Chasing The Dragon: Pain Pill Addiction


An Introduction To Pain Pill Addiction

Pain pill addiction is a major problem in the United States. Most pain pills are opioids.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of the drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2019 were from an opioid. Over the past 20 years, pain pill addiction and overdose deaths seem to increase each year.

As restrictions tightened access to prescription opioids, some people turned to heroin, another opioid, to manage their pain. When synthetic opioids became more available, such as illicitly produced compounds like fentanyl, sometimes people who struggle with pain pill addiction turn to these options because they are more accessible. 

Despite being a major public health problem in the U.S. that affects a significant number of people, there are many misconceptions about pain pill addiction. In this article, learn more about pain pill addiction and its impacts on those that “chase the dragon.”

Types of Pain Pills

Opioid pain pills, sometimes called narcotics, come in a variety of options that doctors may prescribe for severe chronic pain or for short-term use after a surgery or injury. Popular opioid-based pain medications include:

  • Methadose and Dolophine (methadone)
  • Kadian and MS Contin (morphine)
  • Codeine
  • Olynvik (oliceridine) 
  • Hysingla and Zohydro ER (hydrocodone)
  • Fentora and Abstral (fentanyl)
  • Dilaudid and Exalgo (hydromorphone)
  • Demerol (meperidine)
  • OxyContin and Percocet (oxycodone)
  • Naloxone 

How Pain Pill Addiction Occurs

Prescription opioids are strong pain relievers that can offer a tremendous amount of relief in cases of severe pain. The problem arises with tolerance, when you may need to take higher doses of the pain medication more frequently to have the same pain relief. The longer you take opioid medication, the more likely you will experience dependence and will face adverse physical reactions if you stop taking the medication. This is called withdrawal.

People taking legally prescribed opioids are at risk of addiction because of how highly addictive these medications are. These narcotics cause people to feel pleasure when taken, as opposed to pain, by stimulating parts of the brain that release the neurotransmitter dopamine. This process can act as a reward system that encourages you to continue to take the medication. This can make it even more difficult to stop.

This unfortunate cycle can lead someone without a history of substance use or criminal behavior to take illegal actions to get more opioids to manage their pain. In some cases, this causes them to seek other strong opioids like heroin. 

Signs of Pain Pill Addiction

The signs of pill addiction are sometimes not obvious to friends and family members. In some cases, these signs resemble other acute medical conditions that might trouble a loved one. However, as the dependence on these medications and tolerance, more noticeable signs might be obvious.

Some symptoms of pain pill addiction include:

  • Constipation
  • Sleepiness
  • Changes in sleep
  • Weight loss
  • Cravings
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Stumbling
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Poor hygiene habits
  • Slow breathing
  • Mood swings
  • Poor executive decision making
  • Additional emergency room or doctor visits
  • Doctor shopping
  • Increased pain levels
  • Arrests for theft, possession, or intent to sell

Risk Factors

Any patient prescribed opioid pain pills is at risk of becoming addicted. Some factors may increase the likelihood of addiction. According to the peer-reviewed research publication Anesthesia & Analgesia, patient risk factors include: 

  • History of substance use
  • Family history of substance use disorder
  • Easy access to opioid prescriptions
  • Not knowing about opioids and risks
  • Untreated or undiagnosed psychiatric disorders
  • Social environments that encourage misuse
  • Young age

Long-Term Effects of Pain Pill Addiction

Unfortunately, pain pill addiction can cause long-term effects that are adverse, such as low blood pressure. With opioids, in particular, tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal are serious, long-term consequences that should never be minimized. 

Additionally, overdose and death are concerns with the ongoing use of opioids, even after seeking professional treatment or detox. If you go back to taking the same dose as you did before stopping the medication, your body may not be able to handle the drugs in the same way. This puts you at an increased risk of overdose because you take more than your normal dose and it ends up being too much.

Pill pain addiction can also cause non-medical consequences that can cause even more challenges for everyday living. This includes:

  • Use of other recreational substances
  • Criminal activity
  • Car accidents from being under the influence
  • Difficulty keeping or getting employment
  • Relationship and family challenges
  • Failing out of school
  • Financial losses
  • Homelessness


Pain pill addiction can often be a precursor to substance use disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 86% of the people that end up struggling with heroin reported a prior history of taking pain relievers nonmedically. They often access medications through prescriptions or from friends and family. Well-intentioned loved ones can accidentally start a person toward this cycle.

Prescription pill addiction is very common. The American Society of Anesthesiologists reports that nearly 2 million people abused or depended on opioid-based pain relievers in 2014. Most Americans know someone that faces pain pill addiction, whether or not they realize it. If you struggle with pain pill addiction or have a family member that shows the signs, you are not alone. 

Pain pill addiction can have a serious impact on your life and the people around you. It can be difficult to get the pain relief that you need from the original condition that led to your doctor prescribing opioid medication and to stop taking the pain pills on your own. We are here to help using evidence-based methods. Contact Midwood Addiction Treatment to speak with a representative to learn how we can help you along your journey to recovery. We are here to help you through every step of the way.

Recovery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

woman standing outside with her arms in the air during COVID-19 pandemic

A New Reality

It’s like the world ended. And in many ways, it did. You can’t go to work. Can’t attend school. Can’t meet up for lunch with friends. News footage shows barren streets. There weren’t any holidays, really. For the first time in its existence, the NYC NYE ball drop had virtually no one present. The entire world feels like a ghost town. When things finally did open back up, we’ve all had to wear masks. We’ve had to relearn how to wash our hands. We’ve been sterilizing door knobs and handles. Many places even installed footplates to prevent us from having to open doors with our hands. Toilet paper disappeared from shelves. Story after story, post after post. Everywhere, people were getting sick. Hospitals were so full, they turned people away.

What Is “Normal” Anyway?

You didn’t know which way was up. Truth and falsehood were stitched so closely together, you couldn’t even trust your own thoughts. Let alone anyone else’s. We became so afraid. We were overwrought with anxiety. We feared for our health. We feared food shortages. We suffered a collective trauma. Not as individuals, or families, or even countries. But the whole planet. And we’ve been living in that state for over a year. We’ve been carrying on as best we could. But we’ve had no release. No relief. We’ve waited for “normal” to come back. For things to go back to the way they were before. We’re in a new reality now. That new reality has placed demands and responsibilities on us that the old one did not.

Isolation And Alcohol

Quarantine isolates us from the world. The intention, of course, is to protect our health. But the advantage of quarantine (not getting sick) can turn into its biggest downside. Isolation might indeed keep us from contracting COVID-19. No one will dispute that. But what about our mental health? If we cut ourselves off from the most meaningful relationships in our lives, we’re asking for trouble. To cope with the isolation, you might begin (or resume) drinking. And it might make you feel better. It might ease you into sleep at night. But drinking has repercussions. And not just for your mind. Along with your judgment, alcohol impairs your immune system. It causes inflammation in your gut, killing off bacteria that keep you healthy. An unhealthy immune system increases your risk of getting sick – with something like COVID-19. Moreover, alcohol will not make a fit substitute for authentic social interaction.

Depression And Alcohol

New research from the University of Arizona indicates an astronomical increase in alcohol abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t a surprise given the restrictive quarantines and lockdowns. If your cornerstone relationships are compromised, you essentially have no support system. But alcohol cannot replace your family. It can’t interact with you at work. It can’t encourage you, talk to you, or be intimate with you. It can’t give you the feedback you need to become a more whole person. Alcohol and depression often co-occur. Suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) doubles your risk of developing major depression (MD). The reverse can also be true. An affliction of major depression often precedes alcohol abuse.

Online Recovery Meetings

No one denies the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, no one denies the importance of meaningful relationships for our health and growth. But what do we do when we can’t convene in public? How do we participate in recovery during this time? Fortunately, our age of technology presents some tangible solutions. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Refuge Recovery, and a number of other 12-step programs offer Zoom meetings. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation set up an online community called The Daily Pledge. Unity Recovery, WEconnect, SOS Recovery, and Alano Club offer Zoom meetings. Participants can choose whether or not to use their cameras and can mute their audio. No one is required to share. For more recovery resources, check out this list from SAMHSA.

Individual Therapy

Appointments with your therapist represent a critical part of your recovery. Especially during this time of quarantine. If you have a regular therapist, ask about digital sessions. If you don’t, look for a provider that allows for telehealth meetings. These might happen via Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, or other platforms. If you don’t have access to a computer, many services like these have apps you can download on your phone. Use technology to your advantage! Keep your individual appointments with your therapist and/or counselor. Doing so maintains your prescriptions. It will help you decompress from anxiety and depression. Staying committed to your appointments helps you remain focused on your recovery process.

Proper Nutrition

GrubHub, DoorDash, Uber Eats and their ilk help out a lot, don’t they? With restaurants operating at limited capacity, your favorite foods are a few taps away. Nothing wrong with an occasional indulgence. But chances are, you’ve learned how proper nutrition affects your recovery. If you were in treatment prior to the pandemic, refresh your memory about diet. Keep your macronutrients in mind: protein, fat, carbohydrates. Do your best to eat foods with one ingredient. Bored of making the same meals over and over? Try a cookbook! Prefer to watch videos or take a course? Sites like Skillshare have a TON of cooking classes for you to look through.

Get Outside!

We’ve been told not to gather in groups. But no one’s told us that we must stay indoors for 24 hours a day. Just 10-30 minutes of sunshine a day makes a tremendous difference in your health. The sun is the human body’s main source of Vitamin D. A sufficient amount of vitamin D helps keep our bones healthy. Sunlight reduces inflammation, balances our calcium, and supports the immune system. But those aren’t the only benefits of sunlight. Adequate time in the sun also improves your mood; it reduces both anxiety and depression. You needn’t do anything strenuous to reap these benefits. Grab a book or some headphones and go sit in your backyard for a bit. That’s hardly the worst way to spend your quarantine.

If you’d like more information about how Midwood Addiction Treatment can help your recovery during quarantine, call us now at 888-MAT-1110.

How FMLA Works

woman sitting at a table writing in notepad

When health issues befall you or your family, it helps to know your job is safe. Even if you need to take time off of work, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to allow you to keep your job. How it works can be confusing. Knowing your rights can reduce the strain of a sudden illness and help you keep your income.

Who Qualifies for FMLA

Most employees are able to use FMLA benefits. If any of the following apply to you, you likely qualify for FMLA:

  • Employees of private businesses with more than 50 employees are usually covered by FMLA.
  • The business must employ more than 50 workers for 20 or more weeks out of the current or previous calendar year.
  • All government employees – including federal, state and local – are eligible.
  • The FMLA covers educators at the elementary and secondary levels. This means middle and high school.
  • If you work for a private business with less than 50 employees, you are not able to receive FMLA benefits. However, you may be eligible under state laws.

Additional Requirements

There are a few further conditions to receive FMLA benefits. These are:

  • You must have worked for your employer for 12 total months. These months do not need to be consecutive. Therefore, seasonal workers can still qualify.
  • You cannot have taken a break from that employer that lasted more than 7 years.
  • You must have worked for a total of 1250 hours for the same employer within the 12 month period prior to taking leave. 1250 hours is approximately 24 hours per week for a full year. Sick leave or paid time off do not count toward this total.
  • Your employer must have more than 50 employees within 75 miles of your work location. This is especially important if you work remotely. If the employer has fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work, you do not qualify for FMLA.
  • Special qualifications apply to flight attendants and flight crew members. The FMLA Handbook outlines these.

What FMLA Does

The act provides qualified employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period to care for a serious medical condition within their family. You can take the 12 weeks all at once, or at various times throughout the year. The FMLA defines “Family” as a parent, spouse or child. Serious medical conditions include:

  • Any condition that requires an overnight stay at a hospital or other medical facility. This includes most drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.
  • A condition that incapacitates you or a family member for more than three consecutive days.
  • Conditions that have intermittent periods of incapacitation. This means if you or a family member require medical aid for an ongoing, chronic issue that manifests twice or more per year.
  • FMLA covers pregnancy and childbirth. You can also take time off to bond with a newly adopted child or foster child placed in your care.

After leave, the employer must reinstate the employee at their previous job, or a job with equal pay, hours, and benefits.

How to Use FMLA Benefits

You must ensure your employer is covered. Employers covered by FMLA must post information about it in a conspicuous place. If you see any signs about the Family and Medical Leave Act, you can probably use it. The employee handbook must also contain information regarding medical leave. Likewise, if you request information your employer is required to provide it.

Furthermore, the federal Department of Labor can tell you if your employer is covered.

If you have any difficulty determining whether or not you’re eligible, an attorney that specializes in this field can help. Human resources departments can likewise guide you through the FMLA process. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities are also able to help you with this process.

How to Deal with Shyness and Low Self-Esteem in Recovery

shy woman covering her eyes

Terror And Fear

You’re terrified of treatment. You’re afraid to get help. Maybe it’s the fear of judgment. You’re already crushed by guilt. You’re like Giles Corey, being flattened by many accusers. Your thoughts accuse you. They point at you and condemn you. Call you a failure. A loser. An addict. They tell you that you don’t measure up to any standard. They say that you’ve ruined your life beyond repair. But perhaps you think even worse thoughts than those. Perhaps you think you don’t deserve to be alive. That maybe the people around you would be better off if you weren’t here. If you feel anything like this, begin by breathing deeply. Inhale. Suck in so much air that it hurts. Then exhale. If you’ve done that, then you’ve committed to at least one more breath. That’s a good thing. It’s good that you’re sticking around. If you’re breathing, you have a purpose. Even if that purpose is just to take one more breath. If your blood is flowing, you have a chance. If there’s a pulse, there’s a way forward. It might feel painful. And most likely, it will involve very difficult choices. But you must be around to make those choices. Because no one else can.

Considering Treatment? You’re Ahead!

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb you may have heard. It goes like this, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” History attributes that advice to Lao Tzu. Just the thought of considering treatment seems too great a feat. You hold that thought in your mind and you feel hot. Your temples throb and your palms sweat. If you’re considering treatment, then that’s something to feel good about! If you’re thinking of treatment as a legitimate possibility, that means that you believe you’re ready to start over. You’re done spiralling downward. You’re done with lack of control. You’re ready to put in work to change your life. You’re already doing well. Tell yourself that. Let yourself really believe that you’re making a good choice to even consider treatment. On some level, you have to believe you need treatment before you’ll actively look for it.

Group Meetings 101

Different treatment programs suit different people in different seasons of their lives. Each program varies in its restriction of your personal autonomy. But one thing all programs have in common: group meetings. You’ll be in a room with other people in different levels of treatment. The exact structure of the group meeting may vary. But they all follow a similar blueprint. Group meetings all have a facilitator (a counselor, social worker, therapist, etc.). At the beginning of the meeting, the facilitator will begin by suggesting a topic. They might choose a topic on their own. Or, the topic might be something another group member mentioned in a previous meeting. The facilitator will then shift to the participants. A participant may voice their observations, opinions, and feelings about the given topic. They may speak about what they have learned. They may offer wisdom or insight they have gained. Once that person finishes speaking, the facilitator will ask for further speakers. If no one volunteers, the facilitator may call on a member of the group by name. Note: you will never be required to speak. But think of group meetings like an investment: you get out what you put in.

All Eyes On You

When first attending, feel free to remain silent. If you don’t want to make eye contact, find an inanimate object to look at. Find a unique pattern on the floor. Or a piece of art hanging on the wall. Pretend to be invisible. Imagine that you’re hidden; that no one can see you. Focus intently on your own breath. Forgetting yourself like this will help you become more attentive to the conversations around you. And that’s your mission for your first group meeting. Listen. Internalize what other members are saying. Think deeply about it. Reflect on it and learn from it.

Group Etiquette

To help you ease into the group, here are a few ground rules. Knowing what to expect will help you grow more comfortable with the setting. Group therapy conversations work differently than real-world conversations. Never interrupt when someone speaks. The facilitator should prohibit cross-talking, i.e. addressing your comments to a specific group member. You speak to the group, rather than to a particular person. Likewise, the facilitator should not allow group members to question other group members. If the facilitator thinks certain comments need clarifying, they may ask the speaker a question. But group members do not interrogate other group members. No matter how difficult the conversations become, remain seated. Stay in the room for the entire duration of the meeting. Group meetings typically last about an hour. The facilitator will dismiss the group when the time ends.

Speak The Truth

Speaking in front of a group is scary. The eyes on you. The judgmental thoughts. The criticisms. What must they be thinking of you? Focus on what you’re talking about. Keep yourself resolute. Speaking is just breathing with form. It has more sound. A different purpose. With your thoughts trained on your words, talk slowly about what you have to say. Tell the truth. Don’t sugarcoat. There’s no need for profanity, but be honest about your feelings, opinions, and observations. You’re not here for other people’s negativity. You’re here to transform yourself.

Your Words Might Help

You don’t know how your story might help someone. What you’ve been through – your failures, your choices, your experiences – can make a difference in other peoples’ lives. Speaking openly and honestly about your life can provide wisdom to those listening. Just as you can gain understanding from listening to others. If you don’t speak, you may wonder, “what if?” Who might you have helped if you spoke up? If you spoke your truth about your experience with addiction? Granted, no one may approach you and say out loud, “Hey, what you said really helped me.” But rest assured, if you remain silent you will help no one. And yourself least of all.

Adventure Therapy for Addiction

hikers walking a trail for adventure therapy

What is Adventure Therapy?

The idea of utilizing nature and outdoor activity as a therapeutic aid has been around for a long time. The Outward Bound program for young people began in Wales in 1941. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that adventure therapy for addiction began to enter the mainstream of the treatment field. The concept is simple. Most people find comfort and peace in nature, it’s how we are wired biologically. Programs like Outward Bound also leverage the athletic aspects of outdoor activity. Specifically, they engage participants in challenging and strenuous activity designed to both build character and encourage teamwork among other virtues.

Outward Bound is not specifically targeted at addiction alone though. It also falls at the more extreme end of the spectrum in terms of intensity. This type of program is designed to break a person down and rebuild them in a sense. Participants are brought into the wilderness and taught survival skills. They may spend several nights alone in the wild with only basic tools. Other activities will incorporate teamwork, such as rock climbing or obstacle courses with climbing walls.

Benefits of Adventure Therapy for Addiction

Not all adventure therapy for addiction involves these extremes, however. In virtually every type of addiction treatment, people generally find a change of environment helpful. A change of surroundings alone is scarcely enough. But it does send a signal to the subconscious mind that adaptation is required. It can both remove a person from potential triggers and make them more malleable and receptive to new ideas. Studies have shown it takes between 1-2 months on average to form new habits and get them to stick. (1) Any positive change of environment we can introduce in concert with therapy and structure for a sustained period of time can show benefits.

The focus of adventure therapy is on maximizing the results during that time. Research has shown that simply spending more time outdoors, in nature, has positive effects on brain chemistry. (2) When this is combined with physical exercise and team-building activities, these effects can be leveraged. Addiction robs us of many things, self-confidence and esteem are among them. The sense of achievement one receives from simply completing a challenge is good medicine for this condition. The opportunity to overcome a fear provided powerful counteraction for a poor sense of self-worth. Objectives that require cooperation reinforce the ethic of teamwork.

All of these characteristics are vital to enduring recovery. Anyone who has put together significant sober time will tell you that. Adventure therapy can provide parallels to the struggles faced in overcoming addiction. Most people will find the most benefit from beginning rehab in a medical facility first and following the conventional course of treatment with Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) care. Once a patient is medically stable and has some time and traditional therapy completed, exploring adventure therapy is a sound idea. We are living in an era of innovation in the science of addiction and recovery. Adventure therapy is one more tool we can use to craft a life of enduring recovery.


How Yoga Can Support Trauma Healing and Recovery

Yoga for Trauma Healing

Trauma is a key driver of substance abuse and addiction. In fact, people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are 14 times more likely to be diagnosed with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) than the general public. Often people who’ve experienced severe trauma try to self-medicate to mask their uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, SUD and addiction present their own challenges and do not solve the root of the issue. Mindfulness and yoga are now being suggested as complementary therapies for trauma healing and recovery.


Trauma and the Autonomic Nervous System

Much of the research on treating people for trauma focuses on regulating the Autonomic Nervous System. When a traumatic event occurs, the nervous system kicks into “Fight or Flight” mode, the Sympathetic Nervous System response. The body effectively kicks into high gear, with all of the body’s systems and energy focused on escaping or dealing with the threat. Typically, once the threat has subsided, the body can down-regulate from this heightened state back into the Parasympathetic (“Rest and Digest”) mode that we operate in normally. 

However, in the case of PTSD, this down regulation either doesn’t occur or the “Fight or Flight” response is easily triggered. This can occur from memories of the event or even everyday occurrences that wouldn’t normally be considered traumatic. The patient often experiences a near-constant state of anxiety, stress, and heightened nervous system response, also known as hypervigilance. 


Yoga, Mindfulness and Trauma Healing

Mindfulness is an important practice for anyone but is crucial for PTSD. A 2016 study in the Journal of Alternative Medicine states that eliminating the conditioned fear response of PTSD is crucial to resolving the mental health issue. It means that in order to manage the powerful emotions and impulsive responses associated with PTSD, survivors of trauma must learn to stay oriented in the present moment. 

Yoga centers on moving through poses and focusing on linking the breath to each movement. Therefore, mindfulness has always been a key aspect of this ancient practice. Some practitioners suggest that the bodywork aspect of yoga acts as a bridge to achieving mindfulness. This is likely due to yoga’s emphasis on body awareness, breath work, and mental strength. In yoga, the concept of “mind over matter” is practiced when in difficult poses or uncomfortable positions. Similarly, yoga is a moving meditation, which can benefit mental health in a myriad of ways.

Anecdotal data suggests that both yoga and mindfulness are effective as complementary therapies for PTSD, combined with traditional psychiatric and psychological treatments. 


Yoga in Addiction Treatment

At Harmony Recovery Group, we incorporate yoga into our treatment plans. From helping support our patients in trauma healing to teaching mindfulness skills that can benefit their recovery, yoga is a helpful tool that can be used long after treatment has ended. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Contact us today, see how we can help you live the life you’ve dreamed of, free of drugs and alcohol. 



THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE Volume 22, Number 3, 2016, pp. 189–196 ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2014.0407

Global Parents Day: Support for Parents of Addicted Children

Help for Parents of Addicted Children

Today, June 1st, is Global Day of Parents, a holiday created by the UN to recognize and appreciate the parents in our lives and society. To all parents of addicted children: we see you, we appreciate you, and we support you. 

We know that holidays can be particularly painful for parents of addicted children, we’ve listed some coping strategies for dealing with this crisis.


Learn all you can about Addiction 

Addiction is a chronic disease that takes over the lives of those it affects and their loved ones. There are many misconceptions around addiction and substance abuse. Learning about how addiction happens, how it affects your child and how it affects you and your family are all important steps to understanding and healing. Educating yourself on the subject can also help you spot signs and symptoms as well as help manage expectations before and during the recovery process. 


Understand the Difference Between Helping and Enabling

As parents, we love our children. We have spent our lives as parents keeping them safe from harm, teaching them, helping them grow. To watch them in crisis is unnerving. Our protection instincts kick in and all we want to do is help. Unfortunately this helping instinct can lead to enabling. Addicted children will take advantage of this to keep the flow of their addiction running. 

It’s important to ask yourself, “Will this action enable my child’s addiction?” To get your child through addiction means you must ask yourself this at every turn. Every action you take, every boundary you establish needs to be working towards getting them into sobriety. 

Enabling comes in when the actions you take make it easier for your child to continue using drugs. Sometimes it’s pretty clear: Giving food or gas money that may be used to buy drugs, paying their rent so they still have a place to live, or bailing them out of trouble their drug use has caused are all overt acts of enabling.

But enabling can also be more subtle. Do you minimize their drug use to family members? Have you ever lied for them to cover their addiction? Do you avoid it altogether, so that when your child comes home for dinner one week things can just “be normal for once”? Staying quiet to keep the peace or minimizing the scope of the situation are both dangerous acts of enabling. Addiction thrives in the dark. 


Understand that their choices are not reflections of your parenting 

Addicts lie, cheat, and steal. They are consumed by finding their next fix. It is not because you did not teach them right from wrong, it is not because you failed them as a parent. There is a phrase in addiction circles called the “3 C’s”: You did not cause their addiction, you cannot control their addiction. All you can do is change yourself and your reaction. Do not blame yourself. Find support groups, seek therapy, and find ways to care for yourself. In truth, all we can ever truly have control over in life is ourselves and our emotional response. Learning to change the natural, impulsive reactions we have to situations like this can go a long way in weathering the storm. 


Create boundaries to protect yourself and your family 

Boundaries are the anti-enabling. It is important to set clear rules and boundaries with addicted children to protect yourself, your loved ones, and ultimately your addicted child. Not letting them come to the house while high, if they’re still living at home not allowing them to have drug-using friends over, not allowing them to abuse, insult, or manipulate you. These are all healthy boundaries that can protect your family physically and emotionally from addictive behaviors. 


Practice Self-Care 

This journey you are on is a painful, stressful, exhausting one. Living in crisis can cause serious mental and physical health issues which is why it is so important to take time to prioritize your wellbeing. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right, and taking time for yourself. 


Establish an Open Dialogue

Learn to communicate with honesty, vulnerability, and acceptance. Anger, yelling, and/or blaming do not create safe spaces in which to discuss problems and can push the addict further away. Once you have stopped enabling and have firm boundaries set, having this open channel of communication will be helpful when your addicted child does decide to discuss their situation. A safe space is one in which help can be asked for, and treatment can be suggested. 


Treatment is the answer, but they need to want it for themselves 

Getting your addicted child into treatment is the best possible option for getting them into a life of sobriety and health. However, it is important to know that treatment works best when the addict truly wants to change. Sometimes an addict needs to hit rock bottom to make this change but not always. Learn all you can about treatment options and continue encouraging it until they decide they want to get help. When the time comes, professional treatment can change their life. 


Seeking Help

Being the parent of an addicted child is one of the biggest and most painful challenges a parent can face, we hope this article was able to offer some support and coping strategies. If you are struggling with an addicted child and don’t know what to do, please reach out. 

Our expert team at Harmony Recovery Group are here to help, both as a supportive ear and a strategy for change. Call us at (866) 461-4474

Staging an Alcohol or Drug Intervention

Drug Intervention | Midwood Addiction Treatment Center

Many people once believed that the best way to help a loved one with a substance abuse problem was to wait until he or she hit a state that could be referred to as “rock bottom.” Unfortunately, this implies that addiction is somehow different from other severe health conditions. For example, no one would ever tell someone with diabetes or cancer to wait to get treatment.

The medical community now considers the notion that an addict has to hit their lowest point to be archaic, risky, and very unhelpful. Instead, most professionals have adopted the more constructive view that addiction should be treated as a chronic disease and that an intervention, if needed, should occur as soon as possible.

For this reason, people are increasingly understanding and compassionate toward those who are battling an addiction. Loved ones are beginning to realize that the addict direly needs help, versus further suffering by allowing them to wait.

An alcohol or drug intervention is a process in which loved ones and intervention specialists can reveal to a person in the throes of addiction the adverse effects that their behavior has had on themselves and other important people in their lives.

Intervention Participation

Most often, the families of those struggling with an addiction will organize and perform an alcohol or drug intervention. Still, any person with a genuine and loving relationship with the individual can and should participate whenever possible. In addition to family members, these persons may include significant others, friends, co-workers, religious leaders, etc.

It is highly recommended that those planning to stage an intervention use the services of a person trained to facilitate this process. A professional can provide participants with the information they need to conduct a safe, thorough intervention that has the most potential for success.

The Purpose of an Alcohol or Drug Intervention

The ultimate goal of an intervention is to help the person with an addiction to undergo professional treatment. Ideally, it often takes the form or an inpatient or partial-hospitalization program, but less severe problems may benefit just as much from an intensive outpatient program.

It’s important to remember that the intention of an intervention is not to “gang up” on the loved one who needs help, but instead to show him or her how destructive their addiction really is and to persuade them to get help. Once a person begins to comprehend how their substance abuse problem affects the lives of others, he or she may be moved to seek treatment. An intervention can be used as a final warning, in a way, that loved ones are now refusing to enable or support the person’s addiction and related troubling behaviors.

Drug Intervention | Midwood Addiction Treatment Center

How Does an Intervention Work?

An alcohol or drug intervention should be performed in a safe, comfortable environment with the participation of anyone who has a personal stake in the situation. Adults and older children and adolescents may wish to participate, but very young children and toddlers, who can’t be active in conversation or who may become distressed, should not be there. Regardless of who is involved in the intervention, however, each person must receive sufficient training before attempting to participate.

In most instances, the person for whom the intervention is being staged has hurt friends and family members physically, emotionally, or financially. For this reason, best intentions are often not enough, and negative emotions such as anger and resentment are apt to surface and hijack the process if the people involved are not prepared to deal with them and relay them constructively. If an unhealthy conflict occurs, it will likely do more harm than good and could undermind the entire process altogether.

Moreover, an intervention is not an appropriate time to address the hurt and anger each person feels. Instead, it is an opportunity to reassure the person that he or she is loved and supported. Each participating member should compose, in advance, thoughts and feelings they wish to express to the addicted person to ensure that the intervention doesn’t get off track. They should also have their comments endorsed by other participants and the interventionist who is directing the process.

These thoughts can include any of the following:

  • How the individual has been personally and negatively affected by the loved one’s addiction and behavior
  • Changes the person has seen in the addicted individual’s personality, honesty, and self-control
  • The overall impact that the addicted person’s actions have had on the relationship
  • A prepared statement that exudes unconditional love for the addict, and stress that the person intervening is committed to no longer enabling the addict to destroy his or herself

The last step in staging an intervention is to ensure there is a bed available and waiting in a reputable, accredited rehab facility so the struggling addict or alcoholic can immediately enter treatment.

Signs an Intervention Is Necessary

The following are a few common warning signs to look for if you suspect that someone you love is grappling with a substance use disorder:

  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies once considered important or enjoyable
  • Being late for or absenteeism at work or school, and unsatisfactory performance, academically or professionally
  • Financial problems, such as repeatedly asking to borrow money, and incurring debt or not paying bills
  • Altered sleep patterns, such as staying up for long periods or sleeping excessively
  • Bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakiness, and notable changes in weight
  • Abnormal or erratic behaviors, impulsivity or uncharacteristic moodiness
  • Having repeated conflicts with family members, friends, or co-workers
  • Neglect of loved ones in favor of a new social group that approves of and promotes substance abuse

Drug Intervention | Midwood Addiction Treatment Center

What If the Intervention Fails?

The most impactful moment that can occur during an intervention is when the person with the problem understands that his or her loved ones will no longer enable the addiction. Many people suffering from addiction profess their desire to get treatment but do so primarily to manipulate others into continuing to help sustain their substance abuse habit for as long as possible.

You will know an intervention is likely to be unsuccessful if the person at the center of it promises to seek help “soon” or agrees to go under the provision that he or she is provided with money or a place to stay “for a while.” In other words, an intervention has failed if the subject is using any form of manipulation to convince loved ones that he or she is motivated to get help, and ultimately declines to follow through.

It is essential that if the person refuses to enter a rehab program that the intervention participants remain committed to their promises and refuse to enable the person’s addictive behavior. Often, it takes more than one intervention attempt to convince an addict that time is of the essence. The important thing is to remain strong in the face of the person’s addiction and continue to reassure them they are loved and emotionally supported even though you are withholding other means of assistance.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Staging an intervention is a time when loves ones of addicts and alcoholics can commit to the process of getting them into treatment. But remember, for the person suffering, intervention is just the first step to recovery. The bulk of their work still lies ahead through therapy, counseling, improved means of coping, relapse prevention strategies, and an enormous amount of steadfast faith and resolve.

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers programs in formats that include partial-hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient detox. We use a comprehensive approach to addiction that makes use of evidence-based therapies beneficial for the recovery process, which are conducted by caring addiction specialists with compassion, understanding, and expertise.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help!

13 Tips to Help You Stay Sober During the Holidays

Stay Sober During the Holidays | Midwood Addiction Treatment

For many people in recovery, the holidays can be challenging. But you don’t have to let unfulfilled expectations and stressful family dysfunction ruin your sobriety—you just need to engage in a bit of planning. Start preparing your strategy now, and consider the following tips to help you along!

13 Tips for Holiday Sobriety

Tip #1

Take time to remind yourself how good sobriety feels, and how accomplished you will feel in January. Keep this thought front and center in your mind—you might even want to write a note to yourself as a reminder to think about it every day.

Tip #2:

Keep your expectations grounded in realism, so you don’t set yourself up to experience an emotional letdown. Being sober doesn’t mean life is going to be perfect instantly. The other people in your life probably haven’t changed much, and friction that has been encountered at family functions in the past is likely to crop up again. It would be best if you accepted this fact, and despite it, not attempt to control everything. Instead, you have to be ready to stand up for your sobriety, and nothing is worth undermining your recovery.

Tip #3

Plan sober activities other than sitting around and socializing. In many families, this behavior includes drinking and, in some cases, doing drugs. Consider going to movies, museums, concerts, skating, walks, sledding, or sports events that can all fill time and reduce stress. If the weather keeps you inside, there are still activities that will keep everyone busy and focused, such as decorating cookies, board games, movies, etc.

Tip #4

Limit the time you spend with people or situations that cause you to be stressed out. People might include those in which you used to abuse substances or people whom you just tend to engage in conflict. They also include any situation, including family gatherings, that might have triggers and lead to thinking about using drugs or alcohol.

Time limitations may be pre-imposed or spontaneous. That is, you can plan to leave a situation or event after an hour, or politely excuse yourself at whatever time you need to if you feel that remaining there is not in your best interest.

Tip #5

It doesn’t matter if you are traveling or staying near home, go to support group meetings whenever you can, and determine which ones to attend and where to go in advance. You can use these meetings to your benefit in terms of scheduling, as well—people often find it helpful to go to meetings both before and after holiday events, or at the very least, have a sponsor handy to talk to and solicit advice if you need it.

Stay Sober During the Holidays | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Tip #6

Take time to visit friends and family that you enjoy, but avoid those with which you used to engage in substance abuse if it is at all possible. If you must see these individuals, limit your time with them and turn your focus away from their drug or alcohol use and instead get involved in healthier activities.

Tip #7

If you feel you need to steer clear of certain social events, you can plan your own celebration. If you are not up to visiting relatives or friends, get together with group support members or volunteer at a local shelter. Have dinner at home or in a restaurant, rather than put yourself in a position of temptation around loves ones who still drink or do drugs.

Tip #8

Take it easy on yourself. Get plenty of rest, watch what you eat, and engage in the usual daily rituals that help you positive or focused on the present, such as exercise or meditation. Do not neglect yourself or the importance of your recovery for one second because the day is going to be different in some way.

Tip #9

Devise a strategy for coping with cravings. Write a list of things that work for you, such as calling a friend or sponsor, getting in a quick workout at the gym, or praying. If you can’t think of anything, try to remain sober for just one minute, then two, then three. Start another activity, such as cooking or house work, and after you’ve gotten through five minutes, and keep increasing that time. Recovery happens in the present, not the past or future. Always keep this in mind.

Tip #10

Remember that being in recovery doesn’t mean everything is going to go flawlessly. Understand that sobriety is not going to fix everything, despite the fact that many people with addictions expect their world to become perfect. Don’t forget that if you’ve been abusing alcohol or drugs for years, your brain may need considerable time to restabilize and rewire itself. You have to give yourself time to rebuild the life you deserve, and not give up because something less than ideal occurs.

Tip #11

Stay Sober During the Holidays | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Remember that it’s okay to tell people that you are in recovery. Nearly everyone knows someone that has had a problem with drug or alcohol use and is open about it. If you are not comfortable with this, you don’t have to force yourself. Keep in mind that openly discussing such problems with others has gone a long way to reduce stigma and help people understand that addiction isn’t just a moral failure—it’s a chronic disease that no one consciously chooses to have.

Another good reason to be honest with others is that it may discourage others from offering you drugs or alcohol or engaging in substance abuse in front of you. It may also be the catalyst for another loved one to consider seeking help if they, too, have a problem.

Tip #12

Come up with a strategy for staying sober at parties and in social situations. Know what you plan to say to others and come up with a good exit plan if you need it. Serve yourself and drink plenty of water and indulge in a soda or two if you’d like. Alcoholics are especially used to having a drink in their hand while socializing, and if you choose a healthy, non-alcoholic one, you may be less tempted to imbibe in something you should not.

Tip #13

Prioritize your sobriety above all else. If that means you have to decline an invitation this year, that’s okay. There’s always next year, and people new to recovery aren’t always fully prepared for the stresses and triggers they will encounter in holiday situations. Every day during the holidays is still just a day. As long as you have some type of support, it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you put yourself first. Enact healthy thoughts and behaviors that will help prevent relapse and keep you from being fearful or miserable during this time of year.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

If you suspect that you or someone you love is struggling with sobriety or needs help for a substance abuse problem, contact us today! Midwood Addiction Treatment offers individualized, comprehensive programs that include therapeutic services and activities vital for the process of recovery, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Overcoming addiction can be a lifelong endeavor, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact us today and find out how we can help you get started and begin your recovery journey, one day at a time!

Benefits of Addiction Medicines

Addiction Medicines | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a chronic disease that can thoroughly destroy a person’s life. Fortunately, however, treatments exist that can address its many causes and help an individual recover and regain physical and emotional stability.

While therapy, counseling, and aftercare planning can address many emotional difficulties, medications used for addiction treatment can help to ease the challenging withdrawal period. They can also help to manage any other medical or mental health conditions that may have been previously left untreated. Certain addiction medicines may have some risks of their own. Still, they can be beneficial in stabilizing those in early recovery and assist them in managing cravings and the symptoms of withdrawal during the detox process.

How Do Medications for Addiction Work?

The addictive properties of most psychoactive substances originate from the manner in which they alter the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. So, in turn, many addiction medicines are used to help restore balance to the chemical processes that have been altered by the abuse of substances.

A person entering recovery may be prescribed certain medications that reduce cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms or even counteract the euphoric effects of a substance. Other times, medication may have off-label uses for battling depression or anxiety and have effects that further support a person in recovery.

Common medications that may be used to treat addiction symptoms directly include the following:

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone)
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Modafinil (Provigil)

Naltrexone and Buprenorphine

Addiction Medicines | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Naltrexone works by binding to receptors in the brain that opioids would otherwise attach to, rendering those drugs unable to elicit an addictive high. Naltrexone is best used after medical detox, because using it when opioids are still in a person’s system may produce severe withdrawal symptoms, also known as precipitated withdrawal.

Naltrexone is considered to be an ideal medication for the treatment of opioid dependence, due to its minimal side effects and very low potential for abuse. It’s also very beneficial for the treatment of alcoholism, although the exact manner in which it works for this condition is not entirely clear. It can be taken daily in pill form or once a month as an injection, and seems to block alcohol’s euphoric effects and can also reduce cravings.

Unlike naltrexone, which blocks receptors without activating them, buprenorphine partially activates the brain’s opioid receptors—just not to the extent that other painkilling opioids do. This means that with buprenorphine, there is a limit or “ceiling to its opioid-like effects, and it is not capable of inducing as strong of a high as many other opioid drugs. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this limited effect lowers its potential for abuse, as well as the intensity of withdrawal effects associated with the drug itself. When used this way, buprenorphine can help to wean people off dependence on more potent opioids like heroin.

Buprenorphine is commonly found along with naloxone as a combination medication called Suboxone. Naloxone is used by itself as an opioid overdose antidote, as it can completely reverse life-threatening central nervous system depression. As an element of Suboxone, its action makes the medication even safer and also a very effective abuse-deterrent.

Disulfiram and Acamprosate

Other medications that can be used to help people battling alcoholism are disulfiram and acamprosate. When used as directed, disulfiram (Antabuse) will result in highly unpleasant effects if the person consumes even minor amounts of alcohol. It works by blocking the activity of a specific enzyme (acetaldehyde) vital for the metabolization of ethanol. 

The accumulation of this chemical is what causes an adverse reaction. Effects can include headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, chest pain, blurred vision, breathing problems, and more. Experiencing these uncomfortable and painful symptoms or knowing in advance that they will occur may deter many people from drinking.

Acamprosate (Campral) is designed to reestablish the chemical balances in the brain that are disrupted in a person who has alcohol dependence. Acamprosate is believed to be effective because it protects the brain from hyper-excitation that results when a person tries to withdraw from alcohol. In doing this, the likelihood of relapse may be decreased.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Medication-assisted therapy should be used as part of a much broader approach to addiction treatment, which also includes psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and various other evidence-based modalities. 

Comprehensive treatment programs that offer these services are shown to be the most beneficial for improving patient outcomes and helping them to sustain longlasting sobriety and wellness.

Midwood Addiction Treatment is a specialized addiction treatment center that offers such programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Our highly-trained staff is committed to ensuring that each client receives the highest level of care, and is given the support and tools they need to recover, prevent relapse, and reclaim their lives for good.

If you are struggling with an addiction, we urge you to contact us today to discover how we can help!