Can You Overdose On Cocaine?

cocaine overdose

In the U.S. there are about 1.5 million current cocaine users aged 12 or older. Adults 18-25 years old have a higher rate of current use than any other group by age, with 1.4% of young adults reporting cocaine use within the past month. (1) If you or someone you know uses cocaine, you may have wondered about the potential for overdose. The fact is that cocaine overdose is a very real danger. Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Whether it is snorted, smoked, or injected, the risk of overdose and even death is real. In fact, almost 15,000 people a year in the U.S. die as a result of a cocaine overdose. (2)

Here are some signs of cocaine overdose to watch for:

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Nausea and stomach cramps
  • Confusion, seizures, tremors
  • Increased sweating, body temperature, or heart rate

Psychological symptoms can include:

  • Extreme nervousness or anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Cocaine Overdose May Cause Heart Attack

Cocaine overdose can often lead to a heart attack, which is one of the most common causes of death in a cocaine overdose. Other fatal consequences may include stroke or seizure. Cocaine is obviously especially risky for anyone who already suffers from heart disease or a heart condition of any kind. Someone who is predisposed to seizures can be at exceptional risk too.

Mixing Cocaine with Other Substances

Cocaine is often consumed with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants like opioids or benzodiazepines. These can actually increase the risk of fatality contrary to what some believe. There is a twofold risk. The first major risk factor comes from the fact that the effects of a CNS depressant can make a person less aware of some of the cocaine’s effects. This can prompt them to use even more than they might ordinarily. The second major factor comes from the interaction of cocaine with other substances in the body. The combination of cocaine and alcohol is both the most common and perhaps one of the most dangerous. When alcohol and cocaine combine in the body, they form a third chemical called cocaethylene, which extends the duration of cocaine euphoria, but is also incredibly toxic to the body. The psychoactive nature of cocaethylene didn’t even begin to be studied until the 1990s. (3)

It’s no mystery that cocaine use is dangerous. Some people find a false sense of security if they begin a cocaine habit that isn’t daily in the beginning. Perhaps they only use it on weekends. They never use it alone. They have heard that there aren’t any “real” physical withdrawal symptoms, like alcohol or opiates. These are all incredibly dangerous misconceptions that have lead many people to the gates of delirium and even death. Cocaine use is serious. Cocaine addiction costs people their livelihoods, their families, and sometimes even their lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine use, don’t wait. It is never too soon to seek help for yourself or someone else. Millions of people have recovered from cocaine addiction successfully. You are welcome to contact us to discuss the treatment options for cocaine addiction or ask any questions you may have about recovery.

(1) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
(2) https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
(3) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/395284

Myths and Facts about Medication Assisted Treatment

doctors stethoscope on an open book

Simply put, Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, consists of a combination of medication and therapeutic counseling. This method has been a staple of drug and alcohol treatment since the 1960s. It’s often misunderstood and sometimes maligned. Historically, it was most commonly used for opioid addiction. But it has also proven effective for alcoholism and other chemical dependency disorders.

Here is a breakdown of some of the myths about MAT and the facts that counter them.

MYTH:  MAT just trades one addiction for another.

FACT: It’s an all too common refrain. Someone enters a suboxone program after years of heroin addiction and they are told they are “taking the easy way out” or just “trading one drug for another. This is a viewpoint rooted in ignorance and misunderstanding. The science on MAT is conclusive. It dramatically improves patients’ chances of remaining in treatment and recovery. (1). Opiate addiction is incredibly powerful and the truth is before MAT, the recidivism rates were more dire than they are today. MAT is, without question a crucial treatment tool. In the midst of an opioid addiction epidemic, the last thing anyone should be doing is shaming someone who is trying to build recovery.

MYTH:  If you are in an MAT program, you aren’t really “clean”.

FACT: This is perhaps one of the more damaging myths about MAT. The fact is that recovery is about behavior and intentions. A person who is participating in an MAT program and following protocols is doing the work. They are taking a medicine to aid them in their recovery and prevent relapse, which is tragically common, especially in early recovery for opiate abuses. MAT programs unquestionably save lives. One might go as far as to say that a person who criticizes someone for participating in an MAT  program ought to examine the quality of their own recovery.

MYTH: There’s no proof that MAT is any more effective than “cold turkey”.

FACT: This is also completely refuted by the evidence. Opioid addicts and alcoholics consistently put together more time when on MAT programs on average than without. Not only are there reams of anecdotal evidence for this in the field, but substantive research supporting this conclusion. In fact, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is currently running a study of over 1,000  patients at 65 locations across the U.S. to research MAT outcomes for opioid use disorders.(1) This will be the largest study of its’ kind ever done. The final findings will be published in Summer 2021.

MYTH: MAT will hurt a person’s recovery or hold back their progress.

FACT: MAT programs assist in recovery, particularly early on. They mitigate cravings which drastically lowers the chance of relapse, particularly when opioid blockers are involved. They allow the patient to focus on the work of recovery, which is the most important part. Recovery is an inside job, it has been said. It truly is about working on oneself and it is hard work. Anything safe and legal that can be done to help people stay alive and stay off of their drug of choice while they do the work of recovery is a net positive.

If you would like to know more about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), give us a call at Midwood Addiction Treatment.

How Long is an IOP Program?

intensive outpatient program group therapy room

If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) might be a big part of the solution. If so, you might be asking yourself ‘what’s the average length of an IOP program?’ This post is designed to answer this and other IOP related questions.

Before we talk about the length of an IOP program, let’s have a look at what IOP actually is.

What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program is a substance abuse treatment modality that offers comprehensive care while allowing the client to continue living at home. Typically, clients visit the center 4-5 days a week for several hours at a time. During this time, they attend a variety of individual and group treatment sessions.

Usually, clients will participate in a morning or an evening intensive outpatient program. The animating idea behind IOP is to let clients apply the principles they’re learning in treatment to their daily work and home lives. This is one of the reasons they’re so commonly used to treat addiction disorders– IOP teaches the life skills you need for long term sobriety while letting you continue to meet your work/life responsibilities.

You see, recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum. As you already know very well, life will continue to throw challenges your way whether you’re sober or not. But if you’re participating in an intensive outpatient program (IOP), you’ll have ample opportunities to apply what you’re learning to real-world situations.

What’s The Average Length of an IOP Program?

The short answer to this question is ‘it depends.’ That might not sound satisfying to you, but an IOP is designed to help clients achieve long term sobriety. And in order to accomplish this, the IOP must be customized to fit your specific needs. That’s why it can be hard to assign a number to the average length of an IOP program– there are far too many variables.

That being said, the time IOP takes depends largely on you. It depends on how far you’ve progressed into addiction and how much work you’re willing to put into your recovery. While there’s no way to say for certain, most clients who take the recovery process seriously can expect to finish IOP within about 90 days.

However, this can vary. The important thing to understand about IOP is that it can be designed around your living situation and work needs. While undergoing treatment at IOP, you can continue to live at home and work to support your family. In many ways, this is an optimal situation for the newly recovering person.

An Intensive Outpatient Program is Time Well Spent

IOP is designed for clients who are struggling with substance abuse but do not yet require inpatient treatment. You can think of it as a sort of ‘middle ground’ between purely outpatient treatment and residential care. Importantly, IOP tends to work very well with people who have not lost their family, friends, and jobs to their substance abuse.

Generally speaking, IOP consists of about 12 hours of treatment a week for about three months. During this time, you’ll learn the recovery skills you need for long term sobriety without giving up the freedoms involved in your daily life. Regardless of the length of an IOP program, you’ll emerge from the experience enriched and ready to live an abstinent life.

6 Benefits of Outpatient Detox

lobby of Midwood Addiction Treatment Outpatient Detox

Most people are more familiar with inpatient detoxification programs. But, there are several key benefits to outpatient detox as well. That’s why more and more people are choosing to withdrawal safely from drugs and alcohol in the outpatient setting.

If you’re ready to begin the recovery process, the question is which form of detox is right for you? Read on the find out five of the most significant benefits of outpatient detox and learn the information you need to make a decision that’s right for you.

What is Outpatient Detox?

The purpose of all detox programs is to taper down a client’s drug/alcohol intake safely until the substance is eliminated from the system. Traditionally, this has been done in the inpatient setting, where the client can receive the 24-hour care that’s necessary for safe withdrawal from some substances.

In recent years, however, replacement drugs and detoxification techniques have been refined enough to allow for outpatient detox, a process that accomplishes the same goal while allowing the patient to continue living in the comforts of home.

Whether or not you have the option of choosing outpatient detox depends on your situation. However, if your care team decides that an outpatient detox is a viable option for you, it’s important to know its chief benefits.

The Benefits of Outpatient Detox

Here are six of the most significant benefits of executing the detoxification process in the outpatient setting:

  • Clients are not confined to the detox facility. This allows them to continue meeting their family, work, and school responsibilities while safely beginning recovery. Inpatient detox requires a certain period of time where the client is not free to do as they wish.
  • Outpatient detox provides the same individual and group therapy sessions that an inpatient client receives. However, the outpatient client has the opportunity to begin to put their new skills to the test immediately.
  • The outpatient detox setting allows clients to receive continued support from friends and family, even as they build important new relationships during treatment.
  • Although everyone’s situation is different, outpatient detox tends to be less expensive (and therefore less prohibitive) than inpatient programs. One reason for this is that it takes less clinical time.
  • As long as your withdrawal symptoms aren’t too severe, outpatient detox offers the same levels of safety and effectiveness as inpatient detox does.
  • Detox in the outpatient setting gives clients a much greater level of freedom than they would have in an inpatient setting. This allows for an opportunity to meet relapse challenges that are likely to arise in their lives long after treatment has ended.

It’s important to remember that outpatient detox has its disadvantages as well. That’s why it’s important to consult with your family and care team before making any final decisions about participating in an outpatient detox.

Either Way, Detox Is Just the Beginning

While detox is a critical (and often lifesaving) step in the recovery process, it’s important to remember that it’s still only the beginning. Far too many people fall into the error of thinking that all they need to do to remain sober is withdraw safely from drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, these people learn the hard way that this simply isn’t the case.

Whether or not you receive the benefits of outpatient detox, do yourself a favor and continue the process that’s designed by your care team to maintain sobriety.

Benefits of Sober Living After Treatment

coed group of happy people sitting in the grass

A few weeks of professional inpatient care is a great way to start addiction treatment, but true recovery is an ongoing process that often requires a lifetime of work. That’s why so many people with addiction disorders choose to stay in a sober living home after leaving treatment. Read on to find out the benefits of sober living after treatment.

What Is a Sober Living Home?

First, let’s have a look at what a sober living home actually is. Also known as halfway houses, sober living homes are shared facilities that offer recovering addicts and alcoholics the structure, support, and guidance they so often need after leaving a treatment program.
Sober living homes are typically built around a specific recovery model that residents are required to participate in during their stay. And while every sober home is a little different, each has a set of other rules that residents must follow as well.

Typically, these rules are designed to:

  1. Protect the sobriety of the individual and the group
  2. Facilitate the building of authentic and supportive relationships
  3. Teach the discipline and habits that a life of sobriety requires
  4. Act as a bridge between the treatment environment and the wider world

The most important thing to know about sober living homes is that they work. Like a reputable treatment center, they employ evidence-based practices that have been shown to improve clients’ chances for long-term recovery.

The Benefits of Sober Living Homes

Here are some of the most important benefits of staying in a sober living home upon leaving treatment:

  • They help eliminate the temptation to use or drink again when difficult situations arise. It takes time for the brain to repair itself, and the sober living environment can reduce the risk of early relapse significantly.
  • At sober living homes, you are surrounded by peers who are trying to achieve the same goals as you. The type of peer support they can offer is invaluable to the recovery process.
  • Personal accountability is a huge part of authentic recovery. Sober living programs insist upon this kind of accountability and help clients develop more responsible habits.
  • The group dynamic of sober living homes helps guard newly sober clients from the dangers of isolation. Similarly, they help clients build the supportive, long-term relationship that every addict needs for sustained recovery.
  • Lastly, sober living homes are one of the best ways to stay connected to the recovery community as you transition back into the challenges of everyday life.

Sober Living for a Sustained Recovery

It takes time to recover from alcohol or drug addiction. It also requires a great deal of hard work and internal change. People with substance use disorders do themselves a disservice when they stop this critical work upon leaving treatment. While helping increase self-esteem and confidence is one of the central goals of treatment, far too many clients forget what they’ve learned and end up relapsing without a rigorous aftercare program.

Sober living homes help clients avoid this unenviable fate. Every addict deserves a rich and rewarding life. Please give yourself the best chance at creating such a life by receiving the benefits of sober living after treatment.

Early Signs of Alcoholism

sad woman suffering from alcoholism

It’s never too early to seek help if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction. Up to a certain point, the adverse effects of problem or alcoholic drinking are reversible. However, treating alcoholism effectively becomes significantly more difficult over time and far too many families suffer unnecessarily.

This suffering can be avoided if you understand the early signs of alcoholism. The disease of addiction affects everyone a bit differently, but alcoholism does tend to show itself in relatively uniform ways. This is good news for the problem drinker and their family. It’s good news because these early warning signs can be a springboard to constructive action and healing.

Early Signs of Alcoholism

In the remaining sections, we’ll present five of the most common early signs of alcoholism. While many non-alcoholic drinkers will demonstrate one or two of these signs occasionally, it’s definitely time to seek help if they become a consistent part of a drinker’s behavior.

1. An inability to predict or control how much alcohol a drinker consumes.

Social drinkers typically know how much they want to drink on a given occasion. If you or a loved one frequently drinks more than they planned or cannot control the amount of alcohol consumed, then it’s probably time to start asking some difficult questions.

2. Frequent Hangovers

Many people drink too much here and there and end up regretting it in the morning. However, if a drinker starts to suffer from hangovers on a consistent basis, there’s a very good chance that they’ve started along the road to alcoholism.

3. Increased Tolerance to Alcohol

Any significant increase in alcohol tolerance is a sure sign of concern. Seek help right away if you or a loved one needs progressively more alcohol to achieve the same effect.

4. Preoccupation With Alcohol and Cravings

This can be tough to spot from the outside, but anyone who finds themselves thinking about or craving alcohol at inappropriate times should probably seek out professional help immediately.

5. Alcohol Begins to Have a Negative Impact on Major Life Areas

It’s probably time to seek help immediately if alcohol is interfering with someone’s work life, their relationships, their legal situation, or their physical and mental health.

Vigilance is Key

Alcoholism isn’t a disease that shows up in a blood test, a PET scan, or an MRI. No, alcoholism is much more cunning than that. It’s a disease that can progress invisibly at times, especially to the drinker themselves. Fortunately, there are many tell-tale signs that someone’s drinking is becoming a problem.

Vigilance is the key to effective treatment. This means paying attention to you or your loved one’s alcohol-related behaviors and answering some tough questions honestly. The negative effects of excessive drinking inevitably get worse over time, so early recognition is critical to effective treatment. If you notice any of these seven early signs of alcoholism in you or a loved one’s behavior, please seek help right away.

Alcoholism vs. Problem Drinking – What’s the Difference?

women holding alcoholic beverages

Problem drinkers and alcoholics have much in common. Both consume alcohol in enough quantity and frequency that they experience some consequences. Alcoholism is still widely misunderstood by the general public, though there is much less ignorance about this affliction than in the past. Just a few generations ago, regular and conspicuous consumption of alcohol was much more socially acceptable than it is today. The days of the three-martini lunch are behind us now, but alcohol abuse is still a tremendous problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 25 percent of Americans 18 years old or older report they engaged in binge drinking in the last month. An estimated 88,000 Americans die due to alcohol-related causes every year, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the country. (1)

The Main Difference Between Alcoholism and Problem Drinking

The primary difference between an alcoholic and a problem drinker is the physical dependence on alcohol. A problem drinker may eagerly anticipate the arrival of the weekend so they can binge drink. An alcoholic will usually need to drink daily simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Some alcoholics can go for a few days without a drink, but their sleep is disrupted and they become anxious and increasingly uncomfortable. Many may even be aware that they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholism is a progressive disease however and left unchecked, the amount of alcohol consumed inevitably grows. Sooner or later, the alcoholic will reach a stage where withdrawal symptoms become severe and even life-threatening if they go for long without a drink.

Consequences of Problem Drinking

A problem drinker will often experience consequences. Splitting hangovers. Being late to work. Financial problems and even legal issues like DUI’s or other arrests related to behavior while drinking. However, a problem drinker still has the power of choice. They often go for days or even weeks at a time without a drink without experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms. Problem drinkers who come to terms with the issue often decide the consequences are unacceptable. Before their drinking develops into physical dependence, they make the decision to abstain or severely curtail their drinking. A common example is college students who may drink to excess while in school, but still manage to complete their studies. When they leave school and enter the workplace, build families and so forth, they leave the problem drinking behind.

An alcoholic has largely lost the power of choice. While they may exercise great willpower in resisting a drink for 24 or 48 hours or more, they do so in discomfort. Anxiety, insomnia, cold sweats are often part of the experience. Depending on the stage of alcoholism, they may even experience seizures without alcohol. Ultimately dealing with alcoholism isn’t a matter of will. The real battle begins when the alcoholic accepts that alcohol is their master. That their drinking is beyond their control and even if they are able to abruptly stop for a time, they do so at risk to their own comfort and safety. More often than not, the alcoholic has experienced brief periods of sobriety, followed by relapse. This inability to get sober and stay sober is often what leads them to finally accept outside help to overcome their alcoholism. If you believe you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, help is available. No matter your age or circumstances, resources are available. Give us a call at (888) MAT-1110 and let’s talk about it.

(1) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

Does Medicated Assisted Treatment Work?

doctor with arms crossed holding a stethoscope

Medication-Assisted Treatment or MAT has been a part of drug and alcohol treatment for decades. In simple terms, it consists of the use of medications in concert with counseling and behavioral therapy to treat addiction. One of the first medications used in MAT beginning in the 1960s was methadone for heroin addiction. While methadone continues to be used in certain circumstances, pharmacological research over the past 30 years or so has made new, more targeted medicines available, including buprenorphine and naltrexone, that have far fewer compromises.

Understanding MAT

The goal with MAT is not to simply treat symptoms. A common misunderstanding about MAT is that it is simply some sort of long-term detox process. The reality is that modern MAT is an evidence-based treatment methodology with proven results. Medication is used in parallel with therapy to establish new behaviors. The outcome targeted by MAT is lifetime abstinence. Numerous studies have shown that MAT:

• Increases the likelihood of patients remaining in treatment.
• Decreases opiate abuse and criminal activity in patients prone to those behaviors.
• Decreased alcohol abuse and criminal activity, e.g. DUI arrests among treated alcoholics.
• Improves the ability of the patient to attain and retain gainful employment

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are engaged a long-term study of over 1,188 patients at 65 sites across the U.S. to research outcomes for patients receiving MAT for opioid use disorders.(1) This historic study is scheduled to conclude in Summer 2021 with final analysis. It is widely anticipated to answer lingering questions about this form of treatment and to fuel the growing acceptance of MAT in the treatment and recovery communities.

The Evolution In Addiction Treatment

The field of addiction medicine is continuously evolving and innovation in recent years has largely been driven by America’s exploding opioid crisis. The demand for lasting solutions has grown geometrically over the past decade. It is become more evident than ever that to simply triage addicts with week-long detox stays is woefully insufficient. Major cities and small towns across the country are being impacted in a very real way. Emergency services stretched to the breaking point managing overdose calls, increases in property crime, and overdose fatalities. All of this has driven the federal government to bring unprecedented resources to bear on the problem. The previously mentioned CDC study is just one example of the work being done.

The efficacy of MAT is easier to understand than most might imagine. Simply put, medications can mitigate withdrawal symptoms and cravings and even block the effects of illicit opiates. By removing much of the physical cravings and treating residual effects like depression, anxiety, and lethargy, patients are empowered. There is a synergistic effect in action. The patient is at less of a disadvantage. This makes them better able to participate in therapy and to benefit from it. The more time patients can remain abstinent, while simultaneously practicing positive new behaviors, the better their odds of success at long-term recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment is a tool that when used appropriately, improves the chances for successful recovery over the years and lifetimes.

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/Medication-Assisted-Treatment-Opioid-Use-Disorder-Study.html

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System? Withdrawal and Detox

Heroin Withdrawal Time

One of the most addictive drugs on the planet, heroin is a very scary substance. The drug takes over addicts’ lives, as they need to constantly re-up their supply to avoid withdrawing. Typically withdrawal begins within 12 hours of the addict’s last heroin fix. But that’s only the beginning. How long does it take for heroin to fully leave your system? 

 

Heroin Source 

Because heroin is an illicit, illegal substance there is no oversight when it comes to quality, purity, potency, as well as what it may be mixed with. This is one of the reasons heroin is so incredibly dangerous, particularly as it is commonly used intravenously. A user has no way of knowing what they are getting, aside from the word of their dealer who often has no idea how the drug was made or by whom. 

In recent years, the United States has seen a significant spike in heroin overdoses due to the drug being laced with Fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opiate that is 50 to 100 times stronger than Morphine and users (and even dealers) typically have no idea it is in their drug supply until it is too late. 

 

How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?

Heroin has a short half-life of around 30 minutes. This means in roughly 30 minutes, half the drug is removed from the system.

The exact time it takes depends on the individual and a number of factors such as: 

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Body Mass Index
  • Metabolism Rate
  • Amount of heroin taken
  • Quality of heroin taken
  • Liver and kidney health
  • Hydration levels
  • Tolerance
  • Medical conditions

 

Drug Testing for Heroin

Depending on the method of testing, heroin will show up anywhere from a few days to several months later.

Saliva Test: up to 1 hour

Blood Test: up to 6 hours

Urine Test: up to 3 days

Hair Test: up to 90 days

 

Withdrawal Period 

The exact time it takes to fully withdraw depends on the person. Factors such as how long they have been using, the way they use, their typical dose, and body chemistry will all affect how a person detoxes heroin. 

For most people, the worst withdrawal symptoms will occur during the first week after the last dose. However, heavy and long-term users’ symptoms may extend longer. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can include: 

  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Runny nose
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Severe cravings
  • Difficulty breathing

Withdrawal from heroin can be dangerous. It is best done in an addiction treatment center under the care of medical professionals. Furthermore, symptoms of heroin withdrawal can be managed through medication, making the process safer and more comfortable. 

 

Getting Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, please do not hesitate to seek the help you need. Detoxing in a professional clinical environment can give you the support you need in order to come off the drug safely and effectively. Treatment can also provide the tools, education, and support to achieve long-term recovery. Call us today and see how we can help you live the life you deserve. 

Avoiding Summer Triggers to Protect your Sobriety

Summer Triggers and Protecting Your Sobriety

Last weekend was July 4th which means we are well into the summer season. As the weather heats up and lockdown restrictions lift, temptation and triggers are everywhere. For those in recovery, this can be an especially challenging time. Read on for how to avoid classic summer triggers and protect your sobriety. 

 

Identify: What Are Your Biggest Triggers? 

Triggers can be a person, place, event, or even memory that causes cravings and potentially lead you to relapse. Is it difficult to be at a social event without a beer? Hard to be around old friends without wanting to use? Or is feeling lonely a big issue for you? Identifying triggers is an important part of recovery. 

Summertime tends to bring us face-to-face with our triggers more often. Why? Because the warmer weather means people are out and about. There are backyard barbecues, sporting events, beach days, and more. So, take some time to picture yourself in various situations. Can you say with confidence that you can attend a party without drinking? Is it harder to be alone? Decide what your biggest triggers are and how you might remedy them. Maybe it’s skipping events where you know people will be using. Or maybe it’s making sure you have someone you can talk to when you’re feeling low. 

 

How to Enjoy your Summer in Sobriety

1. Limit Social Media 

A 2012 study found that social media has a clear link to relapse. And it’s pretty easy to understand why. Watching everyone we know posting pictures of themselves partying and imbibing can be very triggering. And summer tends to be an even more popular time to post these types of things because people are generally more active. Not only can these images be triggering, but social media is commonly said to cause feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, jealousy, loneliness, and depression. All of which can be strong triggers for using.

So, try to limit your exposure. Do a social media detox, limit the time you spend on it, and definitely unfollow or mute any accounts that trigger you or make you feel bad about yourself. No one needs that negativity in their life! 

 

2. Give Back To Your Community

Volunteering is good for the soul. It has been proven to make people feel happier, less stressed, and less anxious. It combats feelings of anger and depression. Not only that, but giving back gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment. If you are feeling lost or lonely this summer, consider volunteering. Not only are you helping others, but you are helping yourself and building a sense of community. By keeping yourself busy and giving back, you reduce all the common triggers of loneliness, depression, isolation, and stress. It’s a win win for everyone involved. 

 

3. Make Sober Friends 

Sometimes, feeling lonely can be our biggest trigger. But often the friends we had before our sobriety are only going to lead us down the path of relapse. Making friends who are also in recovery is great way to connect with like-minded people who know what you’re going through. Meetings are a great place to meet people, or try searching online for sober events or meetups near you. 

 

4. Get Outdoors

What better way to enjoy the great summer weather than a run through the park, a hike, or an outdoor yoga session? Finding a way to get some fresh air each day is connected to multiple mental health benefits including fighting depression, reducing anxiety, and combating stress. Plus it has an added benefit of keeping you busy. So wake up early and go for that jog or morning swim. Your brain will thank you. 

 

5. Have a Plan in Place for Unexpected Cravings or Triggers

Do you know what to do if cravings strike? Is there someone you can call, perhaps a sober friend or sponsor? If you are planning to go to a party where people will be drinking, make sure you have plans in place for the various triggers you may encounter. These tips for navigating parties or gatherings in sobriety can help. 

 

Getting Help

We hope this list helps you avoid triggers and protect your sobriety this summer. However, sometimes despite our best efforts, we find ourselves in trouble. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction this summer, or find yourself in a relapse, don’t wait to seek help. Contact us anytime. Our kind and supportive staff can talk to you about your options for help and treatment.

We are here for you.