What is Doctor Shopping?

Have You Heard About Doctor Shopping?

People go into the medical field to help those who suffer. But often, others exploit that desire to help in the form of doctor shopping. Believe it or not, some people go from doctor to doctor looking for something specific. They do not need medical attention. Rather, they are doctor shopping to find one or more who will nurture their addiction.

 

In this article, Midwood Addiction Treatment attends to the following matters:

 

  • What is doctor shopping?
  • How is doctor shopping different from prescription drug use?
  • Why do people shop for doctors?
  • How does doctor shopping relate to opioid abuse?
  • What if I want more information about doctor shopping?

 

What Is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping refers to filling prescriptions from more than one healthcare provider. Or it might look like filling the same prescription at the same provider. A person could fake an illness and then visit a doctor. Next, the doctor writes the person a prescription. The person fills the prescription. After that, they visit a different doctor. Then, the entire process repeats.

 

Granted, one should seek out the best physician to fit ones’ needs. Not every doctor provides a good fit for every person. But doctor shopping to fuel an addiction makes a different matter. If a doctor refuses to fill a prescription for you, they likely have a good reason for doing so.

 

How Is Doctor Shopping Different From Prescription Drug Use?

Doctors intend for prescriptions to help you. You know how visits to the doctor’s office go. You bring a symptom to their attention. They may (or may not) prescribe you medication to help with that symptom. If you do get a prescription, take it per the label directions. Take the exact dosage with the directed frequency. When the prescription runs out, refill it if needed. That constitutes legitimate prescription drug use.

 

Good Doctors Ask Questions

But, a good doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms. Good questions about what else might be contributing to your illness. They might ask you about recent stressors in your life. They might grill you about how you eat, and how often you exercise. If you’re thinking about asking for a specific medication, ask yourself a few things:

 

  • What consequences will I face if I do not have access to this medication?
  • What non-medicinal changes could I make in my life to help with this problem?
  • Why do I want this specific medication?
  • Are my symptoms pointing to a deeper problem that I need to address?
  • What will this medicine add to my life that I don’t have right now?

 

Why Do People Shop For Doctors?

We understand that sometimes people might opt for a different doctor. But when people doctor shop, they do it to access drugs. Prescriptions can provide legitimate medicines for legitimate needs. But some people use this legitimate means for illicit purposes.

 

Often, those abusing opioids will doctor shop. You may know that opioids work as painkillers. Naturally occurring in the poppy plant, opioids have become susceptible to high rates of abuse. Opioid abuse can cause a person to descend into opioid use disorder (OUD). For a person suffering from OUD, doctor shopping appears as a tangible solution to a problem.

 

How Does Doctor Shopping Relate To Opioid Abuse?

This study showed a positive correlation between doctor shopping and opioid abuse. What does that mean in everyday language? People addicted to opioids become more likely to look for a doctor who will cater to their demands. And they exhibit a willingness to travel in order to get their fix.

 

What Consequences Exist For Doctor Shopping?

Tennessee requires prescribers to report patients who drift from place to place. The state considers doctor shopping as a form of fraud. Therefore, the state could severely punish someone convicted of doctor shopping. If convicted, a judge might sentence a person to jail. Such a sentence might incarcerate someone struggling with opioid use disorder. Some forms of MOUD (medication for opioid use disorder) exist in prisons. Unfortunately, less than 1% of jails and prisons provide MOUD.

 

What If I Want More Information About Doctor Shopping?

Perhaps you know someone who struggles with opioid use disorder. Maybe you’ve discovered them shopping for doctors. This person experiences quite a bit of pain. Additionally, they may also endure a mental illness. People with both ailments have become common. Researchers call this comorbidity – when a person has both a substance use disorder and a mental illness.

 

Please know that hope exists for you. It likewise exists for your loved ones. Doctor shopping, and its underlying illnesses, need not be a lifetime practice. You can break these kinds of cycles.

 

If you or someone you know may be doctor shopping to support and addiction, you are welcome to give us a call for advice and guidance. All calls are completely confidential. Midwood Addiction Treatment can help. 

 

 

 

 

Benzodiazepine Addiction – How It Looks Today

Benzodiazepine Addiction Considered

 

Many people have a benzodiazepine addiction. Benzodiazepines are anxiolytics or sedatives. This type of prescription is for panic disorders, anxiety disorders and some other disorders. Some doctors will prescribe benzodiazepines for muscle relaxation and seizures, too. Unfortunately, some people develop an addiction to this medication.

 

How do you know if you have a benzodiazepine addiction? Keep reading to find out more about the signs of benzo dependence and other information regarding this type of addiction.

 

Most Common Signs of Benzo Dependence

 

Many doctors, therapists or other professionals will diagnose someone with benzodiazepine addiction. There is a benzo addiction diagnosis if there is a minimum of 2 out of 11 symptoms within 12 months.

 

The most commonly found signs of benzo dependence include the following:

  • Taking benzodiazepines in a higher dosage or for longer than the doctor prescribes them
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using and recovering from using the drug
  • Experiencing benzo withdrawal symptoms when you aren’t taking the drug
  • Needing more benzodiazepines to achieve the same effects you originally got from the drug
  • Experiencing performance issues at school, work or home because of the medication use

If you struggle with any of these signs of benzo dependence, be sure to ask someone for help. Some programs are available to help people recover from benzodiazepine addiction.

 

Due to the nature of this medication, along with addiction-based chemical properties, some people abuse them. Some people need to take benzodiazepines for a medical condition. However, when a doctor prescribes this medication, they should watch their patient closely. If signs of addiction occur, the doctor should help the patient get resources to overcome their addiction.

 

Psychological and Physical Benzodiazepine Abuse Symptoms

 

You read about the common symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction. There are also psychological and physical symptoms associated with this type of addiction. Some of these symptoms include the following:

  • Slurred speech
  • Physical weakness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Making poor decisions
  • Poor judgment
  • Not being able to defend oneself
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Worse anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues

If you experience any of these psychological or physical signs of benzodiazepine addiction, make the call to a treatment center today. Don’t keep using the medication. Continuing to abuse benzodiazepines could lead to a coma or even death from an overdose.

 

Behavioral Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction

 

An addiction to benzodiazepines may come up over time. You may not realize you have an addiction to this drug until more symptoms occur. Substance abuse can be sneaky like that. When you feel the need to use this medication all the time, have cravings for it or experience symptoms related to addiction, it is time to get help.

 

In addition to the symptoms above, you may experience behavioral signs of benzo dependence or addiction. Some of these signs include the following:

  • Withdrawing from your family and friends
  • Not completing your obligations or attending to your responsibilities
  • Fearing that you won’t get the medication anymore
  • Always making sure you have a plan for when to pick up your prescription well ahead of time
  • Ensuring you always have some of the medication on you all the time
  • Stealing, borrowing money, draining your savings or using credit cards to pay for the medication
  • Buying this drug off the streets in addition to getting a prescription from your doctor
  • Continuing to find and use the drug after you no longer have a prescription for it
  • Spending a lot of energy and time obtaining the drug
  • Exhibiting a reduction in maintaining grooming or hygiene
  • Being secretive about what you are doing
  • No longer attending social events so people can’t see you are high
  • Experiencing personality and mood changes
  • Seeing multiple doctors so you can get a prescription for this drug
  • Taking similar OTC medications when you can’t obtain this one
  • Begging other people to give you some of their benzodiazepines
  • Manipulating loved ones into getting a prescription for this drug so you can have it

It is important to remember that not everyone experiences all these symptoms. You might have any number of these symptoms. There may be other things you have going on with this type of addiction, as well.

 

In addition to these symptoms, if you are cooking, injecting or crushing benzodiazepines to get a stronger high, this signifies addiction. You can reach out to an addiction treatment center for help today. In the treatment program, you can get many services to help you overcome benzo dependence and addiction.

Handling an Addiction to Benzodiazepines

 

Do any of the symptoms you read here today ring a bell? Have you been experiencing one or more of these symptoms? If so, you don’t have to struggle with benzodiazepine abuse any longer? You can talk to addiction recovery professionals to get the help you need.

 

Handling an addiction to this drug can be challenging. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms. In addition, everyone’s addiction history, family history and other life factors are different. Individual needs are why we recommend that everyone who needs to stop taking benzodiazepines have professional help. We can get you set up in a detox center. This way, doctors can wean you off benzodiazepines safely.

 

You may not know if you have a benzodiazepine addiction. It is perfectly normal to be unsure. You may have been taking your medication according to the prescription label. However, this does not mean you don’t have an addiction. If you can’t stop using benzodiazepines without withdrawal symptoms, it might be time to get addiction help. With professional help, you can finally stop letting this drug take over your life. You can finally start a recovering lifestyle that suits your needs and wants.

 

Contact us today to start receiving treatment for benzodiazepine addiction.

Mindfulness In Recovery

What Is Mindfulness In Recovery?

You may hear of mindfulness in recovery. Just like “addiction,” the word “mindfulness” connotes certain idea in the mind. In his book 10% Happier, ABC journalist Dan Harris wrote that mindfulness had a negative PR problem. Some words carry unpleasant baggage. But this unpleasant baggage lies more within us than it does the thing itself.
We derive our English word mindfulness from the Pali term sati. Its context includes ideas of becoming aware and paying attention. We hear the word “mindfulness” often. If we hear a word too much, we lose sight of its genuine meaning. It becomes so commonplace that we don’t think deeply about it.
In this article, you will learn:

• What is mindfulness, really?
• What benefits does mindfulness offer?
• What is the relationship between mindfulness and meditation in recovery?
• How does meditation in recovery benefit me?
• Where do I get more information about mindfulness in recovery?

What Is Mindfulness, Really?

Sometimes life feels out of control. With all this stress, who wouldn’t want a little relief? We must not marvel at the fact that people consume drugs to ease suffering. Anyone would want access to an easy way to allay anxiety or depression.
Anxiety and depression can make us sense that our thoughts control us. Our emotions seem to suck us into a whirlpool. They flood us and carry us whichever way they wish. Mindfulness can help to throw a wrench in this seemingly automatic process.
Mindfulness gives us a new skill – thinking about our own thoughts. Research refers to this ability as metacognition. At its foundation, metacognition involves paying attention to what happens inside our minds. It offers us a chance to observe our thoughts. In doing so, metacognition shows us that we can choose not to go where our thoughts lead.

What Benefits Does Mindfulness Offer?

Our minds churn out thoughts. We sift through them, as though panning for mental gold. We find none. And yet we continue churning, dredging, and examining to exhaustion. We call this purposeless mental process “rumination.” Practicing mindfulness can help us cut down on ruminating.
Mindfulness has found its way into therapeutic treatment programs for anxiety and depression. Furthermore, mindfulness may benefit us physically as well. This study indicated a positive correlation between mindfulness and the immune system. The American Heart Association recommends mindfulness for decreasing risks of cardiovascular ailments.
Think these examples just provide anecdotal evidence? Fair enough. Consider the research of scientists like Gaëlle Desbordes. She researched the brains of meditators, primarily studying the amygdala. We use the amygdala when we feel and when we make decisions. Desbordes’ research used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this study, Desbordes found that amygdalas of meditators shrank.
What does this mean for ordinary folks out in the real world? It means concrete evidence exists. This evidence supports the conclusion that meditation frees us from the bondage of our emotions. Meditation puts us in a position to regulate our own feelings.

What Is The Relationship Between Mindfulness And Meditation In Recovery

Mindfulness equips us to think about our thoughts. It teaches us to focus our attention on what happens inside our heads. Think of mindfulness like a skill. We can learn skills. You learned how to read. You took the training wheels off your bicycle and learned to ride. Compare that idea to mindfulness. With practice, you get better at it.
Meditation in recovery offers one opportunity to strengthen the skill of mindfulness. Emptying the mind of all thought ought not to become our goal. Such a lofty standard remains unattainable and doesn’t represent a useful goal. Instead, meditation helps us recognize thoughts as they pass. It puts us in a watchtower over our own inner lives.
In our mental watchtower, we perceive thoughts passing us. But we needn’t follow the thoughts. We don’t have to go with them. We can choose to stay rooted to our vantage point. From there, we can watch thoughts pass into the distance. Meanwhile, we continue to anchor ourselves to something solid.

Sounds Great. But What Does That Look Like In Real Life?

Let us consider a practical application to apply mindfulness and meditation. Gwen recently enrolled in treatment for substance use disorder. She consumes opioids to help her anxiety. Gwen experiences a strained, counterproductive relationship with her mother. A harsh critic, Gwen’s mother chides her for her life choices. Her mother’s remarks make Gwen feel anxious.
Through meditation, Gwen realizes that she cannot control her mother. Gwen gleans that she does not bear the responsibility of satisfying her mother’s standards. Gwen has no obligation to make her mother happy. Gwen’s responsibilities and obligations lie only with Gwen herself.
Gwen becomes mindful of these ideas beyond her meditation sessions. She might continue to feel anxiety, even when just thinking about her mother. However, mindfulness puts some distance between Gwen and her anxious thoughts. She can look at them without judgment. And she can decide not to follow them. She can release them to go where they please. And Gwen remains rooted and grounded in her insight.

How Does Meditation In Recovery Benefit Me?

To think of sobriety as the goal of recovery does recovery a disservice. It further dishonors those making the journey toward recovery. Midwood Addiction Treatment values wholeness as the goal of recovery. Recovery works in tiny steps that build into a lifetime. Sobriety appears as just one of those tiny steps.
Mindfulness helps you look under the hood of your life. It requires you to stop. To be still and sit with your problems, challenges, and choices. The process might feel uncomfortable or unpleasant We won’t deny that. But you cannot restore your life if you do not examine it. You cannot find a solution if you will not become aware of the problem.

I Need More Information On Mindfulness In Recovery

In this article, we perused through mindfulness in recovery. We asked, “what is mindfulness?” Even further, we looked at meditation in recovery and discovered how it can helps us.
If you’d like more information on mindfulness in recovery, let Midwood Addiction Treatment know! You’re already holding your phone. Tap the “call” button and talk wo us. Not comfortable with that idea? Complete the contact form to shoot us an email.

Chasing The Dragon: Pain Pill Addiction

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

Statistics

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.

The Most Common Forms of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription Drug Abuse

The Most Common Forms of Prescription Drug Abuse

We’ve dealt with a lot of uncertainty over the last year. Mental health suffered and prescription drug abuse elevated. Many still seek gainful employment. If people can’t work, they can’t pay mortgages or rent. COVID-19 presented those struggling with opioid addiction with additional stressors.

We can find a way forward through the pandemic. And we can heal from prescription drug abuse. But before we do, we’ll have to understand what we’re up against.

In this article, you will learn:

● What is drug abuse?
● What is prescription drug abuse?
● What are the most common forms of prescription drug abuse?
● What are the consequences of prescription drug abuse?
● How can a person struggling with prescription drug abuse get help?

What Is Drug Abuse?

In recovery circles, you’ll hear the terms abuse and addiction frequently. While they can be part of the same problem, they have different definitions. Addiction refers to the process of feeling compelled to use a certain substance. And also being unable to stop using it. But abuse means using a substance for something other than its intended purpose. So, you can abuse a substance without becoming addicted to it.

Here are a few examples of abusing substances:

● Consuming a substance because it makes you feel good
● Consuming a substance to escape problems
● Taking too much of a substance
● Mixing a substance with any amount of another substance (i.e. alcohol)
● Using substances that you know are illegal

What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Abuse is using a substance for something other than its intended purpose. But what about prescription drugs? Can you abuse your own medications? Yes. Absolutely, you can. Many 2020 overdose statistics indicate that COVID-19 contributed to an astronomical increase in drug overdose deaths. The reason? A rise in the availability of prescription opioids.

Opioids include drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, heroin, and morphine. They work as numbing agents for pain. If a person experiences severe pain, as many people have in the last year, that person will seek relief. Is it any wonder so many have turned to opioids to ease their agony?

Prescription drug abuse, like the above opioid example, occurs in a few different ways:

● Taking more than the prescribed dose
● Mixing a prescription with another drug (called polysubstance abuse)
● Taking someone else’s prescription, with or without their knowledge
● Consuming a prescription in a way other than the method prescribed (i.e. snorting, injecting, etc.)
● Selling your own prescriptions, or portions of your prescriptions, to others

What Are The Most Common Forms Of Prescription Drug Abuse?

The three most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids, benzodiazepines, and central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

Opioids

At root, opioids work as painkillers. You may hear the terms opioids and opiates used. Like abuse and addiction they have some similarities. But they do not mean precisely the same thing. Opioids is a very broad term, including both natural and artificial substances. But the term opiates specifically refers to natural substances.

Some examples of natural opioids (opiates) include codeine, morphine, and heroin. Synthetic opioids are made in labs. These include oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and fentanyl. Though these drugs do have legitimate medical uses, they accounted for about 75 percent of all drug overdose deaths during the pandemic.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines (benzos) help offset insomnia, seizures, and anxiety. Benzos work by stimulating the production of a neurotransmitter called gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). Our brains produce GABA to help reduce stress and get us to sleep. You may hear the term sedative used when discussing benzos. Benzos can cause intense feelings of relaxation.

Several common benzodiazepines include clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and iorazepam (Ativan). Though benzos can provide help and relief, they do cause physical dependence. Often, this dependence becomes so severe that the medical community coined the term benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

Your brain and your spinal cord comprise your central nervous system (CNS). Any signals from your brain travel through your nerves. Your brain bears numerous responsibilities. It stores your memories, influences your emotions, helps you make decisions, and controls your habits.

CNS depressants work similar to benzodiazepines. They increase the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA, which slows down your brain’s processes. While benzodiazepines have this effect, CNS depressants include other drugs. Sedative hypnotics (sleeping pills) like zolpidem (Ambien) depress the functions of the CNS. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499875/ like phenobarbital (Luminal) also make up part of this group.

What Are The Consequences Of Prescription Drug Abuse?

For prescription drug abuse, consequences abound. First, there are the consequences to one’s physical health. Some side effects of abusing prescription opioids include constipation, nausea, and drowsiness. Opioids can also slow down your breathing. When too little oxygen reaches your brain, you experience hypoxia. And hypoxia can be fatal.

Second, consider the ramifications of benzodiazepine dependence. Quitting cold turkey can be lethal. Anyone wanting to reduce their dependence on benzos should consider tapering.

Abusing prescription drugs places you at risk for addiction. Substance use disorders (SUDS) can aggravate pre-existing mental health issues. Even if you’re taking your own prescription for improved mental health, abusing that drug places your mind (and body) in jeopardy.

How Can A Person Struggling With Prescription Drug Abuse Get Help?

Not everyone’s journey involves addiction. Remember, abuse and addiction have differences. If you’ve taken more than your prescribed dose, that counts as drug abuse. If you’ve taken something not prescribed to you, that also counts as drug abuse.

If you’re struggling with the temptation to abuse prescription drugs, help is available. It will take work. It will involve increasing your awareness of your own life. Your habits. Your processes. It will take sacrifice. But treatment plans exist that can help you live a life free of prescription drug abuse.

Help means admitting that you have a problem. It means contacting Midwood Addiction Treatment now. Once evaluated, you’ll meet with a doctor or therapist. There, you’ll learn about a treatment plan that’s tailored to your specific circumstance.

Don’t wait any longer. Call Midwood Addiction Treatment now at 888-MAT-1110.

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 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.

Is Speed as Addictive as Meth?

black and white image of smoke coming from man's mouth

At first glance, it’s not difficult to see why people confuse amphetamine and methamphetamine. They both produce a stimulant chemical high that can rapidly lead to dependence. Both are also highly addictive. They even have a similar chemical makeup, which helps to create even more confusion.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, both drugs have the same short-term effects, namely a quick onset of intense euphoria, a burst of energy, and appetite suppression. These three effects largely contribute to their popularity as recreational drugs. But what are the differences between the two drugs, and would taking one be more harmful than the other?

Difference Between Amphetamine and Methamphetamine

Since both drugs are used recreationally, you would often hear their “street names” used when referring to them. Amphetamines are known as “speed”, while meth goes by a range of names, with “ice” or “crystal meth” being the most widely known. The latter’s wide recognition may be attributed to the popular series Breaking Bad.

Let’s take a closer look at each substance.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. After taking amphetamines, the user will experience a greater ability to focus on tasks, as well as an increased sense of productiveness.

Doctors prescribe amphetamines to people with ADHD to help with focus and concentration, and you may be familiar with one of the most well-known brands of the drug: Adderall.

When prescribed, amphetamines come in either pill or tablet form. For street use, however, “speed” looks like a loose powder that is snorted, smoked, or injected.

Methamphetamine

Since methamphetamine (meth) is very similar to amphetamines (speed) in terms of their chemical make-up, they also have similar effects. There is one key difference, however, and this difference goes a long way toward explaining why meth tends to be much more addictive than ‘regular’ speed.

In short, methamphetamine crosses the blood-brain barrier more rapidly and in greater amounts than amphetamines. The result of this is an almost immediate and incredibly intense euphoric high.

Why Meth is Highly Addictive

While both substances are classified as Schedule II controlled substances by the DEA, doctors are warier to prescribe meth because of the extreme reaction triggered by the drug. Since meth is more fast-acting, people are more prone to getting addicted to the effects and going on binges to “chase” the high, which can lead to addiction much faster.

Another reason why people are more prone to getting addicted to meth is the method of consumption. Smoking or injecting meth results in the drug getting into the bloodstream much quicker compared to ingesting a pill or snorting powder.

Are There Harmful Long-Term Effects?

Yes, there are harmful long-term effects for both speed and meth if they are taken for recreational use, rather than under a strict and controlled prescription. These effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Psychosis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart damage
  • Permanent brain damage

Is Speed as Addictive as Meth?

In a nutshell: no, speed is not as addictive as meth because of the speed at which meth crosses the blood-brain barrier and becomes active in the body’s metabolism. However, this does not mean that speed is safe to take without a doctor’s prescription. As with any prescribed drug, the only way to safely take amphetamines is to follow the prescribed amount and schedule. Though experimentation with speed is very common, recreational use of it nearly always leads to negatives outcomes.

Can Addiction Stunt Your Emotional Growth?

group of friends on a mountain hike

The Obvious

It’s not a secret that substance addiction is harmful. You’re smart, you’re aware of that. You know what you’re doing. As far back as you can remember, that’s been preached to you. “Drugs are bad.” That’s all you hear. If you smoke marijuana once, you’ll be using heroin by the end of the week. You’ll quit eating and your family will kick you out of the house. You’ll end up living in an alley. No one will love you and you’ll never amount to anything. So goes the story.

Is There More To It?

Let’s face it. Sometimes life can be a struggle. No way around it. People get sick, plans fall through, mistakes get made. Tragedy strikes when we least expect it. Some people seem to live only to hurt those around them. All of those are legitimate problems. And they can lead to negative coping mechanisms. We all have to deal with the negative part of life. One way we might deal with it is to use a particular substance. Beyond the physical effects and, what kinds of effects can those substances have on our emotions?

What Is Alexithymia?

In our emotional development, psychology recognizes a concept called alexithymia. It refers to an inability to articulate our emotions into words. If you’ve ever had a therapist say, “tell me how you feel,” then you know it isn’t always that easy. Alexithymia is hard to measure, but it has 2 basic components: a cognitive component and an affective component. Most simply, that means that it’s hard to know and say out loud, what you’re feeling and why. Think about it. It’s hard to say, “I am feeling _______ because of _______ and ________.”

I Can’t Say What I Feel. So What?

Alexithymia highly correlates with substance abuse. This is especially true in young people, whose emotional development is currently evolving. In his book In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Dr. Gabor Maté illustrates the link between unresolved emotional stress and addiction. If we can’t adequately identify and express what we feel, addiction will make that problem worse. We’re not only postponing, but likely deepening our emotional disturbances. Trauma, especially adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), contribute significantly to abuse of alcohol and opiates.

Young People And Binge Drinking

Most young people like to party and have fun. We know this. But partying doesn’t just disturb their livers. It disturbs their minds and emotions as well. Female binge drinkers, even when sober, have a bias toward negative emotions. Also, binge drinking made it harder for them to recall positive memories. Young men who engage in heavy episodic drinking (HED) were found to have poor impulse control. Consequently, they were found to have a higher instance of committing violence against intimate partners. Students who reported difficulty regulating their own emotions were more likely to drink in social situations. On the other hand, students who could self-regulate were less likely to be influenced to drink by peers.

What Do I Do About It?

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was reported to have used the saying “know thyself.” Good advice, but knowing yourself is quite complicated. That’s why therapy is important. The word therapy itself has a Greek root. It means “healing, ministering, treating medically.” Therapy involves more than just kicking an addiction. Its purpose is wholeness. Healing open wounds, dealing with unrealized pain, and moving forward from anguish.

If you’d like more information about Midwood Addiction Treatment’s therapy options, call us now at 888-MAT-1110.


Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Man sitting with therapist during CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a popular method of psychotherapy used by mental health professionals. It is a form of talk therapy that is designed to help people adjust their behavior by changing unhealthy associations between their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

CBT is executed in a highly structured format. Typically, a certified mental health professional (usually a therapist or psychotherapist) will engage in a limited number of timed sessions with the patient. The goal of these sessions is to identify destructive thought patterns that result in a direct negative influence on emotions, actions, and behavior.

Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Now that we have a general idea of what CBT is, it’s time to discuss the most important question about it– how well does it work, especially for clients with a substance abuse disorder? The short answer is yes. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven highly effective in treating a number of different mental health disorders, including people who present as having a substance abuse disorder.

Obviously, it doesn’t just work by magic. To be effective, CBT must be collaborative; the counselor and the patient must work together. In time, the patient learns to become their own therapist in identifying and modifying negative thought patterns.

CBT is a useful and effective tool in treating mental health disorders, particularly addiction. This is because CBT helps people learn how to cope with and manage stressful life situations, and addiction is often the result of unhealthy coping mechanisms or a response to traumatic experiences.

Various Approaches to CBT

CBT involves a range of different techniques that are designed to help individuals address their negative emotions and behaviors. CBT is most effective when tailored to an individual’s needs, personality, and thought processes. Thus, it is incumbent upon the counselor to identify which technique is best suited for each case.

Here are some of the approaches used in CBT:

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – this method also identifies negative thought patterns and responses. It also uses strategies like mindfulness and emotional regulation as a way to change these negative behaviors.
  • Multimodal therapy – this approach treats negative psychological issues by addressing their distinct sources.
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) – this approach identifies illogical beliefs, and seeks to challenge these beliefs through therapeutic intervention.

CBT and Addiction

CBT is effective in treating addiction because it helps individuals identify the nearly automatic negative thoughts that run through their mind when faced with stressful situations. Once identified, these thoughts can be modulated in a way that they become progressively less influential on the individual’s behavior.
This self-defeating type of thinking can arise from a number of different internal and external circumstances. In turn, these thoughts often lead to uncomfortable emotions and destructive behaviors.

Without help, most people with a substance abuse disorder will attempt to escape from this discomfort by returning their familiar using habits or ‘self-medicating.’ If this continues for too long, it can very quickly lead to mental and physical dependence.

Why is CBT So Effective in Treating Substance Abuse Disorders?

There are three ways that CBT can help individuals struggling with addiction:

1. Identify and dismiss insecurities and irrational thoughts that lead to addiction;
2. Practicing and refining effective communication skills to help with better self-expression;
3. Creating effective self-help methods to regulate thoughts, moods, and behavior.

In short, CBT eventually teaches the client to identify and intervene in the thought processes and behaviors that maintain the substance disorder.