fentanyl overdose

Fentanyl Overdose: Recognize the Signs of Addiction Before It’s Too Late

Fentanyl often referred to as heroin’s synthetic cousin is a synthetic opioid that is known for being much stronger than heroin and other analgesics. This deadly drug has been gaining exposure in the addiction world and is one of the leading causes of drug abuse overdose. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and even more so than heroin. Whether the drug is being added to other opioids or taken alone, using fentanyl increases the likelihood of fatal overdose.  Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction in yourself or a loved one is key to getting the right treatment before it’s too late. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a type of opioid, typically found in powder form, that was intended to be an anesthetic. Pharmaceutical companies marketed the drug as an anesthetic but it was later discovered that it had a dual ability to act as a painkiller when given in small quantities.  Hospitals and trained clinical doctors began carefully measuring the appropriate dosage of fentanyl to ensure the dose was not only effective but safe. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were 19,413 synthetic opioid-related overdoses in 2016 alone. Fatal Overdoses involving synthetic opioids including fentanyl, increased almost 47% from 2016 to 2017.3 Roughly 28,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2017.

National law enforcement has indicated that much of the synthetic opioid overdose increase may be due to illegally or illicitly made fentanyl.

When the drug is bought off the streets, the dose and mix of chemicals is not regulated and often dealers and users don’t realize how strong fentanyl really is. To get the same effect as a typical dose of heroin, you would only need about 1/10th of the amount. Fentanyl also looks identical to heroin and is often mixed up.  These reasons all increase the deadliness of fentanyl and cause high overdose rates. 

Side Effects of Fentanyl

  • Mania
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea 
  • Constipation
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Overdose 

Like morphine, heroin, and other opioids, fentanyl works by communicating with the parts of the brain that cause emotions and pain. It increases the “feel good” chemicals and decreases both physical and emotional pain. Addiction to opioids can cause the brain to become dependant on the drug to feel pleasure. In turn, attempting to quit can lead to severe anxiety, depression, and mental health issues. 

Apart from the short term effects, Fentanyl may cause, repeated use can leave lasting damage to the body. 

Some of the Long Term Side Effects Include:

  • Heart Failure
  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Damage
  • Infertility
  • Mental Health Deterioration
  • Brain Damage
  • Death

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction in your loved one could help you intervene before it’s too late. Addiction changes people’s behavior and overall personality. If you suspect that your loved one is using drugs, and any of the below signs are true for them, you should consider intervening. Some of the more common symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction include:

  • Irritability
  • Manic/Depressive Behavior
  • Anger Tantrums 
  • Loss of Interest in everyday life
  • Stealing Money 
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Not keeping in touch with family or friends
  • Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

  • Severe Confusion
  • Slow Breathing
  • Trouble Walking, Talking, and Hearing
  • Obvious Sedation
  • Constricted Pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

A fentanyl overdose has the potential to be fatal.  if you think you or a loved is using fentanyl recreationally and may be suffering from addiction, be sure to purchase and always carry Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio). Naloxone is a medication designed to reverse the effects of an overdose and increase the chances of survival. When administered within a reasonable amount of time, it has been known to save lives. Since Fentanyl always creates a sedated like state of being, it’s important to know how to recognize an overdose so you can administer Naloxone when needed. 

According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose in the Nation and is only increasing. This is likely done to it being less expensive than heroin but much stronger. Many people overdose from Fentanyl by accident thinking it is heroin, or not knowing that extra fentanyl was added to other drugs. 

When too much Fentanyl enters the body, the nervous system is overwhelmed and basic bodily functions shut down. At the same time, since fentanyl is a depressant, the respiratory system is also harmed.

If you or a loved one exhibits any of these symptoms while using fentanyl, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately. Even if you are unaware that fentanyl has put into your drugs, these symptoms should never be ignored. 

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction 

Addiction to Fentanyl is a serious illness that requires a full medical rehabilitation plan. The first step in any addiction treatment is a drug detox. This period of time will enable the individual to safely and effectively rid their body of the drug and its harmful toxins. From there, individuals will typically enter an inpatient residential treatment. 

Residential treatment centers offer the individual a place to rebuild their health, both physical and mental, under the supervision of qualified professionals. Treatment centers will have licensed therapists, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, pharmacists, and holistic practitioners on hand to help with every aspect of recovery. 

Each Individual will have a personalized treatment plan with services tailored to meet their needs. Different combinations of talk therapy, medicated assistance, and holistic treatments will ensure a full recovery is achieved, and long term aftercare is planned. Addiction is a lifelong disease, and detoxing isn’t enough. Going back even for just “one last high” has the potential to cause a fatal overdose. A full treatment plan under the supervision of clinical professionals is needed to ensure lifelong recovery. 

You can reach our team of professionals by contacting us here.

parenting in recovery

Tips for Parenting in Recovery

In recovery, there is hope. Parenting in recovery gives you the opportunity to build a healthy, happy home environment and raise resilient, joyful children. 

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 25 percent of kids in the United States under the age of 18 experience alcohol abuse or dependence in their families. And many more grow up in homes where parents abuse drugs. The impact can be devastating.

But how exactly do you create a healthy home and what are the tricks to parenting in recovery successfully, you ask?

No one said it would be easy. Parenting is tough for everyone. But love and willingness go a long way and make it possible to guide and positively impact your children’s lives. 

Here are some of our favorite tips for parenting in recovery. Keep reading to see which ones resonate and empower you and then dive in.

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

You can’t give what you don’t have. And if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of your kids.

It’s like when you’re on the tarmac ready to take off in an airplane, and you’re reminded to put on your oxygen mask first. It’s logical. And it’s a great metaphor to keep in your back pocket as you parent. 

Your first reaction might be to overcompensate for addictive behavior before you got sober. You might feel guilty or feel shame. It’s okay. It’s normal to have these feelings, but you don’t need to act on them.

Your kids need you to be parenting from a solid, healthy place. Because from that place, you can make sound choices. 

So keep your recovery going and take care of your basic needs, and you’ll find that you have more energy. Time for your kids will just fall into place. 

Focus on the Diamonds

By diamonds, we mean positive things. The spotlight probably has been on you and your addiction and recovery. You don’t have to think about it at home with your kids anymore. You can do that in your recovery program that you’re so valiantly using like an oxygen mask.

At home, focus on the now. Focus on what you’re doing right and what your kids are doing right. Don’t just focus on the chores and homework and the “perfect” right. Instead, focus on the things that you’re all working hard at and also enjoying.

Think little things. Think about playing hard at a sport or about learning something new and interesting at school. Think about playing a board game together, going to the movies together, or watching a weekly show.

Think about reading together at bedtime or enjoying a meal together, either home cooked or from a fun, favorite take-out spot.

Encouraging your kids in areas where they shine and are happy builds self-esteem. Do this for yourself too. And praise your whole family when you play and work hard together. 

Let Your Kids Have Feelings

This is a two-part tip. First, acknowledge feelings and accept them without spinning out. This is easy with positive emotions, but it’s important with the negative ones too, especially if emotions are directed at you. If kids are angry, they’re angry. Don ‘t try to fix it or tell them that they’re not angry. The same holds true for sad feelings.

Just sit with them and give them a hug so they know you’re solid and there to support them as they move through the emotion. This teaches them that it will pass and they have a solid support system.

If you have older kids and they’re hunkering down behind a closed door, just let them know that you’re there. Then when they’ve cooled down, you can talk about it. 

If a big emotion triggers you, stay solid around your kids and then go let loose with a sponsor or someone in your recovery or parenting circles. 

Let Them Know They’re Not Responsible for Your Feelings

Part two is to let your kids know that they aren’t responsible for you and can’t fix you or your feelings. In families with alcoholism and addiction, often the kids feel responsible for their parents or think the problem is their fault. It just all feels so out of control that taking responsibility is a solution in a kid’s eyes. But it’s not healthy.

Simply let them know you’re in charge of yourself. Acknowledge your own feelings and tell them it will pass. “I’m feeling sad right now, and it will pass. It’s nothing to do with you. I’ve got this.” 

Talk Openly

Your kids probably know more than you think about what you have been through. It’s a good idea to acknowledge what has happened. Let them know that you were “sick” or “not feeling well.” Apologize and assure them that you are recovering. Let them know you are taking care of yourself so that you get better/stay healthy and that you have people helping you.

With younger kids, you can throw the “I’m sorry I couldn’t pick you up from school” in during your everyday activities. With older kids, make it more formal. Let them know you have something important to talk about. Keep it direct.

Explain what alcoholism/addiction is. Explain what recovery is. Explain what that will look like for you and the family. For example, you can describe how many meetings a week you will go to. You can tell them whom you will call if you need help and how you will be of service/help to others. This will show your kids that hope and community are there for the whole family.

Lean In

Lean into the sobriety community or other community that supports you. Let your kids know how they can be a part of the community too. Explore Alanon family groups for help or Alateen for teens of alcoholics and addicts.

Do Fun Stuff Together

Your kids need to play and laugh. And so do you. Laughter, play, love, and joy keep us all coming back for more. Without it, what’s the point? 

Having fun motivates us to stay healthy and sober. In fact, fun and hobbies can help our recovery. And seeing our kids having fun too is the icing on the cake. Playing together builds strong family bonds, heals relationships, and creates a solid foundation for your kids. It will help build confidence for everyone.

Get something fun on the schedule every day. Even if it’s small, like reading together or next to each other every night for ten minutes. Play a quick daily game or eat ice cream or watch your favorite show. 

The key here is to get play on the schedule and make it part of your routine. It gives everyone something to look forward to. And when your kids see you showing up for them and yourself repeatedly, it rebuilds trust. 

Parenting in Recovery Is so Rewarding

Parenting in recovery may seem like the biggest mountain you ever will have to climb. But it’s doable and amazingly rewarding.

Even if your kids take a while to warm back up and trust you, stick with it. And when in doubt, simply love and hug or wait out a bad spell in the next room. Just showing up and staying will go a long way. And remember: You got this!

Also, remember that you are not alone, and when it gets tough, there is hope. Contact us today for any questions about parenting in recovery or recovery, detox, and treatment itself. We have ongoing support and guidance through sobriety. We have your back.

addiction family disease

How to Cope When Addiction is a Family Disease

Did you know addiction in families is such a common occurrence that 1 in 8 minors lived with a parent (or more) who has had a substance abuse disorder in the past year?

This can have negative effects on the child that can persist through their adult lives. They may form negative habits or negative emotions that can impair their daily lives.

The sober parent will also develop issues from the addiction of the other parent. Furthermore, it may strain their relationship with their siblings and their own parents.

This is why addiction is a family disease – it affects the whole family and even friends. This is also why treatment for addiction is something the whole family must go through. Read on to find out how the family can work through it together.

Why Addiction is a Family Disease

A family is a system in which the parts are all connected to each other. Each unit may have different purposes, but the way one moves affects the way all others move. Hence, when one part changes, it affects the stability of the home and may form stresses on the system.

Think of the family members as the wheels of a car – all must go in one direction so the whole family can move forward. When one tire goes missing, the whole thing becomes unstable and dangerous.

That’s why you can consider addiction as a family disease. It causes harm to the unity of the family and the health of the individual members. An addicted person usually disregards his/her responsibilities at home, which might lead others to shoulder that responsibility, which might then cause resentment.

A worse scenario is when the troubled member becomes violent to the other members. When worse comes to worst, the family may end up cutting ties with the addicted person.

Likewise, treating addiction is also a family affair. This is because the patient needs support from the ones closest to him/her during this process. The kind of support they get will determine whether they will have a successful recovery.

Even if family members are successful in making the first push toward recovery, drug addicts can still go into relapse. For instance, they must force the addict to receive further treatment after detoxification process, even if they already feel well. The ones who go through this first step without treatment will most likely go back to using drugs.

How to Work Through Addiction as a Family

Families have different ways to cope with addiction in the family, but there are wrong ways to do it. To learn what to do instead, consider our tips below on working through addiction as a family unit.

1. Learn About Addiction

There are a lot of studies of drug abuse on the internet, which can help change the mindset of families about it. They may recognize that the addicted person needs help, not anger or violence to make them snap out of it.

Since addiction is a medical condition, addicted people are patients that need medical treatments, too. Learning about its causes and treatments can also make families hopeful about recovery.

2. Recognize the Addiction

First, the family must intervene when they see signs of addiction in a family member. Many families choose to remain silent in hopes that the addicted one will work it out themselves. It’s rare that this course of action works out for all parties – if it happens at all.

Treatment begins with seeking it. If the addicted person isn’t doing it themselves, the family must help him/her toward it.

If you have a family member who’s addicted, don’t be afraid to call them out on it. Communicate with the other family members and stage an intervention to help the troubled member realize their wrongdoings and know that they can seek help with the support of the whole family.

3. Don’t Provide Support

Too often, families get duped into thinking that one has changed and they only need one last push to complete the transition. They may lend money to help the addicted person pay their bills, for example. However, this only worsens the whole situation.

This only allows them to continue acting that way as they know they’ll get help when they need it. In this example, they’ll continue to spend their own money on drugs since someone will be paying their bills.

Another way to provide unhelpful support is to shoulder their responsibilities. A husband with an addicted wife, for instance, may pull double shifts when the wife loses her job due to drugs. A parent may shoulder the house chores assigned to their addicted child since he/she can’t do it anymore.

The husband and the parent in these examples are solving the problems for the addict. Yes, this can make them feel bad in the short-term. Still, it’s favorable to the addict in the long-term since they don’t have to worry about anything else.

Unless what you’re giving is medical help, resist the urge to “help.” They need to feel the consequences of their actions. This can help them wake up and seek treatment for themselves.

4. Go to Family Therapy Sessions

As addiction is hard for the whole family, everyone needs to recover from it, too. It can help break down the anger, stress, guilt, distrust, and other negative feelings that the family has accumulated.

These family therapy sessions have a high success rate in transforming the dynamic of the family into a well-tuned one. These can help resolve conflicts and help understand the struggles of the addict, as well.

This may also help resolve the reason why the person turned to drugs in the first place. The sessions will help the family identify it and then they can work through it on their own terms.

Get the Right Treatment for Addiction

As addiction is a family disease, it’s the family who must take initiative in finding the right treatment. It should have studies backing it as a reliable form of treatment and not DIY treatments off the internet. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact us today and let us help you work through it as a family.

dating during recovery

Is Dating During Recovery a Good Idea?

Recovery is a process, a long one in many cases. It’s a relinquishing of an addiction to drugs and alcohol and a rebuilding of a new life. In recovery, addicts can find good health, self-awareness, and peace. 

It can be tempting to jump into a new relationship during this time of discovery, but is dating during recovery a good idea? We’ll explore the issue in this article and look at why it might be a good idea to delay dating for a while.

What Is Recovery?

Recovery can mean different things, but generally, it involves more than just abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Yes, part of the recovery process will involve detoxing from those substances, but long-term change requires more than simply not using.

In fact, the term “dry drunk” refers to an addict who is not drinking but is still plagued with emotional and psychological issues. He quit drinking but hasn’t yet tackled the underlying problems that may have contributed to his addiction.

Addiction is a disease that often fuels a dangerous and destructive lifestyle. Lasting change occurs when the addict faces his deepest issues, issues that either drove his need to seek comfort in substances or that developed as a result of his addiction.

In recovery, the addict learns to rebuild her emotional stability. She may enter rehab and recovery overwhelmed with feelings of regret, low self-esteem, sadness, and guilt. Recovery is a chance to start over, to dig out all those painful emotions and face them. It’s an opportunity to build a new foundation with the tools learned during the recovery process.

A big part of a successful recovery is learning to regain control over your life and your choices. You’re not that dry drunk, hanging on by your fingernails and fighting the urge to use again. That kind of addictive, compulsive behavior prevents you from making good choices that come from deep within you. When an area of your life is out of control, it’s next to impossible to live a sober, happy life.

That’s why many addiction specialists encourage people in recovery to wait a year before they begin dating.

Dating During Recovery

When an addict begins the recovery process, she’s finding out who she is and what she believes in.  It sounds simple, but those concepts have often been buried beneath years of drug abuse, trauma, and emotional damage. 

Recovery often means working a 12 step program through organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The 12 step process addresses every aspect of addiction- physical, spiritual, mental and emotional.

Most recovering addicts have a history of dysfunctional and destructive relationships.  They were either using throughout the relationship, or their use of drugs and alcohol caused them to engage with people they wouldn’t have chosen in sobriety.

Addicts in recovery learn about healthy relationships, often for the first time in their lives. They discover ways to overcome their feelings of anger, isolation, and fear. They gradually begin to trust themselves to share their hopes, fears, and dreams with others.

It is an extremely vulnerable and often uncomfortable place for a newly-sober addict. She has to break the habit of hiding from uncomfortable feelings by using drugs and alcohol. In some cases, the sober alcoholic might try to soothe herself instead with a new relationship.

Addiction Transfer

Addiction specialists often refer to this as a transfer of addictions. If the alcoholic can’t escape in a bottle, she may try to do so in a relationship. 12 step programs refer to spiritual guidance as a “higher power”. The danger of dating during recovery is that the new love interest can become the addict’s higher power.

In fact, the same brain chemical that makes an addict feel good when she uses drugs gives her the same high in response to sexual stimulation.

Addicts in recovery eventually learn they can’t use the same thinking in sobriety than they used in their drug abuse. But early in the process, an addict might still be using distorted or defensive thinking patterns, poor planning skills, reduced memory, and impaired cognitive functions. Her choice of a dating partner won’t likely be a good one.

Another problem that can occur is the danger of relapse if the relationship doesn’t work out. The addict is still developing healthy coping skills but may not be secure enough in them to deal with a broken relationship in healthy ways. 

What to Do Instead

The focus of recovery is, and should be, on helping the addict learn new ways of thinking, new ways of relating to people and new ways of coping with life’s stresses. The addict learns to like herself again, by facing her past and making amends for her old behaviors.

Exercise, good nutrition, and mindfulness all play a role in developing a healthy, happy lifestyle. Recovery is a wonderful time for newly-sober addicts to discover hobbies and activities to replace the time they used to spend in bars and hanging out with other addicts. 

12 step programs also play an important role. In recovery, the addict can focus on working the steps and attending meetings, rather than on finding a new boyfriend or girlfriend. She begins to rebuild her self-esteem through the development of new life skills, new friendships, and meaningful work.

Her sobriety and recovery are the priority and must come first. We all tend to choose dating relationships with people who are at roughly the same maturity level as we are. It stands to reason then, as the addict progresses through recovery, she will begin to seek out different people than she might have chosen in her early days of sobriety.

Final Thoughts

Dating during recovery can also pose a problem if two addicts begin dating, in or out of rehab. Everyone progresses through recovery at a different speed, and it can be problematic if one person isn’t taking his recovery as seriously as his new relationship is.

Most addiction specialists recommend people in recovery wait a year before they start dating again, so they can focus on their health and their future.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, we can help. Please reach out to us at any time.  

sobriety toolbox

Creating a Sobriety Toolbox

Approximately 22 million Americans are currently in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.

Are you part of this group? If so, then you know that getting sober is only the first step in the recovery process.

Every day, you have to make a choice to stay sober and continue progressing. As you probably know, that’s not always easy to do. This is where a sobriety toolbox can come in very handy.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of creating a sobriety toolbox and what you should put in yours.

What Is a Sobriety Toolbox?

A sobriety toolbox contains all of the tools you turn to when you’re feeling triggered or having a difficult time maintaining your sobriety.

It takes a lot of work to stay sober, especially when your time in a recovery program is over and you’re transitioning back to “real” life.

Having a variety of tools handy will help you respond to triggers and stressors in a healthy and appropriate way.

Types of Sobriety Toolboxes

There are a few different types of sobriety toolboxes you can use. The right type of sobriety toolbox for you will vary depending on your personality, the resources you have access to, and the specific situations that tend to trigger you.

The following are some options you might want to consider: 

Online Toolbox

An online toolbox is an online document or spreadsheet that you can use to brainstorm tools that will help you with your sobriety.

It might include links to fun videos or websites that contain uplifting or motivational content.

The great thing about an online toolbox is that you can access it from anywhere using your smartphone. This makes it a highly convenient option.

Paper List 

Some people prefer the old-fashioned approach and just write down a list of go-to tools that they keep in their purse or wallet.

This list might contain reminders to take deep breaths or take a walk around the block. It could also contain phone numbers of people you can call to talk about why you’re feeling triggered.

If you take this approach, it’s a good idea to keep the list relatively short. That way, you won’t have too many options to sort through when you’re struggling and need some support.

Physical Toolbox

Finally, you might also want to create a physical sobriety toolbox.

This could be a box, a bag, or any other kind of tangible receptacle that holds items that provide you with comfort and help you stay focused on your goals.

It might contain relaxing teas, essential oils, your favorite book, a motivational letter you’ve written to yourself, or any other objects that have meaning for you. 

What to Put in a Sobriety Toolbox

Whether you decide to take the digital approach, the paper approach, or the tangible box approach, there are lots of different items that you might want to include in your sobriety toolbox. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can help you to calm down and feel more grounded when you’re dealing with stress or temptation. You can use meditation apps to learn new exercises or simply close your eyes and take ten deep breaths.

Soothing Teas

There are many different teas out there that contain calming, soothing ingredients. Kava tea is a great option, as is chamomile tea, peppermint tea, and any tea that contains lavender. 

Yoga Videos

Bookmark links to some yoga YouTube videos. That way, you have something to turn to when you need to relax and put yourself at ease.

Sobriety Calculator

A sobriety calculator is a great tool that helps you stay focused on your goal. When you use one, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come and how much progress you’ve made.

Prayer

Sometimes, the best thing to do when you’re feeling triggered is to say a prayer. There are lots of pre-written prayers that you can recite (including the Serenity Prayer), or you can simply speak from the heart and ask for support.

Exercise

Exercising is a great tool for anyone who wants to feel their best and stay healthy while they’re in recovery.

Maybe you can include a reminder to go for a walk or do some strength training in your toolbox. Or, you could include exercise equipment, such as a jump rope. 

Calming or Uplifting Music

Listening to calming or uplifting music can also work wonders when you’re feeling stressed out or tempted to give up. Include links to favorite songs in your sobriety toolbox or create a playlist that you can turn to whenever you need a boost.

A Favorite Treat

It’s important to prioritize your health in recovery. Sometimes, though, you just need a treat. Keep your favorite candy bar or snack in your toolbox so you have something to give you a little extra comfort when you’re having a hard day.

Phone Numbers

You need to have a strong support system when you’re in recovery. In your toolbox, you should have the phone numbers of people who can give you some encouragement and keep you motivated on days when you’re struggling.

Reading

Finally, consider keeping a favorite book or poem in your recovery toolbox, too. Reading can be a great distraction and can help you to unwind after a difficult day. If reading is not your thing, consider audiobooks or podcasts instead.

Start Working Toward Sobriety Today

Whether you’re brand new to recovery or have been sober for months or even years, a sobriety toolbox can help you maintain your sobriety and avoid a relapse.

Even if you’re not sober yet but are thinking about it, you can benefit from putting together a sobriety toolbox for yourself.

If you need help beginning your recovery journey and putting that toolbox to use, we’re here for you at Addiction Treatment Services.

Contact us today to get information on recovery programs in your area.

We have admissions specialists available at all times to answer your questions and get you on the right path toward sobriety.

dealing with grief

Advice for Dealing with Death and Grief While in Recovery

Advice for Dealing with Death and Grief While in Recovery

The loss of a loved one has been described as life’s most stressful event. It triggers a profound sense of grief, an outward expression of loss. Grief can be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Dealing with death and the grieving process can be especially difficult for people recovering from addiction. Grief and sadness are feelings so many of us want to avoid, and in the addict, they can trigger a relapse. But, there are things you can do to deal with grief and stay sober.

Understanding Grief

When someone we love dies, our sadness can feel overwhelming. Part of the grieving process is allowing ourselves to experience that loss and all the feelings that come with it. Some people may feel numb at first, but there is no “right” emotion or order of feelings. Common emotions may include:

  • Denial
  • Disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Shock
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Despair
  • Guilt

It’s important to understand that all those feelings are normal, and they can cause physical responses like anxiety attacks, chronic fatigue, depression and thoughts of suicide.

Grief and the Recovering Addict

Grief can affect our ability to think clearly and process information. Dealing with grief is painful, and an addict’s reaction to painful situations is often to numb that pain with drugs and alcohol.

We often hear addicts say things like, “I just want to stop feeling this way”, or “I want the pain to stop”.

Helping addicts in recovery deal with grief and loss is often critical to protecting them against future relapses and worsening depression. Someone in recovery must learn to feel feelings and express them in healthy ways. If he doesn’t, those feelings will still come out, only in unhealthy ways. 

One mental health professional compares this struggle to avoid painful emotions to being stuck in quicksand. The harder someone struggles to get out, the deeper he sinks. Denying these feelings by burying them under drugs and alcohol will only delay them. But if the recovering addict can allow himself to experience grief and express sadness, those awful feelings will gradually begin to fall away on their own.

Dealing with Death in Recovery

A critical part of supporting an addict in recovery is to help him develop healthy activities, habits, and relationships. Newly-sober men and women often find themselves alone and helping them find support systems is vital.

Here are some ways to deal with grief and stay sober:

Ask for help. It’s not unusual for someone in recovery to isolate himself. He may do so as part of his recovery to stay away from the people he did drugs with, for example. But dealing with grief and loss alone is next to impossible. It’s important to reach out to family, friends or a mental health professional for support.

Be creative. People in recovery are often encouraged to write about their experiences in a journal or perhaps draw or paint them. This creative process can also help with grief. You might write a letter to the person who died and tell them all the things you wish you had said when they were alive. You might consider planting a tree in their memory.

Get moving. Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re grieving, but it can help to get physical. Make time for hobbies you enjoy. Those might include running or kayaking or simply walking outside. The idea is to get outside, both physically and mentally. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Get out of your own head and focus on something physical as a way to take a break from your grief. 

Eat healthily. You may not feel much like eating in the midst of your grief, but it’s critical to maintain a healthy diet. If you’re not eating well, it’s even more difficult to think clearly and stay strong enough to resist the temptation to use drugs and alcohol again. Good nutrition will give you the physical and mental strength you need to deal with stress. You might ask a friend or relative to help you prepare meals and eat with you. 

Go to a meeting. 12 step programs are the cornerstone of recovery for millions of addicts. Even if you’ve been sober for years and haven’t attended a meeting recently, that support network can help you process your grief in healthy ways. Fellow addicts in recovery can help guide you through the sadness and loss in ways that don’t threaten your sobriety.

Pray or meditate. You may have learned about meditation in the early stages of your recovery. It can be very helpful now, as you deal with grief and loss. You might ask a friend to join you at a yoga class or simply spend time in quiet contemplation. Prayer and meditation can help you process all the emotions you’re experiencing in a healthy environment. 

Own your feelings. It’s important to understand that your feelings are unique and normal. Resist the urge to compare your feelings to someone else’s. Your path is yours and yours alone. There is no right way to grieve, and there is no right time to stop grieving. This can happen sometimes in families who have lost someone close to them. If you’ve lost a parent, you may compare your healing to your siblings’ and wonder why your grief seems so much worse. Feeling like there’s something wrong with you can trigger a response that’s not healthy, and a relapse will only make you feel worse.

Get professional help. Dealing with strong emotions can be frightening for people in recovery who aren’t used to all those painful feelings. If you find yourself in a dark well of sadness that you can’t get out of, or if you’re contemplating suicide, reach out to a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Final Thoughts

It’s not unusual for someone in recovery to find themselves dealing with a death that happened a long time ago. Using drugs and alcohol may have prevented you from grieving the loss when it happened. Your emotions now may be delayed grief, and they’re just as powerful as grief over a recent loss.

If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction, we can help. Please reach out to us any time for help with addiction and recovery. 

xanax withdrawal

Unique New Approaches to Xanax Withdrawal Treatment

Maybe you started abusing Xanax because you just needed some relief. You were anxious, fearful, sleep-deprived, and depressed. Your life was spiraling out of control, and you couldn’t find a safe harbor. You needed a moment of calm; a moment of rest. Then, your doctor saw that you were struggling and wrote a prescription.

It helped for a while. Now, though, you can’t live without it. It’s not about finding the calm anymore. It’s just about feeling normal. And every day, it’s taking more pills to get you there.

You want to quit, but you have heard horror stories about Xanax withdrawal. What can you do?

Read on to learn more about Xanax addiction and treatment options!

What is Xanax?

Xanax belongs to a class of anti-anxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines. Often, these drugs are prescribed on a very short-term basis to reduce pain and anxiety associated with medical procedures. Sometimes, however, benzodiazepines are also prescribed to treat chronic conditions, such as anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizures.

The more prolonged the use of these medications, however, the higher the chance of addiction. Xanax and related drugs, such as Ativan and Valium, are among the most addictive prescription drugs on the market. They are also among the most dangerous. 

The Dangers of Xanax

Benzodiazepines can lead to severe and often fatal side effects when used excessively or when mixed with other substances, such as alcohol. 

Xanax is highly sedating, meaning that the likelihood of accidents when driving a car while under the influence can be quite high, particularly for those who are sensitive to the drug.

When used excessively, Xanax can also lead to confusion and memory loss. Abusers may be unable to recall when they took their medication or how much, leading to an overdose.

Because Xanax is a sedative, users may not even recognize they have overdosed. They may just feel very sleepy. Still, the respiratory-suppressing effects of Xanax mean that if you have overdosed and you lie down to sleep, you will probably never wake up.

Xanax Withdrawal

As frightening as Xanax addiction can be, withdrawal can be just as terrifying. This can make such drugs enormously challenging to break free from, the process requiring intensive and long-lasting support.

report from the NIH found, for example, that patients seeking to end Xanax use should do so under the care of skilled professionals. This is because the physical and psychological effects of weaning off the drug can be severe and even life-threatening for some patients.

This includes not only intense physical symptoms, such as tremors, pain, nausea, and seizures but also severe psychiatric effects, ranging from panic to psychosis.

Alternatives to Xanax  

The best way to avoid the thrall of Xanax addiction and the terrors of withdrawal, of course, is never to turn to benzos for long-term use in the first place. A growing body of research shows that there are many safe, non-addictive alternatives to Xanax on the market today.

Among the most effective, if not exactly tasty, of these alternatives are teas and tinctures made from the kava root. In fact, kava and Xanax are so similar in their sedating effects, that doctors warn against taking the two together.

In addition to natural alternatives, a recent Harvard study found that cognitive-behavioral therapy can be as effective as Xanax. This form of treatment can assist in treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, and panic disorder.

What If You Are Already Addicted?

Never starting the drug in the first place may be good advice. For many, though, the warning comes too late.

Benzodiazepines were once considered a sort of wonder drug of the medical world. They first entered the market in 1955, and by the mid-1970s, physicians were handing them out like candy. By the time the medical profession began to recognize the dangers of benzos in the late 1980s, it was already too late. Millions of people were getting addicted. And today, nearly three decades later, they still are. 

For patients who are already addicted, Xanax can seem like a prison they can’t escape. Withdrawal, to some, may appear as bad, if not worse, than the addiction itself.

But Xanax addiction does not have to a life sentence, even for the most excessive of abusers.

Research increasingly shows that there are safe and effective options to help abusers wean off the medication without having to endure the worst of those terrifying withdrawal symptoms. When withdrawing from Xanax use, the most important thing is receiving support in a controlled environment.

You have to be somewhere where you can be continuously monitored by professionals who know what symptoms to watch for and how to react to protect you, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Your environment also has to be carefully controlled. Quiet and calm are essential as the drug leaves your body. Medications may be required to safeguard against the physical and psychiatric side effects of withdrawal. Holistic remedies, such as meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, and massage, may also be used to make the process as comfortable as possible.

The Takeaway

To say that there is an addiction crisis in America is not breaking news. Nearly 100,000 people die each year by drug overdoses. These are our neighbors. Our friends. Our dearest loved ones.

But addiction does not have to mean death. It is possible to escape the thrall of even the most highly addictive and punishing of drugs. 

The effects of Xanax withdrawal are, without a doubt, terrifying. It requires courage, strength, and support to face them. What is even more terrifying than the withdrawal, though, is the very real possibility of living an addicted life. After all, life is sure to be shorter and far less happy with Xanax addiction.

No matter how long you have used, no matter how extreme your addiction, there is a life for you on the other side of this drug. You can get sober, and you don’t have to do it alone. There is hope, and there is help for you.

Please visit our website to learn more about Xanax addiction and the treatment options available. Addiction Treatment Services can help you break free from your addiction.

References

Ait-Daoud, N., Hamby, A. S., Sharma, S., & Blevins, D. (2018). A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846112/

Benzodiazepine Abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/benzodiazepine-abuse

Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Benzodiazepines (and the alternatives). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/benzodiazepines_and_the_alternatives

Katz, J., & Sanger-katz, M. (2018, November 29). ‘The Numbers Are So Staggering.’ Overdose Deaths Set a Record Last Year. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/29/upshot/fentanyl-drug-overdose-deaths.html

Kava: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-872/kava

Nichols, H. (2017, December 07). Xanax: Warnings, uses, and side effects. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263490.php

Santiago, R. (2018, July 16). This murky tea is nature’s Xanax. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2018/04/02/this-murky-tea-is-natures-xanax/

Wick, J. Y. (2013, September). The history of benzodiazepines. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24007886

Withdrawal Management. (1970, January 01). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/

painkiller addiction

Unique New Approaches to Painkiller Addiction Treatment

Nearly 75% of all prescription drug abuse stems from painkillers. So, whatever approaches we’re using for chronic pain management need to be updated. Thanks to continued medical research and scientific advancement, we are always finding incredible new ways to treat chronic pain. And, by replacing painkillers, we can properly address painkiller addiction on a large scale.

Here are four of the most promising new approaches to painkiller addictions that have developed in recent years.

1. Alternative Medication

If you suffer from a chronic pain condition, then alternative medications may be the best way to treat it. Doctors and pharmacists are finding new ways to address chronic pain without the need for addictive painkillers like opioids. While these medications might not have the same potency as opioids, they provide relief without the risk of addiction development.

Doctors are recommending over-the-counter acetaminophen as an alternative to painkillers. According to the American College of Rheumatology, more powerful versions of branded Tylenol provide powerful help. According to doctors, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can provide more efficient and powerful pain relief than oral opioids alone.

NSAIDs or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs provide something more potent than acetaminophen. These over-the-counter medications can lower fevers, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation. For some older patients, they can even help with GI problems, cardiovascular issues, and even prevent the risk of blood clotting.

Serotonin and reuptake inhibitors are also effective. Anti-depressants can help with nerve, muscular, and skeletal pain as well as to improve mood.

By using these and similar medications for chronic pain, people can avoid using painkillers entirely, and, therefore, avoid the risk of painkiller addiction.

2. Electronic Dispensers

If someone needs treatment for chronic pain during or after addiction rehab, it can be a challenge to find a solution that doesn’t risk their health.

When addiction is already part of past issues or family history, it can feel like there are very few solutions for chronic pain treatment. Moreover, some people need help managing their pain at home while they wait to get into an addiction treatment program.

Thankfully, buprenorphine can help manage both chronic pain and cravings for addictive painkillers. In fact, buprenorphine helps ease painkiller withdrawal symptoms and blocks the high when painkillers are consumed, effectively preventing relapse.

Under the supervision of a doctor, patients can manage their buprenorphine doses through tamper-resistant electronic pill dispensers.

So far, this solution has shown overwhelmingly positive results. People in recovery are able to manage their own cravings without jeopardizing their health. If these devices become more widely available and easier to obtain, surely more people will be able to recover from painkiller addiction while still treating their chronic pain.

3. Non-Opioid Treatment

In recent years, some treatments have sought to offer something other than opioids or painkillers to patients. Non-opioid medications, like some of the anti-inflammatory options listed above, can be an effective solution. Still, there are treatments that avoid using drugs or pills at all.

Physical therapy for chronic pain is one of the best of all possible solutions. With the help of a doctor that specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, those who struggle with chronic pain can get the help they need without the need for prescription drugs.

Physical therapy as a whole won’t reduce cravings in those already struggling with painkiller addiction. However, deep-tissue massages and other forms of physical therapy can greatly reduce the pain that necessitated prescription drugs in the first place.

For instance, acupuncture offers a lot of relief to people who are suffering from pain. This centuries-old form of non-opioid treatment for chronic pain helps by stimulating nerves and interrupting the pain signals that your body sends.

Surgery is another type of treatment that very few people think of as a solution for chronic pain (and, by extension, painkiller addiction). When someone is taking painkillers for chronic pain, correcting the issues that cause the pain— right at the source— might be a solution. While it’s a much more extreme form of treatment, it can put an end to the need for painkillers.

4. High-Tech Methods

So far, the methods of treating painkiller addiction have stemmed from addressing chronic pain conditions to prevent painkiller use at all. High-tech methods, for the most part, do the same thing. In fact, like physical therapy and alternative medicines, technology can relieve chronic pain and keep it from returning— all while eliminating the need for painkillers.

Radiofrequency ablation is a newly implemented way of dealing with pain by treating nerves. Inserting a needle next to the nerve responsible for pain and then burning the nerve with radio waves can change the pain signal. This short-circuits the pain for up to a year. So, people struggling with painkiller addiction can heal without the need to “replace” their painkillers with other medications.

Plus, with the help of X-ray imaging, medication can be injected directly into the body to block pain. This method might even prevent chronic pain from further developing.

If you’re looking for a solution that has a permanent impact, this is one that can help serious pain in limbs, the face, or the neck.

Painkiller Addiction Can Be Treated By Eliminating The Need for Drugs

Rather than seeing painkillers as the first and only course of chronic pain treatment, we need to think outside the box. If we can eliminate painkillers as part of the course of treatment for chronic pain, we can eliminate the potential for painkiller addiction.

For more information about the factors behind painkiller addiction, check out our guide for more.

References

7 Safe Alternatives to Opiates for Those in Recovery. (2019, July 01). Retrieved from https://www.smartrecovery.org/7-safe-alternatives-to-opiates-for-those-in-recovery/

A novel approach: Fighting painkiller addiction at home. (2016, December 22). Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2016/12/22/painkiller-addiction-suboxone/

Non-Opioid Treatment for Chronic Pain – When Seconds Count. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/non-opioid-treatment/