Category: Addiction

Do you cover up?

Almost instinctually, people have a tendency to cover up for their friends and relatives with substance abuse problems because of the heavy stigma associated with addiction. However, covering up can be really harmful for everyone involved. Here is a scenario:

Mary and Rob have been married for several years. Both are professionals with great careers and their kids are on the school’s honor roll. Rob was always a heavy drinker – he drank with his college buddies, he drinks with the guys after work, at sporting events and any occasion he can find. Mary has noticed changes in Rob’s behavior – he’s more sluggish in the morning, his temper is shorter when he’s drinking. Rather than discuss the issue with Rob, she covers up for him in front of friends and relatives – “oh, he’s had a rough week at work, he’s not been sleeping well,” and so on.

The longer Rob’s drinking and Mary’s cover ups continue, the risk increases that Rob will develop long-term health issues associated with alcohol, his career will suffer, or if he is one to drink and drive, he’ll be involved in an accident.

While Mary is busy covering up for Rob, their kids are now old enough to see what is happening. Is this normal? “Will mom cover up for me as she does for dad if I use drugs or alcohol.” They see this behavior as acceptable.

If you find you cover up for a loved one, you may be doing more harm than good. Read our related blogs, “Getting past the stigma of addiction” and “How to get help for someone with an addiction.”

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.

What to do when your parent turns to drugs or alcohol? Part 3 of 3

Last week, we began our three-part blog series on the increase of substance abuse in our senior population. To recap the first two blogs, we addressed reasons why we are seeing an increase of substance abuse in the senior population (stress, boredom, comfortable taking medications, etc.) and warning signs of substance abuse (falls, change in attitude, increasing the amount of medication taken, multiple doctors/pharmacies, etc.). Today, we’ll discuss the sensitive topic of speaking to your parent if you suspect a problem.

For most people, certain topics are hard to discuss with your parents. When you raised kids, you likely grappled with the dreaded talk about drugs with them. Now, it’s your turn to have “the talk” with the person who raised you. This could go easier than you may expect. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

1 – Make sure they know you are not judging them, but concerned for their well-being.
2 – Don’t be confrontational, be supportive.
3 – Speak to the individual before they start drinking – maybe in the morning.
4 – Do not dig up problems from the past – your focus is on now and the future.
5 – Be direct, do not coddle them. Speak to them as a peer.
6 – Approaching the topic may need to be done in steps.

Here are a few examples of how to get things started.

1 –“I noticed that you have a lot of prescriptions you take daily. Can you tell me what each one is and how it helps you? This gives you an opportunity to assess their situation and its good information to know should they ever be hospitalized.” If you see multiple and/or high dosage painkillers, inquire if this is safe and healthy. We often hear, especially in the senior population, “the medication must be safe, the doctor prescribed it.” When a person has multiple doctors and specialists for varying ailments, communication between medical professionals does not always exist. Each will prescribe medications for specific concerns, but when combined, the medications can interact causing a negative effect. Suggest accompanying the individual to the next medical appointment to see if the doctor can evaluate the combination of medications being taken. Reluctance to this idea could signal a red flag, but maintain a firm stand. Raise your concern that many of these medications are addictive, see if the doctor can scale back prescriptions and find alternate non-opioid treatments such as over-the-counter medications, exercise, and physical therapy.

2 – If the person is drinking excessively, let them know you are concerned. If you suspect it is the result of boredom, try to engage them in social activities where alcohol is not present. Remind them that drinking and taking medications can be very dangerous. If the problem persists, encourage them to speak to their doctor and attend the appointment if possible.

A few factors will make this process easier for you. Most seniors respect their doctors and are willing to follow medical advice. Surprisingly, most seniors will be happy to have your support and won’t be resistant to seeking help. Often, tolerance to drugs and/or alcohol decreases with age leaving them feeling “fuzzy” and confused. Feeling “normal” again will be welcomed.

Related Blog:  Communicating with Someone Who Has an Addiction

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.

What to do when your parent turns to drugs or alcohol? Part 2 of 3

Earlier this week, we began our three-part blog series on the increase of substance abuse in our senior population. To recap our first blog, we said so often, when we speak about addiction and finding help, we speak in terms of helping parents find help for their young-adult children. Periodically, we talk about getting help for your spouse. However, we seldom discuss what happens when it is time to find help for your parents. Part one discussed some of the reasons why addiction appears in older adults. Now, we will discuss warning signs that your parent may have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

Some of these will be easier to recognize than others based on how frequently you see your parents in person as opposed to having telephone conversations. These identifiers are often mistaken for other symptoms of aging. If you see these changes, be diligent and find out why these changes are occurring.

1 – Falls
2 – A change in appearance–looking unkempt
3 – Increased sleep
4 – Misplaced items (such as keys)
5 – Disinterest in regular activities
6 – Has their general attitude changed? Are they anxious, sullen or argumentative?
7 – Do they use multiple doctors and multiple pharmacies? Seniors are just as capable of doctor shopping as younger generations.
8 – Are they agitated or defensive if asked about their medications?
9 – Have they had a drastic increase in the amount of medication they take?
10 – Are they making excuses why they need more medication?

If your parent has surgery, ask what pain medications will be prescribed in the hospital and for post-op care at home. Check to make sure these medications will not offset or negatively affect medications prescribed for other issues. Be involved with the post-op pain management plan. Question the medical staff about the type of medication (opioid vs. Tylenol) and dosage.

Our next blog will explore speaking to your parent about drug or alcohol abuse and treatment options.

Related blog:  A Simple Explanation of Addiction.

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.

 

What to do when your parent turns to drugs or alcohol? Part 1 of 3

So often, when we speak about addiction and finding help, we speak in terms of helping parents find help for their young-adult children. Periodically, we talk about getting help for your spouse. However, we seldom discuss what happens when it is time to find help for your parents. This three-part series will explain why substance abuse is prevalent among our senior population, how to recognize when a parent is abusing drugs and finally, how to approach them about seeking help.

Very quietly, over the past several years, more and more, older adults are turning to drugs and alcohol for comfort and becoming dependent on these substances. Nearly 10,000 individuals are turning 65 on a daily basis and many are retiring, which compounds the issue. Here are a few reasons why our seniors and retirees are abusing drugs/alcohol.

1 – Many of us are “used” to taking medication for a variety of medical issues as well as aches and pains. As we age, the number of pills we take daily also tends to increase. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for seniors to increase the number of highly-addictive opioid painkillers they are taking, or turn to alcohol to numb their physical pain.

2 – Just like younger generations, substance abuse can be triggered by a stressor. In seniors, the most common stressors are financial or health concerns, the strain of being a caregiver to another ailing family member or the death of a spouse.

3 – Boredom is also a common thread among seniors who abuse alcohol. Empty nesters without the support of nearby family, limited financial means and limited or few hobbies can translate to boredom for many retirees. If someone is accustomed to having happy hour with friends after work, the happy hour may start at home much earlier in the day.

If you have a parent who will soon be retiring, ask them about their social and financial plans for retirement. If they don’t have a plan, encourage them to pick up hobbies or do volunteer work to help keep them active and engaged with other individuals.

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.

“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.

 

Rules for Recovery; Rules for Life

In our recent blog, Tips for Entering Treatment the First Time, we mentioned it is important to follow the rules of the treatment center in order to increase chances of success. Addiction and substance abuse disorders are treated in multiple ways, but one of the most prominent methods is behavior modification. While the simple explanation of bad behaviors usually result in negative consequences, clients are taught to think about their actions and what the consequences will be.

Think of a child in a candy store accepting a dare from another child. I bet you can’t sneak out of here with a piece of candy in your pocket. If the child is caught stealing the piece of candy, chances are, he/she will have a negative consequence. If not, the child may continue to steal candy when visiting the store, until caught or until he/she feels guilty about the actions. Now, fast forward to the teen years. While we’d love to believe we don’t have underage kids drinking alcohol that would not be realistic. Maybe it starts with a can or bottle of beer at home; mom and dad won’t notice if this is missing. It could be a gathering with friends and alcohol is available. More often than not, the first experience with alcohol is under the age of 21. If there are never any negative consequences, chances are, the teen will continue to drink.

Now, let’s shift from alcohol to illicit drugs. If the experience is pleasant and there are no negative consequences, why stop? Those who suffer from addictive tendencies will continue to use despite negative consequences.

Facets of substance abuse treatment reward good behaviors and punish negative behaviors. At a treatment facility, this may mean the loss of telephone privileges or exclusion from a fun group outing such as bowling or a trip to the beach. For a more serious offense, law enforcement may be called and the client may be asked to leave the treatment facility, permanently.

As people learn the importance of following, rather than bending or breaking, all rules, regardless how trivial or important, they will better be able to thrive in a society driven by laws and rules. This helps them learn self-control, respect for themselves and others, as well as to be accountable for their own actions. These lessons are vital in the earliest phases of recovery.

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.

How do you explain your addiction to your children?

Over and over, we say addiction affects the entire family. The statistics of what happens to the rest of the family when a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol are alarming. For example, did you know one of the primary reasons children are removed from parental custody is substance abuse?

Consider this scenario. You are married with a supportive spouse. You have a good job and young children, in elementary or middle school. However, you realize that going out for happy hour with friends/co-workers has become a problem. You continue drinking when you get home, and maybe, in the privacy of your home, you use illicit drugs as well. Many possible circumstances could happen at this point. You may be arrested for DUI, you may be sluggish about going to work, you may not be performing well at work due to the influence of the drugs/alcohol in your system. Finally, you begin to choose drugs/alcohol over your family and professional life. Friends and loved ones may see the writing on the wall and have encouraged you to seek help. But, what do you tell your kids when you’ve decided to enter a residential treatment facility?

Some families will choose to shield their children from this news and offer fictitious reasons why there is an extended absence. For those who feel their children are mature enough to understand the situation, here are some tips on how to present this information honestly.

1 – Keep your explanation simple
2 – Explain that addiction is an illness
3 – Listen to them and answer their questions
4 – Make your new life in recovery part of the family routine.

Here is an example:

At the dinner table, or while comfortable in the living room, explain that there will be some changes coming very soon. Change doesn’t mean bad things, but simply means some things will be different at home. Explain that you, or your spouse, will be away from home for a few weeks to get help with some personal issues. While this is vague, it will allow you the opportunity to say, “You know when mom/dad stops to have a drink after work and comes home late?” That is going to change because it causes other problems in life. Some people are able to drink without a problem, but others cannot. Talk about how some kids are allergic to peanuts and can’t eat candy with nuts or peanut butter. It’s not their fault, it is just how their bodies deal with the nuts. The same is true in this case, only the problem is not nuts/peanut butter. Some people are simply born this way and there is no way of knowing until it causes problems. Depending on their ages, ask them what they already know or think when they hear about addiction and steer them away from the negative stereotypes. Explain that you are getting help now so that some of those bad things don’t happen to you or your family.

Once treatment is completed and you enter a life of recovery, keep your family involved. Explain to them why you go to meetings and how it helps you and why there are certain people you may not see any more.

Finally, as you choose your treatment program, select one that offers family sessions and family visitation. This is not only helpful for your children; it will keep the entire family focused on your recovery.

How trauma can lead to addiction

Trauma is very deep and personal, often avoided through denial. Society sometimes creates an atmosphere of blaming and shaming victims of trauma. This adds another complicated layer of burden for someone already scarred by their situation. Seeking help for trauma can be difficult and may lead some to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Denial is also a factor in self-medicating as the affected person denies both their pain and the fact their trauma controls their alcohol or drug use. These factors place trauma victims at an increased risk for developing addictions.

The increased risk of developing an addiction can be avoided if one can effectively identify at-risk populations. The individual should seek some form of counseling or treatment. Early outreach helps these individuals address trauma, learn coping mechanisms to deal with their depression/anxiety and regain a sense of control over their emotions. The most important thing to understand is that people do not choose to suffer from addiction. It is an illness that can be developed as a reaction to pain and suffering.

Related Blog:  Coping Skills and Addiction

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for those 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.

How do I ask my family to help pay for addiction treatment?

It takes great courage and a true desire to change your life when you admit to your family that you have a substance abuse problem and need their help to pay for addiction treatment. Depending on how your relationship with your family is, this conversation can go many different ways. Here are some tips.

Related Blog: Recovery from Drugs and Alcohol is a Process

1. Be honest. Recognize and apologize for all of the things you have done and regret during your addiction. This could be challenging depending on how much you have eroded their trust.

2. Share your feelings about why you are ready for help. Again, be honest, show that you have learned from your mistakes and accept responsibility for what you have done. You may have already been down this road before. Create a plan for how you want to turn your life around. Write down your plan. Show them where your pitfalls were last time and how you plan to do things differently this time.

3. Invite your family to research treatment centers with you and make them part of the decision-making process.

4. If they are paying for your treatment, they should pay the treatment center directly rather than giving the money to you. This way, their money goes where you promise it is going.

5. Once in addiction treatment, include them in the treatment process as much as the treatment center will allow.

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 Did I Relapse?

Relapse is not uncommon for those in recovery. Some say that it often takes a series of relapses before someone is truly successful in the recovery world. Often, success means making great changes in your lifestyle – who your associates are, where you live, where you work, as well as “unlearning” inappropriate behaviors that could result in substance use.

Recovery is a process. Generally, the process begins with admitting that there is a problem, detoxing, getting treatment for the issue, developing a plan for aftercare, transition and relapse prevention and finally living a life of recovery.

Related Blog: What Should I Do If I Have a Sponsor and I’m Still Using?

In order for the recovery process to be successful, clients need to engage with their counselors and others in the recovery community. Additionally, if internal issues, such as a trauma that may have led to the initial substance abuse, are not fully addressed, the chances of relapse increase.

Some counselors suggest clients change everything, even music, friends, jobs, living arrangements etc. Music has a great ability to trigger thoughts and feelings. If you had a favorite song you liked to hear when you were high, don’t listen to that song. If your friends used drugs, use ties to the recovery community to make friends with individuals who will support your efforts rather than sabotage them. If you are an alcoholic working in an establishment that serves alcohol, you may want to look for other employment, if drug use is normal part of life in your neighborhood, consider moving to a transitional, sober or half-way house arrangement as you grow and strengthen your resolve to stay clean.

They key to relapse prevention is knowing your triggers and working the program and aftercare program outlined for you by your counselors on a daily basis. In some cases, repeated treatment episodes will be necessary until you are able to make recovery a full part of your lifestyle.

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 or visit our website.