There may be nothing more stressful than living with an addicted family member. It doesn’t matter what drug they are addicted to. While the drugs they use may be different from family to family, their behaviors are very similar. When you live with a family member who abuses drugs, and things are at their worst, you have to remind yourself you’re not alone. No one chooses to be an addict. You also need to realize it’s going to take more than wishful thinking to help you and your drug-addicted family member. But you can find a solution that works.
How Widespread is Drug Addiction?
Statistics on drug abuse in the United States are staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 17 million adults are suffering from alcoholism. Almost 15 million people abuse marijuana, while almost 3 million people have a cocaine addiction. Methamphetamines and Ecstasy have over 1 million addicts, and over 7 million people are suffer with prescription drug addictions. Drug abuse continues to grow in the United States. With that growth comes more family members being impacted by drug abuse.
How Do You Deal with an Addicted Family Member?
You’re never able to make a deal with an addicted family member. Addicted family members don’t deal back even if you try. The addicted family member will take advantage of almost any type of comfort or positive reinforcement you give them. As they continue to take advantage of every offer you give them, you find yourself becoming an enabler. You want to believe them every time they tell you they’ll quit using drugs and that this time it will be different.
It will never work until your addicted family member gets help. You also need to seek help through support groups with other families who have had a similar experience. Drug interventionists call denial being part of the drug abuse cycle. Being part of a drug abuse cycle means you may not be addicted to drugs, but because a family member is, you’re in the drug abuse cycle with them. You stay impacted by their drug abuse unless you and your family member seek a drug intervention, so you can both follow a new path.
Families Who Rationalize Not Seeking Help for Their Drug-Addicted Family Member
Most of the time, families go from crisis to crisis when they have a family member who suffers from drug addiction. Families have no idea what to do or where to go when this happens. Families often end up in an endless holding pattern where the drug-addicted family member promises to quit using drugs. The family member wants to believe this time it will be different, but they often watch their family member go right back to using again.
One fear that holds a family member hostage to inaction is that they see the impact the family member’s drug addiction has on them. It’s the belief that making no decision and hoping things will improve is better than making the wrong decision. Unfortunately, by not doing anything and believing that your family member can and will seek treatment in most cases is not a realistic possibility.
Finding Out Addiction is Controlling Your Family Member’s Life
You may tell yourself you’re not codependent or enabling your drug-addicted family member. If you have taken on the role of the caretaker by paying a bill, so they don’t lose their apartment, electricity, or something else, you’ve become a caretaker. You’ve taken on the role of a caretaker if you’ve made excuses for their boss, so they don’t lose their job when they don’t go to work. You’re a caretaker if you’ve picked them up when they were too high or drunk to get home. Sometimes it’s as hard to break a codependent relationship, as it is being addicted. But it can be done.
How Do You Break a Codependent Familial Relationship?
When you’re deep into a codependent addiction within a familial relationship, there are many times you fear what will happen if things change between you and the addicted family member. Change is never comfortable, but it is necessary in this case. You need to understand if things remain the same; things will change anyway. But it won’t be a change you planned or prepared for. An unplanned change happens when your drug-addicted family member has a run-in with the law, overdoses, or run out of places to go.
It takes a lot of courage to ask for help if you suffer from addiction or if you’re a family member of an addict. There are places you can go to help you learn healthy tools in a step-by-step process for dealing with your drug-addicted family member. Success rates of addiction treatment are only as successful as the addicted person makes it.
Rehabilitation and recovery programs are the best chances a drug-addicted person has at recovery. Going through a rehabilitation process as a patient or a family member of a patient helps both of you. You learn about the new dynamics needed for successful family healing.
What’s Your Next Step?
Family members of drug-addicted people can’t wait until things get better tomorrow. But sometimes, when you’re dealing with addiction, tomorrow never comes. By learning how to stop being codependent with an addicted family member, you start forging a new path forward. By staying on this new path, you find a way to live your life in a healthy and fulfilling manner.
Break the cycle of drug addiction’s impact on your family. Find a treatment program that works for you, no matter what your drug-addicted family member decides to do. Your future path doesn’t depend on what path your family member is on. It only depends on what path you’re on. That path certainly needs to be free of drugs and their impact on your life. Once you’re on that path, you’ll find out just how strong and able you really are. You’ll find the life you’ve always deserved.
If you are ready to finally get off drugs for good, the road to recovery you choose can make the battle for sobriety even more difficult. You can choose to detox in a professional facility or try to go cold turkey to gain freedom from your addiction. Let’s take a closer look at how these two different methods affect your brain, body and recovery.
Addicted Brain: The Need to Stay in Active Addiction
Many people wonder how people can make the conscious choice to take a drug even though they are aware of the dangers involved. The answer is simple: your brain. Your body is made up of chemicals and so are drugs. When you ingest drugs into your system, you begin altering the way that your brain is functioning. Drugs will alter the way your cells send and receive information. Different types of drugs affect the brain in different ways such as:
- By imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers
- Over stimulating the brain’s ‘reward circuit’
- Binding to the receptors in the brain
- Overflooding the brain with excess chemicals
The severity of the effect of the drug on the brain (and subsequent addiction) will vary depending on your drug of choice. Marijuana, for example, will produce similar chemicals to your brain’s natural neurotransmitters and will send abnormal messages. This will result in the user feeling ‘high’.
Other drugs, which are considered much more addictive, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, will cause your brain’s nerve cells to release an abnormally large amount of natural neurotransmitters. It may also prevent the brain’s natural process of recycling the transmitters between neurons. This change will result in a much different high that can be much more addictive because of the overstimulation in the brain’s reward system which can produce feelings of euphoria.
How Does the Brain Become Addicted?
As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain starts to adapt to producing large amounts of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter. The brain has several dopamine pathways, one of which is critical to the motivational component of the reward motivated behavior.
As the brain begins to adapt to these surges, it naturally produces less dopamine or reduces the number of dopamine circuits in the brain’s reward system. This change will make the user enjoy the drugs they useless, but also enjoy many everyday activities less, as well.
The brain is now forming a tolerance for the drug as well as a dependency. The decrease in dopamine production causes the addict to use drugs in order to bring up the dopamine production to normal levels.
Comfort and Care: Nurses vs Housemates
When the choice is made to stop using drugs or alcohol, there are two different approaches one could take: detox or stopping cold turkey. When a user decides to quit drugs immediately and without any medical supplement, it is referred to as going ‘cold turkey’. Without proper medical supervision the consequences of this choice can be severe.
According to Dr. Richard Honaker, those who choose to stop using their substance of choice cold turkey run the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Heart palpitations
- Heart rhythm problems
The risks of going cold turkey can even be fatal. There are three substances that withdrawing cold turkey can lead to death: alcohol, opiates and benzodiazepines. Many people who choose to go cold turkey may rely on friends or family for support. Unless your support system has a medical background, they may not know how to spot the signs that you are in medical trouble. While they may be able to offer emotional support, they do not likely have the skills to help to determine what caused the addiction in the first place.
Because of all of these dangers, many people seeking recovery from their addiction will choose to detox rather than go cold turkey. Detoxing is when the user is given a safe and controlled environment to rid their body of their substance of choice.
Users are often put under 24-hour supervision with medical professionals who are familiar with the symptoms they will be experiencing and trained to help make the process as easy as possible. In some cases, the patient may be given medicine to help ease their withdrawal symptoms. Although many of these medical aides also carry their own risk of addiction.
Medication vs. No Medication
Many rehab graduates have shared that the withdrawal process is the most intimidating on the recovery journey. The process can also be painful, traumatic and scary for those around you. By choosing to detox in a controlled setting rather than at home surrounded by family and friends you are opening yourself up to the possibility of medications that can make this process as easy as possible.
Many treatment centers are able to utilize medications to block the effects of opioids and repress the thoughts of relapse. This combination can provide a much needed strength for your chance of sobriety. The delivery of these medications varies from a strip placed under your tongue to an implant placed in the arm.
The Support Needed: Detox to Rehab
Another benefit of beginning your treatment plan in a detox setting is an easier transition to a rehab center. These centers can often help stop the cycle of addiction by offering group therapy sessions that can not only determine the cause of the addiction, but equip the individual with the tools to fight the urge to relapse.
This is one of the big reasons that many treatment centers feel it so important to add detox services to their rehabilitation centers. This seamless transition offers the support needed to complete the first year of sobriety and onto a sober lifestyle. Are you ready to take the first step toward your recovery? Give us a call today to be connected to a treatment center that is right for you.
This year is a special year.
It is the ten year anniversary of saving lives, healing families.
Ten years of progress and not perfection.
TEN YEARS of embracing those who have found the courage to reach out for their addiction.
This article will be like nothing you have ever read. This article is about the 10 years of accomplishments, progress, struggles, and recovery for our patients and for our employees. This article is about a handful of people deciding to help those struggling with an addiction and actually doing something about it. This article is about the people that make saving lives and healing families a reality and not a slogan.
Hi, I am an employee at A Better Today Recovery Services (ABTRS).
It is true, I am employed at A Better Today Recovery Services and I have been given the opportunity to write their ten-year anniversary article. Not because it is my job, but because I am here, I am involved, and all the years I have worked here, I have had the opportunity to watch them develop. I have witnessed the best and the worst and through it all, I will be honest with you, I love this place. The best part is, I get to tell you about it and why.
Who is A Better Today Recovery Services? How Much Have We Grown in Ten Years?
In 2009, a group of people united for a cause. To save lives and heal families. I was not there, but I know a couple of them who were and are with the company today and the stories they’d recollect pull at my heartstrings.
They started with ten beds, a small office suite, and their personal phones. Ten opportunities to lend a hand at someone’s rock bottom, ten beds to offer the dope sick, 10 families to educate and offer hope. But that was all they needed to change a slogan of saving lives and healing families to a movement of change.
Given those ten chances to change lives, they decided on their core beliefs as a company:
- Patient-focused care that is comprehensive and effective.
- Medical professionals that are passionate and dedicated like themselves, but thorough and masters of their craft. They needed to focus on the whole person- mental, physical, social-not just the drug of choice.
- Treatment plans that are tailored to the individual and their needs. Trauma therapy if needed, anger management if needed, special diets if needed. They had to be able to help everyone, no matter their past or special needs. The founders believed that addiction can affect anyone of any social status. It was important that they did not turn any out reached hand away. It was important to help everyone.
- Lastly, the treatment that they wanted to offer to their patients had to be balanced with evidence-based treatment modalities and practices from group support methods like AA, Smart Recovery, and Faith-based Celebrate Recovery.
With the ambition, passion, and those core beliefs, those ten opportunities became 20 in 2011 and by 2018, ABTRS would have a total of over 170 beds.
It fills my heart with joy, it brings tears to my eyes, it fuels my passion to save lives and heal families to say that as of May 2019 we have treated over 4,000 people who were struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction.
I must say it again, over 4,000 people have walked through our doors and received treatment that changed their lives, opened their minds to a life more than their next fix, told them that their life had more potential than being chained to their active addiction lifestyle.
4,000 people with families, children, and now futures.
Patient-focused Care and Passionate Therapists
When it comes to drug and alcohol treatment, knowledge and experience is so important.
Not only do you have to have the college courses, the licensure, and the credentials, you must have the experience with those who struggle with addiction, the patience to respect progress on an individual level, and the heart to hold someone up when they feel down.
Our therapists have all of that. The dedication and passion that our therapists have tends to come from their own experience with addiction and the journey of recovery. Their own journey empowered them to go back to school and find a career in substance abuse treatment to help others live fulfilling lives like themselves.
Many believe it becomes a calling and find such satisfaction watching people recover and rediscover their passion for life after their active addiction. ABTRS supports their journey and their ambition. ABTRS offers our therapists to make videos of their knowledge, educate their patients about Substance Use Disorder (SUD), and let their voice be heard about what makes them passionate about working in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Running Effectiveness Studies on ABTRS Treatment in 2015
Even though I was not there when ABTRS was established, I was present for the 2015 effectiveness of treatment study. I worked closely with the research and development department to properly display the data on the website. The purpose of this research was to determine if our approach to substance abuse treatment was effective and where we could improve.
AT ABTRS, our R&D Department maintains the highest professional and academic standards when gathering, analyzing, and reporting treatment outcomes for our patients. Throughout 2015 the ABTRS R&D Department gathered and analyzed post-treatment outcomes for our 2014 patients and compared them against an off-cited and highly esteemed medical study analyzing treatment efficacy and outcomes in opiate addicts. Substance abuse treatment success rates at ABTRS easily surpass that bar:
- Based on a sample of 128 ABT patients, 30 days after treatment ABTRS patients were 52% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
- 60 days after treatment – a period wherein the techniques and strategies developed during treatment have begun to be put to the real test – ABTRS patients were 138% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants than the opiate addicts.
- In other words, in a similar size sample, the number of ABTRS patients completely abstinent from intoxicants was more than twice the number of opiate addicts abstinent from opiates-alone 60-days post-treatment.
- 90 days after treatment ABTRS patients were 129% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
- At 6 months after treatment – the interval conventionally and professionally considered most important in assessing treatment episode outcomes – ABTRS patients were 100% more likely (i.e. twice as likely) to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
We were so proud to know that of those 4,000 people that opened their minds to our approach to treatment, a majority of them would and are maintaining their sobriety. If our treatment was as effective as the data was reported, then we must continue to improve. We must help our patients in their first year of sobriety find confidence, stability, and a community that would accept them without judgement and support them through thick and thin. ABTRS had work to do if we were going to take patient-focused care to the next level.
A Better Today Recovery Services Expansion & Development
Detox Center Certification
ABTRS has always wanted to offer comprehensive care from A to Z. From the moment they call us, we wanted to provide detox to aftercare. As of 2019, ABTRS has gotten our detox center certified as a Behavioral Health Inpatient Facility – Subacute – and are currently providing comprehensive care for all our patients. Our addictionologist Dr. Carlton, M.D. can now be with our patients from the beginning to the end and that is important to a patient who needs the best care from the moment they decide to put down the bottle or dump their stash of drugs. But the detox certification was just the start.
Independent Living for ABTRS Patient
When I toured the apartment complex for ABTRS new Independent Living Program, I felt empowered to tell the world, I wanted this to change drug and alcohol abuse aftercare from the moment I stepped into the community center. It broke my heart to hear how hard it was for people in recovery to be qualified for an apartment without paying outlandish amounts of money. Because of their criminal backgrounds, or drug history, apartment complexes will refuse to house them. They are forced to find residency in establishments that are surrounded by drug abuse and criminal activity and charge people in recovery an arm and a leg to get back on their feet.
So, I ask, how in the world are you supposed to start a new life free from triggers and drug abuse activities if you can’t find a place to live?
How are you supposed to maintain sobriety if you are constantly asked by the drug dealer sitting outside your place if you wanted to get high?
So ABTRS invested in a small apartment complex for housing and began to develop a community that would focus on maintaining sobriety with you. We didn’t just stop at judgment-free applications, we wanted to offer services that would help develop life skills and give people confidence in their future in recovery, so we offered all these services:
- Living Arrangement: Fully furnished apartments for $165.00 a week, including food, transportation, and moving forward resources with promissory note opportunity.
- Transportation: Provided by staff or bus pass arrangements for medical, meetings, job searching, and MAT medication routine.
- Developing Life Skills: Cooking classes, academic resources, career exploration, and social activities.
- Sober Social Event Calendar: ABTRS Alumni hosts Pizza Karaoke every other Friday, learn to cook with Chef Jesse on Sundays, Youfit Gym Pass, and Alumni events.
- Recreation, Games, & Entertainment: Ping-pong table, billiard table, barbecue patio, TV in every apartment, theater style movie lounge, & outdoor fireplace.
- Career & Education Resources: Aptitude tests, 200 trade programs with Maricopa Community College, resume workshops, and GED training & testing.
Industry changing, patient-focused, a place where second, third and even fifth chances are possible. But then again drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation should be this way.
It should be about the patient’s stability in life.
It should be about developing a community that supports their new lifestyle in recovery.
It should be about saving lives and healing families and with A Better Today Recovery Services, it is.
Employing Those in Recovery: Making Money Without Slinging Dope
This one is close to my heart. I know I will tear up talking about it. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with the people that are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. I get to listen to their stories and watch them grow and become productive members of society. So many times have I watched people who would have been refused employment because of their active addiction history find a job at ABTRS and become what they always wanted to be.
Nurses, therapists, students, scientists, mothers and even business owners because someone believed in them first. I’ve done flashcards off the clock with them, I have reviewed science homework, discussed philosophy topics for school, and developed resumes with them. With ABTRS it is about unselfish support for a better future.
The Non-profit Alumni Program
One of ABTRS goals was to establish an alumni program that felt like family. During active addiction, some people lose their family members along the way due to drug seeking behaviors and relationship neglect. It was important for ABTRS to let every patient know that there was a family out there that they could belong to if they needed one. A sober community family that was free of judgement and led by example.
Thus, ABTRS alumni was born.
A nonprofit organization that had fun, stayed sober, offered support, and provided solutions in moments of crisis. Developing alumni events and building a community that knew what you were going through was the main goal. An alumni program that was developed by alumni and ran by alumni. The birth of this nonprofit is history, the progression of the alumni program is what legends are made of:
- Hiking & Camping Trips at Lake Havasu
- Feeding the Homeless Community Service Events
- Breakfast Buffet’s for Inpatients
- Saturday Bowling Leagues
- Ice Cream Social Fundraisers
- Paintball Alumni vs Staff Events
- Alumni Pizza Karaoke at the Recovery Community
Just to name a few.
True Story One: Unity Over Tragedy the Opioid Crisis
I have to tell you a story.
I have to tell you about a mother’s phone call. This one was not a patient or a loved one of our patients, but that doesn’t matter, what matters was she called us.
She called us asking for printed material to display at her son’s funeral. I know because I handled the call personally. You could hear the sadness in her voice when she explained that her teenage son had overdosed on heroin.
So young and full of promise, the mother had found her son in his room lips blue with a needle next to him. My heart broke for her and hearing the pain in her voice compelled me to act.
She wanted to display several different treatment center brochures on a table at her son’s funeral. She wants to spread treatment awareness because her son never had the opportunity to get sober.
Not only did I send the printed material she asked for, on behalf of ABTRS I sent a beautiful flower arrangement for the funeral with a heartfelt note. Flowers will never replace the loss of a loved one to addiction, but it can help a loved one smile during their grieving and sometimes a smile is all that it takes to remember who was lost, not how they passed. After that moment, ABTRS not only wanted to save lives and heal families, but unite, collaborate with other treatment centers about treatment, overdose, and aftercare.
It wasn’t enough that we are doing something right, we wanted the whole industry to do right by those who need it the most.
Business to Business: Fighting the Opioid Crisis Together
Many things set ABTRS apart from other treatment centers. What sets us apart is becoming less of a focus. It is not that we don’t want to be the best and provide the best because we do. That is just who we are, but what is becoming more important than ourselves and our company is the opioid crisis.
There is no denying that the ongoing opioid crisis in America is a serious matter. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, figures of the opioid epidemic reached epic proportions as more than 47,000 Americans died due to opioid overdoses involving prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl, and/or synthetic opioids in 2017.
Unfortunately, opioids are some of the most addictive substances out there, and it doesn’t help that they are so commonly used in the healthcare industry. Although there are potential solutions to the opioid crisis, including but not limited to legislation and treatment options for those suffering from opioid addiction, there is always more to be done.
ABTRS began to reach out to other treatment facilities about how we could unite in providing a solution. We went to Tucson to learn from their weekend family programs, we talked to state funded treatment centers to find those who didn’t have insurance the treatment they need, we went to Art of Recovery Expos because other treatment center were going to be there talking about the opioid epidemic, we went to Human Resource conventions asking HR Directors to consider treatment over termination for employees, we reached out to teachers and nurses to offer free outpatient services because they deserved the help we had to offer, and of course, we talked to 10,000 beds non-profit organization to provide free treatment for those in need.
We realized we all had a common goal.
It was about saving lives, not about the number of blogs, web pages, phone calls, and insurance companies that we are affiliated with.
It wasn’t about state insurances verses private insurances.
It is about the people that were alone with their disease, being sick and tired of being sick and tired with their addiction. It was about finding struggling addicts a place to get their lives back.
To break the sigma associated with addiction and substance abuse treatment.
For once it was about the people. This leads me to my next true story.
True Story Two: Humility & Unconditional Support
This true story needs to be told. When you hire people in recovery you must look passed what they have done and always look at who they are now and what they are capable of now they are free from their addiction.
Some use ABTRS as a steppingstone to nursing, counselors, accountants, and business owners. Some give back to their community and become involved in sober community careers and drug and alcohol treatment.
Unfortunately, some journey’s in recovery involve relapse and when one of our own relapses, all heart’s ache for them. I have had the pleasure of witnessing staff bringing AA meetings to those who have relapsed, visiting hospitals to show support, support in finding a detox center or treatment again, and write letters on behalf of others for CPS custody battles and criminal record appeals. I have witnessed such wonderful acts of kindness, celebrations of sobriety, and support to friends and family of staff when they need it the most.
I have witnessed rock ceremonies for those who leave and move on to bigger better things and company potluck’s to unite departments that do not normally collaborate. Sometimes it is the little things that matter, but more importantly there is spirit, spirit behind a motto that define’s A Better Today to it’s core.
Saving lives, healing families.
Overall Message: Saving Lives and Healing Families Because it is About the Patients
I’m not going to fool you, there are treatment centers out there that are all about the money. With every business industry there will always be a company out there that is just not as good as they need to be because they are worried about making a quick buck. That is why it is so important to do research on finding the right treatment center. But when you do, when you find that place that suits the needs of the patient and empowers them in their sobriety. It is where true recovery begins, it is where people get second, thirds, fifth chances at a life worth being proud of.
Even though ABTRS may have struggled along the way, the heart and the spirit of this company will forever and always be saving lives and healing families. Right now, as you read this article, someone’s son or daughter is overdosing on opiates. We know because we are currently in an opioid epidemic, but that is not the only thing worth mentioning.
Right here at ABTRS, someone is getting out of detox with high hopes that they will never touch their drug of choice again.
Right here at ABTRS, someone is graduating from inpatient treatment and moving to an independent living condo because they know we will help them find a job and help them maintain their sobriety.
Right here at ABTRS, there is someone reaching out to us for help because they are tired of being sick and tired.
Yes, there is a substance abuse problem in the world today, but at ABTRS there are solutions, guides, and mentors that will welcome those who want to change their life by freeing them from their addiction.
The best part is, I got to witness a slogan turn into a movement, to witness people from all walks of life transform into the person they wanted to be, and to witness a community demonstrate humility and kindness free of judgement or compensation.
Happy 10 year anniversary ABTRS!
Congratulations on saving 4,000 lives and healing 4,000 families!
It can be challenging to help a loved one struggling with addiction. Sometimes a direct, honest conversation can start the road to the recovery and relationship healing. But it’s not always that easy. When it comes to addiction, the person with the addiction often struggles to see it and acknowledge it. A more focused approach may be needed to help the addict. You may need to join forces with others who love the person and take action through a formal intervention. An intervention can motivate someone to seek help for their substance abuse. Knowing when how to stage it can help make it work.
What is an Intervention for Substance Abuse Disorders?
An intervention is a formal or informal meeting that includes family, loved ones, friends, and/or professionals in hopes of inspiring an addict to change their negative behaviors.
A discussion is held about the reality of the situation and how the addictive behavior is affecting the lives of individuals who love and care for the addict. The group will encourage the person to seek help for their addiction.
A successful intervention is a combination of education and support with the goal of providing the addict with a structured treatment opportunity that will creative a positive change.
Warning Signs that Their Addiction is Out of Control
It may not always be readily apparent when it is time to stage an intervention. It’s common for things to progress slowly in terms of the severity of a person’s misuse of drugs and/or alcohol.
Those suffering from addiction are often in denial and struggle to face the harsh reality of their dependence and its negative effects on the lives of those around them.
According to the MayoClinic.org, some warning signs that may indicate it is time to join forces and suggest treatment through intervention include:
- Overdose: The person has an overdose and needs to go to the hospital. They are also experiencing acute health problems due to the drug and/or alcohol use. And they are struggling with increased mental health issues due to ongoing misuse of a substance.
- Legal Issues: The person is arrested due to drug-related behaviors and/or choices made due to the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Violence: The person harms someone while under the influence. This may occur during domestic violence, sexual assault, or driving under the influence.
A trait of addiction is exhibiting both physical dependence as well as psychological dependence on a substance. This generally manifests in the person when withdrawal symptoms occur because the person is without their drug of choice. This also means that the person prioritizes getting and staying high or drunk over everything else, no matter what damage it causes to others. When the person is unable to stop using, even when willing (and wanting), and the need to use drugs or alcohol trumps the physical and mental health of oneself and others, it is time to stage an intervention.
How to Plan a Successful Intervention
It is imperative to properly plan an intervention in order to maximize all chances of success. When planning your intervention for your loved one, consider the following:
- The Group: Carefully consider which family members and close friends to involve. Do not include anyone who supports or condones drug or alcohol use in any way. Choose people who truly have your loved one’s best interests at heart.
- The Professional: Families should always consult a professional for help with the intervention. Interventions work best when assisted by an addiction counselor or intervention therapist.
- The Location: It’s best to choose a space where the person will feel comfortable and safe. A private location is always better than a public place.
- The Information: Educate yourself on your loved one’s addiction. The more you know, the more help and support you can provide. If you do not understand what you’re dealing with, you may have difficulty conveying your points to your loved one.
- The Message: It’s good to know what you are going to say beforehand. Take some time to discuss with the intervention group what needs to be said and how you are going to say it. Avoid using “you” statements; those indicate blame. Instead, use “I’ statements that convey how the addict’s behavior has or is personally impacting you.
- The Treatment Plan: If you are encouraging your loved one to seek treatment, have a treatment plan ready. Find a treatment center that is appropriate and is available to begin treatment the same day as the intervention. All arrangements need to be made beforehand.
- The Worst Case Scenario: Plan ahead for your loved one to continue denying they have a problem and refuse your suggestion to seek treatment. Decide with the group if there will be a backup plan or an ultimatum.
Also, consider how you can stop any enabling behaviors with the addict; this includes limiting access to money, housing, or any other support you provide that allows the addictive behaviors to continue.
Who Should Perform an Intervention?
Interventions need to be performed by a group of people who are close to the addict. Typically, these are close family members.
Alcohol.org states, “The intervention will not be as effective if the group consists of many acquaintances who have only superficial relationships with the person.” Having the intervention led by individuals who share a strong bond with the addict, brings the intervention to a close and intimate level. This is important because it has meaning for both the subject of the intervention and the group of loved ones performing it.
Is it Time for an Intervention?
If your loved one is struggling with addiction, you do not need to feel helpless. You can’t control whether or not someone living with addiction will agree to treatment and remain sober. An intervention can help protect your overall well-being. If your loved one refuses to go to treatment, do not give up. Distorted thinking is an issue when dealing with your loved one in active addiction. You may see the situation clearly but your loved one may not see their frequent abuse of their drug of choice as an addiction. Learning how the disease of addiction and the support groups that can help you may help you the next time you try to talk to your loved one.
There is a wealth of information online, however, you may want to speak to an addiction specialist to discuss your particular situation and navigate how best to handle it. Recovery is a journey. With the right treatment and support, you and your loved one can start on the right path. Staging an intervention is often the best possible way to begin.
It’s fair to say that most people know that heroin is not only a drug, but a dangerous- highly addictive drug. When the news and social media platforms begin to alert the public with announcements warning people of a deadly strand of heroin, most begin to wonder what it is, where is comes from, and what to avoid on the streets.
Over the past year, purple heroin, also known as PURP, has made headlines warning communities of the highly toxic drug and it’s contributions to the rise of overdoses. But, what exactly is PURP and what makes it so deadly?
What is Purple Heroin?
Purple heroin, also known as PURP is a deadly mixture of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil. It is essentially the mixture of one deadly drug with another. Carfentanil is a tranquilizer used to put elephants and other large mammals in a state of anesthesia for surgery. A dose as small as a grain of sand (20 micrograms) of carfentanil can kill you.
According to Corey Peterson, Director of Admissions at Better Today, purple heroin is 100 times more potent that fentanyl, 5,000 times more potent than heroin, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine because it is cut with deadly amounts of carfentanil.
In an article posted on CBC News in March 2018, Hamilton Ontario, Canada’s public health unit issued a warning about purple heroin stating it was laced with highly toxic amounts of fentanyl and likely contributed to multiple overdoses during recent weeks. Since then, multiple arrests have been made in the trafficking of purple heroin but it’s not enough to slow down the overdose epidemic.
Purple heroin is not a regulated substance and the concentrations of fentanyl can vary. Small amounts of fentanyl can cause great harm and it is highly suggested that it shouldn’t be taken when alone.
Local addiction experts say it is only a matter of time before this deadly drug makes its way to smaller cities. Parents are encouraged to pay close attention to their children so that PURP does not claim another life. Peterson states in his interview that an immediate indicator of opioid use, is pinpointed pupils in the dark.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. This means it is made in a laboratory. Fentanyl and carfentanil are labeled as cousin drugs. Like morphine, fentanyl is used to treat people who suffer from severe pain especially after surgery or breakthrough cancer pain. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. In fact, fentanyl is also stronger than oxycodin and heroin.
More recently, fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs and sold on the streets but with deception. Someone who uses what they think is heroin may actually be using a mixture or pure fentanyl. Currently, pills are made to look like oxycodone or Xanax but are actually fentanyl. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), this is because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option. This deception is proving to be fatal.
Street dealers are selling drugs cut with fentanyl and/or carfentanil with the intention of offering their buyers a hard hitting, longer lasting high. Like fentanyl, carfentanil has no smell or taste; so detection is nearly impossible. The benefit to dealers is more profit.
Synthetic opioids, are the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. The NIH reports, in 2017, 59.8 percent of opioid related deaths involved fentanyl.
Opiate Overdose Awareness
Opioid overdose is life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Recognizing the signs of an opioid overdose can save lives. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), states that 911 should be called immediately if a person exhibits any of these signs:
- Person’s face is extremely pale and/or feels clammy to the touch
- Their body goes limp
- They are unable to speak and cannot be awakened
- Their fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
- They start vomiting or making gurgling noises
- Their breathing or heartbeat slows or stops
It is imperative for patients and caregivers to know that unintentional overdose (also known as accidental overdose) can occur with prescription opioid pain relievers. This especially includes fentanyl. If a doctor’s instructions are unclear, ask a pharmacist for clarity. SAMHSA offers tips on how to avoid an unintentional overdose:
- Take medication as prescribed by the doctor; do not take more than prescribed or more frequently.
- Never mix your medication with alcohol, sleeping pills, or illicit substances. An overdose can be fatal when mixing an opioid and anxiety medications.
- Medication should be stored in a safe place where children or pets can not get it.
- Unused medication should be disposed of promptly.
Children are especially vulnerable to unintentional overdoses if they take medication not intended for them.
Overdose Prevention: Naloxone
Naloxone is a medication used in treating opioid overdose. It is designed to rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It is basically used to restore normal respiration. A person who overdoses on heroin or opioid pain medication will experience slow breathing or breathing will completely stop.
According to SAMHSA, Naloxone is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent overdose by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose.
Purple heroin is so potent that, Aisling Higgins, communications officer in the city of Hamilton, reported in an email, “Anecdotally, we have heard multiple reports of cases that are requiring more than one kit of Naloxone (>2 doses) for overdose reversal which is why it is so important to call 9-1-1 to seek medical care for overdose.” The Guardian Weekly reports that overdoses involving carfentanil can take up to six Naloxone shots or more to counteract the overdose.
Health officials and drug experts believe purple heroin first surfaced in Canada and has been spreading south ever since. It’s safe to say that drug users should avoid any street drug with a purplish tint to it.
There are many people who see addiction as something that is never under their control. They spend their lives with vices that break down their minds, bodies and personal relationships. Some don’t even think they have a problem, nor do they know where or how to seek help.
What is a 12-Step Program?
It was 1935, in Akron, Ohio. Bob Smith and Bill W., both sufferers of Alcoholism, had been in contact with the Oxford Group. This group showed values in living spiritual lives and avoided alcohol. After Bob Smith and Bill W. met, they came to realize that alcoholism was a disease. This is when they decided to start a group to help others clean up their lives. Alcoholics would meet regularly as a coalition to stop their destructive ways. This group was called Alcoholics Anonymous, or A.A.
After 4 years of success, in 1939, Bill W. wrote and released a book that explained the core values and methodology that was Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Step Programs. This caught the eye of many publications and Alcoholics. In, 1950 it was recorded that there were now more than 100,000 recovered Alcoholics world-wide. Alcoholics Anonymous continued to grow and expand.
Over 200 different addiction programs were sprouted by the A.A. seed; Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous were a few of them. All of which follow a similar twelve-step program to aid in the recovery of those suffering from their addictions.
The addicts who join these anonymous groups follow the steps provided, and with the help of their Mentors, they all seek recovery. But it is not an easy process. As it is so difficult to recover from one’s addictions, there are times when addicts find themselves relapsing.
Finding Faith After Active Addiction
The main idea behind the Twelve Steps Programs is finding support in your journey in recovery. The first step suggests letting a Higher Power or God assist them in their recovery. Step 2 in the Alcoholic Anonymous recovery model is: Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This can be very difficult. Some addictions stem from personal loss, grief or as a coping mechanism. Many people often seek to self-medicate when they experience something traumatic. In addition to seeking their vices, these events have been known to cause some to lose their faith and to blame a higher power for their situation. This makes it hard for those people to allow themselves to be vulnerable to a higher power, or God, again.
In other situations, Atheists have a hard time with this because their beliefs cause them to dissociate with religion. A higher power can be hard to find when your core beliefs tell you otherwise. For those struggling to find a God, it can be difficult, but not impossible. The goal is not to find a God, but to seek something higher than themselves to aid them in recovery. During an interview with a man, who chose to remain anonymous, he explained how this was a step he could not follow.
“I’ve done rehab on 3 occasions. First time… was a 12-step program and I didn’t find that effective at all because I’m not religious… I do not like or use any 12-step programs so I can just say that I don’t find them appealing because they’re religion-based and that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t agree with the method… As far as faith, I am completely non-religious, so I believe a lot of my strength has come from within. “- Anonymous Addict who attended Narcotics Anonymous.
Step 4 and 5: Moral Inventory and Admitting Wrongdoings
The 4th and 5th steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can be the hardest. After a higher power has been found, it’s time to do some soul searching. Step 4 of the A.A. model is as follows: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitting to oneself that they have a weakness can be the hardest thing. Although very difficult, it is crucial in recovery to do this. Taking inventory in one’s life is what will assist in recovery and help with relapse.
In addition to the 4th Step, Step 5 can be equally as hard. Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. This is difficult for most as it can be hard to confront the fact that they have wrongdoings. Coming to an understanding of who they are, were and will be after addiction is difficult. This has the potential to cause a relapse. The reason is that the memories and feelings of wrongdoing can cause one to want to escape again. The easiest way to escape reality is through their addictions.
Step 9: Making Direct Amends
The 9th step of Alcoholics Anonymous is: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Sometimes confronting one’s past can be seriously difficult. Addictions have been known to hurt not only the user, but those around them. Owning up to past mistakes is hard. Apologizing and making up with them is even harder.
There can be feelings of guilt or shame when addressing those that have been affected by the mending process. People aren’t always going to forgive, and this can lead to relapse. Knowing that they caused permanent unforgivable damage if a very hard realization. The addicts have also known to be shamed or attacked during recovery by those who’ve experienced the hurt. This is a very good time for to reach on the ones sponsor for guidance.
Advice and Guidance: You are No Longer Alone in Your Journey in Recovery
Once the addict has decided to go to a meeting or seek recovery they are not alone. Sponsors and recovery addicts alike are there for support. It can be a difficult thing to grasp that everyone at these meetings are there to support one another. In order to have a steady recovery it is vital to surround oneself with a strong support system. It is important to keep people around that have your recovery in mind and look to aid in recovery.
If 12 steps do not work for the addict, there are different ways to seek recovery.
The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that has affected millions of people across the nation. Opioids are a highly-addictive class of drugs that are meant to relieve severe pain. Opioids include heroin, an illegal drug, and synthetic drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine. After an increase of opioids being prescribed in the 90s, the number of opioid overdoses began to skyrocket. Today, the addiction has taken over the nation.
A poll released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2018 revealed that nearly one third of all Americans know someone who was or is addicted to opioids or prescription pain killers.The National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that in 2017, 1.7 million Americans suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder.
The same report showed that 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose in 2017. The time is now to gain an understanding of opioids and how serious the epidemic truly is. Spreading awareness is an important step towards slowing down this epidemic in its tracks and saving lives.
But before that is a possibility, we must understand the effect of the opioid fentanyl.
The U.S. Opioid Epidemic’s Third Wave: Fentanyl-Related Deaths
Fentanyl is a drug that’s unknown to most Americans, but it plays a large part in the current opioid epidemic. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. It’s often prescribed to manage a patient’s severe pain, for example, when dealing with the treatment of cancer or after surgery.
Some of the street names include, “Apace”, “China Girl”, “China Town”, “China White”, “Dance Fever”, “Goodfellas”, and “Poison”. It can also be disguised as highly-potent heroin. Some of the symptoms that are experienced after taking the drug include a short-term, intense high, feelings of euphoria, reduced blood pressure, nausea, fainting, seizures, and death.
Usage of the drug has gone up dramatically in recent years. In 2017, 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl. In 2010, the number was only 14.3%. Since fentanyl is often a cheaper option than most drugs, drug dealers are mixing the substance with drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, and MDMA. And most don’t understand the severity of this.
This leads to more overdoses.
Users are not aware of what drugs they are buying and what they are putting into their bodies, which also leads to more overdoses. The usage of fentanyl is affecting users across the nation and leading to a horrific number of overdoses. The news stories featured below showcase a small fraction of the effect that fentanyl is having in America.
1 Dead And 12 Hospitalized After Mass Drug Overdose in California
In a house in Chico, California, 12 people were hospitalized after ingesting a form of fentanyl combined with another substance. In an effort to save those involved, officers began to administer CPR and naloxone, which is a drug used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation. This mass overdose led to one person succumbing to their injuries and four people in critical condition. Most of the people involved in this mass overdose appeared to be in their 20s, while all of them appeared to be over the age of 18.
Chief: Meth, Cocaine Laced with Fentanyl to Blame for Overdose Spike
Police Chief Tom Synan of Hamilton County, Ohio, declares that methamphetamine and cocaine laced with fentanyl are to blame for a recent spike in drug overdoses. The county issued out a public health alert proclaiming that in the last week there had been an increase of 911 dispatch and emergency room visits. 15 people overdosed within that week. The public health alert contained a variety of tips to prevent a drug overdose, including avoiding mixing drugs (and alcohol) and to call 911 after every overdose, including when naloxone has been administered.
Fentanyl: Billionaire Drug Company Founder Guilty of Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Dangerous Opioid
John Kapoor, the founder of a multi-million dollar pharmaceutical company entitled Insys, was found guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe a spray form of fentanyl to their patients even though they may not have needed it. To boost the product’s credibility, Insys paid more than $1 million for doctors to falsely promote the product at events. The company’s aggressive marketing ploys led to sales of the product reaching $500 million in 2017. Five years before that, its sales were only $14 million. Dr. Kapoor and his co-defendants deny any wrongdoing. He is currently facing 20 years in prison.
7 Drug Overdoses Over 10-hour Period Possibly Linked to Fentanyl, KCK Police Say
Police Chief Terry Zeigler, of Kansas City, Kansas, believes that the sudden boost of drug overdoses could be linked to a drug with a combination of fentanyl and cocaine. The city experienced 7 drug overdoses over a 10-hour period. The police report that there was not a specific area of town where the drug overdoses happen; they were “spread out.”
Lacey Man Charged with Selling Lethal Heroin-Fentanyl Mix
Charles Rice, a 58-year-old man from Lacey, Washington, was charged with selling a drug with a mix of heroin and fentanyl, that lead to a 25-year-old man’s fatal overdose. Rice is also charged with distribution of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and possession of heroin. Toxicology results that were given to the prosecutor’s office revealed that the fentanyl caused the 25-year-old’s death. The 58-year-old man is currently pending a detention hearing.
August 31st is Overdose Awareness Day
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event dedicated to promoting education, action, and prevention of drug overdoses. The event hopes to reduce the stigma surrounding drug-related illnesses and open the lines of communication, leading to more people seeking help for their addictions.
The event also acknowledges those who have lost loved ones to a drug addiction. During Overdose Awareness Day, and throughout the month of August, millions of people across the globe raise awareness of drug overdoses and save lives in the process.
The importance of Overdose Awareness Day is to remind everyone that drug overdoses are completely preventable.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that every day, more than 130 people die from an opioid overdose. If you are struggling with opioid addiction, it’s important to remember that the choice to recover is in your hands.
Drug and alcohol treatment is just a phone call away, and they can offer the tools that you or a loved one need to get rid of their opioid addiction for good. They also offer many kinds of care for you to utilize including inpatient and outpatient care. Inpatient care often provides 24-hour care in a live-in facility and includes medical support and psychiatric support.
Outpatient treatment allows people to stay at home and maintain their daily routine (work, school, etc.) Each provides different benefits depending on the care that you’re hoping to obtain. Whichever route you choose, remember that you’re not alone. You don’t have to be a statistic, and the road to recovery starts with a single step.
Going to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is a big decision that can change the rest of a person’s life. When you get help, you put your life in the hands of an addiction based professional. Before you can start treatment, you need to choose a treatment center that will work best for your situation. Use the following tips to learn how to choose the right treatment center for you.
Help with Detox and Withdrawal
Drug detox occurs when your body rids itself of alcohol or drugs. Detox enables the digestive system to remove the residual substances. Patients encounter both mental and physical repairs during this recovery period as well as possibly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Detox is an essential part of your drug addiction rehabilitation.
Medication Assisted Treatment
Medication assisted treatment or MAT is a part of most substance abuse rehabs. MAT is a method that uses a combination of medications alongside behavioral-based therapy methods with the goal to treat drug and alcohol addiction. These assisted treatment programs can be personalized to meet any patient’s needs. Having quality and tailored addiction treatment is important. This type of treatment is especially useful for individuals who have physical dependence as well as addiction to substances like alcohol or opiates like heroin or prescription painkillers.
An important part of medication assisted treatment is counseling. The types of counseling that are used with addiction are individual and group counseling. With counseling patients can start to dig deeper and uncover reasons for their addiction. This helps them to start a new life in recovery while easing the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and drug and alcohol cravings that come with recovery. Group based counseling is very important as it helps addicts meet people who are also in recovery. A good component of group counseling is 12-step meetings which help people get involved within a community of recovery and peers that are sober. Treatment that has medication assistance works in all areas of a person’s life and decreases the risk of drug or alcohol relapse and helps a patient focus on healing him or herself.
Another important thing to look for in a treatment center is inpatient care. Inpatient care can also be known as residential treatment. Inpatient treatment gives patients many more benefits than most other programs. Inpatient treatment centers also address mental health problems in addition to drug or alcohol addiction. Having both problems is called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. Some mental health disorders that are common among people with addiction are depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and even eating disorders. Inpatient treatment offers a type of care that is of greater intensity and helps meet all the needs of a patient. Inpatient treatment usually takes place immediately after going through withdrawals at a medical detox facility.
Outpatient treatment programs help patients to get the therapy and care they need while they can live at home. Outpatient treatment often occurs during the day, but sometimes this program is offered at nighttime, as well. Outpatient treatment gives people more freedom such as keeping their job, taking care of children and paying their bills. When starting outpatient treatment, patients need clinical assessment to determine what is best for them in terms of groups and placement by a counselor will be needed.
Generally, outpatient treatment programs are one through three months in duration. Between the first month of abstinence to the end of the third month is when a person is most at risk for relapse to substance abuse. The degree that a person shows progress in recovery from addiction will determine the length of time he or she spends in outpatient treatment.
Effective Therapy Methods
Therapy for addiction typically takes place in an individual session, group or family sessions. The way that therapy takes place depends on what the patient’s needs are. The number of therapies that take place are often greater during the initial stages of a person’s treatment. As treatment continues over time therapy sessions decrease. The sessions decrease as a result of a lessening of symptoms. There are a lot of different therapy methods in substance abuse treatment, but the one that is most important is cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of therapy that works on an individual’s perception of situations and why they have that specific perception in the first place. It also helps people to pay attention to the types of thoughts they are having and the reason for them. This type of therapy helps patients change the way that they see the outer world, the way they respond to situations that they encounter.
While in treatment and after treatment the family involvement is very important. Family counseling helps bring families back together. Therapy for families in marriages generally starts while the person is in treatment. It is important when looking for a treatment center that the center encourages the continuation of counseling for the family after the addiction rehabilitation ends. An important part of family counseling is information provided on addiction and education about the disease. Many treatment centers provide educational literature or sessions for family members like spouse’s children, parents or partners of a patient. Another thing that is encouraged is individual counseling that is done with a professional licensed marriage or family therapist.
Aftercare Plan Assistance
Aftercare is important for when a patient is discharged from an addiction treatment center. A good treatment center will work alongside a patient to develop a realistic and attainable plan of aftercare. Having a proper aftercare plan sets a person up for success in recovery rather than failure from having zero direction.
There are many people who are in recovery and living happy successful lives. Recovery takes time and going to addiction recovery treatment is often the key to success.
People in the grasp of active addiction can be intolerable. From mood swings to a mindset that blames anything and everything for their using except themselves, being around an active addict can make anyone want to lose their mind. Torn between feeling helpless and walked all over, your loved one’s active addiction is exhausting. One minute they love you and need you; the next, you can’t do anything right by them and they want to push you away when you do not give them what they want.
For the millions of mothers, fathers, siblings, friends and children of someone with a substance abuse problem, finding a way to cope with their addicted loved one is paramount. It may save your relationship entirely.
Understanding that Addiction is a Disease
From the outside, an addict in active addiction or alcoholic just looks like they are making horrific decisions. Someone in such a condition can also be nearly intolerable, emotionally unstable, aggressive and verbally attack anyone for just about any reason. The world has wronged them and they intend to let you know how you contributed to their misery. This wears thin on any relationship.
The disease of addiction is one of the hardest mental illnesses to deal with.
How do you see reason when it is your brain that is affected by this disease?
How do you tell someone that their limbic reward system is compromised and they need treatment?
During active addiction, you do not see your drug and alcohol abuse as a problem. The nature of an addiction depends on them living in denial about their substance abuse problem.
They tell you that they can stop anytime, but they do not. They say it is not a problem but then blame you for not giving them money when their bank account is drained.
This is why understanding how the disease works is one of your greatest weapons against active addiction. You realize that their rational thought is clouded by their drug of choice. You learn that rational thought is centered around obtaining their next fix or they will physically have problems with their body.
Learning about an addiction as a disease doesn’t give them an excuse to hurt you and stress your relationship. Learning about the disease model of addiction provides clarity in the solution of seeking treatment for their addiction. That nothing that you can do for them will fix them. That professional treatment for their disease is needed to change the damage done to the brain.
Patience for Progress in Early Recovery
People don’t recover from addiction overnight. When people say that sobriety and recovery is a journey they are not lying.
They have to learn what causes them to want to use their drug of choice.
They must trust in themselves that when they say no, they mean no and those around them who are pressuring them to use respect those boundaries.
They must learn that the nightmares of relapsing are just nightmares.
They must learn that their recovery from an addiction should be the main priority in their life.
But during that learning process mistakes can be made. Many people who are in recovery have relapsed once or more, each time bringing heartache to those around them and themselves. Each relapse is more difficult to recover from.
Watching a loved one struggle to get or stay sober is heart-wrenching and tedious sometimes. This is where patience comes in – you cannot work their program for them or convince them to stay sober if they do not see it themselves. You can only wait and hope that they find it within themselves to make the changes necessary for you to get your friend or family member back.
Remember that your loved one is sick and must work through their program of recovery by themselves. Encouraging words and compassion may be in order. Respecting their process and supporting them without enabling them.
Healthy Boundaries For You and Your Recovering Loved One
Boundaries, you may scoff and think that this is a new fad tactic to deal with stressful situations. The focus on this topic may be especially prevalent in past decade, however nothing will get you through this terrible time better than boundaries.
First of all, before we really learn how to create and maintain healthy boundaries, most of us suck at this exercise. The emotional bond between your recovering loved one and yourself can make creating healthy boundaries extremely difficult. But you must remember you are dealing with a disease. Creating healthy boundaries for yourself means you do not have to give them money, you do not have to hand over your car so they can do whatever they want, and more importantly, creating healthy boundaries can look they them getting involved in a sober living home and moving out.
Boundaries teach recovering addict responsibility, being accountable for their actions and lifestyle, and learn independence. Many addictions get out of control when the addict depends on another for everything, even funding their next fix.
For the recovering addict, healthy boundaries can look different. Not attending family get-togethers that have drugs and alcohol at them.
Not being around a family member that was supplying their drugs.
Not having their family add stressors on them when they are trying to learn how to live in recovery.
Understanding the importance of attending a meeting when they feel a trigger.
Maybe understanding that you – yourself- may be a trigger to use drugs or alcohol and giving them the space they need to learn to handle that feeling.
Sometimes, it is just best to let their sponsor help them through their difficulties, they need their peers in recovery to tell them like it is, maybe they need someone other than yourself telling them what is right to do and what is wrong. Remember, boundaries help build accountability and independence.
Don’t let your addicted loved one will keep taking from you until you stop giving. Your loved one is not in a state of mind where he or she is able to identify or stop taking advantage of you. The nature of addiction makes their drug of choice seem more important than anything else – even their own life.
Giving Money is Enabling, Not Supporting Them
Never give money to someone in active addiction.
It’s that simple. No matter what the story is, don’t try to help by financial means.
If you want to help them in a financial way, buy them groceries.
Explore options like True link where you can control just where your money is going.
Help them develop a budget and talk to them about the importance of paying bills and scheduling bill due dates around paychecks.
Your loved one may try anything to manipulate you into funding their substance abuse habits. Any money you give out can cause a trigger to use; it will go to the acquisition of more drugs. You can’t help your loved one this way. You are enabling if you put money in their hand and hope it goes to rent.
If your loved one is trying to recover and claims to need money for rent or food or anything else reasonable, you still should not offer to given him or her money.
Keep in mind, the more financial freedom your loved one has in early recovery, the higher the risk for relapse. The urge to use in early recovery can be intense and extra cash is your loved one’s worst enemy, though he or she may not realize it.
Tough Love: What Does That Really Mean?
Never has a situation been more in need of tough love than this one. An active addict does not need to be cuddled. Any help you give them only helps them keep stay in active addiction longer.
The real question you need to ask yourself is: What does love mean to a corrupt limbic system?
Love as you know it looks like this. When you love someone, you tend to feel good around them, smile more around them, and think about them all the time because it makes you feel good to think about them, and you tend to get some sort of pleasure from being near them whether it is romantic or platonic you feel in a sense good around them.
This is how people who have been in active addiction for a couple years view love. I love my drug of choice. It makes me feel good, better than having friends, and better than the love from my family. Because my family loves me and I love my drug of choice, I can use their love to obtain my love.
Because your limbic system controls the chemical, oxytocin, that is responsible for that loving feeling. Many drugs of choice flood the limbic system with dopamine and large amounts of dopamine. Way more dopamine than anything you could give them. When your limbic system is corrupt there is nothing you can do but give them tough love and treatment to fix it.
People tend to only change when they are in enough pain that not changing is no longer an option.
If your loved one loses a place to live due to substance abuse, do not offer your own home. Though the natural tendency is to shelter our loved ones, you will only perpetuate their drug abuse. You must let your loved one suffer the consequences of addiction alone. If you don’t, you run the risk of letting their active addiction get completely out of control.
If you are financially able, you might offer to help pay for addiction treatment for your loved one, however this is all you can do. As painful as it is to watch a friend or family member kill themselves with drugs, you have no real options except to let them go through it.
Support Groups: The Sober Community & More
Let’s be real here, this advice on how to cope with an addicted love one who may be in active addiction or early recovery is hard to do. Alot of pressure on you. The best part is, you or your recovering loved one does not need to do it alone. There are millions of people who have gone through what you are going through. So many people that they have banded together and are offering others free – yes, FREE- support.
There are support groups for the family, of all ages, and for the recovering addict. If they get kicked out of their apartment, you do not have to jump to their defense. The sober community can find them a sober living house that can make sure they are fed and still sober.
If you need to talk about some of the things that happened in their active addiction because it is preventing you from rebuilding your relationship with them; there is a support group for that.
Support groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon bring together the family members of addicted individuals and helps them understand this disease and provides the guidance and support you may need. They can be there for you and your recovering loved one and all you have to do is reach out to them.
These support groups are everywhere and there is a support group in your area where you can find the answers you need to get through this time. Telling a loved one “no” can be difficult; however, through the support you will find in these rooms you will find the courage to help yourself and your loved one find a happy ending.