Category: Addiction Recovery Tips

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

In the Media: An Effort to Keep Repeat DUI Offenders off the Roads

Last year, there were over 10,000 deaths related to DUI’s, with more than half being over weekends- all of which could’ve been avoided. According to P.J. Brooks of First Step, prevention is the key in this situation, because once a person is intoxicated, the ability to make smart decisions is greatly affected.

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

Related Blog: Can a Drug Addict Drink Alcohol?

Pathways to Recovery is part of the First Step of Sarasota, Inc. family of treatment programs.

The Effect of Addiction in My Family

The Effect of Addiction in My Family – By Anonymous

Twenty plus years ago, I married a woman who had two young adult children from a prior marriage. I also had two young daughters of my own. The transition was challenging at first. Her kids accepted me, but my girls did not accept her. I didn’t force the issue.

My step-daughter was a beautiful, creative woman with so much promise. Sadly, before I met her mother, when she was in high school, she became rebellious. It was the 80’s and the role of women was changing in our society. She chose to marry and start a family rather than go to school or develop her talent. In what seems like the blink of an eye, she and her husband had two small children and divorced. I blamed it on immaturity. She wasn’t ready for the role of an adult. She still wanted to party. Before long, she met and moved in with a man who introduced her to cocaine. Our lives were forever changed.

Related Blog: Understanding the Progression of Recovery

My wife and I were constantly receiving calls from the local jail to come and bail either she or her boyfriend out of jail. My wife and I were at odds she said; leave her/them in jail until they grow up. I would head down there and bail her/them out. They’d promise it would never happen again. On Sunday nights, we’d get calls from her first husband. He had the kids and was trying to drop them off with their mother, but she wasn’t home. Was she with us? Often, my wife would go to my daughter’s home, meet her former son-in-law and stay with the kids until their mother got home. She’d tell the kids, mommy has to work today, feeling guilty about the lie. He eventually petitioned for custody of the kids and won.

During this time, I abandoned my own children. I told my first wife about the situation in my home and we agreed not to expose them to the chaos that was taking place in my home. In hindsight, we should have been more open and honest about what was happening. They felt abandoned and were angry. They were both bright girls and headed to college. It was as if I was punishing them for their good behavior and rewarding my step-daughter for her bad behavior. I didn’t even realize it at the time. I was focused on trying to make things right at home.

The relationship between my step-daughter and her boyfriend was very on and off. She’d often stay with us when they were fighting. When she did, things in my home would disappear. My wife had jewelry missing and I replaced a few TV sets. My step-daughter was stealing from us to buy drugs, getting arrested and then I was paying her legal fees. I had a good income, but I began to struggle to make ends meet. One day, I said to her, enough of this, you’re costing me too much money…if you need money for drugs, I’ll just give it to you. My wife was furious.

Today, I understand that I am an enabler. Instead of adopting my wife’s tough love approach, I supported the addict in her addiction rather than forcing a behavior change.

After about 10 years of this cycle, my step-daughter vanished. We had no idea if she was dead or alive. We assumed she’d run off with some new boy she’d met, but really had no information. While we were both worried sick, there was calm in our lives. We weren’t getting the calls in the middle of the night, none of our possessions were stolen and I wasn’t visiting my friends at the jail while bailing her out again. This was extremely hard on her children. They were supposed to visit her and she never went to get them. She never called. Their father had no answers and we had no answers. I saw pain and fear in their little faces.

My wife vowed, if she’s okay and comes back, we aren’t going to live like this anymore. We fought, but in the end, my wife prevailed. After several weeks, my step-daughter reappeared on our doorstep as if nothing had happened. She was high as a kite. My wife laid down the law. We are not living like this; we are not going to support you any longer. The calls in the middle of the night, the not knowing where and how you are…it’s just too much.

My story doesn’t have a happy ending. While my step-daughter did get help and stayed clean, the toll of the years of drug abuse were too much for her body. She passed away after being clean for about five years. My marriage also came to an end. The combination of financial issues and the stress of the situation was too much. I think my wife blamed me for her daughter’s death. Maybe had we employed her approach sooner and forced an intervention, the drugs would not have caused so much damage.

My advice to any parent or step-parent dealing with a child abusing drugs is to get them help right away. They aren’t going to “grow up” if they are addicted; they are going to get worse until one day it is too late.

 

Recovery and Prescription Medications

One stumbling point for people in recovery is when they are prescribed legal prescription drugs as treatment or following a procedure. Several past clients have said, my doctor wanted to give me oxycodone, but I won’t take anything stronger than Ibuprophen to manage the pain. Others, sadly, have returned to treatment stating that things were going well until a medical procedure derailed their recovery because they were prescribed pain medications.

There are several messages here.

1 – While many people like to keep their information private, it is imperative that your medical professionals – doctors and dentists – are aware that you are in recovery and taking any sort of opiate or narcotic based medication would be detrimental to your recovery. Even if you receive a prescription, especially for a pain killer, from your doctor, confirm the chemical compound of the medication.

Related Blog: Why Can’t They Just Stop?

2 – Regardless if you were addicted to alcohol, heroin, prescription drugs, meth amphetamines or any other substance, just because medication comes from your doctor, it does not mean it is safe to take it. If you are in recovery, these powerful substances can quickly sidetrack you from working the program.

3 – What happens if you are given this medication without consent? For example, if you are unconscious, taken to the ER via ambulance and have no one present who can speak to the doctors on your behalf and one of these prescription pain killers is administered without your knowledge, what are the steps to take next? As soon as you are awake and alert, you need to communicate with the medical staff that you are in recovery and should not receive opiate or narcotic painkillers. Verify what was given to you while unconscious. Chances are, a single dosage will not cause a full blown relapse, but be sure to voice your concerns to your family and support network so they can help you remain vigilant about maintaining your sobriety, especially if you are experiencing cravings to use.

If you or a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, contact Pathways to learn more about our detox and residential treatment programs. Call 855-349-5988 for more information.

Why Will Pathways be Able to Help Me When Others Have Failed?

A question we commonly hear from the individuals seeking treatment, families seeking treatment for a loved one and even the general public is why do you think you can help when this individual has failed in recovery in the past?

There are several factors that come into play when answering this question. Understanding the disease of addiction and that relapse is commonly part of the disease helps. Still, that doesn’t provide confidence when you are seeking help.

Related Blog: Choosing Recovery Often Means Choosing A Healthy Lifestyle

1 – Addiction is a chronic, manageable disease. Much like diabetes and hypertension, the person with the disease is tasked with managing the disease, working through the checklists of things you can and cannot do on a daily basis to make sure there are not issues. Part of the Pathways program is working out relapse prevention plans so that if someone is at risk of a relapse, they have steps to take in hopes of diffusing the situation.

A program graduate once said, “I had a bad day, so I had a drink, but I never solved my problem. The next day was bad, so I drank more. Soon, I had so many problems that were never resolved and spent all my time drinking to avoid them.” What this man learned during his time in the program was that
avoiding your problems and drinking to forget them will not make them go away. This was his relapse trigger. Upon completing the program, he knew he had to face his problems as they came rather than turning the bottle. He knew who to contact and the support groups available should he be tempted to drink rather than face his issues.

In addition to teaching relapse prevention techniques during treatment, Pathways also offers a weekly aftercare meeting for those who have completed the program. Staying in touch and engaged with the program helps many stay focused on their recovery.

2 – Another key to reaching a point of a long lasting recovery is dealing with any underlying issues that may have led to substance abuse. While these issues can be as unique as the clients we treat, in many cases, bringing these into the conversation and learning coping mechanisms to find a resolution for the challenges is liberating for our clients. People outside the addiction generally do not understand the burden many of our clients carry as they begin their substance abuse. Our clients have been the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse, witnesses to catastrophic events, or have suffered losses in their lives. One client relayed the story that she had been drinking for more than 20 years. In her early 20’s, she was pregnant and had a miscarriage. Though she tried several more times, she was never able to conceive a child. Her life’s dream was to be a mother. She found comfort in drinking. Her family never understood the deep damage and pain the miscarriage caused for this client. It wasn’t until she sought treatment that she began to understand why she was drinking and addressing the pain that this miscarriage caused so many years ago.

3 – The compassionate Pathways staff members do not care if this is your first time in treatment or your 21st time in treatment. You will be shown the same respect and dignity as every other client. It does not matter if you have tried and failed; the Pathways staff will design a treatment plan that will help you get back on the right track.

If you or a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, contact Pathways to learn more about our residential treatment programs. Call 855-349-5988 for more information.

Can a Drug Addict Drink Alcohol?

I’m in recovery. Can I have a drink if my addiction involved another drug?

This is a question that was recently (and commonly) asked by one of our clients. In short, we recommend those in recovery abstain from using all mind-altering substances.

Related Blog: Getting Past the Stigma of Addiction

For those who are early into their recovery, it is very easy to replace one type of addiction with another. Think of someone who stops smoking cigarettes and gains weight because they’d started snacking between meals. If you are in recovery after abusing drugs, regardless if it is prescription pills, heroin, cocaine or any other addictive substance, alcohol could easily become a replacement drug.

Pathways encourages clients to seek healthy alternatives as they start a life of recovery, focusing on items that help nourish the mind and body. For examples, clients in the Pathways program enjoy three nutritious meals daily. Exercise and yoga programs are positive activities that reinforce the start of a new, healthy lifestyle.

Alcohol lessens inhibitions and could make someone in recovery think, “I drank and I’m okay, I can use again and it won’t hurt me.” This thought process could trigger a relapse.

Pathways is a residential substance abuse treatment center located in sunny, Sarasota, Florida.

If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one, please call 855-349-5988.

 

Reforming Recovery

Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare, recently released an article about reshaping how we view substance abuse treatment. Statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse claim that more than 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Of this, ONLY 11% receive treatment. Other stats she cited state that of those in recovery, 40-60% will backslide or relapse.

Related Blog: Recovery from Drugs and Alcohol is a Process

Chair and co-founder of the Treatment Research Institute, A. Thomas McLellan, compares the addiction treatment process to a washing machine, churning clients through the system before they’ve had a chance to heal. He is quoted as saying, “There are no 30-day diabetes programs, and they certainly don’t have graduation ceremonies.”

As the community accepts the fact that substance abuse is a chronic disease, treatment providers need to tailor programs to treat this model. This would include changes to the emergency treatment, residential services, housing with restorative services, case/care management, medication assisted treatment, cognitive interventions and family support.

At Pathways, many of these facets are already standard in treatment plans. While a 28-day stay is available, Pathways’ Extended Care program allows clients to stay 60 or 90 days to not only learn the basics of recovery and how to use the tools, but to spend more time dealing with the core issues that have led to their addictive disorder. Pathways provides a weekly aftercare group session for those who stay in the area, and counselors can also guide clients to local sober living facilities that will reinforce and support long-term abstinence. Cognitive interventions using evidence-based techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Moral Reconation Therapy and Rapid Response Therapy®, are all part of the Pathways milieu. Finally, family sessions not only provide relatives with a sense of progress, family members learn about the disease of addiction, the dangers of enabling, relapse triggers and warning signs.

To learn more about Pathways, visit www.pathwaysfl.org or call 855-349-5988.

Addiction: Dating in Sobriety

More often than not, individuals who have a substance abuse disorder also suffer from low self-esteem issues. Some people use drugs or alcohol to fit into a crowd, others use to help relax before meeting new people. In some cases, individuals will use trying to gain the attention and acceptance of a love interest who is also using. Given the importance many place on romantic relationships, this can be a stumbling block that keeps someone from entering treatment and a life of recovery.

Related Blog: Recovery From Drugs and Alcohol is a Process

Here are seven reasons that demonstrate living a sober life is good for your love life.

1 – Appearance: Most people do not realize it, but chronic using and abusing drugs and alcohol not only takes a toll on our relationships and physical and mental well-being, it affects appearance. To prove this, grab some photos of yourself prior to using drugs or alcohol and look in the mirror. What do you see and do you like what you see? As people return to healthy lifestyles, they regain better complexions, weight stabilizes and even your eyes shine a little brighter. Some treatment center social media pages show side-by-side pictures of clients on admission day and graduation day to see the healthy improvement made in just 30, 60 or 90 days.

2 – Money: Typically, people with a substance abuse problem spend every spare dime they have on obtaining drugs/alcohol. Just think how much financial freedom you will have if buying drugs isn’t the number one priority. You’ll have money for a nice dinner, nice clothing, a dependable car, plus some to put into savings for a nice trip or other future needs.

3 – Mental Strength: One of the hardest challenges in life one will face is that of becoming and staying sober. The process of recovery develops strength, giving you the courage to face new challenges.

4 – You can be yourself: Through sobriety, people gain a sense of self-confidence and self-worth. Sobriety allows you to accept yourself, flaws and all, and most importantly, like yourself. We often read that the best relationships happen when you are happy with yourself instead of looking for something or someone else to fill a void.

5 – You are understanding and compassionate: One of the tools in recovery programs is how to build healthy relationships. Recovery is very humbling. Individuals are taught how to listen to one another, to become understanding, show compassion towards others and give back to the community.

6 – You’re NOT Drunk: How many times have you said or done things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol that you wish you could take back? In recovery, you have a better sense of appropriate boundaries and behavior.

7 – You have your act together: In recovery, you are accountable, responsible, respectable and employable. You know when to ask for help and you are willing to help others. You have learned from your past struggles and have made it one of your strengths.

In the Media: Police Warn of Heroin Upswing

With heroin being more prolific than in the past, Bradenton saw at least 6 deaths and 35 potential overdoses in 2014. According to a recent Bradenton Police Department release, police responded to an average of 1 heroin overdose per week last year. This increase of heroin use can most likely be due to legislation, public awareness, and law enforcement cracking down on “pill mill” clinics.

For more information, click here to read the Bradenton Herald article about heroin use on the rise.

Pathways to Recovery is part of the First Step of Sarasota, Inc. family of treatment programs

Related Blog: Substance Abuse – The Cost To The Community