Addict, now that’s a loaded word, isn’t it? Addict, addiction, substance abuse, those are words addicts have heard for all of their lives, even before they knew they were one. The word has a negative connotation, why do we still use it in recovery facilities? Because for lack of a better word, it’s short and to the point. If you have had difficulties quitting something like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or even something such as video games, you are an addict and should seek addiction counseling if you can’t stop.
The Life of an Addict is No Different Than Ordinary Folk
Truly, why do we call a person addicted to drugs an addict, but a person who is addicted to work a go-getter? Do we call Steve Jobs an addict for working tireless hours building up one of the top technology companies in the world? Jobs gave his all to Apple, and it paid off. The iPhone will go down in the annals of history as inciting a huge technological revolution. He was also reportedly a terrible father, and an insufferable boss at times.
We praise Jobs for being addicted to work, but we don’t praise addicts for being addicted to substances. I don’t want to belabor the point, both are instances of addictive behavior/tendencies, and both involve an addictive compulsion towards an activity that comes at the cost of every other aspect of the person’s life
While there are many genetic and biological reasons that make addicts much more susceptible to the effects of substances than others, at the end of the day it’s the use of such things as a coping mechanism that creates the vast majority of addictions.
The premise is simple, everyone has addictive tendencies, and no one is free from the human condition that drives us to seek out refuge in habits. In other words, the mental desire to be addicted to something is prevalent in everyone, it’s just most unfortunate when that is attached to a highly unhealthy habit as opposed to a good one. A good addiction is physical exercise, but even that becomes a problem when your body needs rest but you’ve become compulsive about working out—which is often tied to poor self-image and a desire to constantly punish oneself to remedy that.
Your Cravings Are Here to Stay
It’s not something people want to hear, but as addiction counselors and addiction recovery specialists, it would be irresponsible to not say so. Many former addicts who have been clean for years still attend meetings and programs because they foster a sense of community and family, as well as solidarity in addiction-related troubles.
Just like how someone who has struggled with losing weight their entire life will always have that temptation to binge-eat in response to emotional stressors, so too will a former alcoholic momentarily have the temptation to kill a whole bottle of liquor even 10 years into sobriety. With time, experience, perspective–and the right training, someone who has been in recovery for a lengthy period can learn to simply observe those tremendous urges and understand their irrationality. In other words, they can detach from them and view them as apart from themselves.
Addiction Counselors in Virginia
Don’t let this article dishearten you, friends. Despite the fact that cravings never go away, that does not mean they do not lessen in severity or frequency. Most people who have been in recovery for many years report that it’s often the opposite which is true. Cravings will seemingly disappear and then startle you in unexpected moments. They remind you that the addict in you is always dormant, but that’s nothing to fear. We’re all addicts, really. There’s no shame in it, and those are the beliefs that Recovery Care Partner was built upon. We believe that love and compassion are what free us from the bonds of mental and physiological slavery in the form of addiction. That’s why we still use the word addict because we don’t judge it, it simply is.
If you are seeking help substance use help or require a skilled interventionist, contact Recovery Care Partner here!Learn More
Much of the focus on addiction and relapse is centered around topics like acknowledging addiction and seeking out treatment to begin with, how to handle relapses, tips to stay in recovery and identifying your triggers. One factor that is not discussed as often is the impact that social media has on the underage/younger demographics and the development of addictions.
Social Media and Substance Use
While you’d be hardpressed to know an exact percentage, it’s fairly well studied that addiction has a tremendous genetic component. It is greater for some and lesser for others, but let’s say for the sake of a hypothetical scenario, addiction is 50% genetic and 50% maladaptive coping strategies. Additionally, the children of addicts—current or former, have a much higher susceptibility to spiraling into addiction themselves. This gives great credibility to the notion that addiction is highly genetic since someone who may not have even met their alcoholic grandfather or grandmother could have just as much of an issue with it. Addiction also unsurprisingly runs in families.
I digress, the example is this: picture an adolescent or teen from age 12-18 that goes on social media. It’s highly likely that this teenager uses social media quite frequently. Social media usage among teenagers is quite high and the activity levels in terms of posting and sharing is much higher in this age group if not the highest. While teens may post about anything or everything, there is certainly going to be posting about alcohol and drug use.
The true issue with social media is that it’s a simulacrum of what people think is a good life or cool for their age. In the case of teens, many of them opt to post pictures of parties, drinking and sometimes drugs. In other words, these behaviors are glorified on social media. They’re made out to be cool, popular, and things that you can post about to make yourself out to be that way as well. It’s a surely overcooked topic, but teens are in a phase in life where appearances and acceptance matter the most.
Ask any addict, most of them started young. Social media coincides with a greater likelihood of drinking, smoking, and doing drugs according to a back to school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia).
Social Media: A Boon or a Setback?
Thus far, we’ve painted social media as a place that can present temptation to younger people who may be primed for addiction due to genetic reasons or because they are susceptible to falling into poor coping patterns. Like most things, there’s a flipside. While social media can be bad because of the exposure factor to drinking and drugs and the glorification of those things, it can also be a powerful tool for recovery.
Consider how many people can share their stories about addiction and post motivational/inspirational things online and impact God only knows how many people? Not only that, but social media is a place where addiction outreach can take place. Additionally, people are more easily able to find local events or addiction therapy groups in their local area. Being able to scope these things out online can take some of the certainty and fear out of visiting an addiction treatment center or group therapy session if you’re able to see a picture of the place, the room, the people, etc.
Addiction Counseling Specialists in Virginia
As always with anything, you’re the one in charge, whether you realize it or not. You’re the most powerful person you know. This is important to remember when you feel like your addiction runs your life and temptation and fear are abound. Social media can be a place of great temptation or great connection and community. It depends on who you choose to surround yourself with—take it from us, we’re surrounded by the best addiction treatment specialists that we know.
Our professional and compassionate staff have helped many people on the road to recovery. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance in managing their substance abuse issues, Recovery Care Partner is here for you. We firmly believe that the foundation of recovery is built on a platform of dignity and respect. Every day we treat people who have enormous potential to do well for themselves and for their community. Give us a call today at (240)-224-3509 to get started in exploring treatment options for any addiction issues you or a loved one may have!Learn More
If you read our post about accountability, then you’d know that regardless of how you came to cope with your stressors through addiction, it’s your problem to fix. Yes, you’ll have help. Yes, you deserve compassion and understanding but know that change starts with you. Proper addiction treatment and counseling are paramount to successfully keeping yourself in recovery. However, all the counsel in the world may not be able to help you if the thing that drags you back time and time again is not your nature, but your nurture.
Addiction: With Friends Like These…
We’ve seen it all, from the most beautifully supportive family and friend groups that help their own through addiction to toxic friend groups that don’t want anyone to get sober. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it’s necessary to leave your friend group if you hope to start life anew.
You cannot stay friends with your friends who use if you hope to start a new life of sobriety. It’s often one of the toughest aspects of getting into recovery. These are in many cases, people the addict has known for a majority of their lives, childhood friends, romantic partners, even family members. Fellow humans who you’ve shared not just the ups but the downs as well with.
Addiction and Friendships
Friendships and addictions interact principally two ways:
- The friends you had prior to your substance use disorder and/or the worsening of it will pose a threat or challenge to that addiction. Addiction can both isolate you and also keep you entrenched. Many people are not equipped to deal with someone who has a full-blown addiction issue. It can wreak havoc in so many ways on relationships and stability that inevitably, old friends eventually realize they must cut ties with the addict for two reasons. One is to prevent all their time and energy being sucked into the drama that addiction creates. The second is to show the addict that they will not enable their behaviors any longer and that if they can get clean they will gladly be friends once more.
- The second way is that friendship is predicated addiction itself. Unlike the first reason, old friends are left behind. Ask anyone who has been in the grips of an addiction of any sort—whether mild or extreme, if you can find other people to engage in that behavior with you, it becomes a social problem as well. You’re getting your social needs met through unhealthy behaviors. Self-destructive behaviors that are done in social groups end up being far worse because groups inevitably create isolating “us vs them” dynamics. Suddenly, it feels like if you try to go clean, you’re abandoning and betraying the group. Many people try to justify their behaviors by keeping others down with them, this is the “crabs in the bucket” phenomenon. When one crab tries to escape, the others crabs pull the escaping crab back down.
Old Habits Die Hard
Have you ever met up with your old friend group from school or an old job—the people you haven’t seen in years, and much to your surprise, upon reuniting with them you have snapped back into your old self? Years of growth, change, and development…temporarily erased. It’s mind-boggling, but at this moment you should realize that a big part of our behavior comes from our environmental cues. We are far more conscious of what our role is in our friend groups than we give credit for.
Now, maybe ordinarily this would just be a situation where you went from being your socially assertive and outgoing self to being the shy wallflower that you used to be. However, in the case of addiction treatment. Suppose that you’ve been in recovery for a couple of months, things are going great, then you hang out with some old friends who still use…and you relapse. You may feel guilty, you may be incredibly frustrated, but the fact remains.
There are many people in recovery who do end up going back to old friend groups and managing to help a few people get into treatment. They are an inspiration, but this takes a lot of strength and time spent in recovery to get used to the lifestyle and to become resistant to the temptation of falling back into old habits.
Addiction Consulting in Virginia
At Recovery Care Partner, we’ve seen an array of circumstances that people who are in the grips of addiction find themselves in, and we’re always there to provide counsel and proper treatment. One of the things we see often is addicts who are unable to separate themselves from their old social circles where substance abuse is still rampant. Time and time again they relapse because the social and psychological factors involved with being in those groups is too much. This is why we specialize in offering post-treatment consulting and recovery care monitoring—our framework for ensuring the recovering individual has the perspectives they need to best avoid relapse on their own after they leave treatment.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder, please do not hesitate to contact us here or give us a call at (240)-224-3509.Learn More
Meditation, mindfulness, breath practice, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), all of these practices have something in common—they can help people break out of bad patterns and habits. In fact, all of these practices are based on the same idea, which is that we can ultimately choose our own behavior. In life, and in addiction counseling, this is a highly freeing idea. Many addicts can feel as if they are prisoners to their own compulsions, but this is far from the truth.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
As of 2019, meditation needs no marketing. It is the beloved practice of people who are spiritual as well as rigidly scientific. Whether you are a materialist, or you are religious, meditation has a certain secular appeal and well-studied benefits. Prominent neuroscientists of our day are fascinated with the practice and have found a litany of benefits ascribed to it that are demonstrably valid.
While there are differences between mindfulness meditation, insight meditation, and many, many other practices. The basic technique is the same:
Sit for a period of time and concentrate on your breathing. Any time a thought or feeling comes up, simply note it and refocus back on your breathing.
You must be thinking, that’s it? What good will that do? And there’s the problem, you are too beholden to your thoughts. Many people rationalize excuses for why they can’t sit for 5 minutes and avoid doing anything, but the inability to do so is the issue itself. Our mind, whether we realize it or not, is constantly racing and attaching to thoughts and rejecting others. This is exhausting but also leads to people being stuck in faulty patterns.
When you slow down and allow yourself to observe your thoughts without judgment, as if you were someone else, you begin to see these patterns. Pattern recognition is the first step to breaking habits, and addictions are nothing if not a bad habit when put in the simplest terms possible.
Mindfulness Meditation and Addiction Counseling
Addiction counseling is a vital part of recovery and preventing relapse, however, it may come as no surprise that relapses don’t happen in the presence of counselors in most cases. They happen in between sessions when something triggers you, or you’re feeling hounded by the pressures of life. It is in these moments a solid meditation practice can pay off. Being able to get out of your own head and observe the spiraling thoughts, excuses, and rationalizations that can all lead you to relapse can give you just enough mental space to wait for the temptation out until a subsides a bit in intensity.
Just as important, viewing your thoughts objectively and observing the feelings that come up can illuminate just how much you beat yourself up. Almost all addicts feel some sense of guilt and shame when it comes to addiction, and those emotions—while valid to feel, are not helpful to recovery. It’s important to recognize that feeling guilt or shame is perfectly human, but needlessly dwelling on them is not healthy.
Someone who practices mindfulness meditation every day will be better equipped to step out from the chain of thoughts that lead to unnecessary anxiety and self-loathing, both of which are common relapse triggers.
Addiction Counseling in Virginia
Whatever the problem may be, Recovery Care Partner is here for you. Our methods are rooted deeply in compassion and non-judgment. We have seen a countless amount of people come in at the lowest points in their lives, afraid, and without hope, and have learned ways to manage their substance use disorder. It’s okay to be susceptible to addiction; it’s not okay to do nothing about it. That’s why Recovery Care Partner was founded, to help those who suffer from addiction DO something about it. We want to be your partner all of the way through the process!
Don’t hesitate to contact us here and start life a new life today!Learn More
What is Enabling Behavior?
What is enabling behavior? Enabling occurs when friends or family of an addict are actively enmeshed with the addict’s substance use disorder and attempt to micromanage the condition. While enablers are often seen as people with malicious intent who want to bring others down with them, the truth is that most enablers—and most enabling behaviors come from people who genuinely care about the addict.
Examples of Enabling Behavior: Denial
There are many causes for enabling behaviors to surface, but the most common reason for enabling behavior is denial. For many people, it’s not entirely clear when a proclivity becomes an addiction. What’s the difference between someone who really likes to drink and someone who is addicted to alcohol? While many people would agree that it’s when it becomes an uncontrollable urge that causes self-destructive behavior, that’s where you draw the line. The issue is that there is a significant lag time between those behaviors manifesting and those close to the addict coming to grips with them. This is why addiction is often seen as the elephant in the room. Many people can recognize the signs of addiction, it’s just difficult to accept that your friend or family member is an addict.
Caring More About Reputation Than Recovery
As much as we’d like to say it isn’t so, there are many families who attempt to cover up a family member’s addiction because they do not want to tarnish their family image within their circle of friends and other families. This is one of the worst types of enabling because it is socially reinforced by many people and often combines many aspects of other enabling behaviors such as denial.
Not only does reputation management greatly delay any kind of recovery for the addict, but it also creates a highly toxic environment that often does lead to overdosing and/or death. This is a tragic situation that happens to many people, as they are addicted and require help, and the people around them impart nothing but further shame and guilt which reinforces using behaviors in the addict. This leads many addicts to be pushed into even greater levels of danger with their substance abuse than they likely would have alone.
Misguided compassion manifests itself as friends and family members of the addict attempting to help the addicted person with day to day tasks which they should be able to do by themselves. The person helping mistakenly believes that they’re alleviating some stress or burden from the addict’s life which will help them get on their feet. It almost never works out this way though, in most cases, the addict is made less accountable and experiences fewer consequences for their addiction because other people pick up the pieces of their life that would ordinarily serve as indicators that things are going south for them.
Addiction Consulting in Virginia
Addiction is not just something affects the person addicted. It affects their friends and family as well. If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, get in touch with our addiction counseling specialists at Recovery Care Partner. Our team of highly experienced specialists has helped hundreds of people get on the path to sobriety. We also offer consulting for family members and subsequently, intervention services for a loved one. Give us a call at (240)-206-6324 or get in touch with us on our contact page so you or a friend/family member can be on their way to a healthier lifestyle!Learn More
The road to recovery is one fraught with many perils and traps. You could argue it’s the simplest path in the world, simply do not engage in that which you are addicted to. Of course, simple and easy are two very different things. It is for this reason that relapse is considered a part of recovery itself. While it’s never a good thing, many people do relapse and it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world. You’re not a “bad” person for relapsing.
Battling addiction is a high stakes game of management. Understanding your relapse triggers, avoiding situations where you may be offered substances or tempted, as well as keeping yourself busy and healthy are all important factors to addiction recovery. Forgiveness is incredibly important when dealing with addiction—especially when the addiction is more psychological in nature. There is, however, another thing just as important as forgiveness—it’s accountability.
The Importance of Accountability
Accountability in addiction is a term that you perhaps have heard many times in regards to work or responsibilities in management. It means to be held responsible for something. There’s no easy way to say this, but you’re accountable for your addiction. It is a difficult thing to say as professional addiction treatment specialists. It sounds harsh, but in truth, it’s one of the most beautiful realizations someone who has suffered from addiction can realize.
Imagine this, for your whole life you’ve battled this thing which ruined your relationships, drained your bank account, hurt your health and inflicted psychological wounds on you. Then, as you’re trying to get better, someone tells you to hold yourself accountable. Emotionally, it may feel as if they are saying it’s all your fault.
That’s not at all what accountability is. Accountability for addiction is not the same as finger-pointing, rather, it’s a realization that regardless of the unfortunate circumstances that led to your deepening substance use disorder, recovery starts with you. Really, it’s one of the most empowering things you can realize—that you’re actually in control. As we mentioned with relapse earlier, you may not win every battle you fight, but that it is infinitely better to strive towards a better future than to be stuck, hopeless and addicted. This is also why group therapy is so effective because instead of feeling singled out and isolated, you can share your experiences with other people who can help you feel more accepted and accountable for what you do.
Sober Companion Services in Virginia
Having someone who can help you stay accountable as you get through the initial stages of recovery can be a critical helping hand when beginning sobriety. That is why we offer sober companion services for situations including but not limited to:
- Helping those who live alone and need a headstart in establishing healthy new habits.
- Giving support to people who come from an unsupportive environment.
- Support for those who have travel needs and require addiction supervision
- Accompaniment to various places such as school, social functions, work or doctor’s appointments.
At Recovery Care Partners, our mission is to be a one-stop full support system for those who wish to live a life of sobriety. There is nothing more gratifying for us than seeing the many people who have been taken under our care go on to lead stable and fulfilling lives. One tool in our toolbelt for that is the sober companion service we offer. If you would like to find out more about our sober companion services and accountability for addiction, please do not hesitate to visit our contact page or give us a call at (240)-206-6324.Learn More
A certified substance abuse counselor is an important facilitator of conversation for in recovery or recovering addicts. A certified substance abuse counselor can make the difference in a persons life by offering keen addiction education and helping addicts come to terms with behavioral patterns or thought patterns they may not realize they’re stuck in. In group therapy, people can come together and share their thoughts and join in on an atmosphere of solidarity.
Group Therapy Reduces Isolation
Many around the world suffer from addiction or substance abuse issues, the vast majority of them are receiving treatment nor are they seeking it. Therefore, when a person comes to an addiction treatment center to receive care, it is doubly important to make sure they understand that they are not alone.
One of the best ways to do this is through group therapy. In group therapy, participants come together to discuss their issues maintaining sobriety or the day to day challenges they face in trying to reach or sustain recovery.
In substance abuse group therapy, some common questions or procedures would be:
- Introductions – Be asked to introduce yourself and what your main addiction issues are. This appears deceptively simple however it serves to create the foundation of acceptance. Without acceptance and acknowledgment about where you currently are in your journey.
- Triggers – What stress factors do you think drive you to use. Have you relapsed? If so, looking back what do you think was the trigger which preceded your relapse and how can you best avoid that in the future?
- Keeping Busy – How do you keep busy? Ask any reformed addict or someone who has been in recovery for many years, cravings never stop entirely. You can be sober for 10 years and the desire to have a drink can still come on suddenly. Accepting this as a part of you can go a long way to preventing relapse, just like how someone who may have a problematic relationship to food must accept that they will always be drawn to sweets or be susceptible to stress eating. The best way to keep cravings at bay is to always have things to keep you busy. Hobbies, fulfilling work or responsibilities to your family can be great ways to channel that energy towards something productive.
This TIP (Treatment Improvement Protocol) by the NCBI states that group therapy can be powerful in reducing isolation and treating substance abuse. The reason for this is because humans are intrinsically very group-oriented, as we have lived in this manner for thousands of years.
The effect of being able to witness and learn from the lives and progress of other people uplifts those who are struggling and gives them a positive example to emulate. Having a role model is important when trying to formulate new ideals to aspire towards. These things give hope to people on the road to recovery.
Substance Abuse Group Therapy in Virginia
At Recovery Care Partner, our mission is to provide all the tools necessary for you or a loved one to be on the path to recovery. We pride ourselves on being able to tailor our methods to the unique circumstances every individual possesses. We specialize in interventions and our founder, Don Sloane, has facilitated hundreds of interventions rooted in compassion over the course of 30 years. If you would like to take the first step towards recovery, visit our contact page or reach out to us at (240)-232-5464.Learn More
While relapse does not necessarily have to be a part of the recovery process, it is for many people. Relapse can be the defining moment of a person’s life; either they fall back into previous addiction and old behaviors, or they learn from the experience and incorporate that lesson into their new, sober life. Relapse is nothing to feel ashamed about! The people in 12-step meetings are incredibly understanding and forgiving and will welcome any back into the program with open arms. Also, keep this in mind: the progress you’ve made while in recovery does not just get wiped clean after a relapse. Recovery is not a linear process. So what to do after a relapse? Read on for a few helpful tips to stay on the right path.
Forgive Yourself and Understand the Reason Behind the Relapse
There are many things that can lead a person back out and it is important to understand what caused the setback. A relapse is not a failure of character, but usually a coping response to a number of different factors in life. It could be a loss, a lack of participation in 12-step meetings and step-work, an emotionally trying time, or a result of being put into a high-risk situation: all of these factors can lead to a relapse. This does not mean that you’ve lost all the progress that you’ve made during your sober life. Get back on the horse, realize what happened, and forgive yourself.
Ask for Help
Like we previously mentioned, 12-step members are always willing to lend a helping hand, free from personal interest or gain. Asking for help can be scary, especially if you feel a sense of shame after a relapse. Our professional advice is to realize that relapse is not a shameful thing; rather, it should be viewed as a learning experience, not a mistake. Always remember to be kind to yourself. Building a large support network of sober friends and mental health professionals (psychiatrist, psychologist, etc.) can be a great way to make sure that a relapse does not turn into a trip to rehab or a detox facility.
What Are Your Triggers?
Knowing what your triggers are is an essential component of avoiding another future relapse. Were you hanging out at an old bar? Did you reconnect with old friends who use your drug of choice? Seeing people who use casually can make an addict think that they can do the same. This is often the delusion that leads many addicts back into addiction. Avoiding old friend groups who still use and avoiding old stomping grounds is something that every addiction professional is going to recommend. Creating a sober friend network and support group is a great idea. Call your loved ones (friends, family) and explain the situation.
Avoid the Revolving Door
The “revolving door phenomenon” occurs when a person repeatedly attempts to get sober but fails to do so. This can involve multiple trips to rehabs, detoxes, and outpatient therapy groups without successful long-term sobriety. The key is to be disciplined and to fill your life with activities and work that make your life meaningful. A relapse is simply an opportunity for more growth and self-understanding. The Latin root of the word “relapse” means to “slip back” and that is all a relapse has to be: a slip. A full-blown relapse does not need to occur if you have the proper tools and support group around you.
If your relapse has turned into a lifestyle again, a medically-supervised detox and rehab may be the best option to get your life back in check. Nothing is more important than physical, mental, and spiritual health, which are usually the first things to go when an addict relapses. There is nothing wrong asking for help. Addiction is often a life-and-death situation for many addicts; with national overdose rates on the rise, addiction must be taken seriously.
Virginia Addiction Consulting
After a relapse, there are a few things an addict can do to mitigate any potential damage. Forgive yourself and understand the reasons behind the relapse. A relapse can be used as a powerful tool for self-development and growth, rather than a catastrophic downward spiral. A relapse can help you understand why you use in the first place, what your triggers are, and what you can do to prevent a future relapse. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help; if there is no end in sight to the relapse, a treatment plan and rehab may be necessary to save the life of an addict.
Recovery Care Partner specializes in addiction consulting in Philadelphia, South Jersey, Richmond, Atlanta, Greenwich, and the Great Washington DC/Baltimore region. We have multiple solutions for pre-treatment and post-treatment concerns, including intervention, recovery care monitoring, transition coaching, and sober companionship and transport. A relapse does not have to be the end of the line. Call Recovery Care Partner at (855) 727-2887 or click here to visit our contact page.Learn More
The American opioid epidemic did not stem from one single factor; over the past three decades, a number of reasons contributed to the HHS declaring a public health emergency in 2017; the HHS, or The Department of Health and Human Services, released a 5-point strategy after declaring this emergency to combat this growing threat to the American public. The five main points included:
-Safer prescribing for opioid medications in the use of pain management
-More support for research-based solutions towards pain management and addiction
-Increased public health surveillance
-Promotion of the education and use of life-saving drugs that can help reverse an overdose
-Better access to recovery and treatment services for the American public
The Trump administration also stated that they would target criminal drug-trafficking organizations based on the lethality of the drugs they peddle; fentanyl and carfentanil are strong enough to kill a person with one hit; carfentanil is estimated to be 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, and 100 times stronger than fentanyl (fentanyl being much stronger than morphine or heroin). A hit smaller than the size of a penny can lead to a fatal overdose.
Reasons for the Opioid Epidemic
Back in the mid-to-late 1990’s, enormous drug companies heavily promoted the use of opioid pain medication to healthcare professionals and the American public. This made the pharmaceutical companies responsible for the mass production of painkillers obscenely rich. These companies convinced healthcare professionals that these medications were indeed non-addictive and safe for the treatment of pain conditions that did not necessarily require opioid medication therapy. This led to the widespread use and misuse of pain management medication across the country.
Today, nearly 140 people – in America alone – die every day from opioid-induced overdoses. It is estimated that more than 2 million people have an opioid use disorder, with over 2 million people misusing pain medication for the first time each year. Since 2013 to 2017, fentanyl overdoses have climbed steadily (from 3,000 a year to 28,000 a year), with more than 220,000 people dying from prescription opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2018. The numbers are startling and especially scary if you know a loved one that suffers from opioid addiction.
Another reason why the use of street drugs such as fentanyl and heroin are on the rise is due to the past over-prescription of opioid painkillers. The majority of current heroin users first started on prescription opioids: when their prescription ran out, they turned to the black market for their fix. The reassurance from the opioid manufacturers that these drugs were non-addictive (which is the furthest thing from the truth) has resulted in a resurgence of heroin users, addicts, and criminal organizations looking to cash in.
Rochester Drug Co-Operative Former CEO Arrested
Speaking of criminality, the former CEO of Rochester Drug has recently been indicted on two counts of conspiracy and drug-trafficking; this prosecution is the first of its kind, as no major opioid manufacturer has been held responsible for the opioid epidemic that is currently ravaging America. According to the prosecution, from 2012 to 2016, Laurence Doud III directed his employees to purposefully turn a blind eye towards suspicious orders of their opioid medications. Doud is charged with unlawfully distributing the powerful opioid medications fentanyl and oxycodone, both of which are comparable or stronger than heroin. The internal compliance office or Rochester Drug flagged 8,300 orders that were deemed as suspicious during 2012-2016, yet only 4 were reported to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
America is finally starting to come to terms with the staggering amount of damage that opioids are capable of, and the powers that be are finally taking notice. The Rochester case will not be the last, as more than 1,600 lawsuits are currently in litigation against major drug manufacturers Purdue Pharma and others. Recently, federal prosecutors charged 60 licensed healthcare professionals across multiple states for illegally distributing (“prescribing”) more than 32 million opioid painkillers.
At Recovery Care Partner, our mission is to help Americans recover from substance abuse. Living a healthy and stable life is possible if an individual gets the right medical attention and care. We work with addicts throughout the recovery process, from intervention to post-rehab coaching and care. If you or a loved one has been affected by the opioid epidemic, visit our contact page or call Recovery Care Partner at (855) 727-2887 today.
800 interventions. 35 years. When you speak to Don Sloane, Founder and Owner of Recovery Care Partner, you have no doubt that you’re speaking to someone who knows and understands substance use disorder and addiction intimately.
Don is a man in long term recovery and knows all too well the reality of this daunting statistic: one in ten Americans suffer from a substance use disorder. Nearly every family is touched by the disease and we have all seen it play out in our own communities. This is why Don has dedicated his career to helping families and businesses learn that addiction is not a curse but rather a disease and that through intervention there is hope and a path to recovery.
This April, as we acknowledge alcohol awareness month and substance use challenges at large, we interviewed Don about what he wishes more people knew about substance use disorder, what he views as warning signs that you or your child might be struggling, and what to be aware of when you’re researching treatment options for you or your loved one.
1. This April marks alcohol awareness month which presents an important opportunity to focus on this specific substance use issue. What do you wish more people knew about alcohol addiction?
In 2017, 65,000 lives were lost to opiates. Over 80,000 lives were lost to alcoholism. The opiate crisis is tragic, but it’s also important not to overlook other forms of substance use that are taking lives: alcohol addiction is the third leading cause of death in America after cancer and heart disease. It is the most treatable, but also the one with the fewest number of people seeking treatment and care. The reason is multi-layered. Alcoholism is tightly wound in decades of stigma; it’s deeply personal, cultural, psycho-emotional and because there can be a genetic predisposition, it’s often linked to generational use and is embedded in the fabric of families. The hidden tragedy is that substance use, like alcoholism, not only impacts the person who has the disease but it can have a particularly powerful ripple effect. It’s estimated that seven to eight people in a person’s community (peers, friends, family) can be directly and adversely impacted by someone who has an addiction.
2. What about alcohol addiction in young people?
There really is no distinction between alcoholism and addiction other than the drug of choice. For some, they may only use alcohol, others may use prescription or street drugs or some combination of both. Regardless of the drug of choice, addiction is an addiction. Roughly 10-20% of people use only alcohol in an addictive way.
What we do see is that for the 10% of the population that is genetically predisposed to substance use disorder addiction they tend to first present in late adolescence or as college-age adults. This time in life can be a key turning point. If there is a co-occurring disease that a young person is already struggling with, this can trigger or ‘turn on’ the addiction once they reach a certain age or face specific pressures – of which there is no shortage once a young person leaves home, goes to college or enters into the workforce for the first time.
3. What are some warning signs that your adolescent or young adult child may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol?
This is best explained by recalling one of the most common things I hear from parents and families – a parent will come to me and say, “Don, my kid was an honor student with a full scholarship to play sports at X school,” (or something along those lines), “Now, I feel like I don’t know them anymore. Are we crazy here? How can they not see this?”
4. Does someone (a young adult, adolescent or adult) have to drink daily to have an alcohol use problem?
The short answer is no. The long answer is that there is a continuum between what we see as alcohol or substance ‘use’ and what we consider alcohol or substance abuse: the disease.
There are people (90% of the population, in fact) who use alcohol, who even self-medicate or soothe with alcohol, but who don’t suffer from an addiction.
Then there is an invisible line on that continuum — and it can sometimes be hard to see where that line is — where an individual crosses from having the ability to choose to drink to losing the option or choice of using. At that point, the substance use becomes chronic and progressive in nature. A key characteristic of the active disease is that it starts to manifest with adverse impacts on your life – at school, at work, at home. In this way, it is completely possible that someone can have an addiction but only drink three times a year, but when they do, they end up in jail or in the hospital. On the other hand, you could drink a glass of wine — or many — daily, and not be considered an addict at all.
5. What do you think makes the structure/philosophy of Recovery Care Partner particularly helpful for young people and families struggling with addiction?
Treatment professionals know how to effectively treat this disease (and there are strong statistics that indicate that it can be treated – a survey conducted on doctors who underwent a strict treatment plan in 2009, found that 80% were still abstinent after 5 years). Our approach (and that of places we are confident referring to and working with like The Dorm), is to recommend three key parts of establishing a sustainable recovery: participation in a 12-step program, an accountability structure and random screening. I would add to that: love, compassion, clarity and firmness. By clarity and firmness, I mean that it is possible to love your child/friend or partner to death if you don’t know how to draw the line and establish healthy boundaries and limits. Compassion can be saying, “We can’t have a relationship right now if you refuse the help you so desperately need.”
6. What challenges do you see in the field of substance use, addiction and recovery care, particularly as it relates to young adults today?
• Marijuana. As marijuana becomes legalized, we’re seeing more and more young people using it than ever before. And many individuals don’t know that marijuana can ‘switch on’ mental health issues and even psychosis (for those who have a genetic predisposition). People forget that though alcohol is legal it remains the third biggest killer in the United States; just because something is legal doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful.
• Many families struggle to realize that the entire family unit might need support, not just the individual in isolation. Plucking a child from their dorm, or life, and sending them to treatment, only to return them to the same situation and dynamic, is nonsensical. I’m encouraged to see more service providers that keep families involved through family therapy or that go so far as to have them live with a child during therapy as part of a family restructuring.
7. On the flip-side, what makes you optimistic about supporting individuals in need today versus when you started Recovery Care Partners in 2009?
There is always, of course, a lot to be optimistic about, but right now the most glaring shift I’ve seen versus ten plus years ago is how much therapy and recovery programming has become big business. Many providers have opened up that simply have deep pockets. The treatment industry is estimated to be worth $35B in the United States and there are many groups and investors willing to take advantage of this and have acted irresponsibly. I see many, many families who have spent their hard-earned discretionary money with a treatment center, only to be left more fractured and desperate than before.
The good news is that there are plenty of ethical and value-based providers, many of whom are members of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) who has started lobbying on Capitol Hill in the hopes of enacting change and encouraging more oversight.
8. It’s an important point and a worrying trend. What recommendations do you have for families and young people who are trying to find legitimate and value-based care for addiction?
A few things:
• Trust your gut – I truly believe that you know when you’re being ‘taken for a ride’. Does the person on the other side of the call sound like they are interested in providing care, or taking your money? If one of the first or second questions they ask is, “What is your insurance?”, hang up. Plain and simple.
• Speak to your community and to individuals who have gone through what you have. Oftentimes, they will become the biggest advocates for the resources that have worked for them. Look up resources on Al-Anon or ask around in your 12-step groups. Also, look up providers on SAMHSA and NAATP that have been more thoroughly vetted.
9. Anything else you want to share that we didn’t already cover?
I do want people to know that there is hope — no guarantees — but plenty of hope.
When people look for treatment, be it for cancer or heart disease, they don’t hesitate or pause to seek out care or help, even if there is a 50% success rate. For many reasons I’ve covered, this is not the case with substance use addiction, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
And, please stop Googling. The best step is to seek out professional support. It’s there, I promise you.Learn More