Mindfulness In Recovery

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 mindfulness in recovery. We asked, “what is mindfulness?” Even further, we looked at meditation in recovery and discovered how it can help 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 to 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 aminobutyric 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.

Is Speed as Addictive as Meth?

Is Speed as Addictive as Meth

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. Although experimentation with speed is very common, recreational use of it nearly always leads to negatives outcomes.

If you feel that you have a problem with meth addiction, please contact Midwood for information about our recovery programs.

Can Addiction Stunt Your Emotional Growth?

Addiction can damage your emotional growth

Your Emotional Growth – 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 emotional growth?

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 the 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?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is proven effective

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.

What to Expect in IOP Treatment

What Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a recovery treatment option that allows people to get the help they need without compromising their personal responsibilities. The term “intensive” means that the program requires a significant time commitment. However, IOP is nonresidential. “Outpatient” means that a person on this program can still live in their own home.

Who Does IOP Help?

IOP is intended for two groups of people: those stepping down from inpatient or partial hospitalization programs, as well as those who do not require 24-hour care. Someone needing medical attention or detox would be better served by an inpatient program than an IOP. For a person transitioning from an inpatient setting, IOP can help provide a framework that will allow recovery to continue. But what if you don’t have the necessity for inpatient treatment? What if your life obligations (career, family, education) would be negatively impacted by enrollment in an inpatient program? IOP would give you an optimal path to recovery while affording you the freedom to maintain your responsibilities.

What Does IOP Look Like?

If you have a home life that is conducive to your recovery, then IOP is likely the best option for you. Depending on the facility, IOPs may look slightly different. The American Society of Medicine (ASAM) has five levels of care (1). IOP is a level 2 treatment. If you enroll, you should expect about 10-12 hours of either group and individual therapy. Your therapist or doctor will have a designated site for these meetings. To make access to IOP even easier (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic), some sessions may even be completed online. You’ll meet 3-4 times per week, typically in 3-hour blocks. Precise times will vary, but the therapy blocks may occur in the morning, afternoon, or evening.

Group Therapy

A cornerstone of IOP is the group therapy session. These sessions can be much more helpful for recovery than individual sessions alone. The sessions will include numerous participants, each in different stages of treatment. Each session will be guided by a therapist or counselor. In the beginning, the therapist/counselor will ask for a volunteer to share their personal experience. Participants may speak openly, sharing as much (or as little) as they desire. No one is required to share, but you will be expected to participate to some degree. Speaking directly to another person, or asking them questions (usually referred to as “cross-talking”) is most often prohibited. Once a person finishes speaking, others may have a turn. Group settings like these provide transparency and freedom from judgment. They can also help us to improve our communication skills, practice empathy, and evaluate ourselves honestly.

Individual Therapy and Medication

Though group therapy is integral to any IOP, it doesn’t work alone. In IOP, you’ll also keep appointments with a doctor. Most often, it will be with a psychiatrist. In individual therapy sessions, you may wish to share details that are too personal for group therapy. Also, your psychiatrist will help you customize proper medications and doses to aid in your recovery.

What Now?

If you’d like more information about Midwood Addiction Treatment’s intensive outpatient program, call us now at 888-628-1110.



When to Seek Help for Alcoholism

woman sitting on a chair contemplating alcoholism

“It’s just one more.” “I only drink at home.” “I can make it home, I only live around the corner.”

What’s The Big Deal?

You may have heard something like this before. If you’re honest, you may even have said something like this. A single drink every once in a while; only on special occasions. That’s how it can start. And then, before you know it, that “once in a while” is a few times a week. Or perhaps every single day. Some people can actually have a single drink and not think anything else about it. But for the rest of us, that just isn’t the case.

How Much Is Too Much?

About 95,000 people die each year from consuming too much alcohol. Each day, that’s around 260 people (1). When collecting data, the CDC differentiates between binge drinking and heavy drinking. Binge drinking constitutes 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men and 4 or more drinks for women. Heavy drinking counts drinks by the week; 15 or more for men, and 8 or more for women (2). If you find yourself pushing the envelope against numbers like these, it’s time to seek help.

Leave Anger At The Door

You know that angry feeling you get when someone cuts you off in traffic? If not that, maybe you get a little miffed when the restaurant gets your order wrong. Or when your boss asks you to stay late. Well, have you ever felt the same way when you can’t drink? If you ever feel angry about not being able to drink when you want, that indicates that you have a problem. Ask yourself if you’ve ever felt gypped, frustrated, or cheated where drinking was concerned. If someone cuts you off and you feel angry, that means it’s time to look for treatment.

Routine, Routine, Routine

You need a routine to make your life work. You might slave away in a cubicle from 8 am until 5 pm. Or you might be a shift worker, trying to cram in some extra sleep in your car. Whatever your regular life rhythm is, it might be best not to make alcohol a part of it. To find out if this is you, have an honest conversation with yourself about your routine. Could you remove alcohol from your daily grind today, right now, and still function optimally? If you think so, then do it. If you try and find that you can’t function optimally without alcohol, then you ought to seek treatment.

Rest Is What’s Best

Alcohol makes us feel relaxed and drowsy. It might even help us fall asleep. But alcohol consumption disrupts healthy sleep patterns (3). It impairs our ability to dream and decreases how long we stay asleep. People who struggle with alcoholism frequently experience insomnia. This is especially true for binge drinkers (3). Moreover, alcohol can cause us to experience sleep apnea, which means we stop breathing while asleep. Binge drinking can increase sleep apnea by about 25% (4). Alcohol is not an effective, long-term sleep aid. If drinking is part of your nightly routine to get ready for bed, then you ought to get treatment.

What Should I Do?

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to alcohol, call Midwood Addiction Treatment now at 888-MAT-1110.

Sources

(1) https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/94305
(2) https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/data-stats.htm
(3) https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840512/

Methamphetamine Effects on the Body

woman struggling from meth addiction sitting uncomfortably

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (or “meth” for short) was discovered in 1893. During World War II, combatants on both sides of the Atlantic used methamphetamine to stay alert (1). Methamphetamine belongs to a class of drugs called amphetamines. They work by speeding up the functions of the brain. As prescribed by a doctor, amphetamines can be used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. Some research also indicates that therapeutic doses of amphetamine can improve focus, concentration, and memory (2). Methamphetamine may resemble shards of glass or crystal. For this reason, it may be referred to as “crystal,” “glass,” or “ice” on the street. Other names for it include “tweak,” “speed,” and “tina.” Meth can be consumed by smoking, snorting, swallowing, or injecting.

How Does Meth Affect The Brain?

Meth is a stimulant. It mainly affects the brain’s central nervous system (CNS). This part of the brain that assists in regulating our emotions and behavior. The nerves in this part of your brain are called neurons. As a stimulant, meth makes the natural processes of the neurons work faster. When consuming meth, you experience a heightened sense of energy. Your heart rate increases and your breath quickens. Your blood pressure and body temperature escalate. Your appetite will be suppressed so you won’t feel hungry. Meth also deteriorates the glial cells of the prefrontal cortex. These cells are responsible for judgment, abstract thought, and attention (3). Glial cells are likewise responsible for protecting the body against infection.

Effects of Prolonged Use

Methamphetamine is inexpensive to produce, and it is also incredibly potent. As a result, it is highly addictive. Since its production involves toxic chemicals, making meth can be just as dangerous (if not more so) than consuming it. Labs are known to combust, killing or injuring those nearby. Prolonged use of meth can lead to severe weight loss and malnourishment, memory loss, and repetitive scratching. You are likely also familiar with “meth mouth” via images of users with rotten teeth and gums. Those who inject methamphetamine put themselves at risk for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. Living with a constant elevated sense of awareness leads users into paranoia. Combined with a lack of sleep (often for days at a time), hallucinations result. Meth’s hold on the brain is so strong, that users can even experience psychosis during withdrawal or detox. Symptoms of meth psychosis can include stronger hallucinations, delusions, agitation, and violence (4). Between 2011 and 2018, the number of methamphetamine-related deaths increased five-fold (5).

Is Recovery Possible?

Definitely! Recovery is always possible, even from a substance as noxious as methamphetamine. A recent study (6) indicated that a combination of an oral medication (bupropion) and an injection (naltrexone) might aid in treating meth addiction. At present, there are no medication-assisted therapies for recovery. That makes this study a first of its kind. Current treatments for meth addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational incentives (7).

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to methamphetamine, take heart. Treatment is available, and recovery is possible. Call Midwood Addiction Treatment now at 888-628-1110.


Sources

(1) https://www.history.com/topics/crime/history-of-meth
(2) https://rdw.rowan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1056&context=som_facpub
(3) https://americanaddictioncenters.org/meth-treatment/effects-on-the-brain-and-cns
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027896/
(5) https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/01/methamphetamine-overdose-deaths-rise-sharply-nationwide
(6) https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2020214
(7) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

Should I Quit Drinking on my Own?

man struggling with alcohol addiction sitting outside

In the United States, an estimated 5.6 percent of people over the age of 18 have Alcohol Use Disorder, known as AUD (1), formerly called alcohol addiction or alcoholism. This means that more than 18.5 million people domestically have difficulty stopping or controlling their alcohol consumption. A further 26 percent of the same age group report having engaged in binge drinking in the past month, and 6.3 percent saying they’ve used alcohol to a heavy or excessive degree.

If you or someone you know is one of these millions, or are merely considering the choice to quit drinking, it can be one of the healthiest choices a person can make. It can also be fatally dangerous.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal

For those who drink heavily or frequently, suddenly stopping alcohol consumption leads to a condition referred to as acute alcohol withdrawal, or AW (2). AW is a disruption to the central nervous system that results from stopping drinking after using on a regular basis for months or years.

Risks of Alcohol Withdrawal

The dangers of AW (3) vary widely from person to person and are frequently unpredictable. It is worth noting that alcohol is one of the few drugs which can be fatal to withdrawal from, the only others being barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Common symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Alterations in mood – agitation, hypervigilance, irritability
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms will usually abate within a few hours to a few days after the last drink. While these are generally manageable for anyone quitting drinking on their own, the more serious symptoms are not.

Severe symptoms of Alcohol WIthdrawal include:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Memory loss or memory disturbances
  • Hallucinosis – visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (DT’s) – disorientation and confusion, tachycardia or rapid heart rate, fever and dangerously elevated blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Death

Severe symptoms can last for several days after the final drink and can occur at unpredictable times. A person may experience only mild complications, only to have heart failure as the result of DT’s.

How to Stop Drinking Safely

If you intend to stop drinking, it’s best to do so with the aid of a physician due to the unforeseeable hazards. There are numerous treatment choices available:

  • Medical detox – A supervised environment wherein you can be monitored by knowledgeable staff who will be able to provide care should complications arise.
  • Partial Hospitalization (PHP) – Allows the individual to live at home but commute to a care facility during the day to monitor and manage their physical state.
  • Intensive Outpatient (IOP) or Outpatient (OP) – Similar to PHP, the IOP and OP programs allow patients to live at home while going to a care center to assist them in managing their mental and physical health.

For those who do wish to stop drinking on their own, it is suggested that a tapering process be undertaken, in which the amount of alcohol consumed is gradually reduced. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) can also be prescribed by your doctor to help facilitate the process.

Living Alcohol-Free

Though the initial process of quitting drinking is difficult, once the discomfort and danger have passed, most people’s bodies will heal on their own, leaving minimal long-term issues. Greater mental clarity will soon come about, along with enhanced physical health.

Living without alcohol is a lifelong process, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs and can provide a fuller, richer, more gratifying existence, free from the pain that drinking brings.

Sources

(1) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
(2) https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/61-66.pdf
(3) https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/05-12.pdf