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10 Sober Ideas For Creating Meaningful Traditions

10 Sober Ideas For Creating Meaningful Traditions

While the holidays are a source of joy and excitement for many, for those in recovery, it can feel quite the opposite. So, how do I manage the holidays in recovery? Here’s 10 sober ideas for creating meaningful traditions.

With the holiday season approaching, you may feel more unsettled than usual as you think about potential triggers, mental health struggles, and the overindulgence that comes with the season.

For years the holidays were centered around drugs or alcohol, so it can feel overwhelming to know how or where to begin.

Take heart in knowing that you now have the opportunity to start from scratch. Being in recovery means you have a clean slate to start new, meaningful traditions with family or friends. 

So, let’s talk about how to navigate the holiday season as an individual in recovery, and a few ideas to help spark your inspiration. 

Taking Care of Yourself During The Holidays:

If you’re in active recovery, you’re already well aware of the challenges that can be thrown your way. Most holidays involve alcohol in one way or another, so taking care of yourself during this season is vital. 

Here are a few ways you can make this holiday season a little easier:

Be Proactive:

If you’re new to sobriety, it may not be in your best interest to simply “wing it”. Ask yourself a few proactive questions to ensure you’re not caught off guard:

  • What is my desired outcome for this holiday season?
  • How am I going to handle my triggers?
  • Who can I trust at a social gathering to hold me accountable?

If you have a sponsor, now is a great time to connect with them about your worries. Every person in sobriety struggles around the holidays to some extent. Lean on those who have walked in your shoes so you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. 

Identify Your Triggers:

No, alcohol or drugs may not be the only trigger you come across during the holidays. For example, your emotional and mental state during the holidays can make you feel weaker than normal. 

A few common triggers include:

  • Interactions with certain family members (people)
  • Unexpected schedule changes 
  • Financial pressures 
  • Traveling
  • Certain locations (places)
  • Other objects such as: syringes, tinfoil, or bottle openers (things)

Keep in mind, you may not always know exactly what triggers you have until you’re confronted with them. If you have a therapist or close friend or family member, talk with them – they may be able to pinpoint something you aren’t able to see. 

Make a Plan To Say ‘No’:

Create a boundary, and stick to it. Bring a non-alcoholic beverage to sip on so others won’t offer you a drink. While some people choose to hide their reasons, it’s always better to maintain honesty. 

A few ways to respond may be:

  • “I don’t drink”. 
  • “I’m not drinking anymore”.
  • “I’m in recovery”.

Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation if they attempt to push you further. Alcohol is often the only substance people feel so compelled to have to explain not using. Set your boundaries as you feel comfortable.

Starting New, Meaningful Holiday Traditions In Recovery:

Recovery can be a rocky road and the holiday seasons are sure to bring about old memories of substance use in the past. While you might not feel as cheery and bright as in previous years, your holidays are by no means doomed for gloom!

Making the choice to create fun, wholesome, new holiday traditions can help you cultivate the healthy life you are striving to build. Establishing traditions can not only give you something to look forward to, but it can also serve as a positive experience among feelings of stress and worry. 

So, let’s go over a few sober holiday traditions to try this year:
  • Host a Movie Marathon: When was the last time you let yourself enjoy movies you once loved as a kid? Host a Christmas movie marathon with your closest friends or family members. Have each person write down their favorite childhood movie and draw from a hat! You could even make this a weekly event leading up to the holidays. 
  • Schedule a Game Night: Board games are incredibly underrated. Who doesn’t love a good competitive game of Clue? Or get ruthless with UNO. You can invite family and friends, or make it a night specifically for companions in recovery. Each person can bring their own favorite game to share!
  • Start Baking: Baking cookies, granola bars, pies, and other holiday treats have been around for ages. It’s a fun, holiday-centered tradition that doesn’t require any substances to enjoy. The plus side? Baking can be done as an individual activity for days you don’t feel like socializing, or as a group effort. 

  • Hit The Rink: When’s the last time you laced your skates up and took to the rink? Probably childhood. Whether it’s a community ice rink or wooden floored skate park, skating is a wonderful way to not only get your body moving but enjoy active time. 
  • Decorate Gingerbread Houses: Dedicate an afternoon (or evening) to icing those windows, and plopping gumdrops on your front lawn. Gingerbread house decorating is the equivalent of pumpkin carving during Halloween. You may just be surprised at what architectural skills you have! Entice some sober friends to decorate along with you with peppermint lattes or a new coffee
    1. Try something new. Ever made Turkish Coffee on the stove top? Ever made your own handmade pasta (its not hard) or peppermint bark? Or maybe learn to roll your own spring rolls?
    2. Not a foodie? No, problem – go different. The US Olympian, Tom  Daley has a new book out on knitting – something he learned to do to handle boredom and it became a sort of meditation. Go to a pottery house and paint your own. Drop an language app onto your phone and spend 30 minutes a day on it or YouTube how to play the uke or guitar.
    3. Attend a Light Tour: Many cities around the country have Holiday walk-through light tours. If yours doesn’t, make it a tradition to walk or drive through the neighborhoods that go all out. From string lights to Santa Claus, to the Grinch, the decorations are endless! It’s a fun way to enjoy the spirit of Christmas. 
    4. Caroling is a waning tradition but singing with friends is a great booster for mood and gets the mirth pumping. Print off some easy sing-along sheets from online, grab your coffee and a few of friends.
    5. If you’re stuck – go early to a meeting. Open the door for people as they arrive. Smile, shake hands and greet them – tell them you are glad they came and you hope they keep coming. Not feeling social? Set up chairs, make coffee or bring some cookies to put out. When in doubt – simple acts of service are a good tradition any time of the year.

      Holidays In Recovery Are a Time To Start New:

      Holidays aren’t exactly avoidable. They come and go no matter what. If you’re in recovery, holidays can be particularly triggering. Be proactive about your approach, create a plan and identify your triggers so you feel both empowered, and safe

      Sobriety means creating a new life for yourself. The holidays make look different this year, but creating new, healthy traditions can become an anchor in your journey.

      Recovery gives you an opportunity to make the holiday season what you’ve always wanted it to be.

      Whatever you do, I wish you a healthy and happy holidays –

      Buon Natale’ !

      Resources:

      https://www.victorybayrecovery.com/resources/blog/10-ideas-for-making-sober-holiday-traditions/
       
      https://www.talkspace.com/blog/why-the-holidays-are-difficult-for-people-with-addictions/#:~:text=The%20holidays%20are%20often%20associated%20with%20indulgence%20and%20extravagance.,(and%20even%20those%20without).
       
      https://www.bannerhealth.com/healthcareblog/teach-me/recovery-during-the-holidays
      https://westcoastrecoverycenters.com/creating-new-and-healthy-holiday-traditions-in-recovery/
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      The Beginner’s Guide To Kidney Transplant

      If you are here reading The Beginner’s Guide To Kidney Transplant than likely you or someone you love is faced with the prospect of needing a kidney transplant. This can be an overwhelming time and there is a lot of information out there and a lot to consider. This article is just to get you started and do a quick overview. Speak to your physicians, talk to your family and friends, get second opinions or even third – whatever it takes for you to feel able to make an informed decision and the one that is right for you.

      The kidney is a fundamental element of excretory system. The two bean-shaped kidneys play a very critical role in the human body. They are responsible for filtering out the blood and other body fluids. This way, they ensure the release of waste.

      Several sorts of kidney problems occur. You might experience a kidney stone, swelling or deterioration. All such kidney problems can halt excretory functions. The kidney becomes unable to filter blood. The wastes accumulate within different body parts, causing numerous issues like high blood pressure. When 90% of a kidney stops filtering and excreting, it results in kidney failure.

      A kidney transplant is a life-saving procedure. It can cure kidney failure and other conditions requiring the removal of one or both kidneys.

      In the initial stages, kidney wash through machines and dialysis works. However, in severe kidney failure, the only option is a kidney transplant.

      Although a human body can survive on one kidney, weak individuals need another. People with other medicinal ailments or second kidney failure also rely on an outsourced kidney. This is only possible through a kidney transplant.

      Causes of Kidney Failure

      Despite occurring naturally, a few other factors can also cause kidney failure. Individuals having diabetes are more prone to kidney problems. Chronic or uncontrolled blood pressure levels also add to kidney damage. The consistent inflammation can affect the filtering process. They all eventually lead you towards severe kidney failure. That more possibly necessitates a kidney transplant.

      Dialysis Vs. Kidney Transplant

      With failed kidney, there can be two available options. Either one can go for dialysis, which is a machine-assisted excretion for a lifetime, or have a kidney transplant.

      No doubt, a kidney transplant is scarier than dialysis. But it can be effective in the long term. With dialysis, a person has to continue undergoing the same procedure again and again. There is no point in getting recovered or coming back to normal. It is because dialysis is a procedure rather than a treatment.

      A kidney transplant, on the other hand, offers you a one-time risk. Once you have matched the donor and undergone surgery, you will be free to continue living. That is why a kidney transplant is a preferable choice.

      Some people are afraid of surgery or getting rejected during kidney transplants. Remember, it is still completely up to the patient what to opt for.

      Why Opt for a Kidney transplant?

      When compared to dialysis, a kidney transplant is preferable because of the following reasons;

      • Low Treatment Cost – It is one-time, whereas dialysis will continue to cost for a lifetime.
      • Better Quality of Life –It will let you live the rest of your life in peace and comfort.
      • Fewer Dietary Restrictions –Unlike dialysis patients, there is no limitation on what or what not to eat.
      • Lesser Health Risk –Unlike dialysis, it enables you to stay healthy in the long run.

      Kidney transplant cannot always be in favor of everyone. A few things might restrict you from going for a transplant. It is potentially unsuitable for people with old age, severe heart diseases, cancer, mental illness, alcohol or drug addiction, etc. So, everyone needs to consult with the doctor first, and if it comes under any no-go category, the person will have to continue with dialysis.

      Types of Donors for Kidney Transplant

      For a kidney transplant, there can be two types of kidney donors. They are the following;

      1. Living Donor

      A human body can rely completely on one healthy kidney for all metabolic activities. That is why an individual can always donate a kidney to someone in need. However, criteria to be met, such as blood group and tissues, should match to either donate or accept a kidney.

      A kidney donor can be a family member or someone else. It is always preferable to receive a kidney from a blood relation as it lets you avoid the risk of rejection and is usually beneficial.

      1. Deceased Donor

      Another way of getting a kidney is from a deceased person. It happens in a way that hospitals usually gather data on people needing a kidney. The hospital informs immediately whenever a deceased person’s kidney matches the patient. The doctor prepares an instant surgery for a transplant. It is significant because the kidney transplant should take place shortly for a kidney to be valuable.

      Kidney Transplant Procedure

      Kidney transplantation is more or less like other surgical treatments. During a kidney transplant surgery, the doctor injects the anesthetic dose within your blood through an intravenous line in your arm. It is basically to make you fall asleep or for a while to undergo the incision. Once unconscious, the doctor makes an incision to open up your abdominal region. He then puts in the donor’s kidney and connects the arteries and veins to your circulatory system. As the blood starts flowing, the new kidneys function within your body.

      Alongside that, your kidneys need a connection to the ureter. It can only then carry on the excretion process smoothly. The doctor connects the newly induced kidney to the ureter and the bladder.

      As far as your original kidneys are concerned, they usually remain inside the body and aren’t disposed of. However, in some cases, when the failed kidney causes trouble, it is removed too.

      Risks of Having a Kidney Transplant

      Although a prevailing treatment for severe kidney issues or kidney failure, a kidney transplant is not a full-proof solution. It causes multiple risks either during the transplantation surgery or afterward.

      • Rejection of the Donor Organ – While operating, the donated kidney might not be compatible with your body. It is possible to even after undergoing the matching tests and everything else. Hence, it is risky.
      • Kidney Diseases –The transplantation, although it eradicates the ailment, for the time being, there are chances of the patient regaining a mild or severe ailment.
      • Side-effects –Undergoing the surgery can cause you side effects. It will leave an incision mark and temporarily cause redness, swelling, and pain.

      None of the above three risks is unpreventable. Almost every doctor provides medication to minimize donor rejection, kidney diseases and surgical side effects.

      Postoperative Possible Complications of  Kidney Transplant

      • Infection  – Minor infections like urinary tract infections, colds, and flu are common after kidney transplants. However, in most severe conditions, pneumonia or CMV infection may occur.
      • Blood clots –  The most common complication after a kidney transplant is the development of blood clots in the arteries connected to the donated kidney. In some cases, medications can be used to dissolve the blood clots.
      • Urine leakage –  Sometimes, after a kidney transplant, urine may leak through the connection between the ureter and bladder. This usually happens during the first-month post-kidney transplant.

      Conclusion

      Opting for a kidney transplant requires you to think twice before stepping in. It is all onto you because you must live with both the benefits and risks of the transplant. You must be brave enough to analyze the situation and make a decision.

      Once you agree to the transplant, it might cause you mental stress. You may feel worried about undergoing surgery and have a fear of rejection. But it would help if you calm your mind. Do exercise, eat healthy, engage in positive activities, and take good care of yourself before and after the kidney transplant.

      References

      1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK567755/
      2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553074/
      3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230851/
      4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549004/
      5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6716102/
      6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8711553/
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      Beginner’s Addiction Recovery Seminar for Parents, Partner and Spouse

      Addiction Recovery 101 was started year’s ago in my old practice location in Bellaire, Texas (we are now in Memorial/Hedwig Village area). We started it to provide a beginner’s seminar for parents, partners and spouses who have a loved one struggling in active addiction, a loved one who had recently entered treatment or one who had recently gone to treatment and was now in early recovery.

      For people with a loved one in active addiction, there are lots of questions and a world of unknowns. And the internet hurts at least as much as it helps, with outdated, misdirected and opinion rather than fact driven information. It can be an overwhelming time of fear, frustration and sadness. This seminar is intended to provide a starting point; an introduction and entry into the “what do we do now?”. This seminar is here to help explain the nature of the disease of addiction and how to get help.

      When it came to people who had a family member currently or recently in treatment, we found that many were missing out on the resources they had available to them, for one reason or another. Most treatment facilities in Texas provide some sort of education and therapeutic support services to the family while a client is in their care. The robustness of these services widely vary, but most places offer something. We realized however that many times family members were unable to make the drive to facilities located at a distance and often times missed the most intensive information given during what many treatment centers refer to as “Family Week”.

      With the changes from the pandemic, many of these services began to be offered virtually. This is a great adaptation and kept service and support going – but there is an apathetic sterility that comes from handling highly intimate and personal information via the screen. Many families would opt out or lost interest quickly in these opportunities.

      Below you will find a listing for a one-time seminar to help you get started. We offer it 1-2 times a month. It’s kept fairly small; 12-15 max, in attendance each time. This is done on purpose – because it’s critical information and a critical time – we want the experience to be informative and meaningful.

      The information is below. If you’d like to attend, give us a call and we will send you the form to register. Thank you for visiting and we appreciate the courage and fortitude it has taken for you to get here.

      Just remember to breathe. You can do this.

      Addiction Recovery 101

       

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      Opiate Addiction: Detox and Withdrawal 

      Opiate Addiction: Detox and Withdrawal

      Today, opiate addiction is all too common. Both prescription and nonprescription sources, such as online or through unregistered merchants, have made it so easy to purchase these drugs. Regardless of how vital living a healthier life is, using drugs like opiates are more socially accepted in some cultures, especially Western ones. The spread and impact across the US has become an epidemic. And the likelihood is high that you or someone you know has struggled with addiction. That’s why understanding Opiate Addiction: Detox and Withdrawal is so important.

      What Are Opiates and Opioids?

      Opiates are a class of drugs that act as central nervous system depressants. They are typically derived from opium –a substance that is produce naturally from poppies.Opiates are also referred to as narcotics. They also occur in the form of opioids. Opioids are opiate-like medications that are chemically made.

      Opiates and opioids block pain signals that your body sends to your brain. They do so by attaching to structures called receptors. They can target nerve cells in your brain, spinal cord, or other body parts.

      How Does a Person Become Addicted?

      The opiate stimulates the brain’s reward system in a powerful way. This is a critical reason why people can so quickly become dependent. It is highly addictive, especially in the early phases of misuse. With time,the need for opioids becomes stronger. It goes beyond a basic desire for pleasure.Tolerance and reliance are linked to this high drive.

      Opiate addiction occurs as it triggers your brain to release the feel-good chemical, namely dopamine (video). That is why it is simple for anyone to develop a pattern of drug abuse and addiction. It happens to individuals, particularly while seeking to address problems from pain management to emotional worries and stressors. Sometimes innocently enough by way of medical treatment by providers who were ignorant or dismissive of the risks that can lead to numerous mental and physical health issues. There can be short or long term negative-effects from drug addiction.

      What Happens If I Stop Using Opiates On My Own?

      While opiates can relieve pain and create euphoria, they can produce numerous unwanted side effects as well. They may include sudden withdrawal symptoms, unmanageable agony, and suicidal thoughts. It can all occur when opiate usage is stopped or doses are reduced rapidly. Drastically cutting back or stopping abruptly can easily prompt withdrawal. The body requires time to heal after the addicted person quits using the drug.

      Even well into recovery the withdrawal symptoms begin to appear. This is due to something called Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). You could have detox symptoms like restlessness, tears, cramping, flu like symptoms, etc. And yes, it can happen even when the opioid dosage is progressively reduced.

       

      Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms & How Long Do They Last?

      Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant and intense. Medical detox is the safest , least uncomfortable and most efficient method of eliminating opiates or other drugs.

      Within 24 hours after the last dose, a person will typically begin to experience a combination of the symptoms. The significant indications are flu-like, fever, sweating, and vomiting.

      Pain in the muscles
      Diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea
      Restlessness
      Sweating
      Anxiety
      Dilated pupil
      Watery eyes
      Cramping / abdominal pain
      Increased heart rate
      Frequent and excessive yawning
      Goose bumps
      Insomnia
      Shakes / tremors

      The symptoms may last from few days to a week or even longer. In any case, they will eventually subside and disappear. After the last opioids intake, opiate withdrawal symptoms often begin 12 to 48 hours later. The worst ones usually manifest between 24 and 96 hours. After discontinuing opiate use for 5 to 7 days, you will start to feel better. However, the detox process can continue longer for some patients.

      Opioid Withdrawal varies depending on multiple variables during the medical detox process. It could rely on factors such as the type of painkiller being misused, the individual’s level of drug tolerance, the duration of their addiction if they used several drugs and their mental and medical histories.

      Why Is Additional Care Crucial For A Complete Recovery?

      People in active addiction typically reject that their drug use is a problem. They are hesitant to get help. In some cases, an intervention might inspire someone to seek or accept help. Professional and appropriate interventions seek to provide an organized opportunity to make adjustments and get treatment before circumstances worsen. In most cases whether with an intervention or not, it can be helpful to involve their closest friends or family to provide physical and mental support.

      Keep in mind that addiction is extremely taxing on the mind and body of the person struggling with it. Desperation and feelings of hopelessness can be overpowering and sometimes people attempt to hurt themselves. At the front end of treatment, it is usually the recommendation to only pursue drug detox under the supervision of a medical professional.

      Entering Detox and Effects on Family

      The strain from detoxing from opiates, or any drug or alcohol, can tear apart happy, loving homes. For example, as relatives battle over how to interact with a child who has been taking opiates, conflict becomes norm. Trust erodes and starts to disappear. If a family member tries to stop using on their, they may be tearful, erratic or act aggressively.

      During medical detox is not the time to have deep, constructive conversations. It’s too early for the person seeking recovery and often times it’s too early for the loved ones who are still raw from the chaos, fear and emotional upheaval in the family. Those detailed conversations can wait until the person enters Residential, PHP or IOP level of care. In each of these there will be clinical professionals to facilitate these re-connections in a healthy and safe way.

      Rational discussions are hard between the intense emotions and fears of all involved and the biology at play in the struggling addict. A lot fo times there are years of pain, fear and hurt feelings to work through for everyone involved. Addiction affects the whole family. It can help to talk to someone who is professionally trained and experienced in working with families facing addiction.

      Leaving Opiate Addiction Detox Too Early

      Leaving opiate addiction treatment during detox can bring negative changes. Many people in detox treatment begin to feel physically better long before they have actually even begun the work it will take for sustained recovery. This is why so many people leave treatment after only a handful of days. This is a serious and critical issue because the person is very likely to fall right back into use and may even accidentally overdose without intending to. Leaving treatment early puts the person struggling with addiction is a very dangerous position.

      Can People Die from Opiate Withdrawal?

      Yes, if left untreated, persistent vomiting and diarrhea can lead to heart failure, hypernatremia (a high blood salt level), and dehydration. A professional, medical detox facility will pay very close attention to this and be monitoring the client day and night. Otherwise, unless you have other complicating medical conditions, opiate withdrawal symptoms, while intense and uncomfortable are typically not life-threatening.

      A Few Final Thoughts on Opiate Addiction

      Any drug addiction, whether opiates, alcohol, benzos, cocaine or something else puts you at serious risk. Liver, stomach, kidney, heart and brain can all be damaged and a variety of other complicating medical problems can begin. The destruction on relationships and emotional health is no less severe.

      It takes courage to look at yourself and admit you have a problem. And even more courage to step into the unknown and allow someone to help you. Stay open-minded. You don’t have to be perfect – you get to be human. Begin by being willing to begin something new.

      The first step to a better life than you can imagine is to reach out and get professional help

      Breathe. You CAN do this.

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      What Is Vivitrol?

      What Is Vivitrol?”  I get asked that more and more often. Vivitrol is the injection (shot) form of a medication known as Naltrexone. And it’s use has grown significantly over the past several years – and for good reason. This article is intended to give you a little info and hopefully provide some clarity too.

      • Most commonly used for Opioid and Alcohol Withdrawal and to inhibit cravings
      • Comes in oral (Naltrexone) and IM (Vivitrol) forms
      • Must be prescribed by an approved physician
      • Is not meant to be a “magic pill” cure
      • Like other Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) options – the highest successful outcomes are when it is paired with therapy/treatment and support.
      • It is very different than other MAT out there at this time. 

      *If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please cheack out this resource page*

      Stethoscope next to computer

      Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that has the highest affinity for the -opioid receptors. In addition to its ability to block the effects of opioids, this compound has very few, if any, inherent effects. In 1994, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States gave its approval for the use of Naltrexone in the treatment of alcoholism (Kranzler, Wesson, Billot, Clinical, & Research, 2004).

      In spite of this permission, the studies that have been conducted to determine whether or not Naltrexone is effective in treating alcoholism have produced mixed results. Patients failure to follow the prescribed treatment regimen while taking oral Naltrexone is one factor that contributes to the treatment’s overall lack of efficacy.

      Some studies have also shown that in order for subjects to have greater reductions in alcohol consumption and risk of relapse as compared to subjects who were treated with a placebo, they must be highly compliant with the Naltrexone treatment. Utilizing formulations that provide sustained release or depot treatment is one approach that can be taken to address this issue.

      VivitrolTM, a depot injectible dosage form of Naltrexone, was approved by the FDA on April 13, 2006, for the treatment of alcohol dependence in patients who are capable of withdrawing from drinking in an outpatient setting and who are not actively drinking at the beginning of therapy. Patients must also not be drinking at the time treatment begins. The recommended dosage of Vivitrol is 380 milligrams, which should be injected once per month or every 28 days.

      Both DepotrexTM and NaltrelTM are examples of alternative depot parenteral formulations of Naltrexone. Naltrel helped to promote abstinence and decreased the incidence of relapse in two samples of alcohol-dependent subjects, while Vivitrol was shown to be effective at reducing heavy drinking among alcohol-dependent males (Chick et al., 2000; Monti et al., 2001).

      The use of Naltrexone provides a blockade against the intoxicating and reinforcing effects of opioid-like compounds, which, in theory, can result in the elimination of drug-taking behavior. It does not produce euphoric effects, and as a result, it is not abused. Additionally, it does not result in physiological dependence on the user.

      Similar to the situation with alcohol, the primary challenge presented by the oral formulation of Naltrexone for the treatment of opium or heroin dependence is low compliance (adherence). Long-acting sustained release formulations of Naltrexone (injectable or implantable) may help to develop compliance and, as a result, augment the efficacy of abstinence-oriented treatments with Naltrexone for heroin or opium dependence. Following the completion of opioid detoxification, the administration of Vivitrol is done for the purpose of preventing a return to opiate dependence (B. A. J. T. Johnson & management, 2007).

      Mechanism of Action 

      Dopaminergic pathways, (which have their origins in the ventral tegmental area, relay to the nucleus accumbens with neuronal inputs from other limbic regions, and progress to the cortex), are responsible for mediating the reinforcing effects of alcohol, which are associated with the substance’s potential for abuse. An antagonist for the mu-opioid receptor, Naltrexone, reduces the positive effects of alcohol through two distinct mechanisms. First, it prevents alcohol from causing beta-endorphin stimulation of dopamine neurons directly in the nucleus accumbens. Second, it prevents beta-endorphin from disabling the tonic inhibition of dopamine cells caused by gamma-aminobutyric acid neurons in the ventral tegmental area (Koob & Research, 2003; Wise & Bozarth, 1987).

      Oral Dosage Form and Its Effects 

      In alcohol-dependent people who had recently stopped drinking, taking oral Naltrexone was effective at reducing the likelihood of relapsing and going back to drinking heavily. Its general effectiveness has been limited by two consequential factors, one of which is that the pharmacokinetic properties of oral Naltrexone lead to significant fluctuations in plasma levels with oral daily dosing. A medication adherence rate of at least 85 percent is necessary in order for there to be a therapeutic response. First, the low plasma trough level of oral Naltrexone reduces the efficacy of the drug, which may explain why this requirement exists. Second, it is believed that high peak levels are responsible for adverse events, and it is estimated that up to 15% of people who receive oral Naltrexone will discontinue treatment due to adverse events, particularly nausea (B. A. Johnson & Ait-Daoud, 2000).

      Therefore, optimizing the pharmacokinetic profile of Naltrexone by developing a deep intramuscular injection that would release Naltrexone over the course of several weeks would make the drug more effective as a whole. Therefore, plasma levels would remain relatively constant, and while they would be low enough to cut down on the number of adverse events, they would still be high enough to produce the desired anti-drinking effects. In other words, even though it is not anticipated that the effect size of the long-acting, intramuscular formulation of Naltrexone will be greater than the effect size of oral Naltrexone, it is likely that the overall outcome will be improved because of the increased compliance and longer exposure to a therapeutic dose (Bartus et al., 2003).

      Patients are typically given 380 mg of the long-acting injectable (LAI) form of Naltrexone once every 28 days, and oral Naltrexone is typically titrated up to the target dose of 50 mg per day. Although the use of LAI Naltrexone does not require a trial period of oral Naltrexone, it is standard practise to determine the patient’s level of toleraance with oral doses before moving on to higher concentrations. It is possible that the use of LAI Naltrexone has benefits for adherence when compared to the use of oral Naltrexone. This is due to the fact that non-adherence is common among patients who are taking medication for alcohol use disorder.

      3.1% of patients in the study were given any form of Naltrexone, but only 0.24% of patients were given LAI Naltrexone. This information was obtained from a study. Even though about 40% of people have experienced alcohol abuse of some kind at some point in their lives, very few people are actually receiving the help they need. According to the findings of the same study, the patients who were given the intramuscular injection were more likely to make use of both outpatient and inpatient mental health services. Patients battling alcohol use disorders who receive treatment that is both pharmacologic and makes use of mental health resources have better outcomes as a result of their treatment. These resources for mental health include individual drug counselling, care management, monitoring of a patient’s substance use, and intensive outpatient treatment, among other options (Aletraris, Shelton, & Roman, 2015; Marienfeld, Iheanacho, Issa, & Rosenheck, 2014).

      More research is needed in order to find out the effects and outcomes of drug with the use of oral dosage form and other dosage forms. 

      References 

      Aletraris, Lydia, Shelton, Jeff S, & Roman, Paul M %J Journal of substance abuse treatment. (2015). Counselor attitudes toward contingency management for substance use disorder: Effectiveness, acceptability, and endorsement of incentives for treatment attendance and abstinence. 57, 41-48. 

      Bartus, Raymond T, Emerich, Dwaine F, Hotz, Joyce, Blaustein, Marc, Dean, Reginald L, Perdomo, Brigido, & Basile, Anthony S %J Neuropsychopharmacology. (2003). Vivitrex®, an injectable, extended-release formulation of naltrexone, provides pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evidence of efficacy for 1 month in rats.28(11), 1973-1982. 

      Chick, Jonathan, Anton, Raymond, Checinski, Ken, Croop, Robert, Drummond, D Colin, Farmer, Roger, . . . alcoholism. (2000). A multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of naltrexone in the treatment of alcohol dependence or abuse. 35(6), 587-593. 

      Johnson, Bankole A %J Therapeutics, & management, clinical risk. (2007). Naltrexone long-acting formulation in the treatment of alcohol dependence. 3(5), 741. 

      Johnson, Bankole A, & Ait-Daoud, Nassima %J Psychopharmacology. (2000). Neuropharmacological treatments for alcoholism: scientific basis and clinical findings. 149(4), 327-344. 

      Koob, George F %J Alcoholism: Clinical, & Research, Experimental. (2003). Alcoholism: allostasis and beyond.27(2), 232-243. 

      Kranzler, Henry R, Wesson, Donald R, Billot, Laurent, Clinical, DrugAbuse Sciences Naltrexone Depot Study Group %J Alcoholism:, & Research, Experimental. (2004). Naltrexone depot for treatment of alcohol dependence: a multicenter, randomized, placebo‐controlled clinical trial.28(7), 1051-1059. 

      Marienfeld, Carla, Iheanacho, Theddeus, Issa, Mohammed, & Rosenheck, Robert A %J Addictive Behaviors. (2014). Long-acting injectable depot naltrexone use in the Veterans’ Health Administration: a national study. 39(2), 434-438. 

      Monti, Peter M, Rohsenow, Damaris J, Swift, Robert M, Gulliver, Suzy B, Colby, Suzanne M, Mueller, Timothy I, . . . Research, Experimental. (2001). Naltrexone and cue exposure with coping and communication skills training for alcoholics: treatment process and 1‐year outcomes. 25(11), 1634-1647. 

      Wise, Roy A, & Bozarth, Michael A %J Psychological review. (1987). A psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction.94(4), 469.

      Categories
      Addiction Recovery Alcohol First Responders Life Transitions Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Terminal Illness Uncategorized

      Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

      Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

      The liver is a large meaty organ in the human body. It is responsible for breaking down the food, fighting infections, and filtering blood. A healthy liver ultimately allows for a more active and engaging life. However, very few people live lives that protect and preserve it. Most likely because we simply dont know the extent of its function or importance. But alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise and the increase in alcohol consumption over the pandemic years hasn’t helped either.

      Liver Problems 

      The liver, like other organs, can also get damaged for different reasons. When we don’t care what goes inside the body, our liver has to pay the price for it. Mostly, liver damage starts with swelling, further leading to fibrosis and scars. People who figure out the damage and seek treatment can reverse the case. But in the other case, fibrosis can turn into cirrhosis, which is terrible. It causes your liver to struggle hard to do an everyday task. With time, it ends at a point where your liver stops functioning, a liver failure. 

      Symptoms of Possible Liver Problems

      There are so many indications that can depict the lousy condition of your liver. Some of them can be following;

      You might have itchy skin that causes bruises easily. 

      Your eyes might turn yellow, which is also a symptom of jaundice. 

      When your liver doesn’t function well, your belly may hurt. It sometimes makes you lose your appetite and feel sick of the stomach. 

      It can also cause your different body parts like legs, arms, and belly to swell. 

      What Causes the Liver Damage?

      Liver damage can either be due to a medical condition, disease, or because of your unhealthy lifestyle.

      Alcohol Addiction

      Excessive drinking is considered bad for health. It is true because it lends up to the liver, which affects the blood filtering process. Meanwhile, it causes the creation of harmful chemicals that damages your liver. When a person continues to drink too much alcohol, the overproduction of chemicals occurs. It deteriorates your liver, causing a ‘fatty alcoholic liver.’ It might not threaten you at this point, but remember, it can turn into hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure in days or weeks. 

      Drug Addiction 

      Liver infections are also prevalent these days. A virus consisting of Hepatitis variants like A, B, or C can also affect your liver badly. Such liver infections are mostly found among people struggling with drug addiction. This is usually because of the use of shared needles and unsanitary processes. Even seemingly minor mistakes and negligence can really harm your liver. 

      Yes, there can be other factors triggering the liver problems like cancer, etc. But alcohol and drug addiction are the major ones.

      Alcohol & Liver 

      Alcohol is a red-labeled product, and its abuse can be threatening for life. It can cause several health complications, from high blood pressure to stroke. And ultimately, liver damage can be one of the potentially terminal effects of excessive alcohol consumption. 

      Individuals addicted to alcohol have a high risk of developing chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis, hepatitis, or complete liver failure. It usually happens when a person consumes more than 15 drinks of alcohol over a week or a woman goes above eight glasses. It can be a one-time overdose or habitual abuse. In both cases, the over-drinking results in liver damage. 

      Alcohol Consumption Statistics 

      According to current research, 15%-30% of heavy drinkers are diagnosed with cirrhosis yearly. Most of them recover the damage when they give up on alcohol addicted and get appropriately treated.  It is one of the most common behaviors among adults in the United States. According to National Survey on Drugs, about 86% of adults have consumed alcohol in their lifetime.

      The statistics on drinking are alarming, and many people are trying to find ways to reduce their alcohol consumption. Various factors contribute to drinking, including age, gender, socioeconomic status and culture.

      How Does Alcohol Impact The Liver? 

      The liver functions as the nutrients breaking and filtering organ. In the case of alcohol, when the liver breaks it down, the chemical reaction releases a toxin. It is harmful as it damages your liver cells, causing alcohol-related liver diseases. 

      Do you know? The liver takes around an hour to process one alcoholic drink. It means the duration expands with the number of glasses. If someone does excessive drinks, the liver will take longer. What is more threatening is the point where the liver stops filtering any more alcohol. Rather than filtering, it lets the unprocessed alcohol enter the bloodstream. 

      When unprocessed alcohol, traveling along in the blood, goes into different body organs like the heart and brain, it can have devastating results. 

      Types of Alcohol-Related Liver Diseases 

      Alcohol-Related liver disease; Steahopetatis (ASH)

      It is an early-stage disease. It causes fat to accumulate within liver cells, interfering with liver function. The constant interruption declines liver production and health. 

      Even though there are no particular signs and symptoms at an initial stage, abdominal pain can indicate it, particularly on the right side. Simply, alcohol abstinence can reduce pain and improves liver health. 

      alcohol-related liver disease; Alcoholic Hepatitis 

      It is a more common yet destructive type of alcohol-related liver disease. It occurs due to the killing of liver cells and developing scars or fibrosis. Around 35% of individuals drinking excessive alcohol develop this disease at mild and severe levels. 

      When someone binges on drinking alcohol, it damages liver cells. The common symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis are fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, etc. If you experience it, stop drinking and see if things improve. In severe conditions, you must visit a physician and undergo liver treatment. 

      Alcohol-Related Liver Disease; Cirrhosis

      This is the most severe stage of liver deterioration. It becomes prominent when your liver is wholly scarred and damaged. The liver gets hard and shrinks in size. 

      Cirrhosis is common among addicted drinkers. Those who continue drinking alcohol for years end up having this fatal disease. It eventually fails the liver, endangering their lives. 

      How To Ensure A Healthy Liver?

      No matter what put your liver at risk, certain medicines and lifestyle changes can help you recover it. Making wise choices for your life can be difficult and many factors must be considered. Here are some tips for sustaining a healthy liver;

      Stop Feeding Your Addiction

      Limiting substance-abuse related liver damage is possible. It only demands you stop consuming substance; alcohol and/or drugs. Alcohol-related liver diseases can seem to creep up on you unexpectedly – many people wait far too long to see their doctor and get help. For the sake of your health and life, and those who love and care about you – it’s a choice you need to make. And there are lots of resources to help you – start by reaching out to your family, your physician, a seasoned and professional addiction counselor or even a treatment center.

      *Keep in mind that you need to get help – detoxing from alcohol and benzos can be deadly when done on your own.

      Eat Well & Exercise

      Having a healthy diet is always helpful. Eat more greens, fruits, and fibrous foods that are easy to digest. It will allow your liver to process in less time and relax too. Besides that, exercising keeps your body active. It enhances blood circulation, improving liver function.

      Take Care of Your Health 

      Whether be it your general or liver health, it deserves priority. You must take care of your health and opt for things that are good for it. Keep updating your lifestyle to a natural and healthier one to maintain well-being.

      What Happens When You Quit Drinking?

      Improved Sleep

      The benefits of quitting alcohol are not just restricted to the individual but also their family members. The person who is quitting alcohol will see improvements in their sleep quality and will have more energy throughout the day.

      Better Mental Health

      Quitting or cutting down on alcohol can help people feel better mentally and physically. People addicted to alcohol often experience depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. Quitting or cutting down on alcohol can help them feel better mentally and physically by improving the quality of their lives.

      Lower Risk of Cancer 

      Alcohol is a huge risk factor for cancer. Alcohol abuse can also have other negative consequences. The cancer risk in people who drink alcohol is significantly lower than in those who don’t drink. Quitting alcohol is the best way to improve your health and reduce the increased risk of cancer.

      Conclusion

      The liver is a crucial organ to care for and substance abuse and/or addiction can put your liver in crisis. If you are an regular drinker or recreational user, you should at the very least have your liver checked out by your physician, routinely. They can run a quick blood test to look at risk of an alcohol-related liver disease. If your use has become routine, increased or even necessary, then opting for a professional and recommended addiction treatment program or center, may serve you even better. Whatever you choose to do, reach out to a professional and get the help you need and get it in time. It can save your liver and prolong life; the quantity and the quality of it. 

      References

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2787499/

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6713002/

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397877/

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860472/

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826827/

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/

      Categories
      Addiction Recovery Alcohol Cocaine & Stimulants Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Synthetics, Designer Drugs, & More Uncategorized

      Quick Definitions and Facts on Addiction Treatment in Texas

      Below you will find some quick definitions and facts on addiction treatment in Texas. I hope this helps to make things a little clearer. I’ve also included some personal opinions on what I believe good treatment should be in hopes of making it a little easier for you find the best option for you or your loved one.

      Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Texas

      Addiction, in the past, has incorrectly been thought to be a question of will power or choice. “If you really wanted to stop drinking, you would.” – we now know just how wrong and even damaging this belief was. 

      Alcoholism, like all addictions, is a disease. (A disease is an illness or affliction of a primary organ and in the case of addiction it’s the brain.) Alcoholism is genetically oriented, progressive in its destruction and path, chronic and requires a lot more than just “willpower” to overcome. (*you can find some quick statistics on Alcoholism at the bottom of this page)

      A well known addiction physician in Houston was fond of explaining it like this: Addiction is biological, like diarrhea, so if you think you can simply choose to overcome it – the next time you have diarrhea, try to think your way out of it. (a bit over simplistic and graphic for some folks – but you get the point). Addiction is a challenging disease because it has psychological, emotional, relational and other challenges, but at it’s core, it is still a disease. You cannot successfully out-maneuver your own biology; at least not alone.

      It’s important to note that some substances can kill you outright when you are using them, few are likely to do this when you are detoxing off of them. Alcohol (and Benzos) are two of the definitive and very dangerous exceptions. Many people have died trying to detox at home. Even if you have succeeded in doing this before it is not worth doing – luck doesn’t last forever. By the time you are in crisis, an ambulance may not be able to make up the time needed to get you into medical care and safety.

      When it comes to alcohol detox – always seek the help of a physician and personally, I would opt for a medical detox level of care. Your life is too precious to gamble. Again, you will not win against biology. Please, don’t do it alone. Get help.

      Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment in Texas

      Benzodiazepines are a commonly prescribed medication for sedation. Also called ‘tranquilizers’, benzodiazepines come in a wide range of varieties – amounting to 2,000+ different kinds. Benzodiazepine is a silent but potentially deadly drug that’s often used in combination with a range of other substances to produce its effects. Considered an accomplice in thousands of drug-induced deaths, benzodiazepine dependence and addiction is a serious health problem that poses a threat to an individual’s quality of life. It is especially lethal when mixed with other substances like alcohol.

      Benzodiazepine detox, like alcohol detox, is very dangerous to undertake on your own. It is highly encouraged that you do not attempt this outside of a medical detox with physicians and 24/7 nursing available.

      Chemical Dependency Education in Texas

      This should be part of any level of treatment and is needed for both the person struggling with addiction and their family/loved ones. Sometimes exhausted and scared families will contend that they are not the one with the addiction so why should they “have to go” to classes/counseling. As many recovery communities teach; you are not healing and growing in your recovery until you change your mindset from “I have to go” into “I get to go”.

      Chemical Dependency Education and support are a benefit and gift – don’t waste it or let it go by. CD Education helps to relieve the strain everyone has been feeling, support the hard changes needed to sustain healing for everyone and make sure that all members in the family and support system have accurate information and understanding of what is happening. I often tell families, “It’s not your fault that we are here at this point, but you are able to make the healing easier or harder going forward.” Your actions can mean more than your words. Get informed and get involved.

      Any reputable Residential, PHP or IOP treatment program will have education and support services specifically for family and loved ones as part of it’s program. Make sure you get the details and take advantage of it. It’s a good start and they will often be able to connect you with other resources for ongoing support.

      Cocaine Addiction and Treatment in Texas

      Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that’s made from the leaves of the coca plant which grows native to various areas in South America. Cocaine is the second most commonly trafficked illegal drug in the world, with an estimated 1.9 million people aged 18 and over using the drug in the United States alone. 

      One of the most difficult aspects of cocaine addiction is that the high first achieved – when the body has never before been introduced to cocaine – can never again be achieved to the same degree. The cocaine addict is essentially condemned to chase something that biochemically is no longer achievable. Yes, they can use more, but the pleasure will never reach the same point.

      The greater risk of death is during use, not typically during deto, unless other serious medical conditions are present. But, detox can be very unpleasant and for many difficult to complete. This is where going into a medical detox facility can be helpful.Following detox, residential or partial hospitalization is necessary for any chance of sustained recovery. And like with all addiction, immersion in a recovery community is paramount to success.

      Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) in Texas

      The best Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) will likely offer a holistic & evidence-based approach supporting long-term recovery for the client and the family. An IOP should include individual, group, & family therapy and all therapy should be conducted in a discreet, uplifting environment. If it is punitive or lacking privacy – go somewhere else. Beyond alcohol & drug addiction specific programming, the better programs tend to offer a range of therapies to support issues surrounding anxiety, depression, grief/loss, shame, trauma, family systems, process addictions and more.

      Some programs are heavily weighted in favor of a particular recovery community’s philosophies; like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). More contemporary programs understand that there are different paths to recovery that may best fit individual needs. These will support clients being involved in AA, NA, Refuge Recovery, SMART Recovery, Life Ring, Celebrate Recovery and more. Many programs say they use evidenced-based approaches and individualize treatment. It’s okay to ask them to be specific and explain how this is achieved. A reputable program will welcome your interest and happily share what they do.

      In Texas, an IOP should be at least 10 clinical hours (9 in group and 1 individual) each week and run 8 to 12 weeks. Groups should be run by Masters level therapists. Some will also employ Masters level intern therapists and they are required to tell you this up front. Some interns can be phenomenal, so don’t let that turn you away. But ideally there should be a balance so find out how much of your face-to-face clinical service is being provided by interns versus seasoned clinicians. Any IOP (or PHP) who has a majority of their clinician service hours being provided by interns should be up front about this and in our opinion, should also be ready and willing to negotiate a significantly discounted rate for clients without insurance.

      Any reputable IOP will seek to involve family/loved ones in the treatment process and will provide a robust, specific and detailed Discharge Plan no less than 7-10 days before you leave that level of care. Make sure you let them know you want to be included in the development of this.

      Marijuana Addiction Treatment in Texas

      Marijuana is the most used psychotropic drug in the United States. Although the likelihood that a person might abuse and then become addicted to marijuana are slim, there are more cases in recent years where dependence has developed. One argument for this is that the THC levels in marijuana commonly accessible today can be 15 times more than what it was 10-20 years ago. (“It’s not your Momma’s marijuana anymore”).

      Another difference is that a notable amount of longer term marijuana users experience significant increases in anxiety during withdrawal, some to the point of having panic attacks. These points, and others, are part of the reason that more centers around the country have developed specific programs for this and are accepting admissions for marijuana abuse. Some insurance companies are now supporting coverage for this treatment, too.

      Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment in Texas

      A highly addictive stimulant drug, methamphetamine is used by an estimated 12.3 million U.S. citizens. Over the long term, recurrent, frequent meth use can lead to addiction and dependence. The longer that a person uses meth, the stronger the dependence becomes. It isn’t uncommon for meth addicts to fall into financial turmoil as a result of their addiction. At a certain point when all monetary resources have been exhausted in pursuit of the next fix, abusers may turn to theft and other illegal activities in order to sustain their expensive habit.

      Meth is particularly hard on the body and brain. Some treatment programs are cautious to admit long term users due to frequency of bizarre behaviors during early recovery. Healthcare needs and a longer duration of brain recovery are very common with longer term methamphetamine abuse.

      Opioid Addiction Treatment in Texas

      Considered a health crisis or epidemic, opioid addiction can cause serious dangers to a person’s health, social, and financial problems. The class of drugs are typically prescribed in healthcare settings to treat pain, but their strong potential for abuse has become a major problem worldwide.

      The treatment for opioid abuse is twofold: opiate recovery counseling and withdrawal management. The first focuses on the social, mental, and emotional aspects of the addiction while the second works to ease the system into a drug-free state.

      There are medications available to assist with opiate withdrawal and early recovery – there is some controversy around some of these. Speak openly with your addiction-savvy physician and counselor and get clear information. Even the most widely known medication for this has shown their highest success rates only when medication and treatment/counseling were used in tandem. There is no “miracle pill” cure. Treatment and a recovery support community are still necessary for any chance at sustained recovery.

      Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) in Texas

      PHP level of care should give our clients the strongest foundation possible upon which to build independence in an out-patient setting. It’s an highly-focused program, with groups meeting 5 days a week, for 5 hours a day, plus individual therapy and psychiatric visits. It is most often used in lieu of Residential Treatment (when combined with Sober Living) or as the first “step-down” post discharge from Residential.

      PHP gives clients the knowledge, tools, support, and structure to start building strength and confidence in their sobriety. PHP should be seen as the first step of an extended treatment program that also includes Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP) and possibly Sober Living. Any reputable PHP will seek to involve family/loved ones in the treatment process and will provide a robust, specific and detailed Discharge Plan no less than 7-10 days before you leave that level of care. 

      Process Addiction Treatment in Texas

      Addiction comes in all sorts of forms. A common misconception is the physical over-reliance on substances, in which an individual would often fall in physical, emotional, and mental pitfalls. But this reliance on substances is just one type of addiction. Process addiction, or behavioral addiction, deals with the compulsive nature connected to the actual act of abuse on substances and other triggers that cause addiction. Some examples of behavioral addiction can include gambling addiction, porn addiction, shopping addiction, gaming or social media addiction, and food addiction. 

      Similar to other types of addiction, help is always available for the individual. Identifying the problem, addressing the different triggers, and creating solid treatment strategies are some of the best ways to help with this disorder. Addiction is nearly impossible to treat if the person won’t accept that they have an addiction.

      A behavioral addiction can be present alone, as a co-morbid condition along with a mental health disorder or even cross-addiction with substance. (It is important to mention that the presence of any addiction with the absence of any emotional or mental health disorder is extremely unlikely. At minimum, anxiety and depression are a common part of early recovery and whether that is solely due to the process of addiction recovery or fueled by emotional health is something that time and a seasoned professional should help to determine).

      Recovery Coaching in Texas

      Professional recovery coaching is an invaluable step in the sobriety journey, as these experienced coaches provide continued guidance and accountability for clients either discharging from a Sober Living House, or after IOP, or for those who can manage a lower level of structure. Clients typically work with a recovery coach for 90-180 days. The best recovery coaches have been professionally trained, extensively, in addiction treatment and recovery, have experience working within the field and are immersed in their local treatment community.

      In Texas, they should hold a professional certification and/or license. Personal or “life experience” does not make someone a professional recovery coach. While that can be helpful, that is what refer to as a peer not a professional. A professional has formal training, along with experience. You can think of it this way: having had heart problems may give you valuable insights but doesn’t make you a cardiologist. Likewise, personal addiction experience doesn’t make you an addiction treatment professional.

      Sober Living in Texas

      Sober living program provides structure and support in early sobriety, and is designed for individuals in need of that structure and accountability during the transitional period back to normalcy and independence. There is a world of difference in the quality and support levels provided by various sober living homes across the state. Do your research. Ask your physician and counselor for recommendations and whenever possible, go and visit/tour the facility. 

      A reputable sober living will arrange for you to tour the property and answer your questions. You should expect that most will not allow family and others to visit or enter the property except at the initial tour – this is to protect the privacy of the other residents. Many will want you to have completed RTC, PHP or IOP before coming. Most will support your employment schedule, to a point.

      Strong sober living homes have behavioral expectations, some type of curfew, house meetings and a required number of recovery community meetings each week. Rather than fight it, try to embrace it. If you’re headed to sober living then your way of staying sober wasn’t working anyway. So maybe it’s time to listen to someone else?

      Synthetics Addiction Treatment in Texas

      While drugs used to be made from natural ingredients, many of the drugs of today are synthetic or completely man-made. The roster of synthetics includes notorious names like methamphetamine, LSD, and ecstasy, all of which cause significant effects on both mind and body. Because of the nature of these substances, it’s highly likely for individuals to get hooked and addicted to their use.

      Although the ever changing nature of synthetics can make it a challenge to understand the drug, synthetic drug abuse is treatable. The ideal treatment is a residential treatment center  in which a patient is sent to live in a facility for the duration of the process. Typically, 35 to 45 days or more may be needed, followed by at least 2-3 months of IOP. This is because synthetics can take many forms, and the emotional and psychological effects can be bizarre and lingering which can be scary and confusing for caregivers and the client. So, in some cases it can even be a safety issue. Also keep in mind that caretakers in a private home setting might not be able to identify whether the patient is using synthetics or not.

      QUICK FACTS ON ALCOHOLISM IN THE US

      (from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics)

      • 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 have an Alcohol Use Disorder.
      • 140.557 Americans die from the effects of alcohol in an average year.
      • Of these, alcohol-related liver disease is the leading killer, causing 19.1% of all alcohol-related deaths.
      • 53.7% of alcohol-related deaths are due to chronic misuse.
      • 52.4% of chronic misuse deaths are attributable to alcohol alone; 47.6% include additional factors, such as other chronic health issues or drug abuse.
      • Alcohol poisoning is another leading killer, causing 32% of acute alcohol-related deaths.
      • Over half of Americans (roughly 60%) report increasing their alcohol use during COVID-19 lockdowns.
      • Each year, 97,000 sexual assaults among American college students involve alcohol.
      • 22.5% of acute-alcohol related deaths are due to suicide.
      • (Suicides involving alcohol kill more people than car accidents involving alcohol).

      man sitting at table with hand on face

      Struggling with Substance Abuse or Emotional Health in Houston?

      Categories
      Addiction Recovery Alcohol Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills)

      5 Signs Your Drinking Is Now a Problem

      There’s a fine line between a bad habit and addiction. Unfortunately, because it’s such a fine line, it’s easy to cross over it without even realizing it. And during the pandemic, many people started drinking more often and let’s be honest, just drinking more. So, how do I know if it’s something I should be concerned about? Here’s 5 signs your drinking is now a problem.

      You might think that drinking or using any type of drug is something you have under control. Maybe it started out as something you did with friends. As a casual part of getting together. Or maybe you used it to relax.  

      In some cases, though, your social or emotional habits can quietly become a dependency. And once this happens, it’s harder to stop than you might think.

      With that in mind, it’s important to understand the signs that your habit has gone beyond “harmless”. When it is affecting the quality of your life and how you behave each day, a habit has crossed over into addiction territory. 

      But how can you be sure? 

      Let’s look at five clear signs that your habit has become an addiction. The sooner you take these signs to heart, the sooner you can seek the help you need and deserve.

      1. You Can’t Stop

      This is, by far, the most obvious sign that your habit has gotten out of control. If you’re unable to keep yourself from taking the substance, drinking, or performing a certain action (ie; compulsively watching pornography, etc.), you may have become addicted. 

      Addicts have an extremely hard time giving up their “habits” on their own; psychologically and physically. That’s why extensive treatment and rehabilitation are often needed. If you feel a constant need and urge to give in to that habit, it’s time to consider that there’s something more going on.

      2. You’ve Isolated Yourself

      People who are addicted to something often isolate themselves from others. They know they can’t be away from whatever their addiction is for long. Plus, they might worry that other people could sense something “off” about them. 

      If you’ve started to cut yourself off from your friends and family or you aren’t interacting the way you normally would, ask yourself why? Does it have anything to do with that “habit”?

      3. You’re Getting Into Financial Trouble

      Most addictions cost money. The more you need, the more it costs. Unfortunately, drug dealers know how much people rely on certain substances, so they’re happy to raise their prices so addicts can get their “fix”. If your choice is alcohol, something as simple as a case of beer can cost $25. 

      As you continue to feed your addiction, you might find that you run into financial issues. But, because you can’t give it up, you might find other means of getting the money. It’s not uncommon for addicts to take from others in their house, to sell their belongings, or even to give up things like eating or paying for utilities so they can use that money for their addiction. 

      If that sounds like you, or you realize you’re experiencing financial strain, it will only continue to get worse unless you seek help.

      4. Your Behaviors Are Unstable

      Have you noticed yourself doing some things that you wouldn’t normally do? It’s not uncommon for addicts to practice “risky” behaviors. Unfortunately, those behaviors could get you hurt, or cause harm to others. There’s a difference between doing something fun that will boost your adrenaline and doing something that could put your life in danger.

      You know yourself better than anyone. You might not want to admit it, but being active in dangerous behaviors isn’t you. Listen to yourself, and to any loved ones reaching out to help.

      5. Your Relationships Are Strained

      In addition to isolating yourself, have you found that your relationships are struggling? That could include a romantic relationship, friendships, or how close you are with family members. 

      Addiction affects every relationship in your life. You might not feel you can be yourself without getting judged. Meanwhile, your friends and family might be concerned about you. 

      If you start to become paranoid about your relationships, it might spill over into other areas of life, including your job. That can lead to poor work performance and start a vicious cycle of losing your career and trying to fuel your addiction all at once. 

      These signs aren’t meant to shame you. Instead, they’re meant to inform and help you. If any of them sound familiar or have caused any personal realizations, feel free to contact me. You can beat your addiction and take control of your life again— but you don’t have to do it alone

      Categories
      Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills) Uncategorized

      Medications Used to Treat Opioid Addiction

      Medications Used to Treat Opiate Addiction: Here’s What You Need to Know

      Opioids often have a strong effect on the brain. That’s why opiate addiction has become such a prominent problem, not only in the United States but all over the world. Navigation the medications used to treat opiate addiction can be confusing. There are many opinions and finding concrete information can be tricky.

      The purpose of opioids is to make a patient feel better quickly. They were designed to be used to treat things like pain. That’s why opioids such as morphine are given in hospitals, and codeine is found in many over-the-counter cough syrups.

      Because they make you feel good, however, it’s easy to become addicted to opioids quickly. They activate the dopamine pathway in the brain, sending out endorphins that make you feel good. So, even though they can help with pain, they are risky too. Because of this, they should only be used with a prescription.

      Unfortunately, the misuse of opiates can also lead to a lot of problems including negative long-term effects when it comes to brain function. However, there are plenty of medications used to treat opioid addiction. But how do you know which ones are safer than others?

      Methadone & Opiate Addiction

      Methadone is an opioid agonist. That essentially means it’s the same thing to the brain as an opiate. It’s designed to help opioid users get through withdrawal symptoms. Studies have shown that withdrawal can be the hardest part of beginning to recover. If they can’t deal with the symptoms, they’re more likely to relapse and even overdose.

      It’s important to understand how methadone works. After all, it’s definitely not without flaws or risks.

      Essentially, methadone helps to relieve opioid cravings. It does so by triggering the same receptors in the brain that opioids (such as heroin) also act on. The difference? It does it more slowly. The person taking it doesn’t typically experience the same intense “high” that they do when they take opioids.

      While methadone has been used to treat opioid addiction for many years, it needs to be heavily monitored. Only those going through a specialized treatment program should use it.

      Methadone is sometimes irreverently referred to as the “life time med” as it is essentially a replacement drug therapy. More commonly you may hear it referenced as a “maintenance medication”. This is because once you begin, it is highly unlikely that you can stop taking it without going into withdrawal.

      Suboxone & Opiate Addiction

      Another one of the medications used to treat opioid addiction is Suboxone. Suboxone is the brand name for a medication containing both buprenorphine and naloxone.

      Buprenorphine works similarly to methadone. However, it’s a partial agonist opiate – “tricking” the brain into thinking it is a full opiate. Buprenorphine reduces an addict’s urges and can help them to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

      Naloxone is an opioid antagonist or “blocker”. It can help to reverse the effects of opioids in the brain. Medical professionals often use it in emergency overdose situations.

      The combination of these two ingredients helps to make detoxing from opioids easier while getting rid of some of the lingering symptoms. It’s a long-term prescription whose research shows that it is most successful when taken for at least six months, if not longer. This runs contrary to what many older model detox centers do – often giving it for the first 3 – 5 days.

      Some of the potential side effects of Suboxone include:

      • Headache
      • Abdominal pain
      • Constipation
      • Nausea
      • Insomnia

      Keep in mind that some of the effects you may be feeling could be withdrawal symptoms. Everyone experiences them differently. But, Suboxone can help to make the process easier.

      Vivitrol & Opiate Addiction

      Vivitrol is another opioid antagonist or “blocker”. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain but doesn’t trigger the release of dopamine. Because they attach to the receptors, they block opioids from “getting in.”

      Vivitrol helps to suppress craving and physicians now are using it for opiate, alcohol and even for some types of eating disorders.

      Because of how it works, Vivitrol can often help to keep former opioid addicts from relapsing.

      One of the risks of Vivitrol is that it’s an injection-based medication and there can be side effects.  Most doctors will start clients on an oral (pill) version for the first few days. This helps to determine if the medication is the best for for the client. Other possible side effects include:

      • Pain
      • Swelling
      • Blisters
      • Lumps

      Vivitrol should be used after the initial opioid detoxification process is complete.

      Opiate Addiction Treatment Programs

      The medications used to treat opioid addiction work in a variety of different ways to make “coming down” from the addiction easier and relapsing more difficult. Of course, none of them are perfect. Each one has certain side effects to consider.

      These medications can be helpful under the right conditions. If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, please contact me today. For More Resources click here.

      Over 130 people die each day from an opioid overdose. Getting into treatment now can help to ensure that you or someone you love doesn’t end up being just another statistic.

      (For more information on counseling for individuals struggling with addiction and their loved ones – Click Here)

      Categories
      Opiates (Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills)

      Opiate Addiction and the Brain

      Opiate Addiction and the Brain

      As human beings we have a long history of using opiates, such as morphine. And if a person gains unlimited access to opiates, they can easily and quickly become tolerant and addicted to it. The drugs have an intense effect on the human brain. Prescription opiates are after all intentionally designed and created to make a person feel good within a short period of time. The drugs increase the level of dopamine released in the brain and copy the effects of endogenous opioids. More often than not, people who have taken opiates with consistency often have difficulty feeling normal without taking the drugs and little or no knowledge of what really happens with opiate addiction and the brain.

      Endorphins and Dopamine

      Our brains produce a natural morphine known as endorphins. They stimulate the opioid receptors to lift our mood when we are under stress; helping us feel more motivated and relieving pain when there is an injury. These hormones are produced during excitement, exercise, feeling loved, orgasm, pain, or even eating spicy food.

      The production of endorphins also leads to the discharge of dopamine, which is the chemical that activates the reward system of our brain. Dopamine acts as natural “go system” that helps humans pursue stuff that we need to survive. Our brain also has a “stop system” found in the prefrontal cortex at the front of our brain. It helps us determine the consequences of our impulses. When a person is addicted to opiates, the “go system” of the brain acts on its own, and the “stop system” can no longer control it.

      Some Examples of  Opioids

      Heroin

      Codeine – ingredient found in many cough syrups

      Hydrocodone – Vicodin, Lortab or Lorcet

      Oxycodone – Percocet, OxyContin or Percodan

      Hydromorphone – Dilaudid

      Morphine – MSContin, MSIR, Avinza or Kadian

      Propoxyphene – Darvocet or Darvon

      Fentanyl – Duragesic

      Methadone

      What Opiates do to a Person’s Brain?

      Opiate drugs activate the dopamine pathway (also known as the reward pathway) that sends out a rush of pleasure chemicals to the brain. When talking about opiate addiction and the brain, opiates are much more stimulating than natural endorphins, which is partly why they are so addictive. Once a person uses opiates, the brain stops creating natural endorphins because the body thinks that there are already enough levels of it in the brain. Within six to 12 months of using opiate drugs, the cells that produce endorphins can be significantly reduced in size and even die off.

      One of the most commonly abused illegal opiate drugs is heroin. When it is injected into a vein, heroin reaches the brain within 15 to 20 seconds. It then binds itself to the opiate receptors found in the different parts of the brain that include, you guessed it; the reward pathway. When the receptors in the reward pathway are activated, the person feels a brief and very intense rush of euphoria. This is followed by several hours of what many report as a “contented and relaxed” state. This feeling of euphoria is what draws people back to opiates again and again.

      The effects of opiates are similar to the ones from naturally occurring opioid peptides. When used for medical purposes, opiates can stop diarrhea, depress breathing, and relieve pain. They come with side effects that include vomiting and nausea. But when used in large doses, they can make breathing shallow or even make it stop altogether. Thousands of opiate addicts have died due to overdose. And mixing alcohol with opiates only increases the risk of death.

      Opiate Addiction and the Brain vs. Opiate Dependence

      Dependence happens due to the normal adaptations to prolonged exposure to opiates. Do not confuse the term dependence with addiction – they are not the same. Dependence is a physical condition. Addiction is described to be the compulsive seeking (psychological) and use of the drug that results in deadly consequences. Addiction usually includes some type of dependence (physical) as well.

      Another way to understand it is this: dependence is typically acute and holds the potential to be resolved or cured. Addiction on the other hand can be acute or in remission – but it is always chronic and life long (i.e. it is not cured or removed). This is why we say a clean/sober person is “in recovery” and not that they are “recovered”.

      A person who is dependent on opiates will experience some type of withdrawal symptoms when the use of the drug is suddenly stopped or reduced. The symptoms can be mild to severe. Withdrawal symptom includes flu-like discomfort, stomach cramps, unpleasant mood, diarrhea, and severe muscle pain, just to name a few. The withdrawal symptoms are most commonly managed medically through the use of a slow drug taper.

      Dependence & Tolerance

      Dependence is often accompanied by tolerance, which is the need to take higher doses of the drug in order to get the same effect. Once a person experiences tolerance, it can be difficult for the health care provider to evaluate whether the patient has a drug problem or if there is really a need for higher doses to control one’s symptoms. This is the reason physicians are attentive and vigilant to their patients’ symptoms, as well as the level of functioning to provide them with the most accurate information needed to prescribe the appropriate treatment.

      Connection of Opiate Addiction and Brain Damage

      While it has already established that opiate overdose can result to slow breathing, its effects on brain function are still being studied by researchers. Depressed respiration can affect the oxygen level in the brain. Researchers are still trying to determine the long-term effects of opiate addiction on the brain. Previous studies have shown that there is some deterioration of the white matter among heroin users that affect their ability to respond during stress situations, regulate behavior, as well as their decision-making abilities.

      “One of the worst health epidemics facing this country is the belief that successful pain management actually means the absence of any pain at all.”

      BW Carrettin, 2003

      Getting Off Opiates

      Once a person stops using opiates, the natural chemical system of the body can’t turn on right away. It has already been damaged, and it will take a while to recover. The person will go through severe withdrawal that can last up to a week. Then the person will also undergo a long process called post-acute withdrawal syndrome that can last several months or even years.

      When the person is suffering from withdrawal, they are typically depressed and with no motivation to do anything. Removing opiates from their system will suddenly bring lots of pain because there is no base level of endorphin found in their system. Professional treatment centers who specialize in opiate detox can help the withdrawal experience be much more comfortable.

      Treatment for Opiate Addiction in Houston, Texas

      Opioid addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, and like all chronic diseases it is a medical condition for life. While it can be managed and kept in remission – it cannot be cured and will not go away. However, a person with an addiction can regain a healthy, active and productive life.

      There had been a lot of growth and improvement in the field of addiction treatment and one aspect of that is medication-assisted treatment or MAT. Because of a lack of up-to-date training, antiquated ideas about addiction and a general ignorance of neurology and physiology – many people, even those in the addiction treatment field, find the idea of medication-assisted treatment to be controversial. This is sad and detracts from the core intention of recovery work.

      It’s important to know that the overall goal of medication-assisted treatment is to help someone begin to recover from addiction. These medications, prescribed and monitored responsibly, do NOT replace one addictive substance with another. They provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of a problem opioid. Medication-assisted treatment only works if all three of it’s equally important parts are upheld: medication (monitored and taken as prescribed), counseling (with a seasoned professional who specializes in addiction) and community support (recovery meetings as well as family and friends)

      Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT)

      In the past, the standard treatment for opiate addiction involved the use of methadone. (Even in the face of better options methadone is still widely used today for treatment of opiate addiction.) Methadone is a long-acting opioid that is used to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay. It also controls the craving and relapse of the patient. Whether methadone treatment is actually an effective tool for rehabilitation remains a subject of great controversy.

      Another medication used in the rehabilitation of opiate addicts is Buprenorphine. It contains a partial agonist opiate, has a weaker effect on the receptors in the brain than some newer medications and has a limited high, which some health care providers believe can deter the addict from abusing the medication. This medication is also surrounded by controversy – some have suggested it is due to improper use, others suggest negligent monitoring by treating physicians.

      Naltrexone and Naloxone are used as antagonists at opioid receptors to block the pleasurable effects of the opiates. These do not contain opiates nor do they produce a high. When coupled with counseling or other therapeutic treatments these blockers have more recently been reported to help people quit their opiate addiction. There is an intramuscular injection (IM) version called Vivitrol which lasts approximately 30 days and has been reported to successfully block highs and help to control not only opiate cravings but alcohol as well.

      Succeeding in Recovery from Opiate Addiction

      For addiction recovery to be successful over a lifetime requires a great deal of desire, commitment, persistence, humility and support. One of the most widely available community-based support organizations is 12 Step with meetings across the globe and in nearly every city in the United States. Churches, community centers and many other venues are also available depending on your area.

      A seasoned and experienced counselor who specializes in chemical addiction can also help the recovering addict through the challenges that arise in the recovery process. If the counselor is also licensed and experienced in mental health, they can also assist with issues such grief, anxiety or relationship conflicts that may come up during treatment and recovery. Counseling or psychotherapy is helpful not just for the addict but also for the partners, friends and family who love them.

      Breathe. You Can Do This.

      Change is hard and for many it can also be a bit scary. Patience and compassion, but not coddling or excusing, is necessary. Learning how to set good boundaries – new boundaries – is important for everyone involved. Remember – getting better doesn’t mean back to how things were. It will never be the same way it was in the past. That was the past. But it can be better, more than better. It can be really good.

      If you or someone you know is struggling with opiates, or any drug or alcohol, reach out and get help. A better life is possible and attainable. I’ve worked in this arena for a long time and I’d like to help you.

      Stop.    Take a moment.    Breathe.

      You CAN do this.

      Call Now (346)-493-6181

      For More Resources

      Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

      Opiate Addiction and the Brain