Category: Substance abuse Florida

Enabling and Empowering

Earlier this fall, we shared about enabling and how this act can prolong a fight with substance abuse. The opposite of enabling is empowering. When you feel empowered, you gain self-confidence, determination and possess a better attitude.

Many of our clients have shared stories about how, when they are in their addiction, they are powerless against the cravings for drugs or alcohol. The need for more guides their lives at all costs. One client recently spoke to a group of high school students and explained to them how the desire for drugs can take over and ruin your life. This desire makes you not care about school, work, your family and friends…all things that most people highly value.

Now in recovery, the client explained how she feels empowered without the presence of drugs in her life. She is rebuilding relationships; she is making and achieving goals. With each accomplishment, she feels more and more confident and determined.

While you may feel like you are helping your loved one when you enable them, this will do more harm than good. Encourage them to get treatment; to become empowered.

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 is Recovery?

This month, we’ve been focusing on terms that are specific to the substance abuse treatment world. We’ve defined substance abuse and addiction, types of treatment: detox, residential or inpatient, and outpatient; methods of treatment: evidence-based, 12-Step and Faith Based. We shared the 12-Steps and provided additional information on the background of the steps. Now, it’s time to discuss the goal – recovery.

Many people debate if addiction is a disease or a moral issue. If they agree it is a disease, they want a cure. Sadly, there are many diseases that have no cures, but can be managed through behavioral habits, diet and exercise. Diabetes is one such disease that is very similar to addiction in many ways. If a person does not follow a diabetic diet and monitor their glucose levels, their health can rapidly deteriorate because their body cannot process sugar. Diabetics are never cured, but many live long, productive lives through management of the disease. Addiction is similar – there is no cure, but through behavioral change, addiction can be managed. In the treatment world, we call this recovery.

According to a 2007 article in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “recovery is defined as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship.” It is important to note that the definition includes all three and that sobriety alone is not recovery. While sobriety is abstinence from drugs/alcohol, personal health leads to improved quality of life, including physical health, psychological health, independence and spirituality. Finally, citizenship is the demonstration of regard and respect for others.

Recovery is an on-going process. There is no timetable on how long it will take an individual to reach a life of recovery – each person is different with different motivating factors. Recovery, especially in the newer phases, needs to be nurtured. This is most commonly done by attending aftercare and 12-Step meetings. The goal is lifelong recovery.

Regardless if you are living a life of recovery, or simply maintaining an abstinence from drugs or alcohol, the term used when abstinence is not maintained is relapse. Relapse will be the topic of our next blog.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

Sometimes it Takes Multiple Visits to a Treatment Center

Much of the work done in a treatment center revolves around retraining clients to think, feel and behave differently than they have in the past. Take “Billy” for example. Billy was a young man who grew up in a typical middle American family. As a teenager, he began spending time with “the wrong crowd,” a group of boys who introduced him to smoking marijuana and drinking. Billy began to lose interest in school; his grades were slipping. When he graduated from high school, he really wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. His parents were upset how he had lost the opportunity to attend a prestigious University due to his GPA. He enrolled in a local community college, where he dabbled in a few courses, but nothing held his interest. At a part time job, Billy met James who introduced him to other, harder drugs. Billy’s drug use escalated. He started skipping classes and lost all interest in school. He continued to go to work every day because work was his link to drugs.

Related Blog: Why Did I Relapse?

Fast forward five years and Billy has been arrested multiple times on drug related charges. He has mastered the art of manipulation and stealing to get money for drugs. All of his old friends from high school have now graduated from college and have nothing to do with him at all; his parents are beside themselves. They take a line of credit to secure treatment for Billy. He goes, but never engages in the program. He goes through the steps as instructed, but never invests in the process. When the treatment session is over, he immediately finds his group of friends and is using. Before long, he’s arrested again.

At this point, Billy is finally starting to realize that he’s made some mistakes in his life. He sees the happiness that his friends and family, who were not abusing drugs, had. He hears stories that this person is getting married, that one just got a great job and is moving out of town. In the meantime, he’s looking for a place to sleep, an opportunity to score and evading law enforcement and his parents. He attends treatment again and this time, he’s engaged. He actively listens to what the counselors are saying, he participates in the group sessions. He starts to analyze what he’s done in his life and the people he’s hurt by his substance abuse. His treatment time is coming to a close and he’s working on his transition plan and relapse prevention plan. He’s not sure where he will live because he’s burned so many bridges and his parents don’t trust him. He ends up getting a part time job and finding an apartment in a neighborhood known for heavy drug activity. Initially, he starts off okay, focusing on going to work and 12-Step recovery meetings. He’s asked to take a few more hours at work and gladly does. One day, he has a rough day and gets out of work too late to attend a meeting. He runs into an old buddy on his walk home from work. The guy offers him a beer, Billy accepts and a relapse has happened.

Billy’s drug and alcohol use spirals out of control. Finally, he is arrested again for drug-related charges and given the opportunity to go to treatment one more time. There, he really connects with his counselors and some of the other clients. He’s fully opened up about his situation, his fears and is truly engaged. At the end of treatment, he makes plans to live in a sober living community associated with the treatment center. He finds a job in a part of town that is safer; he attends aftercare meetings at the treatment center and 12-Step recovery meetings. After time, he even begins sponsoring and mentoring other people who are new to recovery.

Stories like Billy’s are not uncommon. Recovery is a process and not everyone is ready for the changes and work they have to do to chance their lives in a short treatment cycle. It takes time to buy into the process and see the fruits of the effort because it’s easier to keep going on the way things have been.

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 Will Nothing Cure my Child’s Addiction?

A common misconception to addiction is that following a treatment episode, someone may be “cured” of the disease. Addiction is similar to diabetes and hypertension in the sense that it is an incurable, but manageable disease. While someone with diabetes must watch their diet and check their insulin, and those with hypertension also maintain regiment of diet, exercise and stress-relief exercises, someone diagnosed with an addiction will need to follow a daily regimen to remain sober. Those who enter a treatment program will be taught the importance of following a schedule, attending meetings, doing step work and other behavioral changes that may have been part of the treatment plan. When an individual, especially those who are new to recovery, takes a lax attitude about maintaining recovery, the likelihood of relapse increases. Addiction will not “just go away” overnight and even those who have 10 or 20 years clean can still succumb to a relapse.

Related Blog: Why Recovery Meetings Alone May Not be Working

The individuals who have the best success in treatment are those who enter a treatment facility who addresses their needs, engages in the treatment process and follows the aftercare plan and relapse prevention plan faithfully.

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.