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Looking beyond Addiction
Looking beyond Addiction September is Recovery Month, sponsored by SAMHSA, hoping to educate others about the disease of ...
Addiction, Recovery month, SAMHSA, September
Looking beyond Addiction September is Recovery Month, sponsored by SAMHSA, hoping to educate others about the disease of addiction and celebrate those that are battling and winning by staying in recovery. However, the reality is the recovery most often eludes people suffering from the disease and puts them in an endless loop of substance misuse, treatment, relapse, followed by more treatment. In prior articles, we explored the chronic nature of the disease and the need for longer-term treatment options. It’s time to consider that because addiction is a brain disorder, other brain-related conditions are very likely to be present in the addict. Only treating the substance misuse and addiction without considering other coexisting issues is a recipe for poor outcomes, short recovery and repeated relapse. Here are some common issues that often come with addiction that require treatment as potential chronic conditions that compromise recovery. Depression Addiction is a disease that crushes your self-esteem, estranges you from your family, ruins your finances, and causes episodes of extreme shame. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and tends to trigger depression symptoms like lethargy, sadness and hopelessness. Depressed individuals reach for drugs or alcohol as a way to lift their spirits or to numb painful thoughts. As a result, depression and substance abuse feed into each other, and one condition will often make the other worse. Anxiety About 20 percent of people with an anxiety disorder have an alcohol or other substance use disorder, with the reverse also being true. In an effort to cope with their symptoms, it is not uncommon for people with anxiety disorders to misuse alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drug use can worsen the psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety, reinforcing the need to use more of these substances in order to function normally. The result is a cycle of substance abuse that can lead to chemical dependence and addiction. Trauma People that abuse drugs may have done so because they have experienced event that made them fear for their safety, witness or experience violence or suffer through intense pain. The very act of acquiring and misusing drugs may be the events that caused trauma and the resulting PTSD. Some people struggling to manage the effects of trauma in their lives may turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate Bipolar Disorder Those afflicted with bipolar disorder have a higher rate of relationship problems, economic instability, accidental injuries and suicide than the general population. They are also significantly more likely to develop and maintain an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The emotional instability of the highs and lows of bipolar disorder can interfere with your recovery program, making it difficult to comply with the guidelines of a treatment plan. Self-Regulation When a person can’t properly regulate their emotions, it is likely that he or she will resort to certain techniques that are less adaptive or healthy. Substance abuse is a common reaction to emotional stimulation when an individual is ill-equipped to regulate those emotions. My Takeaways As my daughter Laura battled addiction for 15 years, she also battled anxiety, depression and struggled to control her impulses. She expressed thoughts about being traumatized by the experiences she had in seeking out and using drugs and certainly expressed signs of PTSD. Although she entered multiple treatment centers, there was not enough time spent on managing those mental disorders that kept her struggling. Ultimately her lack of impulse control lead to a fatal decision where she relapses, overdosed and died in 2017. Addiction is like many other diseases in that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum and a return to health requires an understanding and management of all the issues that come along with it.
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Stay Connected to Treatment
Stay Connected to Treatment September is Recovery Month, sponsored by SAMHSA, hoping to educate others about the disease of ...
Connect, Recovery month, SAMSHA, September
Stay Connected to Treatment September is Recovery Month, sponsored by SAMHSA, hoping to educate others about the disease of addiction and to celebrate those that are battling it and winning by staying in recovery. However, the reality is the recovery most often eludes people suffering from the disease and puts them in an endless loop of substance misuse, treatment, relapse, followed by more treatment. It is a viscous cycle that impacts 85% of those that enter rehab and relapse in the year following treatment. Addiction costs our economy almost $1 trillion in healthcare costs, criminal justice expenses, and lost productivity at work. The overproduction and misuse of opioids, the proliferation of heroin and fentanyl and the ease of getting illegal drugs contributes to 70,000 deaths a year, more than the loss of life in the entire Vietnam War. Because preventing relapse and staying in recovery is a complex problem, let’s focus on one change in strategy that can make a difference. The change in strategy starts with the treatment program itself. Many rehabs do an excellent job at stabilizing the individual, getting drugs safely out of their system, giving them an understanding of the disease, and showing them strategies to start their recovery process. Most programs discharge their patients and then move on to the next person that needs their help. When that trusted relationship between treatment provider and patient ends, the potential to relapse goes way up. Why is that? Here are some thoughts: Patients need more structure and accountability. In rehab, your day-to-day schedule is defined and for 30-45 days you know when it’s time to eat, go to therapy, attend group, and exercise. That structure and accountability to adhere to the rules of the program is comforting to those who struggled to make decisions to manage themselves. A wellness strategy takes time to implement. Wellness and recovery require a multi-faceted approach. The individual is going to be asked to make lifestyle changes and with any new habits, those changes take time to take hold. Staying connected to community may be difficult. Individuals in treatment were connected to a community of individuals that were struggling with the same issues. Having others to relate to shows people that they are not alone and helps them find common ground with people who are trying to stay in recovery. Reaching out and finding that common bond may be more difficult for people have had struggles with relationships. Individuals may lack the skills needed to “adult”. If someone is misusing drugs, they likely have struggled managing their money, keeping a job, and maintaining relationships with friends and family. Being able to pay your bills, have a job and relate to others is critical to maintain a normal life that doesn’t include selling and using drugs. My Takeaways Treatment programs are often in the best position to maintain the trusted relationship with the individual who committed themselves to addiction treatment. The benefit to the individual is longer-term treatment that gives them time to make the adjustments needed to stay in recovery. It helps create structure, provide accountability, give them more help in wellness strategies and keeps them connected to trusted relationships. For the program, who is constrained by bed space, a well-executed treatment relationship after an in-patient stay improves recovery results, allows the program to follow their clients, and gives them an opportunity to monetize the client relationship after rehab. It’s time for programs to expand their role and improve their results.
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Addiction, a Chronic Disease
Addiction, a Chronic Disease September is Recovery Month, but for many individuals the road to recovery is filled with ...
Recovery, Recovery month, Relapse, September, Treatment
Addiction, a Chronic Disease September is Recovery Month, but for many individuals the road to recovery is filled with landmines that blows up the pathway to recovery. Although there are many reasons that people relapse, let’s focus on how the disease is treated and a strategic shift that needs to happen to improve recovery results. If you have a heart condition and go into the hospital for a cardiac catherization or bypass surgery, your immediate risk of dying from a heart attack goes way down. You likely developed heart disease over time, and now know that if you don’t have a long-term plan to modify your diet, exercise regularly, take your medicine and take care of yourself the chance of having another heart attack and going back to the hospital becomes inevitable. After the hospital stay heart disease is treated as a chronic condition that requires a lifetime of lifestyle changes, medication management and diet and exercise to stay healthy and out of the hospital. The acute condition you were admitted for was resolved, but there was also a long-term plan in place to stay healthy. Much in the same way conditions like heart disease or diabetes are managed as chronic conditions, we need to look at the disease of addiction the same way. Rehab only addresses the acute symptoms of the disease. You entered the hospital with chest pains and it’s the hospital’s job is to stabilize you and treat the acute symptoms of your condition to keep you alive. Rehab is also set up to treat the acute symptoms of addiction by getting drugs and alcohol out of your system through safe detox, stabilizing you, and starting to educate you about the disease. Rehab is not designed to manage the chronic condition, only the acute care needed short-term. Longer term treatment is needed to manage the chronic condition. When someone leaves the hospital after having heart surgery, they often go to another rehabilitation program to regain their strength and begin their recovery process. The same philosophy should be true with addiction management. Once the acute symptoms are behind you from time in rehab, a longer-term treatment plan has to be in place to maintain the disease and prevent relapse and readmission. Lifestyle changes are part of long-term disease management. A heart patient knows he has to change his diet, exercise, manage his stress and adjust his lifestyle. The same is true for someone suffering with addiction. Certain foods like sugar should be avoided and regular exercise is helpful to manage stress. Keeping a healthy routine and avoiding the triggers that lead to relapse are critical. Strategies to manage co-existing disorders are critical. Because addiction is a brain disorder, it often occurs side by side with other brain disorders like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Managing addiction without a plan to manage the other disorders will result in a greater struggle to stay healthy and in recovery. My Takeaways My daughter Laura had many visits to rehab, but never a good wellness and disease management plan to keep her chronic disease at bay. For 15 years, she entered treatment, had her acute symptoms addressed, then relapsed and readmitted over and over again. She was in good company as 85% of patients relapse in the first year after treatment. Unfortunately, if left untreated or treated improperly, addiction often results in death as it did with Laura when she relapsed, overdosed and died in December 2017. Reframing and thinking about addiction as a disease that requires long-term management is the first step in improving what are clearly substandard results in how it’s treated.
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National Recovery Month
National Recovery Month Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental ...
Recovery month, September, Treatment
National Recovery Month Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. In addition, to celebrating those that recovery, it’s time to analyze why some are successful yet the relapse rate continues to be 85% in the year following treatment. My daughter Laura struggled with addiction for 15 years, committed herself to many different treatment programs and rehabs over those years, and unfortunately, had her journey to attain recovery often end in relapse soon after treatment and ultimately in an overdose death in December 2017. Now that I have had the privilege of being able to look back on her journey, here are some thoughts about why people relapse and how they can maintain recovery. Recognize that addiction is a chronic not an acute disease. Laura went to rehab, stayed 30-45 days each time and looked great when she came out. Treatment detoxed her, got her physically healthy and started the recovery process, but planning to manage and maintain her disease long-term was not a big enough part of the plan and process. Stay connected to treatment longer. Statistics show that an individual that stays connected for 6 consecutive months to the treatment program that offered them rehab will be 20% less likely to relapse. The treatment program was the one that built a strong bond with the individual and would likely be in the best position to continue to treat them, even though they are no longer in acute care. Deal with the co-existing disorders. Addiction is a brain disorder and often exists in tandem with other brain disorders such as depression, bipolar disease or anxiety. If you don’t deal with the other issues that contribute to a lack of emotional well-being, then the chances of you not being able to manage addiction goes way up. Implement health and wellness strategies. Although addiction is a brain disease, the way you manage your physical health contributes to either long-term recovery or accelerates relapse. There is a lot an individual can do to manage their disease through good nutrition, exercise, and meditation and mindfulness techniques. Extend yourself to others who have the disease. Connections to community are critical in staying healthy and in recovery. Those that are willing to help others, sponsor them, and extend themselves are much more likely to stay healthy because they become responsible not only for themselves but for others. My Takeaways It’s long past time that we reframe the disease of addiction for what it is, a chronic condition that will be present for a lifetime, but also one that can be managed with the right treatment, health and wellness plan. An 85% relapse rate following treatment indicates that there is a strategic disconnect in how we are managing people that come to programs for help. It’s time we look at all of the tools we have to promote long-term recovery such as extended connection to treatment, diet, exercise, meditation, mindfulness and for some a medication strategy. The 2019 theme for Recovery Month is: Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger. Together to me means that the individual is supported by the right treatment approach, by family and friends that understand addiction is not a moral failing, but a disease, and a community that is committed to wellness and recovery.
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Through My Eyes: Living With Anxiety and Addiction
Full Blog Post In this article from Medical News Today, Carter Pierce recounts his personal struggle with anxiety and ...
Addiction, Addiction Recovery, anxiety, Anxiety And Addiction, Medical News Today
Full Blog Post  In this article from Medical News Today, Carter Pierce recounts his personal struggle with anxiety and depression and what he has learned from that struggle. "If I think back to all of the most memorable and joyous moments of my life, my memories are laced with a dark, gripping cloak of anxiety. Experiences that other people would celebrate, such as graduations, weddings, and promotions, are dreaded milestones for me — not the ferociously sought-after goals that they are for many people."
Anxiety Blog Post
Dealing with Anxiety: Using the Strength of an Anxious Mind to Calm Anxiety
Karen Young believes that, "anxiety exists on a spectrum and we all experience it at some level. We wouldn’t be human if we ...
anxiety, Anxious, Blog, Calm, Coping, Disorder, Mental Health, Psychology
Karen Young believes that, "anxiety exists on a spectrum and we all experience it at some level. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Anxiety is a very normal response from a strong, healthy brain that thinks there might be trouble about, and instantly responds by making us stronger, faster, more powerful, more alert versions of ourselves." Young advocates for harnessing the strength of an anxious mind, and using the aspects of mindfulness in the midst of anxiety to find calm.
Anxiety Blog Post
How to Overcome Anxiety in Addiction Recovery
"An estimated 8.9 million adults in the U.S. suffer from substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health problem", according to ...
Addiction, anxiety, Disorder, Health, Mental Health, Panic, Recovery, Self-help
"An estimated 8.9 million adults in the U.S. suffer from substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health problem", according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  In his post, Benny Emerling discusses his own struggle with anxiety during addiction recovery. It was not until he was able to identify the symptoms of his anxiety, and connect them to his reasons for relapsing that he was finally able to control his anxiety and maintain recovery. 
Anxiety Blog Post