtain the next high and they will lie, cheat and steal if necessary to find the means to get drugs or alcohol.

Don’t let substance abuse ruin your family. If you have a member who is abusing drugs or alcohol, help is available at Pathways. For more information about our residential treatment programs, call 855-349-5988.

Judgment & Perception of an Addict

One of the biggest challenges for some of our clients is dealing with a sense of self-worth. Those who suffer from low self-esteem struggle doing recovery work because they feel their lives are meaningless. Why do they feel this way? There could be a number of reasons, ranging from prior emotional abuse, to public perception about substance abusers.

Related Blog: Understanding the Progression of Recovery

You’ve probably heard, and maybe even thought, one of the following three phrases:

“I have no sympathy for the homeless; they are a bunch of drunks and drug addicts.”

“Why should I feel sorry for him/her? He/she made the choice to use drugs and screwed up his/her life.”

“Addicts are just a bunch of criminals and should be locked up somewhere.”

If you hear these types of comments about yourself, why would you try to get clean and sober? How could you believe that there is a better world of recovery out there and that your life is worth saving?

A client, who has been clean for a little more than three years now, said she feels so sad when she is driving down the street and sees the homeless or women in prostitution. She said, “people are so quick to judge them. No one knows their stories, but they are quick to judge them.”

This particular client was the youngest of three daughters in a middle-class family. Her mother worked in a group home for troubled teens. When the client graduated from high school and enrolled in a local community college, the mother released a big sigh of relief, believing, “I raised my children and they are good.” Only a few months later, she quickly saw the signs. Her daughter’s personality was changing and school didn’t seem like a priority. She wasn’t sure about the new boyfriend her daughter was seeing and despite her training in dealing with the teens, the mother made several mistakes, not wanting to believe her daughter was involved in drugs. The situation escalated quickly and before long, the daughter with the promising future had been arrested for shoplifting. The goods that were stolen were going to be sold or traded for drugs.

The mother was able to get the daughter into a treatment center. On the legal front, she still had probation, fees and restitution, but she was getting help for her substance abuse and that was important.

Three years post treatment, the client says, “that could have been me. Had I not been arrested, I could have ended up trading my body for drugs. Without the continued support of my family, I could have been kicked out of the house and ended up homeless.”

Going to treatment gave this woman her life back. She’s now the daughter, niece, sister, aunt and friend that her family and friends knew and loved. A mother herself now, she is still paying off legal debts, but plans to finish college.

If you have a friend or family member that you suspect is struggling with substance abuse, encourage them to seek help, to find a better life and change their ways. Contact Pathways for more information about our residential treatment programs by calling 855-349-5988.

 

In the Media: Tips on Choosing A Residential Treatment Center Wisely

Safety is a top priority when choosing a residential treatment center. According to P.J. Brooks of First Step in Sarasota, Florida, here are a few key components to ensure you choose the best option:

  • Find out what the reputation of the facility- how are they perceived in the community?
  • The facility should:
    -Have good quality clinical skills
    -Use evidence-based practices
    -Keep clients engaged in the treatment programs
    -Perform extensive background screenings, including federal screenings and fingerprinting

Watch the video below to learn more, or click here to watch the video on mysuncoast.com

Related Blog: Recovery is More than Detox