How To Be Grateful Even When Times Are Tough

Gratitude is an essential tool for those in the recovery process. It is known to significantly reduce relapse rates, especially during the holidays.

If you feel grateful to be on the road to recovery, the chances are that you won’t relapse. A thankful attitude allows you to face any challenges that come your way and focus on your recovery goal.

Grateful people generally have a positive outlook on life. This outlook influences their behavior and promotes a sustainable recovery-oriented life.

Most people who abuse drugs or alcohol tend to be self-centered, caring only about themselves. If you are in recovery, expressing gratitude makes you less selfish and more aware of the needs of others. Additionally, you will be more in control of your life, more optimistic, and less stressed.

Practicing gratitude influences the behaviors and thoughts of those recovering from addiction and co-occurring disorders. It also helps them appreciate the present and improve interactions with other people.

This article will discuss how to be grateful, even when things are tough. Additionally, we will talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), its symptoms, and how to fight it.

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Gratitude

Here are a few tips on being grateful during the holidays to avert experiencing a relapse.

1.     Have a gratitude journal.

Have a journal where you list at least three things you are grateful for every day. Journaling daily will change your mindset and make you a grateful person overall.

2.    Focus on the essential things.

It would be best to focus on important things, including your relationships with your friends and family, instead of worrying about the unknown. You will realize just how lucky you are to have the people you have in your life at the moment. Interact with your friends and family often. Remember, isolation can lead to addiction.

3.    Change your perspective.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with things you are grateful for, take a moment to think about other people whose misfortunes are more than yours. Changing your perspective will make you realize just how much you should be grateful for.

4.    Savor the good experiences/moments.

During your day-to-day, pay attention to the moments you genuinely feel happy and savor them. Pay attention to how your body feels, and try to relive the moments when you don’t feel grateful.

5.    Appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

Most people tend to overlook what they do for themselves, mainly when they cultivate healthy habits during their recovery journey. Remember to always appreciate yourself for the small milestones you make.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that arises due to change in seasons. It is a co-occurring disorder that starts during fall, worsens during winter, and ends during spring. On rare occasions, people get a rare SAD type called summer depression.

SAD is a severe condition that harms your day-to-day life, including how you think and feel. It may cause major depression.

The mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly referred to as the winter blues. Unlike SAD, winter blues simply make you feel down since you are mostly stuck indoors.

Who is likely to get SAD?

SAD tends to affect women  and young people more. Additionally, people with mood disorders, e.g., bipolar disorder and mental health conditions, are more likely to get SAD. People who live further north of the equator in high latitudes or cloudy regions are also more likely to get SAD.

People suffering from SAD may suffer from other mental health conditions, including but not limited to eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders.

Symptoms of SAD

Here are a few symptoms of SAD patients are likely to experience:

Those who suffer from summer SAD are likely to experience:

How to fight SAD

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Here are a few tips on fighting seasonal depression.

  1. Work out.

Most times, people’s physical activity decreases during the colder months. Working out is a great way to combat seasonal depression since you fight your body’s urge to be sluggish.

2.    Consider light therapy.

Research has shown that light therapy is a first-line treatment for SAD since it keeps the patient’s circadian rhythm on track.

3.    Participate in social activities.

Most people tend to avoid participating in social activities during the colder months. As discussed above, isolating yourself is a risk factor for SAD. Try as much as possible to participate in social activities and interact with your family and friends.

4.    Have a schedule and stick to it. 

People with SAD often either sleep a lot or have trouble sleeping. Try maintaining a regular schedule to improve your sleeping patterns. This will help reduce the symptoms of seasonal depression.

5.    Ensure you get enough vitamin D.

The  National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that insufficient vitamin D may cause depressive symptoms, including SAD.

It is unclear whether taking vitamin D supplements may relieve SAD symptoms, but experts say getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and your diet could go a long way in preventing SAD.

6.   Go on vacation.

If you get SAD during the colder months, you can take a winter vacation to countries with warm climates at the time. Being in a warm place can relieve SAD symptoms.

7.    Be grateful.

As discussed above, gratitude is an essential part of recovery. Purpose to stay grateful and appreciate what and who is in your life.

Conclusion

Being grateful goes a long way in promoting sobriety. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most addicts relapse when they can no longer deal with the pressure of their day-to-day lives.

Most addicts can avert a relapse on drugs by cultivating gratitude during recovery, especially during the fall and winter months, when SAD tends to kick in.

Check out our blog for more information on relapse prevention and drug rehabilitation. At More Than Rehab, we offer quality service to everyone struggling with addiction. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.

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Stuck In A Loop: When Hallucinogens Cause Cyclical Behavior or HPPD

There are instances when individuals who abuse hallucinogenic drugs like MDMA (ecstasy), psilocybin (also called magic mushroom), and LSD experience the effects several weeks, months, and even years after abusing the drug. These effects are commonly referred to as flashbacks and are prevalent in people suffering from HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder).

This article will discuss HPPD in detail. We will look at what HPPD is, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is HPPD?

Simply put, HPPD refers to the visual disturbances that hallucinogenic drug users experience long after using the drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, visual disturbances range from bright circles and size distortion to blurry patterns.

People suffering from HPPD only experience flashbacks. They do not re-experience any other feeling of being high on the drugs they consumed before.

HPPD flashbacks are annoying, especially if they happen frequently. Although the flashbacks aren’t necessarily full hallucinations, they may result in mental health problems like anxiety.

Scientists argue that HPPD hallucinations are pseudo hallucinations, and those who experience them can differentiate what is real from what isn’t.

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What do flashbacks feel like?

People who experience flashbacks feel like they are reliving something they experienced in the past. Some flashbacks happen after drug use, while others happen after one undergoes a traumatic experience, i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  

Both people with HPPD and PTSD experience moments when their sensory information tells them they are experiencing moments they experienced in the past, even though they aren’t.

With PTSD, the flashbacks are more vivid. On the other hand, flashbacks of those with HPPD are not in-depth. HPPD victims only experience visual snows.

If you suffer from HPPD, you will be aware of the flashbacks but won’t experience the high that the drugs you used before gave you. Note that these flashbacks may become frequent over time and can overwhelm you.

Symptoms

The 2016 review revealed that there are two types of HPPD; type one and type 2. Those who suffer from type 1 HPPD only experience brief flashbacks, while those that suffer from type 2 HPPD experience more intense flashbacks.

If you suffer from unwanted hallucinations or cyclical behaviors, you are likely to experience any of the following visual disturbance symptoms of HPPD.

  1. Color flashes- you may notice random flashes of color at random times.
  2. Intense colors- the colors of objects around you seem brighter.
  3. Color confusion- you may be unable to tell the difference between similar colors. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to tell maroon and red apart.
  4. When you stare at objects, you see a glowing halo around them.
  5. Objects may appear bigger or smaller than they are.
  6. You may notice patterns on various objects when in reality, the object does not have any patterns on it.
  7. Items or objects may appear to leave a trail behind them as they move.
  8. You may have a difficult time reading since words on screens or pages appear to be in motion.
  9. You may feel uneasy every time you have an episode since you know that what you are experiencing is not real.

Currently, there is no scientific explanation of when these symptoms manifest. Therefore they can happen to you at any time.

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People experiencing HPPD may also experience mental health issues, including anxiety, panic disorders whose common symptom is increased heart rate and heavy breathing, suicidal thoughts, and symptoms of depersonalization. Despite most people suffering from the disorder acknowledging that they experience these symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not acknowledge them as possible symptoms. The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders only acknowledges the visual disturbances symptoms we discussed above because it is still unclear whether HPPD directly causes mental health issues.

HPPD causes

Scientists believe that individuals who consume hallucinogenic drugs recreationally are at a high risk of suffering from HPPD. However, they are yet to conclude on the frequency of drug use that causes HPPD.

A recent study revealed that HPPD is common in people who consume more than one dose of LSD. It is also prevalent in people who use other hallucinogens on one occasion or more.

Contrary to common belief, HPPD is not a result of mental disorders or brain damage. It is also not a result of a “bad trip.” This is caused by hallucinogenic drugs and is more often than not, one of the many effects of LSD abuse.

HPPD management and treatment

If you experience any of the symptoms we discussed above, you should visit your doctor. They will ask you several questions before giving you a full diagnosis.

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After being diagnosed with Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, you need to learn how to manage and treat it. Currently, two drugs have proved to be effective in HPPD treatment: lamotrigine and clonazepam.

Lamotrigine

Lamotrigine is a mood-stabilizing medication that is effective in relieving individuals of HPPD symptoms. A case study showed that lamotrigine is effective in the treatment of HPPD. Unlike other medications like antipsychotics, it did not make any symptoms worse.

Clonazepam

Like lamotrigine, clonazepam is effective in treating this disorder. It makes the symptoms less severe and more manageable.

To manage these symptoms, doctors also advise individuals to avoid stressful situations and illicit drugs. Additionally, doctors may give patients a few techniques to cope with the symptoms. For example, your doctor may advise you to use calming breathing exercises every time you have an episode. They may also prescribe rest and talk therapy.

Note that there is no single treatment for HPPD. You will undergo drug therapy. Drug therapy varies with individuals depending on the difference in visual disturbances symptoms.

Most times, drug therapy is successful, and individuals lead everyday lives after that.

Conclusion

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a serious condition. Anyone who uses hallucinogens can eventually develop this disease.

If you experience any of these symptoms, they may eventually fade away. However, there are instances when the symptoms will persist for an extended time.

It would be best to seek professional help if you notice any of the symptoms above. Your doctor may prescribe drug therapy to treat the condition and other techniques to manage the symptoms and make them more bearable.

Friends & Family Can Contribute to Drug Addiction

There is truth to the expression, “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.” That’s because ripe apples produce ethylene, a ripening agent. When you store apples together, the ethylene prods other apples to ripen further and eventually rot.

It takes a single apple to start a domino chain that ruins the rest of the bunch. And guess what? The same holds true for drug users. You’re very likely to abuse drugs when you hang out with people who abuse drugs. Not because of weak morals, but because of several mechanisms that we’ll cover in this article.

Understanding addiction

The initial decision to use drugs or alcohol is voluntary for most people. However, repeated use changes the brain in ways that make it hard to quit, even for those who want to. Those recovering from a long term substance abuse disorder have a higher risk of drug use, even after years of leading a sober life. This is especially true if they’re dealing with mental health problems or are hanging around places or people connected to the addictive behavior.

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Friends or family members, who participated in the addictive behavior, are potential triggers for relapse, irrespective of whether or not they’re still using drugs. That’s because they bring back the memories of addiction. In some cases, they may ask you to go out or even tell you stories and share images of their happy moments in your absence. All these can lead you back to addiction.

But relapse is not the only way friends can contribute to drug addiction. This article will discuss different ways friends can worsen your drug use problems. But before we do, let’s look at the relationship between peer pressure and drug use.

Social learning theory

Social scientists who study peer pressure see it through the lens of social learning theory. According to this theory, when people observe other people’s behaviors and reactions using addictive substances, they may wish to replicate what they saw. For example, an agitated friend walks into the room.

They then sniff cocaine or smoke meth. After a few minutes, they’re relaxed and fun to be around. The person observing all this will know that the drug is a good way of coping with stress – because it’s what they’ve seen. So, any time they feel stressed or agitated, they may use the drugs to calm down.

Social learning is the most common way that people learn. When you observe your friends abusing drugs, you become more likely to try out drugs too. That’s because you have learned through observation that drugs achieved a positive result. You could also use drugs out of a need to be part of the group.

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Human beings have a strong need for social interaction. So, it becomes critical to consider the compelling social nature of many addictions. Most addictions need at least the cooperation of other people. And as the addiction progresses, the chances of a person interacting with healthy, non-using individuals become slimmer.

That’s because family and friends eventually disengage. At the same time, addiction takes up most of the addict’s time. In the end, the addict’s entire social circle is dominated by role models associated with the addiction.

How friends and family can contribute to drug addiction

Negative peer pressure

Negative peer pressure can be divided into two parts:

Direct negative often involves peers or friends directly asking you to try something, like abuse illegal drugs. It may be difficult to say no, especially if you are young and are concerned about how they’ll think of you. In some cases, they may hint that you’d be “uncool” if you didn’t take part or even provide reasoning that’s hard to argue against. The fear of losing friends or facing mockery can make you yield. Direct negative peer influence includes your friends or peers:

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Indirect negative is a subtle type of peer pressure and isn’t as apparent as direct negative. It happens when you try out drugs or alcohol just to fit in. Your friends don’t encourage you to participate in risky behaviors, but you feel pressure to do so to continue being part of that social group. Indirect negative peer pressure includes things like:

An NIH study assesses the group influences on an individual’s drinking and other drug use at clubs. A total of 368 social groups representing 986 people were anonymously surveyed. The study found that social groups had a definite impact on the individual outcome.

Group members seemed to know about other members’ drug use or drinking patterns, which were related to their drinking and other drug use. This suggests that normative patterns are established for the group, and social modeling happens within the group.

Signs your friends are making your drug use problem worse

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Positive peer pressure

Not all peer pressure is bad. Friends can influence you into making the right choices. Positive peer pressure is when friends bring a good change in your life – and this can be a useful tool in addiction treatment. In fact, many treatment facilities use this strategy to influence patients’ behavior. The same way a person in a drug-using circle uses drugs to fit in is the same way a person in a sober circle will want to stop using to fit in.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with substance abuse as a result of hanging out with wrong company, we can help. Contact us today to get started. 

Isolation can Lead to Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition that can rarely be attributed to a single cause. One’s environment, genetics, mental health, and past experiences all influence the development of addiction. Studies also point out isolation as a vulnerability to drug addiction.  

Social isolation isn’t necessarily bad: we all crave some alone time, at least occasionally. Being alone can be rejuvenating, meditative, and relaxing. But when the solitude is unwanted or unhealthy, it can become problematic. Isolation has become a growing concern for the health care system.

People who are socially isolated may lack friends, family, or close workmates. So, they tend to feel lonely and depressed. As a result, they may suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues, as you’ll notice in this article.

What is social isolation?

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it, social isolation is the lack of social connections that can lead to loneliness in some people. Those in unhealthy isolation are likely to:

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In some cases, the isolation can include emotional isolation where one is unwilling or unable to share their feelings with others. When this happens, the person can become emotionally numb.

What causes social isolation?

Isolation can be a result of many factors, including:

The effects of isolation

Many studies have shown a connection between isolation and physical health issues. Isolation is a risk factor for issues like heart disease, increased inflammation and stress hormones, diabetes 2, and even disability. An analysis of 70 studies and 3.4 million people pointed out that isolated individuals had a 30% higher risk of dying in the next seven years.

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But the effects of isolation aren’t just physical. They can be mental as well. In fact, numerous studies show a close link between isolation and mental disorders like low self-esteem, depression, social anxiety, dementia, or other mental health concern.

Again, isolation and mental issues tend to feed off of each other. Meaning, an individual might develop anxiety because of isolation, then feel more isolated because of their anxiety, and vice versa.

How isolation leads to addiction

Connecting with other people is an important part of well-being. Humans are social creatures, and not getting enough social interaction can impact health. Isolation can increase the amount of stress hormone cortisol in the body, causing a range of physical health concerns.

Prolonged isolation can lead to mental health issues or worsen the existing ones. When feelings of loneliness go unresolved, it could lead to a range of mental illnesses.

Many studies show a strong connection between mental health disorders and substance use disorders. In fact, as the National Institute on Drug Use puts it, many people who develop mental illnesses are also diagnosed with substance use disorder. Data show high rates of SUD and mental disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and antisocial personality disorders, all of which are common among those who self-isolate. NIDA also points out that people with personality, substance use, and mental disorders were more likely to use non-medical prescription opioids

Isolation may also cause loneliness. When a person is lonely, they may turn to drugs to pass the time or shut down the critical inner voices that tend to multiply in isolation. Speaking of voices, too much isolation leads to fluctuations in thinking, causing one to perceive the world around them negatively. In some cases, the loneliness can make them a little vulnerable, causing them to start looking for reasons people aren’t hanging out with them.

At this point, self-disgust sets in to offer a handy scapegoat. When one fixates on these beliefs and thoughts, they might act in ways to reinforce their actions. They may also abuse substances to cope with their situation or avoid reality. Prolonged use might lead to addiction, driving one further into isolation.

Note that both drugs and social interaction can stimulate one’s dopamine response. Emotional and physical connectedness triggers the production of good feelings, and when that system doesn’t change, one may seek to self-medicate. So they’ll turn to illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol. For those struggling with addiction, this can make for a deadly mix under the wrong circumstances.

Unfortunately, at this point, any attempt to stop using ends in withdrawal symptoms. So, one is likely to struggle alone, with no end in sight.

How to overcome isolation

Going out more and making new friends might seem like an obvious thing to do in this case. However, isolation can have an underlying cause that needs to be addressed to build more fulfilling connections. Treatment programs exist to help individuals gain control of their lives. But one can also try out the following:

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How to prevent relapse in isolation

Those who go through substance abuse treatment need physical, emotional, and financial support from their loved ones to regain full control of their lives. Otherwise, they risk relapsing. Finding support in groups like Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can help prevent relapse.

Getting help for social isolation and addiction

The risks of drug addiction are higher among those suffering from isolation. But the good news is that there are facilities that provide medically-reviewed addiction treatment and therapies to help one reopen communication lines and feel less isolated.

Things You Can Do When You Beat Addiction & Get Sober

When you beat addiction and get sober, you may wonder what’s next? In sobriety, you have lots of time and what seems like a long journey ahead.

Most people assume that when you get sober, your social life, or life in general is ruined and that you would never have fun again. However, this is not the case. Your life will not be one big adrenaline rush, but you can still have fun and be productive when sober.

If you are at a loss on what to do when you beat addiction and get sober, this article is for you. Here are a few things you should consider doing after you get sober. 

Travel

Traveling when sober can keep you busy and entertained. However, you need to ensure that you stay sober throughout your travel. To do this, you first have to set your intentions for your journey. Research the place you are traveling to and note down all the fun things you intend to do during the trip. Then, focus on the fun activities instead of worrying about how you will stay sober. It would help if you had a list of fun activities and commit to doing them even before you travel. Then, use your vacation to relax, recharge, and spoil yourself.

Note that when traveling, you might have triggering experiences. This ranges from the mini nips of alcohol on the plane to party invitations you’ll get at the resort you will stay at. Therefore, it is important that you be over-prepared to deal with these potential relapse triggers

It would be best if you also stayed in touch with your support system, the people who ensure you stay on track.

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Go back to school

If you had to drop out of school to beat addiction, you might want to go back to school when you get sober.

The first thing you need to do is overcome the fear of going back to school. As a recovering addict, you need to realize that this is a fresh start, and nothing has to be the way it was when you were an addict. You can talk to people in your support network who have gone back to school after getting sober and learn from their achievements and mistakes. This way, you can easily avoid temptation and develop healthy study habits.

Once you overcome the fear and go back to school, take things slowly. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, especially when it comes to how long you will take to finish school. Instead, be involved in school activities and keep yourself busy.

Find new friends

In sobriety, most people tend to focus on themselves and their recovery rather than those around them. Friends are important, but finding new like-minded friends can prove difficult, especially when following a strict routine. 

If you’re looking for new friends, consider attending non-alcoholic events, joining a networking group, volunteering at organizations, joining a book club, going to sober bars, or even joining social media groups of sober people that can relate to your lifestyle. You can also make new friends when you start a new hobby to pass the time, e.g., painting or hiking.

Find love

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Finding love in recovery is something you may want to consider, especially if you took a sabbatical to deal with your addiction. However, you first need to feel confident in your relationship with yourself before venturing into the dating world to find love.

You can try online dating, but consider using dating sites that are tailor-made for sober people. Note that most people on regular dating sites take alcohol regularly and would even suggest meeting up for drinks on your first date.

If you meet someone you like, choose a neutral venue for your first date. A park, coffee shop, or restaurant would be ideal.

Be self-sufficient

Once you get sober, you need to practice self-care. It may be scary at first, but you will eventually get used to it. Loving and taking care of yourself plays a significant role in ensuring you stay sober.

Setting healthy boundaries with people who previously encouraged your addiction also requires you to be self-sufficient. For example, you may have to buy a new car to get around easily on your own. If you lived with a roommate who encouraged your addiction, you also have to move out to have a fresh start.

Go to church

If you are a Christian in addiction recovery, you should consider going to church. When you go to church, you can find strength in your faith and connect with God. In addition, most churches have a community of support. People from different backgrounds and walks of life are united by their faith in God. Recovery tends to be difficult for most addicts, so you will need all the support you need.

Other than church, you can keep yourself busy by getting involved in church activities. The various sober activities will help you overcome your drug cravings.

Research has shown that going to church regularly improves one’s mental health. Since drug addiction tends to affect your mental health, going to church during recovery may improve your mental health.

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Become a drug counselor

If you want to help others struggling with drug addiction, you should consider studying to become a drug counselor. Helping others will motivate you to stay sober and make you more accountable to yourself and others. It can also help you feel accomplished.

As a drug counselor, you will be the support system for those recovering from drug addiction. Additionally, you can help them manage their recovery.

Find a new career

To stay sober, you may decide to transition to living in a sober community for a new start. One requirement that you have to meet is finding a job. Although most people prefer going back to their old careers, this may be your chance to find a new career altogether. Choose a career that will not put your sobriety at risk. Additionally, you should do something you love so that your new job does not stress you out. Maybe even try to start a hobby that makes money!

Should I Be Afraid of Rehab?

Addiction affects almost every part of your life. Admitting that you have an addiction problem is the first step toward recovery. Denial is a large part of addiction, and breaking through self-deception is very difficult. So, if you’ve reached a point where you accept that drugs and alcohol are a serious problem in your life, then you’ve probably dealt with the hardest part. Rehabilitation is only a small part of it, yet many can be afraid of rehab. It's a huge life-changer and it can be difficult, but that shouldn't discourage you.

Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the way the brain functions. You may no longer have control of how you feel or act. But you should know that this isn’t about willpower or morals – it’s about acknowledging that you need help and accepting it.

It’s normal to have fears about rehab. Millions of others also fear joining rehabs for various reasons. So much so that only 10% of 20.4 million people with substance use disorders sought out addiction treatment in 2019. But fears only get in the way of sober living. Joining an addiction treatment center is going to be your best shot at addiction recovery.

But still, no one wants to join drug addiction treatment programs – at least not at first. Rehab is a scary thought for many families and people who struggle with addiction. The word itself comes with a huge stigma, and the idea of joining a facility for residential treatment can be equally overwhelming.

Also, joining rehab means letting go of substances, leaving the comforts of your home, and starting a new life. It means giving up control and embracing change. But as they say, change is as good as rest.

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Common fears about rehab

Fear of detox and withdrawal

The thought of detox or withdrawal symptoms can be intimidating, especially if you’ve experienced them before or have heard stories. While withdrawal isn’t going to be your cup of tea, there are many ways to make it comfortable and tolerable. Treatment programs offer full-time help and access to medications and therapies to ensure you are pain-free. You’ll also be monitored by trained medical staff throughout your entire detox process.

Fear of leaving behind your life

Walking away from your comfort zone – your family, home, job, friends, or even substances can be scary. After all, you are leaving behind your life as you’ve known it and heading towards the unknown. But while this thought can be overwhelming, treatment is way less damaging than staying and continuing with your using habits. If the people you’re scared to leave behind care about you, they will be happy to see you get help.

Just ensure that everything is in order so that your only concern is to sober up. Arrange care for your elderly parents, children, or pets. Apply for the 12 weeks of family and medical leave to protect your work and sign up for automatic bill payments. The goal is to leave bills, jobs, and drama outside so you can focus more on getting better.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

FOMO is one of the most common fears many people who struggle with addiction deal with before going to rehab. The illusion that drugs and alcohol go hand in hand with fun can make you skeptical about getting help. You may feel as though you’ll miss out on weekends, or after work, and so on. There’s also the aspect of friends; how they’ll hang out without you and how boring your life will get without them.

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All these can be overwhelming, making you afraid of rehab and what happens afterwards. But substance abuse only leads to addiction, legal issues, financial troubles, broken relationships, etc. Unless you break free, you really won’t have a clear perspective of what fun means. Once you go through rehab, you’ll make new friends, learn new things, take up a hobby, travel, and even spend more time with loved ones. You’ll also identify fun activities that aren’t harmful to your health and relations.

Fear of not knowing how to cope with anxiety and stress

If you fall into the 50% category of those who experience substance use disorder due to mental health issues, you may fear that you won’t know how to cope once you stop using. But the good news is that treatment facilities often offer 12-step programs to help you resolve most of the underlying issues. They also offer holistic treatments to address mind, body, and soul. On top of that, they point you to support groups to serve as your sounding board, so there's no need to be afraid of rehab.  

Fear of dealing with past trauma, neglect, or abuse

Many aspects – including childhood neglect, abuse, and trauma – might have contributed to your substance use disorder. Perhaps you’ve been suppressing the difficult past, but now you’re dealing with the prospect of facing it as part of the healing process.

It is scary to face the ghost of the past, but you won’t do it alone. Treatment centers have counselors who will hold your hand throughout the process. You’ll also have access to group therapy and other treatment options to help you process thoughts, emotions, and beliefs linked to the past trauma. In the end, the past won’t have a grasp on you.

Fear of starting a new life

Without drugs or alcohol, you may have no idea what you are, and that’s a scary place to be. But this is only temporary. During treatment and early recovery, you’ll be able to step out of your comfort zone and try new stuff. You’ll also hang out with sober friends and family and create new experiences. This might be a great time to try out new hobbies and interests.

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Fear of failure

One of the main reasons most people are afraid of rehab is the fear of failure. The thought of going through a treatment plan but ending up with a relapse is devastating. But failing to try because you fear failing is denying yourself an opportunity to lead a clean life. In fact, you may be shocked by how well you respond to treatment.

And even if you relapse, it is still a step in the right direction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that 40-60% of people with addiction relapse after treatment. Should you relapse, it’s vital to point out the triggers and find a way to avoid placing yourself in similar situations again.

Fear of success

Perhaps you’ve done things in the past that you aren’t proud of and feel like you have to punish yourself or be unhappy forever. Or maybe you suffered in the hands of someone who said you didn’t deserve happiness or that you wouldn’t amount to anything, and you believed them. So you’re always self-sabotaging to avoid success.

But everyone deserves a shot at happiness. Embrace your fears and not run away from them. Treatment centers have experts who will reinforce positive mental health and help you overcome any trauma that may have affected you. There is no need to be afraid of rehab. Depending on the rehab, the treatment plan may also include a faith-based approach to help you connect with your higher power to overcome addiction.

How Chronic Pain Can Lead to Drug Abuse

Pain is a normal part of life. It is our body’s reaction to illness or injury – a warning that something is wrong. Usually, pain lessens as soon as the body recovers. The hurting stops and things go back to normal. But this doesn’t happen all the time. Not when it’s chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a persistent pain that’s ongoing and lasts longer than three months. It lingers on even after the illness or injury has gone away. Chronic pain can limit mobility and reduce strength, endurance, and flexibility. This may make it hard to get through daily activities and tasks.

Chronic pain may last for months or even years. It may feel dull or sharp, causing an aching or burning sensation in affected areas. The pain may be intermittent, steady, or on and off. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20.4% of adults in the US had chronic pain in 2019.

Currently, it’s the leading cause of long-term disability in the country, affecting about 100 million Americans. Studies show 1 in 4 people with chronic pain will develop chronic pain syndrome (CPS). This occurs when they experience mental health issues like anxiety and depression, on top of the pain.

Chronic pain symptoms

Chronic pain, like other long-term health issues, leads to complications beyond the physical symptoms. It causes depression, feelings of guilt, poor sleep, loss of interest in sex, suicidal thoughts, exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. The consistent pain makes it hard for one to manage tasks, keep up with work or attend a social gathering. This leads to problems with relationships and work. Some studies suggest that the severity of these issues is directly proportional to the pain.

How chronic pain leads to addiction:

Chronic pain intensifies mental health issues that cause addiction

Many studies show a strong link between chronic pain and mental health issues. In one of these studies 10-87% of chronic patients had depressive and anxiety symptoms. Personality disorders are also common among these types of patients. Chronic pain and mental health disorders are linked because they both share neural pathways, making it hard for the brain to distinguish them.

In addition, chronic pain has some profound social and behavioral effects that feed into a mental health condition. Prolonged chronic pain causes social isolation that intensifies issues like anxiety and depression. That’s where addiction comes in.

Experts are learning more and more about the strong link between mental health issues and addiction. According to NIDA, people who develop mental disorders are also diagnosed with substance use disorders. Another report by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that mental issues are responsible for the consumption of the following: 40% of cigarettes, 44% of cocaine, and 38% of alcohol.

Self-medication is by far the most common culprit behind most dual diagnoses. For example, a chronic pain patient with low energy takes crystal meth to increase their drive to get things done. Meth addiction can happen the first time it’s used. To make things worse, the drug can cause horrible side effects on the body. Meth mouth is one of the most common physical side effects of meth use.

Treatment involves prescription opioids that can be highly addictive

Prescription opioids are one of the common drugs that doctors prescribe for chronic pain issues. Since the early 1990s, doctors have been prescribing opioid painkillers like morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone for pain problems. These medicines manage pain well and can improve quality of life when used correctly. But unfortunately, anyone who uses opioids is at risk of developing an addiction.

Short-term use of opioid pain relievers rarely causes addiction. However, when a patient takes them for a long time (or incorrectly), they are likely to abuse the drug, develop tolerance and end up with addiction.

Opioids are highly addictive. They make the body and brain believe that the drug is necessary for survival. So the chronic pain patient will want to keep taking the medication. But as they develop a tolerance to the prescribed dose, they may find that they need even more medication to relieve the pain. This may lead to dependence.

This is why patients have to adhere to their doctor’s recommendations at all times. Opioids are not only addictive but also potentially life-threatening. On average, opioid overdoses account for 90 deaths in America every day.  According to WHO, 70% of drug use deaths are opioid-related – with over 30% of these deaths arising from an overdose.

Withdrawal symptoms cause patients to continue using drugs

Many chronic pain patients become dependent on prescription opioids to avoid pain. But when one takes the medication for a long time, they become tolerant. Over time, the body needs more drugs to achieve the same effect. Extended use alters the way neural pathways work in the brain. And these neurons start depending on the drug to function.

As a result, the patient becomes physically sick when they stop using opioid medication. So, they use more drugs to avoid pain and withdrawal symptoms.

Patients try out alternative drugs to relieve pain

Prescription opioids are hard to obtain. Some patients may opt for alternative drugs that are cheaper and easily accessible – like morphine and heroin. Research suggests that misuse of opioid pain medicines like Vicodin and OxyContin may open the door for heroin use.

According to NIH, about 4-6% of those who misuse opioid medicines switch to heroin. But a staggering 80% of those who use heroin, begin by misusing prescription opioids.

Managing chronic pain

Prescription opioids are often the last resort for chronic pain management among non-cancer patients. Most patients benefit from psychological treatments, exercises, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and NSAIDs. But in cases where opioid medications have to be prescribed, it is crucial that they work closely with their doctor to prevent it leading to drug abuse.

Patients who end up with drug use issues will benefit from addiction treatment. Treatment centers have qualified health care professionals who help address behavioral addictions.  The best ones adhere to the guidance of the American Society of Addiction Medicine when treating co-occurring addiction and chronic pain issues.

How Can Relapse Be a Part of Drug Recovery?

There’s a lot to feel good about when your loved one goes through an arduous recovery journey and then comes out clean and sober. Sadly, even after rehab though, your loved one may relapse at some point. Relapse doesn’t happen to everyone in recovery, but it does happen to many people. That’s why newer schools of thought on addiction feel that the painful occurrence of relapse is actually a very important part of the sobriety journey. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of those recovering from substance use disorders will relapse during their path to recovery. This should help put the struggle of your loved one doing illegal drugs into perspective, that they aren’t alone.

Addiction is a chronic disease or mental illness whose nature is a barrier to sobriety. Your loved one, like other patients, faces a consistently high risk of relapse because addiction alters the brain’s function and structure. Alcohol and drug use trigger dopamine production in the brain’s reward pathway. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers and emotional responses. These changes influence the way the brain prioritizes what’s important.

The brain of a patient who has developed an addiction recognizes substance use as important – even more than survival. That’s partly why those struggling with addiction take risks to continue abusing substances. Addiction also affects the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain that identifies issues and plans solutions. So when a person relapses, it’s not because they are weak or lack morals, but because of something that’s way beyond their control. And even after treatment, some of these changes might persist.

What is relapse? 

Relapse is when someone goes back to using drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety. The person may “slip up” and have a drink (or use a drug) and then stop again. Slips are hardly seen as relapses, but they can trigger stronger cravings for harder drug use or more alcohol. On the other hand, full relapse is when the person in recovery intentionally seeks drugs or alcohol and no longer cares for their treatment.

Is addiction an incurable disease?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States indicates that people in addiction recovery have a 40 to 60% chance of relapse. This puts addiction relapse at the same level as other chronic conditions like hypertension and asthma, which have a 50 to 70% relapse rate.

According to NIDA, addiction has no cure. But it can be managed successfully. Like other chronic illnesses, there’s medication to address the problem. However, the patient may need to go through lifestyle changes, routine maintenance, and checkups to prevent relapse. They also have to learn new ways of thinking. All in all, relapse is not failure. It only shows that it’s time to reinstate, adjust or try out a new treatment.

Relapse as part of the recovery process

Addiction is a chronic brain disease with biological, behavioral, emotional, physical, and social aspects. It is characterized by an inability to control drug or alcohol use. The chronic nature of addiction makes relapse part of the healing process as opposed to failure. As mentioned earlier, drug addiction disrupts brain circuitry and causes dependency. At this point, one is bound to experience side effects like drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Unless they use their substance of choice, they may not feel “normal.” Relapse may seem like an excellent way to get back to “normalcy,” combat intense cravings, and relieve withdrawal symptoms. That’s why relapse can be a form of self-medication.

Drug relapse is a common part of the recovery process. When it happens and is handled correctly, it can strengthen one’s commitment to long-term sobriety. Recovery is the journey of maintaining long-term sobriety, reaching new goals, and facing life with new, healthier strategies. A hitch on the road doesn’t mean that all is lost. Yes, it might feel overwhelming – but with the right help, your loved one can get back on the right track.

Strategies to avoid relapse or mitigate its effects

More than half of the people in recovery relapse. But the fact that it is common doesn’t mean that you should not try to prevent it. An addiction relapse not only undoes the hard work, but it’s also potentially life-threatening. Relapsing can result in binging that can even lead to overdose. Here are some strategies to help prevent relapse or mitigate its effects.

Reaching out for help

People in recovery often feel humiliated and devastated when they slip or relapse. So, the last thing you want to do is reprimand them or come out as judgmental. You also don’t want to leave them to their own fate. Instead, try to encourage them to go back to their support network or treatment. It doesn’t matter how many times one relapses. In fact, experts agree that one is likely to have a successful long-term addiction recovery when there is more repetition of positive reinforcing habits.

Attending long-term treatment programs

Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is not a quick fix. A single medication or a month of therapy may not guarantee a clean life. Often, one may need to engage in intensive long-term treatment, accompanied by continual support for a better outcome. A study with 1000+ addiction patients discovered that relapse rates reduced for every nine weeks a person spent in treatment. Sustained recovery also increased in the study for participants who had ongoing treatment with aftercare.

Identifying and managing triggers

Treatment programs integrate therapies that teach patients how to cope with internal and external stressors that may trigger a relapse. Mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, and mood changes tend to co-occur with substance abuse. When someone in recovery gets anxious or stressed, they may crave, think about, and eventually use substances. Triggers can be specific – like certain places or people, or very general – like hanging around people who are using. Evidence-based therapies help those in recovery recognize their personal relapse triggers and even train them to cope.

Lifestyle changes

Managing triggers is a great relapse prevention strategy. But you also want to encourage your loved one to make positive changes over the long term to build a healthier life. They can learn and use healthy coping mechanisms for negative emotions: recognize and manage mental issues: and develop positive activities like meditation, exercise, or art.

More Than Rehab is here to help. We have decades of experience in treating addiction, from the root-causes, to the after effects people experience once they become sober. If you, or a loved one needs help with their addiction, please don’t hesitate to call us! We are available 24/7.

888-249-2191

5 Ways to Conquer Drug Cravings

When you have a substance use disorder or an addiction, one of the hardest things to do in life is quit using drugs and alcohol. One of the main reasons for this is that you will begin craving the drugs or alcohol, almost immediately after you decide to quit. So, what are some good ways to conquer drug cravings, while you’re in recovery from your addiction? To start, understanding your addiction and the reasons why people begin using drugs and alcohol is a great start.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. It is estimated that more than 21 million people in our country suffer from an addiction or substance abuse problem every year. To make matters even worse, out of those 21 million people, only about 10 percent of them will ever receive any help or treatment for their disorder. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 8 adults in the United States is considered an alcoholic.

Additionally, drug and alcohol addiction may be of even more concern today than it has been in the past  because of the Coronavirus. The Coronavirus has not only caused issues like the forced shutdown of many major businesses, closures of public school, and mask mandates, but also an increase in things like alcohol sales, recreational drug use and even relapse rates. This was particularly an issue when the pandemic first hit because those in addiction recovery were left without a lot of their support system when AA meetings and NA meetings stopped, and counseling services shut down, along with being laid off or sent home from work.

Hopefully though, now that we are all a bit more used to what daily life looks like while living during a pandemic, we are able to better adjust. Today, there are things like online virtual counseling sessions and social distancing that allow us to still get access to the fundamental building blocks of a support system. All of these things are extremely crucial to a successful recovery from addiction. Even without the Coronavirus, relapse among those with a drug or alcohol problem is very common, with around a 40-60% relapse rate. This is in part due to the drug cravings, relapse triggers and withdrawal symptoms that are often experienced while recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction.

To help with this, we have put together this list of 5 ways to help conquer your drug cravings, so that you are at a lower risk of relapse.

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1. Understand What Cravings Are

First, it is important to understand that your cravings are an entirely normal experience. Just about everyone in drug and alcohol recovery will get them at least one time or another throughout their sobriety. Cravings are classified as an intense urge to use drugs or alcohol. While they are a completely normal experience, (especially in the early stages of recovery), it does not mean they will last forever. Not only will they eventually go away with enough time in sobriety, but the typical craving will likely only last around 10-15 minutes. In the event that you have delayed the craving for some time and you’re still feeling it, then it is likely you are still around the stimulus that triggered the craving. Relapse triggers are identified as the stimulus (person, place, thing, feeling, etc) that triggered the craving in the first place. Cravings and triggers are a result of altered brain functioning and chemistry that occurred because of the drug or alcohol addiction. Over time, your brain will learn to stop associating these triggers with drugs or alcohol making your recovery and sobriety much easier.

2. Identify What Your Triggers Are

As mentioned earlier, a trigger is a stimulus that causes a craving for drugs or alcohol. So, being able to identify exactly what it is in the first place that made you crave drugs or alcohol will be extremely helpful. While a trigger can be anything for anyone, they usually fall into a few different categories. Pattern triggers are places or things that you associate with past drug or alcohol abuse, such as your favorite bar or even something seemingly innocent, like seeing a spoon. Social triggers are people or even groups of people that bring back memories of past substance abuse issues. There are also emotional triggers, such as a cause for celebration or the pain of losing a loved one. Withdrawal can even be considered a type of trigger, as this process usually results in the body feeling like it needs these substances in order to survive.

3. Avoid Relapse Triggers, or Find Ways to Deal With Them

Once you have identified your triggers, it is best to come up with a plan to try and avoid them. If you feel triggered every time you drive by the street your old hangout used to be, then simply try taking a different route instead. Stop hanging out with friends that you used to do drugs or drink with, especially if they aren’t supportive of your recovery. Of course, not all triggers can be avoided, like spoons. When it comes to triggers that you have no way of avoiding, come up with an action plan that you can easily use to help fight off the craving, remember they only last around 10-15 minutes once you have gotten away from the stimulus.

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4. Take a Walk or Exercise

If you do feel that you are about to get a craving, try going out for a breath of fresh air and taking a light walk. Almost any form of exercise will help you fight the craving, but many agree that walking takes the cake when it comes to beating drug cravings. Getting out in the fresh air and taking in the world without a real sense of where you are going can be a huge relief for people experiencing drug cravings. Just remember to try and avoid any places that might trigger you even further. If you are unable to exercise or walk, just getting out in the sun and breathing some fresh air can definitely help.

5. Reach Out To Others

Part of a successful recovery is having a strong support system. Trying attending an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) support group and reach out to some peers who know a lot about how you are feeling. Chances are they know exactly what you are going through and will offer advice that can help. If you have a sponsor or a counselor from a treatment group, then reach out to them. There is almost nothing worse than trying to go through life on your own, especially when you are learning to do it without the use of drugs or alcohol.

If you or a loved one are struggling with relapse, drug cravings, or need help getting sober, please reach out to our family of highly trained addiction specialists at More Than Rehab. You are certainly not alone, and we are here to help 24/7.

(888) 249-2191

What Is A Dual Diagnosis?

Unfortunately, addiction or substance use disorders are very common in our country. Nearly 21 million Americans struggle with this disease every day. Sadly, out of those 21 million people, only around 10% of them will ever receive treatment for their addiction or substance use disorder. For those who are able to receive treatment, they know that it can sometimes be a bumpy road to recovery. But ultimately, they know that recovery is also very rewarding, especially once they are able to get to a point where they can manage their addiction and achieve meaningful sobriety. This can be especially difficult in the case of a dual diagnosis, where an underlying mental health problem is compounding their own personal struggle with addiction.

What is a dual diagnosis, exactly?

For those who are new to recovery, or for those who have never received professional help for their addiction or substance abuse, they may be unaware of these underlying mental health problems that only serve to amplify their issues with their alcohol or drug addiction. This is commonly referred to as a dual-diagnosis. Many who are new to recovery often have this very same question, what exactly is a dual diagnosis? Put simply, a dual diagnosis is when someone has both a substance use disorder and an underlying mental health disorder at the same time.

The combination of a substance use disorder and mental illness can become a vicious cycle. Mental health issues, especially if a person is unaware that they are suffering from one, can often drive people to self-medicate, which leads them to abuse drugs or alcohol in order to cope with the symptoms of their mental health disorder. The same goes for people who abuse drugs and alcohol. Substance use disorders can lead to mental health issues even if they weren’t there before that person began using drugs or alcohol. If someone has been diagnosed as having a dual diagnosis, usually the best course of action is to treat them at the same time, as they often play into each other.

What is treatment for a dual diagnosis like?

If you have recently been told that you have a dual diagnosis, or if you have a loved one or family member who has recently been diagnosed with a mental health issue as well as a substance abuse disorder, then please know that you are not alone. A dual diagnosis is very common. A 2019 study found that among adults 18 and onlder, approximately 9.5 million people who had any mental illness (AMI), also suffered from a substance use disorder (SUD). Other studies show that nearly half of all people with a mental health issue will also have a substance use disorder as well. This is perhaps in part due to the related risk factors of both mental health issues and substance use disorders, such as things like genetics, stress, environment, and current or past trauma.

How can doctors tell if someone has a dual diagnosis?

Keep in mind that the majority of health professionals will only be able to accurately diagnose a mental health disorder once the person is clean and sober with no drugs left in their system. This is because many drugs are known to cause side effects that can manifest as mental health issues. However, there are many different mental health disorders that can lead a person down the slippery slope of addiction--many end up trying to self-medicate, either when they are unaware they have a problem, or if they simply are not getting the proper care. However, here are a few mental health disorders that are very common to those who also suffer from substance use disorders:

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Of course, there are many other mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, that if left untreated can cause someone to begin abusing drugs or alcohol.

As mentioned earlier, treatment planning for someone with a dual diagnosis works best when it is specialized to the individual.  While it may seem impossible, we can assure you that it is not. For the best dual diagnosis treatment possible in the Texas area, More Than Rehab can show you the ropes to a successful sobriety while also being able to manage your mental health problems at the same time. There is hope for recovery, and we understand that we could all use a little help, especially in times like these! Call us today. We are open 24/7.

888-249-2191