Binge Drinking and Opioid Abuse

Binge Drinking and Opioid Abuse: Why It is a Dangerous Combination

The CDC reports that people who binge drink are twice as likely to abuse opioids than non-drinkers.  To put it another way, of the 4 million American opioid abusers, more than half of them also binge drink.  Simultaneous binge drinking and opioid abuse is a bad combination because both substances are central nervous system depressants.  This means that using both substances at the same time can result in respiratory depression and death.

Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC Director, said in a news release, “We are losing far too many Americans each day from overdoses. Combining alcohol and opioids can significantly increase the risk of overdoses and deaths.

Is Binge Drinking and Opioid Abuse on the Rise?

In a survey conducted by the United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers found that the people who engage in binge drinking and opioid abuse tended to be less educated, have lower incomes, and were about 26 years of age or older.  Among this group, prescription opioid misuse rose as binge drinking increased.

The number of opioid overdose deaths, including all ages and genders, reached 70,237 in 2017.

How many of those deaths involved the combination of alcohol and opioids?

The following statistics may help us get an idea of the scope of this problem:

  • 26.9% of people 18 years of age or older report that they engage in binge drinking.
  • 12.1% of undergraduate students use prescription drugs and alcohol at the same time.
  • Every day, 6 people die from alcohol poisoning.
  • More than 130 people die each day after overdosing on opioids.
  • Overdose deaths involving opioids were 5 times higher in 2017 than in 1999.

Statistics provided by the CDC show that the drug overdose death rate has steadily increased since 1999.

Why Do People Combine Dangerous Substances?

Many individuals mix alcohol and opioids because they want to enhance the effects of the substances.  But, they fail to realize that even a small amount of alcohol with one oxycodone table can increase the risk of respiratory depression.  With more than 2 million Americans abusing opioids, it’s easy to imagine a large percentage of them also drink alcohol.

Another reason why so many people combine dangerous substances may have to do with lack of knowledge.  It’s possible they aren’t aware of the potential drug interactions, and inadvertently drink alcohol after taking a prescription medication.

Unfortunately, some individuals are victims of another person who wishes to commit sexual assault or robbery.  The perpetrator uses drugs to lace the person’s alcoholic beverage to render the person incapable of defending themselves.

The drugs that are most commonly used in combination with alcohol include:

  • Opiates:  Vicodin, OxyContin, Tylenol 3 w/ Codeine, Percocet
  • Stimulants:  Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta
  • Sedatives:  Valium, Xanax, Ativan
  • Sleep Aids:  Restoril, Ambien, Halcion

Of course, many illicit drugs are used in combination with alcohol such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, Ecstasy, meth, and more.

What are the Side Effects of Combining Opioids and Alcohol?

A prescription for opioids is accompanied by a strong warning against using alcohol while taking the medication.  It’s important to note that the elderly are more susceptible to adverse reactions.

The possibility of adverse interactions is well documented and can include such side effects as:

  • Drowsiness, inability to communicate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting, dehydration
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Loss of coordination, dizziness
  • Abnormal behavior, disinhibition
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

When a person combines alcohol and opioids, these side effects are warning signs.  If left untreated, the effects escalate into severely depressed breathing, which can lead to coma or death.

Don’t Become a Statistic: We Can Help

If you or a loved one is struggling to beat binge drinking and opioid abuse, please contact us at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today.  Our programs are designed to help people who have polydrug addictions.


drugabuse.govOverdose Death Rates

cdc.govPrescription Opioid Data

cdc.govDrug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017

Seniors Struggle with Substance Abuse

Why Do Seniors Struggle with Substance Abuse so Often?

The majority of the “Baby Boom” generation has now reached their 60s and 70s. The fact that seniors struggle with substance abuse has been neglected and overlooked for decades. However, today, it is coming to light. Baby Boomers are people who were born between 1946 and 1964. And this generation is facing multiple issues associated with alcohol and drug abuse.

Why Seniors Struggle with Substance Abuse

Since the seniors of today grew up in the era of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll,” they view drugs and alcohol in somewhat of a different manner than even younger generations do today. They may see drugs or alcohol as a way to contend with depression and loneliness that frequently accompanies older age. Many of their family members and friends may have passed away at this point, and they feel isolated from others.

Other factors that might contribute to substance abuse later in life could be:

  • Retirement
  • Financial strains
  • Relocation
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • A physical or emotional decline in health
  • Boredom

Although many seniors have done drugs and drank alcohol their entire adult lives, others only start at an older age. Many of the above-listed reasons contribute to that fact. Seniors who only drank occasionally or socially may begin drinking heavily due to a life-changing experience.

Dangers of Substance Abuse in Seniors

As people age, their bodies don’t metabolize substances as fast as they did when they were younger. The brain of an older individual is more sensitive to the effects of drugs or alcohol. This sensitivity makes it dangerous to drink alcohol or take drugs, even if there is no addiction present.

Drinking alcohol and taking prescribed medications can produce more falls among seniors resulting in hospital emergency department visits. Seniors who abuse their prescription drugs, or use illicit drugs for that matter, will experience overdoses because their body no longer metabolizes the drugs as quickly as when they were younger.

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration):

“Although the percentage of people with substance use disorder (SUD) reflects the decline in use as people age, more than 1 million individuals aged 65 or older (“older adults“) had an SUD in 2014, including 978,000 older adults with an alcohol use disorder and 161,000 with an illicit drug use disorder.”

Is Substance Abuse Among Seniors Ignored?

In some cases, family members may ignore substance abuse among their senior family members. They may feel that they are near the end of their lives anyway, so if alcohol or drugs help them to cope, so be it. In other cases, family members may not realize that their loved one is struggling with substance abuse. If they don’t visit or talk to them very often, it can go overlooked.

In many cases, as seniors struggle with substance abuse, family members and friends attribute it to common issues related to aging. After all, confusion and forgetfulness are typical signs of aging. Right? Someone may not think about the fact that the senior forgets something or gets confused about something because they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But this is possible.

We need to pay closer attention to our senior loved ones. It is not a disgrace to have an elderly loved one who needs treatment for substance abuse. There are addiction treatment centers that can design a treatment plan tailor-made for your loved one’s needs and preferences. Don’t let them continue to struggle alone. Get them the help that they so deserve. Aging is not an easy process.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services for Help

To learn more about treatment programs that we offer for alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, or for more information on how seniors struggle with substance abuse, contact one of our representatives. They can answer any questions you may have about a treatment program which we can design for your loved one. Make that call now.


Samhsa.govA Day in the Life of Older Adults: Substance Use Facts

Does Marijuana Abuse Cause Lung Cancer?

Does Marijuana Abuse Cause Lung Cancer?

Does marijuana abuse cause lung cancer?  As more states in the United States legalize marijuana, many people are focusing on overall health impacts. Tobacco causes lung cancer, and people assume marijuana will be the same. The reality is more complex, with various studies showing no direct link between marijuana and lung cancer. Some studies show potentially adverse outcomes from abuse. Here is some of the available research to help you determine if smoking marijuana will increase your lung cancer risk.

Does Marijuana Abuse Cause Lung Cancer? The Evidence So Far

Many marijuana smokers also smoke cigarettes, and this causes problems for researchers. The studies below were adjusted to show increased lung cancer risk from smoking tobacco.

A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Cancer indicated there was no increase in lung cancer risk for marijuana smokers. The research looked at 2,159 people with lung cancer and 2,985 control subjects. After adjusting the results for tobacco use and social demographic factors, there was no evidence for increased lung cancer risk from smoking cannabis.

Another study in the same year looked at 1,212 lung cancer patients and 1,040 controls. It found that lung cancer cannot be associated with long-term marijuana use or the association is so weak it is difficult to detect.

Exposure to More Tar Than if Smoking Cigarettes

Studies show that some of the components in marijuana smoke are known carcinogens. One meta-study mentions the potential risk of tar in marijuana smoke as a mediator for lung carcinogenic, which means the tar can help genetic mutations form in the lungs that may later lead to lung cancer. Marijuana smokers hold the smoke in their lungs for more extended periods.  Therefore, they inhale more tar than they would if smoking cigarettes.

Marijuana smoke also contains benzopyrene, a carcinogen hydrocarbon found in cigarette smoke, according to the meta-study. Researchers also mention in vitro studies showing THC can induce malignant cell proliferation. Ultimately, the meta-study concluded that more research was required to determine what role marijuana smoke plays in the development of lung cancer.

A more recent study from 2013 declared that marijuana smoking only poses a “relatively small” risk to the lungs. Dr. Tashkin highlights the increase in symptoms of chronic bronchitis for marijuana smokers. Alternatively, he found that the consumption of marijuana alone did not lead to lung abnormalities. The paper does mention the fact that marijuana contains known carcinogens and co-carcinogens. It is also less optimistic about the outcomes for the long term, heavy users of marijuana.

Dangers of Smoking Marijuana and Cigarettes

There is some evidence that smoking both cigarettes and marijuana at the same time can increase lung cancer risk, more than smoking cigarettes on their own. Based on this research, it is healthier to be a smoker than it is to be both a smoker and a cannabis user.

So, does marijuana abuse cause lung cancer?  There is no definitive link between smoking marijuana and increased lung cancer risk at this point in research. However, there are worrying signs like the presence of tar and some carcinogenic compounds in marijuana smoke.  Obviously, you should avoid tobacco, especially if you smoke marijuana.

If you’re still left wondering “Does marijuana abuse cause lung cancer?,” give us a call today at our toll-free number and one of our professional counselors will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


cebp.aacrjournals.org – Marijuana Use and the Risk of Lung and Upper Aerodigestive Tract Cancers: Results of a Population-Based Case-Control Study

archinte.jamanetwork.comAssociation Between Marijuana Smoking and Lung Cancer

atsjournals.org – Effects of Marijuana Smoking on the Lung

Risks of Sleep Aids

Waking Up to the Serious Risks of Sleep Aids

In April 2019, Federal Health regulators released an announcement requiring sleep aid manufacturers to add strong warnings on products such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata.  These boxed warnings are the most prominent method of warning the public about the severe risks of sleep aids.

For a perspective on the massive scale of sleep aid abuse in the US today, take a look at these numbers:

  • Prescriptions for sleeping pills grew to more than 20 million in 2015, up from 5.3 million ten years ago.
  • According to SAMHSA, more than 250,00 people abused sedatives in 2017.
  • ER visits attributed to sleep aid misuse increased from 6,111 in 2005 to more than 19,000 in 2010, according to DAWN (Drug Abuse Warning Network).
  • About one-half of sedative-related ER visits involved other drugs such as narcotic analgesics or other sleep or anti-anxiety meds.
  • About one in eight people use these drugs.
  • More than one-third of senior citizens report taking sleep aids.
  • About 68% of ER patients admitted for sleep aid related issues were women.  For this reason, the FDA lowered the dosage for women from 10 mg to 5 mg per day.

Next-day drowsiness is one of the more pronounced side-effects of zolpidem (Ambien), especially the extended-release formula, Ambien CR.  However, many other unexpected side effects can be experienced even when using these drugs as prescribed.

Some Side Effects of Sleep Aids You Might Not Expect

A person can find many options for getting a good night‘s sleep without exposing themselves to the risks of sleep aids.  But, as Americans, we look for the quick-fix options that come in pill form. Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix for the side effects of these products.

Zolpidem can be addictive because the sedating effects are pleasurable, and many people abuse the drug for the high it can provide.  One unexpected side effect of sleep aids is that some people feel euphoric rather than sleepy when using the drug, and this can quickly cause addiction.

Other side effects of sleep aids such as Ambien can include engaging in activities while not fully conscious, such as:

  • Eating, cooking
  • Having conversations
  • Sex
  • Driving
  • Sleepwalking

Most of these activities seem harmless, but some of them can have serious repercussions such as injury or death.

Other consequences of sleep aid abuse can include dependence, addiction, withdrawal, and risk of overdose, especially when used in combination with other substances.  Anyone who has a history of addiction or drug abuse should avoid taking sleep aids.

Symptoms of Sleep Aid Overdose

Although sleep aid overdose is more likely to occur when the drug is combined with other substances such as alcohol, many people have overdosed on the drug itself. Overdose often happens when the individual forgets that they have taken a dose and ingests more. In other cases of overdose, the person took more of the substance to achieve a more intense high.

If you know someone who is using or abusing sleep aids, these are some of the overdose symptoms you should watch for:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dangerously slowed breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Coma

Self-Test for Determining Sleep Aid Abuse or Addiction

Sleep aid dependence can lead to addiction when a person becomes more and more preoccupied with acquiring and using this drug.

Here are some of the questions to ask if you are unsure about sleep aid addiction:

  • Do you take the sleep aid during the day?
  • Have you taken higher doses than prescribed?
  • Do you “doctor-shop” to feed the habit?
  • When you fear that the drug will be unavailable, do you panic?
  • Have you tried to quit, but couldn’t do it?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you should seek professional help right away.

Another sign of sleep aid addiction is evident when withdrawal symptoms appear if the drug is withheld:

  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Tremors
  • Panic attacks

Most people reach for another dose of sleep aid when the above symptoms appear, and the cycle of abuse and addiction continues until devastating consequences occur.

Suggestions for Getting Sleep Without the Risks of Sleep Aids

If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, these are some suggestions to try so you can avoid the risks of sleep aids:

  1. Eat foods for dinner that are not spicy.
  2. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  3. Get up if you’re not able to fall asleep.  Try reading or listening to soft music.
  4. Try to get up at the same time every morning.
  5. Avoid napping during the day.
  6. Don’t exercise right before going to bed.
  7. Don’t watch television, eat, or read in bed.
  8. Keep the bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.

Overall, the risks of sleep aids can outweigh the benefits.  If you would like more information, please contact us at our toll-free number today.


samhsa.govKey Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the US

An Intervention Can Help

Can an Intervention Help Someone Seek Addiction Treatment?

The goal of an intervention is to help someone you care about get into addiction treatment and head toward recovery. If talking to your loved one has not helped and they still don’t see that they have a problem, it may be time to stage an intervention. An intervention can help someone seek addiction treatment.

An Intervention can Help

Although you have practically given up on your loved one and helping them seek treatment, an intervention can help. Don’t give up without trying this next step. Many times if a small group gets together and talks calmly and without being argumentative with the addict, they will listen.

Sometimes it just takes loved ones letting them know that you are concerned for them and want to see them improve and start a life in recovery from addiction.

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is NOT just a few family members or friends deciding to have a meeting with an addict to tell them they need to go to rehab. The intervention must be carefully planned and carried out by loving family members and/or friends who are truly concerned about the addict’s well-being.

You should have an addiction counselor advise you, or perhaps a professional intervention specialist who can help you prepare for the intervention and also attend the meeting to keep it moving in the right direction and keep it on track. An addiction counselor can be present to answer any questions your loved one may have about treatment programs.

Planning the Intervention

In the planning stage of the intervention, you must decide:

  • Who will attend.
  • Where and when it will take place.
  • What each person will speak about.
  • Where your loved one will go for treatment.
  • What consequences they will face if they don’t accept treatment.

The group holding the intervention should be a small group of people who your addicted loved one feels comfortable with and trusts. The place should also be somewhere the addict feels safe and comfortable. It should also be a private place and not somewhere public like a restaurant.

Holding the Intervention

Each person needs to speak about an occasion where your loved one’s drug or alcohol use caused you financial worries or hurt you emotionally or otherwise. Stick to the facts, but at the same time, speak from your heart. Don’t be argumentative or judgmental. Let them know that you will give them your total support if they will only agree to seek help for their problem.

You must have consequences that they will have to face if they do not agree to go to rehab. And (and this is a big one), you must be ready to follow through with these consequences. They might be something like no more financial help, no more bailing them out of problems, or they can no longer live with you if they don’t agree to treatment. But you have to be ready to stick to what you say.

Offer a Treatment Facility and Program at the Intervention

The best case scenario is to have a treatment facility ready to take your loved one as soon as they agree to go for treatment. This way, they won’t be able to second-think it and decide not to go at a later date. You can have an addiction counselor at the meeting to answer any questions your addicted loved one may have about the facility. The counselor will also be compassionate and reassuring to your loved one making them feel more secure.

An Intervention Can Help Your Loved One

Yes, an intervention can help your loved one decide to get the help they so need and deserve. If you have any questions on staging an intervention or on treatment programs available for your loved one, contact one of our informed representatives at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services. They can answer any questions you may have about the treatment programs we offer and about our facility.


mayoclinic.org – Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction

After Drug Rehabilitation

How Do I Put My Life Back Together After Drug Rehabilitation?

Your drug addiction treatment program is complete. Now, you are ready to start your new life in recovery after drug rehabilitation. But how do you do this? Completing rehab does not guarantee that you will remain in recovery. Recovery is an ongoing process with many challenges and obstacles. You need a plan to stay sober long-term.

Find Sober Friends After Drug Rehabilitation

You now have to start a new life with sober friends. You can no longer associate with your old friends who are still drinking alcohol or using drugs. Don’t think that you can handle it. You can’t!  Attending support groups and meetings will help you make new friendships with others who are learning to live in recovery from addiction.

Some groups have “sponsors” who have been in recovery longer and can help you along the way when you have cravings or are facing temptation. You can call them at any time, day or night, to help you through the hard times. A sponsor is especially beneficial if you don’t have a close family member or friend who can support you as you are putting your life back together.

Repair Relationships With Loved Ones

It is highly likely that during your addiction, you hurt loved ones in many ways. Other than disappointing them, you probably manipulated, lied, and even stole from them. Go to them and take responsibility for your actions. You can’t change the past, but you can apologize and promise to show them that you are living a better life today.

If you have broken promises to them in the past, it may take a while. However, with time they will learn to trust you again. The betrayal may be fresh in their mind, so give them space and time that they need while you work on your new life.

Employment After Drug Rehabilitation

The chances are that while you were struggling with your addiction, you may have lost your job and were out of the workforce for an extended period. If you are having difficulty finding a job after drug rehabilitation, don’t panic. Consider going back to school or taking some refresher courses in your field of work.

Take this time and do some community volunteer work. Speak at local high schools and community colleges about your journey through addiction and into recovery. You could prevent some community kids from making the mistakes you made. There are all sorts of needs in communities that can make you feel better about yourself as you take this time out.

Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Self

As you were spending all of your time in addiction either high or looking for ways to get drugs, you had little time for self-care. Now you have time and energy to take care of you. Set a daily routine to keep from getting bored. Boredom can lead to a relapse.

Some of the things in your daily routine can include:

  • Exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Get enough rest
  • Attend group meetings
  • Meditate or do yoga
  • Work on finances
  • Do job searches
  • Try to manage stress
  • Tend to daily chores at home

You can look your best and feel your best every day for yourself. Once you create a daily routine, you will be closer to sustaining your life in recovery without having to fear a relapse back into addiction.

Living in Recovery After Drug Rehabilitation

It is not always easy living in recovery after drug rehabilitation. You will have days when you feel on top of the world. Then again, there will be days when you feel like nothing in the world is right. As with anything we attempt in life that is worthwhile, it takes work.

Take one day at a time as you start your new life of sobriety. Don’t put too much stress on yourself. Your life won’t be perfect overnight, but it will get better each day you live a sober and healthy life. Remember always to do activities which don’t involve drugs or alcohol. There are many rewarding and fun things to do and places to see.

What if I Relapse?

If a relapse does occur, remember it is not the end of the world or your sobriety. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply rooted behaviors, and relapse doesn’t mean treatment has failed.” Often, relapse to drug use is a part of the addict’s process of recovery.

A relapse can mean that you need to have more outpatient counseling or attend more meetings. It does not mean that you have to start over from where you were in your addiction. If you feel that you may have left rehab too soon, you can return for more treatment until you feel more confident in returning to your day-to-day life.

We don’t always succeed the first time we try something. It is the same with recovery from addiction. You may succeed in recovery the first time you try. But if you do relapse, don’t consider yourself a failure. Attend your group meetings and take your new life one day at a time.

If you would like more information about life after drug rehabilitation, contact us today.  One of our representatives will be happy to answer your questions.  Also, if you are seeking a treatment program for yourself or a loved one, we can help with that, too.

  • huffpost.comHow To Start A New Life After Addiction Recovery
Holidays and Booze

Holidays and Booze: The Real Impact of This Dangerous Tradition

As we prepare for the holidays, our minds are filled with images of family celebrations. We look forward to getting together with friends and relatives we haven’t seen in a while. We go about the festivities without a single thought for those who suffer during this joyful season. Far too many people become depressed during the holidays for many reasons. Others struggle with high stress during this busy time of year. Unfortunately, these individuals often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. As a result, the CDC has declared December, January, and March as the deadliest months for substance-induced deaths.  Let’s take a look at some of the CDC’s findings to understand better why the holidays and booze are not always a good idea.

Why the Holidays are the Most Dangerous Time of Year

Did you know that since 1999, more than 91,000 drug- and alcohol-related deaths were reported for December?  What happens during December to cause such a large uptick in the number of deaths?

According to a survey conducted by the CDC, the majority of Americans are highly stressed during the holidays.  Results of the survey show that more than 25.4% of respondents admitted to feeling more depressed this time of year.

The top 5 reasons for their depression are as follows:

  • Financial issues – 32.5%
  • Relationship problems – 21.9%
  • Missing someone who passed away – 14.4%
  • Loneliness – 9.5%
  • Too much to do – 8.4%

Anxiety and stress also play a role in higher levels of depression during the holidays.  As mentioned before, stress and depression often lead to increased alcohol or drug consumption.  But, this “solution” often makes their depression worse. This happens because alcohol decreases serotonin levels in the brain.  Serotonin regulates mood, hunger, memory, sleep and other functions. Using alcohol to dampen feelings of depression often has the opposite effect.  In many cases, the holidays and booze combination can lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Holidays and Booze: Trends by the Numbers

Holiday alcohol consumption adversely impacts millions of individuals and families every year.

To get a better idea the how significantly the numbers change this time of year, the CDC released these results of their survey:

  • 28.6% of respondents said they drink more alcohol during the holidays
  • 30.6% of men said they consumed more alcohol
  • 26.7% of women said they increased their alcohol intake
  • 30.8% of millennials increased their alcohol intake
  • 17.9% of baby boomers said they drank more during holidays

Of course, much of this increased drinking is the result of attending more parties than usual during the holidays.  Also, stress and depression play a role in the increased numbers. As a result, the number of drug and alcohol-related deaths climb during the season.

How the Holidays Affect People Who are in Recovery

The festive atmosphere surrounding the holidays can be a challenge for anyone who is in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.  They often fear to go to parties that could present triggers. But, if they don’t go to the party, they feel left out and can become depressed. With this in mind, the CDC asked respondents who were in recovery how they feel overall during the holidays.

Here are some of the results:

  • 27.2% said they felt happier during the holidays
  • 38.4% said they felt more depressed
  • 60.8% felt moderately stressed
  • 27.3% felt overwhelmingly stressed
  • 55.4% said they felt moderately anxious
  • 31.8% felt overwhelmingly anxious

These responses reveal that stress, anxiety, and depression are heightened during this time of year.  This can be a considerable challenge for a person who is recovering from addiction. With so many triggers to deal with over a short period, it can be difficult to maintain their sobriety.

Maintaining Sobriety During the Holidays

The CDC recommends the following tips for staying sober while dealing with the holidays and booze-related events:

  1. Work out or get regular exercise daily
  2. Stick with healthy foods and snacks
  3. Get enough sleep
  4. Spend time with family and friends
  5. Skip gatherings that you are uncomfortable about
  6. Keep to your routine as much as possible
  7. Attend AA, NA, or other meetings for added support
  8. Reach out for help if you feel inclined to partake in alcohol

These tips were shared by the participants of the CDC survey in hopes that someone will benefit.

At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, we understand how stressful the holidays and booze can be for someone in recovery.  We hope the above information will help you stay on your path to sobriety and enjoy the holidays without incident.

Dual Diagnosis Problem

Could You be Suffering from a Dual Diagnosis Problem?

Studies have shown that over half of all individuals who struggle with addictions actually have mental issues along with the addiction. When this is the diagnosis, it is called a dual diagnosis problem or co-occurring disorder. Dual diagnosis means that while a person is struggling with addiction, it may actually be caused by another underlying issue such as depression or bipolar disorder, just to mention a couple. These individuals might be using drugs or alcohol to numb the effects of a mental or emotional disorder from which they are suffering. If you are suffering from a dual diagnosis problem, both issues must be treated.

Treating only Addiction for a Dual Diagnosis Problem

If you have a dual diagnosis problem and only the addiction is treated, you will be more likely to relapse back into drug or alcohol abuse. You may be in recovery from the addiction, however, if you are still struggling with a mood disorder it will make it harder for you to remain in recovery. As long as the mental disorder still exists, you may be tempted to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Unless both conditions are treated, your chances of recovery are not good.

Self-Medicating Only Worsens Problems

If you are self-medicating to mask or cover up your feelings of depression or some other mood disorder, you are problem making matters worse instead of helping. For instance, if you are depressed and feeling sad, you might take an amphetamine or drink alcohol to make yourself feel better and more confident about yourself. Taking a drug or drinking alcohol may help the way you feel for a short amount of time but in the end, you are only making matters worse.

Self-medicating may help for a short period of time but when the effects of the drug or alcohol wear off, you may even worsen your problems. Any type of harmful substance affects the brain. Therefore, by using any type of substance, you can actually worsen the mental disorder. Self-medicating could also delay your dual diagnosis problem being identified. The problem cannot be treated if it can’t be identified.

Treating a Dual Diagnosis Problem

While having a dual diagnosis problem seems overwhelming to the patient, it is completely treatable. A dual diagnosis problem must be treated from the beginning. A good treatment plan must be designed which will address the addiction as well as the underlying cause or causes for the addiction. A counselor or specialist who is qualified in both areas, (mental disorders and addiction) can address both issues simultaneously.

At our addiction treatment facility, we know that each individual is unique and deserves an individualized treatment plan for their specific needs. After an assessment has been made and the patient is confirmed to have a dual diagnosis problem, an individualized treatment program will be designed to fit their needs and preferences. The patient will be treated for the addiction and the underlying mental disorder at the same time.

One-on-One Counseling for Dual Diagnosis

A major part of treatment will consist of one-on-one counseling with a counselor who has had special training in both fields (addiction and mental disorders). One-on-one counseling is completely confidential and the patient can feel free to discuss any issues or traumatic experiences that may have led to the addictive behavior. Our counselors are compassionate and nonjudgmental making it easy to talk and share any information about past experiences with them.

If you think that you may be struggling with a dual diagnosis problem, or may have a loved one who is, contact us to learn more about this problem and our individualized treatment programs. Any of our experienced representatives can answer any questions you may have about treatment plans or any other information about our treatment facility. Call today.

National Take-Back Day

DEA National Take-Back Day This Year: October 27, 2018

The DEA National Take-Back Day is a day delegated each year when individuals can take prescription drugs which they have in their homes that are no longer being used for whatever reason. It could be that they were prescribed an opioid painkiller which they could not tolerate or it could have been on a benzodiazepine such as Valium or Xanax which they only took a few of or could not tolerate the effects of it. For whatever reason the medication was not taken, it is not safe to have these drugs lying around the house not being used as prescribed.

Abused Prescription Medications

Most of the prescription medications which are abused by individuals and responsible for drug addictions or even overdoses are taken unknowingly from medicine cabinets or other hiding places in homes. Individuals who are abusing drugs will look in medicine cabinets and elsewhere in family’s or friends’ homes to see if there is anything they can steal or talk someone into giving them. Many times repair personnel will go into people’s bathrooms and search for prescription drugs that they can steal.

You see now why it is so dangerous and can even be deadly for someone if you leave prescription medication lying around that could be taken and used for the wrong purposes (only to get “high” by someone who it is not intended for.) Prescription medication should never be taken by anyone other than the person for whom it is prescribed.

Teens and “Skittle” Parties

Most individuals have heard of “Skittle Parties” but some do not really know what is involved with these parties. When teens are having Skittle parties, each of them goes through their parent’s (or others’) medicine cabinets and take whatever pills they can find. They may even go to grandparents’ homes and go through their cabinets expecting them to have different prescriptions because of their ages. They then all take the pills they have found to the party where everyone combines their finds in a bowl. (It is called Skittle Parties because of the different colors and varieties of pills.)

The kids then take turns choosing something from the bowl not knowing in the least what they are getting ready to take and what different types of pills they may be taking together. They don’t know how the drugs will affect them and they have no idea if they may be allergic to some of the ingredients in these different medications. This is highly dangerous and can easily end in fatalities. The biggest problem is that the teens think that the drugs must be safe because they are prescribed by a legal physician. They have no thought about how dangerous to mix various drugs and how dangerous it can be to do so.

Importance of National Take-Back Day

Prescription drugs getting into the wrong hands of abusers and addicts is the most important reason for the National Take-Back Day! Individuals who have prescriptions that they are not going to use for whatever reason do not realize the importance of getting rid of them, or they don’t know how to safely get rid of the unused prescriptions.

National Take-Back Day is a time that is used to not only get rid of unwanted prescription pills but also to educate the public about the potential for abuse that these drugs have which generally leads to addiction. These drugs are not safe simply because they are written by physicians for a medical purpose. In the wrong hands, they can be deadly.

Spread the Word About National Take-Back Day

Please spread the word about National Take-Back Day and gather your old or unused prescription drugs to take to a location near you. You can find a location near you simply by going online and entering your zip code or address. You will be informed of a collection site which is near you that is participating in National Take-Back Day. Mark this date on your calendars (October 27th) and safely get rid of any potentially dangerous drugs from your home. Let’s all work together to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands or the hands of teens who are curious about the effects of prescription drugs.

Depression and Substance Abuse

Depression and Substance Abuse:  A Dangerous Combination

Everyone has those days when they feel that the whole world is against them.  Sometimes it’s because of problems at work, or troubled relationships, or financial issues.  But, it’s important to remember that a bad day does not necessarily mean you are depressed. The consequences of depression and substance abuse have destroyed far too many lives.  That is a good reason to avoid medications if possible.

If you’re having a bad day, try doing some of the things that make you happy and see how you respond.  Don’t be tempted to go to your doctor to get a prescription for an antidepressant when things aren’t going your way.  This is a behavior that has led many people into a lifetime of substance abuse. To get an idea of how dangerous the combination of depression and substance abuse can become, take a look at the following facts.

Factors That Cause Depression Also Contribute to Substance Abuse

In a nationwide study of more than 43,000 adults, researchers found that about 20 percent of the participants struggled with both depression and alcohol addiction.  The study also reveals that many of the factors that contribute to depression also fuel substance abuse problems. In many cases, the person has a family history of drug abuse and depression. Many of the participants also had imbalances in brain chemistry or instances of past trauma. These facts demonstrate that there is a strong connection between substance abuse and depression.

When a person has a dual-diagnosis such as depression and substance abuse, finding the right treatment program is crucial to successful recovery.  The facility must be equipped to manage and treat both aspects of the disorder concurrently. But, how does a person determine whether they are clinically depressed or simply having a period of life challenges?  No one gets through life without a few short periods of irritability, frustration, grief, or sadness. We need to know how to differentiate between a case of the blues and clinical depression. There is a huge difference. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Take Heed of These Symptoms of Depression

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines depression as:

“A condition lasting for a minimum of two weeks and which interferes with one’s ability to work, function in a social setting and maintain healthy relationships.”

When a person is depressed he or she will usually display five or more of the following symptoms daily:

  • Changes in appetite, weight changes
  • Anxiety, general irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Low energy levels
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Lack of interest in daily routines
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling worthless
  • Sadness, tearfulness
  • Thoughts of suicide, or suicidal attempts

Depression typically interferes with a person’s ability to function in daily responsibilities, perform at work, or maintain healthy relationships. It is usually at this point that the individual turns to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate the pain and emptiness they experience.  Eventually, the depression and substance abuse feed each other, and the condition spirals out of control.

Breaking the Cycle of Depression and Substance Abuse

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine which came first, the depression or the substance abuse.  They both share similar underlying causes. For instance, some people attempt to self-medicate what they believe is depression with drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, rather than resolve the problem, it generally only gets worse. The substances can exacerbate the depression, fueling the need for more of the substance, and the cycle continues.  On the other hand, a person who is struggling with substance abuse often falls into a depression over their inability to control the behavior.

Another factor in the depression and substance abuse equation stems from imbalances in the brain’s chemical pathways  When these pathways are disrupted the individual can experience depression. If they turn to stimulants to counteract the symptoms, the drug cause more damage to the brain by interfering with dopamine production, and this leads to an increased need for the drug.

Breaking the cycle of depression and substance abuse should only be attempted by experienced addiction treatment providers. Dual-diagnosis disorders must be handled carefully. Each contributing factor of the disorder must be addressed before the individual can recover.  This level of treatment must include counseling, skills training, relapse prevention techniques, confidence building activities, and much more.

Let Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Help You or Your Loved One

Finding the right program to help you or a loved one overcome depression and substance abuse is one phone call away.  At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, you’ll get the support, guidance, education, and tools you need to heal from this life-altering disorder.  Contact us today to learn more about our program.

Crackdown on Opioid Dealers

Crackdown on Opioid Dealers: Prosecuting Overdose Deaths as Homicides

The opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc across the nation despite increased efforts to control the situation. In one more desperate attempt to prevent overdose deaths, a crackdown on opioid dealers is in the works. If a person dies from an overdose, the dealer who sold the drugs will be charged with homicide and can spend up to 20 years or more in prison. Federal prosecutors are confident that this measure will have a positive effect on the growing fentanyl overdose deaths.

In 2016, drug overdoses caused the deaths of more than 64,000 Americans, and the number continues to rise. Over 20,000 of those deaths were attributed to fentanyl, and about 15,000 were attributed to heroin. In the past, these deaths were approached by law enforcement as accidental or as “death by misadventure.” Today, however, a paradigm shift is underway. Because of the increased use of fentanyl by profit-hungry dealers, overdoses are skyrocketing.

How the Crackdown on Opioid Dealers Works

The Feds are focused on eliminating the root of the problem, unscrupulous dealers. But, it will be difficult to prove the exact cause of death in some cases. This is especially true when the deceased was a poly-substance abuser. These individuals were likely suffering overall poor health due to the many drugs in their system, making them more susceptible to disease or death.

Many states have a variety of legal standards for identifying the cause of death. These standards can include “direct result,” “caused by,” “results from,” or “caused by.” Each of these standards has its legal ramifications. Although the legal process can make the crackdown on opioid dealers more difficult, it is worth the effort. When a dealer knowingly sells a person fentanyl-laced opioids or heroin, he deliberately puts that person’s life in danger.

Why are Dealers Using Fentanyl so Abundantly?

According to the CDC, fentanyl and other opioids caused more than 27,000 deaths in 2017. This number is an increase over the 20,000 deaths in 2016. These deaths occur because many of the victims are unaware that fentanyl is present in the substance they purchase.

Fentanyl is classified by the DEA as a Schedule II drug. This classification means the drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction. The drug is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is cheaper and more readily available than many other substances, making it a money-maker for dealers.

To get a different perspective on the need for a strong crackdown on opioid dealers, take a look at these numbers:

  • Inspectors at a Philadelphia port confiscated $1.7 million worth of fentanyl that had shipped from China to the US.
  • In 2016, officers seized 440 pounds of fentanyl nationwide.
  • In 2017, more than 951 pounds of fentanyl were seized by federal agents nationwide.
  • American heroin addicts have increased 500 percent in the past decade.
  • Nearly half of all opioid-related deaths in 2016 involved fentanyl, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

It’s not difficult to see that the fentanyl problem is on the rise. Lack of awareness about the potential dangers of fentanyl is one of the contributing factors. Devious dealers are also a big part of the problem. As a nation, each of us is affected in some way by substance-related crime and activity. With the shocking number of needless deaths continuing to rise, we welcome any efforts to put an end to the problem.

Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Can Help You Overcome Opioid Addiction

At BRS, our experts have years of experience in working with addicts. Recent graduates of our program are sharing their success stories with the public to be part of the solution to addiction. Our comprehensive program is designed to address each contributing aspect of addiction to ensure a lasting recovery. Learn more about how we can help you or a loved one by contacting us today. While we hope the crackdown on opioid dealers will have an impact on saving lives, we will continue to do our part by helping our clients successfully recovery from opioid abuse or addiction.

CBT in Addiction Treatment

How Does CBT Help a Person Overcome Addiction?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, known as CBT, is a non-12 step approach to addiction treatment.  This treatment method helps recovering addicts reverse unhealthy behaviors that contributed to their addiction.  The CBT approach is founded on understanding why a person abuses drugs or alcohol. Experts believe that the physical dependence on addictive substances is a symptom of an underlying problem.  Once these issues are addressed professionally, the person is less likely to relapse. CBT in addiction treatment is a proven and highly effective component of a comprehensive program.

CBT is a combination of evidence-based therapies known as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Rational Living Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Rational Behavior Therapy.  The two main components of CBT are functional analysis and skills training.

Functional analysis focuses on helping the person identify the thoughts and feelings or circumstances that he or she experiences before and after using a substance.  Skills training allows patients to unlearn destructive habits and replace them with healthier behaviors.

Factors to Consider Before Using CBT in Addiction Treatment

When considering CBT in addiction treatment, a person needs to understand the key components of the program so they will know what to expect.

For instance:

  • CBT is not a long-term therapy.  It has a specified time for completion.
  • It is highly structured with specific agendas and based on what the client wants, not what the therapist wants.  The patient reveals his or her goals and the therapist helps guide the person in such a way that to facilitate reaching the goals.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is proven by solid clinical trials to be effective.
  • The method is flexible and can be utilized in an inpatient or outpatient environment in both group or individual sessions.
  • CBT is founded on the belief that our behaviors are learned reactions.  The therapy helps a person identify their dysfunctional responses and lean ways to avoid repeating that behavior in the future.  It’s about understanding what needs to change.
  • The therapy sessions are interactive.  The patient is encouraged to share his or her wants, needs, and concerns.

Overall, the cognitive model of therapy seeks to address the fact that a person’s reactions are based on their perception of a situation than the situation itself.  The goal is to help a person think more realistically and discard distorted thought patterns that lead to poor decision-making. The skills learned in CBT in addiction treatment can be applied in all areas of a person’s life.

What is Distorted or Dysfunctional Thinking?

As mentioned earlier, addiction is the result of underlying problems coupled with the effects of addictive substances on the brain.  Most addicts struggle with emotional issues, dysfunctional family life, genetic predisposition to addiction, environmental issues and more.  Some of the problems were contributing factors to the addiction, while others occurred because of the addiction. Nevertheless, the person must learn new ways of thinking and better methods for coping with stressful situations.

Some of the distorted thought patterns addressed during CBT include:

  • Fortune Telling – You assume you know what is going to happen.  For instance, your negative thought patterns may convince you that you won’t get the new job or promotion or be approved for a loan.  This distorted thinking can keep you from taking positive steps toward attaining your goals.
  • Mind Reading – Many people assume that they know what someone else is thinking.  Thinking that someone considers you stupid or that they don’t like you is a form of mind reading.  Despite any evidence to support this thought process, you base your reaction to that person on your perceived notions.
  • Over-Generalizing – Jumping to conclusions or seeing things as all-or-nothing can jeopardize a project or influence your opinion of a person.  If there is one thing that upsets you or bothers you, you decide to abandon the project or the person.
  • Catastrophizing – Exaggerating or imagining the worst outcome.  For instance, if your boss wants to talk to you, you imagine that you are in trouble or will be fired.  Or, it rains on the first day of vacation, so you believe that it will ruin the rest of the trip as well.

Summary of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Goals

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is designed to help clients reach specific goals.  Emphasis on helping a person understand their emotions leads to distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy feelings.  CBT in addiction treatment shows a person how their distorted perceptions contribute to the painful feelings they experience. The therapist guides the patient through examining their current situation to solve problems.  Finally, CBT teaches clients how to develop improved self-control and change core beliefs that have fueled their addiction.

If you would like to know more about CBT, contact us today.  Also, if you or a loved one is in search of a treatment program for drug or alcohol addiction, we can help.

Relapse While in Recovery

What Happens if I Relapse While in Recovery from Addiction?

When anyone is in recovery from addiction, relapse is possible. However, you cannot view a relapse while in recovery as a failure. No person is always successful on their first attempt at anything. It is the same for recovery from addiction. You need to view a relapse while in recovery as a part of the process through which you are going. Recovering from addiction is a hard venture for everyone who attempts to live in sobriety after being addicted to any substance for a period.

Cigarette smoking is an excellent example of a relapse while in recovery. Hardly any individual recovers from being addicted to cigarettes the first time they try to quit. So, what do they do? They try again and again until they go for more extended periods without smoking and eventually, one day they realize they have stopped for good. It’s the same way with any substance of addiction. You can’t give up and look at yourself as a failure because you experience a relapse.

What Can Cause a Relapse While in Recovery?

There are many issues or events which can cause a relapse while in recovery. There is always the possibility of losing a loved one due to tragedy or chronic illness. The loss of a loved one is always hard for individuals to endure and deal with the pain. If you are recently starting your recovery, a loss such as this could easily cause you to turn back to your substance of abuse. You may not feel that you can handle this situation without drugs or alcohol to cope with the pain.

Another reason for a relapse while in recovery is being overly confident. You may feel that you have your substance abuse under control and can handle any situation without relapsing. Being overconfident can give you a false feeling that you can return to your old hangouts, such as bars or other places where drugs may be used without feeling the urge to use again.

You also may think that you can still hang out with the same friends who abuse drugs or alcohol without having cravings; you may feel that you can have one beer or drink when you are out with friends, or maybe partake in smoking only one joint. Recovery doesn’t work this way though. You have to abstain from drugs and alcohol, or you will be in a full relapse before you know it.

Focus on Building Your New Life Without Drugs or Alcohol

Many different things can cause a relapse while in recovery. The main thing for you to focus on though is not merely trying to avoid a relapse while in recovery, but building a new life for yourself while in recovery. Concentrate on your new life without drugs or alcohol. You can start exercising and eating healthy foods. Working on your physical health is a wonderful way to feel better about yourself.

If you lost relationships with loved ones such as family and close friends, you could work on reconnecting with them and form a new bond by showing them that you are back to your old self (the person you were before substance abuse ruined your relationships). You can experience such a feeling of accomplishment by rekindling these family ties and friendships.

Continue going to group meetings with others who are in recovery from addiction. You can form new friendships with others who are recovering from addiction. You can enjoy activities together that don’t include drugs or alcohol. Learn a new hobby that you can enjoy with a friend. Take some courses that might help you in a new career that interests you. There are so many activities in which you can participate that don’t involve abusing substances.

If You Do Experience a Relapse While in Recovery

If you do experience a relapse, remember that you have not failed at recovery and you are not a failure and doomed to a life of addiction. The old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” can pertain to many different occasions and circumstances. Recovery wasn’t accomplished in a day, and it wasn’t lost in a day.

If you experience a relapse while in recovery, you merely look at it as what it is, a setback. You start over just like the cigarette smoker who starts again. Failure is not an option! You can do this, keep persevering. Go through another treatment program or start attending more group meetings. You may want to find a sponsor who you can call in your weak moments. There are many ways you can continue through the process known as “recovery.”

Opiate Overdose Deaths

How Many Overdose Deaths are Attributed to Opiates Yearly in the United States?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 200,000 prescribed opiate overdose deaths between the years of 1999 to 2016 on a national scale. From these statistics, about 64,000 of the people who died were U.S. citizens.  According to newer statistics, about 46 opiate overdose deaths occur daily in the United States.

Sometimes, even more than 46 people die per day, making these numbers only an approximate representation. However, this means that about 16,790 people in the United States overdose with deaths attributed to opiates yearly. With these heartbreaking statistics, it is important to take action with the intent of reducing these numbers, but first, it is important to understand opiates and the reasons why opiate overdose deaths occur in the first place.

Some of the most common opiates that contribute to opiate overdose deaths include:

  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone

About These Common Drugs that Contribute to Opiate Overdose Deaths

Methadone – Those who take this prescribed drug are utilizing it to help prevent severe pain. However, this drug alone contributes to about one-third of all U.S. overdoses. Because of methadone’s ability to remain within the system for a prolonged amount of time, this drug has a tendency to have a negative effect on heart rates as well as breathing patterns.

Oxycodone – This drug is commonly prescribed in hopes of treating severe to moderate pain. However, with a drug overdose by oxycodone, it is usually quite unexpected due to its gradual build up within the body’s system. This, in turn, creates a tolerance to the drug that is sometimes overlooked when it is prescribed at a higher dosage. Oxycodone is also highly addictive, even furthering complications and increasing the chances of overdosing.

Hydrocodone – This narcotic is also a drug that is used to help ease and prevent severe pain. This drug can be countered by Narcan which is usually administered when the first signs of a Hydrocodone overdose are apparent. However, this drug also comes with its own list of negative effects to the body.

Why Overdosing Occurs

  • Those who are addicted to opiates are more likely to overdose.
  • Wrong amounts of the opiates are prescribed or taken by the patient.
  • Alcohol is oftentimes seen as the contributor to an overdose.

The Affected United States

40% of the affected United States has opiate prescriptions, but still, end up overdosing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the states contributing to the highest number of opiate overdose deaths include West Virginia, Maryland, Maine, and Utah.

In 2016, the affected numbers of Non-Hispanic Whites, Alaskan Natives, and American Indians were higher than those affected that were Non-Hispanic Blacks or Hispanics.

The number of men affected is much higher than women.

Signs of an Opiate Overdose

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slowed or no breathing
  • Unresponsive
  • Cold skin
  • Blue/gray skin or lips

If you know someone who is experiencing these symptoms, it is extremely important to get help right away. It is very likely that the person will recover if attended to on time by a healthcare professional.

What to Do in the Event of an Overdose

With the Good Samaritan Law in mind, it is important to react accordingly:

  • Call 911.
  • Turn the affected onto their side to help clear their lungs of anything preventing them from their natural breathing rhythm.
  • Start administering CPR if the person still is not breathing and you are able to do so.

Preventing Future Opiate Overdose Deaths

Staying drug-free is the best way to prevent an overdose; however, these prescribed drugs can’t always be avoided.

Because of this, you should:

  • Always consult your physician about any adverse side-effects.
  • Give your physician an accurate list of all drugs being taken to prevent any negative reactions.
  • Never drink alcohol when taking opiates.
  • Never chew on the prescribed pill; chewing on the pill can release the ingredients of the pill too quickly, sending your body into shock or an immediate overdose.
  • Only take the prescribed drugs as directed.

It is important to remember that overdosing can occur to anyone. It can even happen to those who are following the proper procedures in taking these prescribed drugs due to building a tolerance to the drugs. Therefore, it is important to always have someone who can be with the person taking medicine so that they can react accordingly in the event of an opiate overdose.

Disposing of Unused Rx Drugs

Why It’s Important to Properly Dispose of Unused Rx Drugs

Studies show that the majority of misused prescription drugs are obtained from friends or family.  Government agencies such as the DEA and FDA are seeking ways to solve this crisis.  One method they have initiated is known as Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.  This is a semi-annual event that provides an opportunity for people to dispose of unused opioids and other prescription drugs that might fall into the wrong hands.   Properly disposing of unused Rx drugs is an excellent way to protect young people, and adults,  from the harmful effects of these substances.

Options for Disposing of Unused Rx Drugs

In the past, people were advised to dispose of unused prescription drugs by flushing them down the toilet.  Environmentalists are not in favor of this option because they fear that the drugs’ residue can have an adverse impact on the environment and human health.

The FDA conducted a study on the potential risks of flushing by using 15 different medicines.  They determined that the potential risks to humans and the environment is small compared to the potential dangers of the drugs being ingested directly.  Flushing the drugs gets them out of the reach of people and pets.  However, this option should only be considered if a take-back program is not available at the time.

Disposing of unused Rx drugs in the trash can be a bad idea.  Desperate abusers or addicts have no problems with going through the trash to get what they want.  If using this method of drug disposal, you should mix the substance with something undesirable such as cat litter or coffee grounds.  The mixture should then be sealed in a bag or container to prevent leaks.

What is the Best Way of Disposing of Unused Rx Drugs?

The best method for disposing of unused Rx drugs is through a Drug Take-Back program.  These programs are closely monitored to ensure that the drugs are not diverted. More information can be found at the DEA website here.

Another option for getting rid of unused medicine is to take them to a DEA registered collector.  These authorized permanent collection sites can be found in pharmacies, hospitals, or law enforcement facilities.  Also, local law enforcement agencies may sponsor a drug take-back event in local communities.

Some medications come with a disposal instruction sheet.  These instructions should be followed carefully.  A list of medicines that are approved for disposal by flushing can be found on the FDA‘s website.

Are the Take-Back Methods Effective?

The take-back days are usually in October and April.  During the last take-back day, more than 456 tons of prescriptions pills were collected.  More than 5,300 sites participated across the U.S.

It’s also interesting to note that more than 6.4 million people abuse prescription drugs, and most of the drugs were obtained from family or friends’ medicine cabinets.

The goal of the Take-Back program is to keep these unused drugs from getting into the hands of someone who has the intent to abuse them.  After President Trump declared opioid abuse as a public health emergency, the DEA facilitated the 14th Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in 2017.  The events are held twice a year in communities nationwide.

If you need to dispose of your unused medications, please check your local agencies to find out when the next take-back day occurs.

You can also contact us at our toll-free number if you need more information about this topic or if you want information about drug addiction treatment programs.

Before Going to Rehab

5 Things You Need to Ask Before Going to Rehab

Going to rehab once is hard enough.  You don’t want to have to repeat the process because the program didn’t work for you.  Also, being an addict once is more than enough. You don’t want to go through rehab and then relapse and become an addict again.  So, when you’re ready to choose a rehab, you’ll want to ask five specific questions before going to rehab that will help you make an informed choice to get the right program that will work the first time.

What You Need to Know Before Going to Rehab

How do you know you’re choosing the right program that will provide the tools you need to remain drug-free for good?  The best way to choose a rehab is to do some research before making a decision. Knowing what to expect can help you understand your role in the recovery process and will make the experience more productive.

The Internet has an abundance of information about rehab, and you’ll feel overwhelmed by all the options. Hundreds of facilities are all claiming to be the best.  But, don’t be tempted to settle for the first one at the top of the list. Take a deep breath and use this list to help you sort through the choices before going to rehab.

Five of the most important questions to ask about rehab include:

  1. How many licensed, full-time employees do they have?
  2. What is their stance on medication-assisted recovery?
  3. How many people attend a group therapy session?
  4. How often will you meet with a therapist alone?
  5. Do they offer private rooms or will you have to bunk with others?

The answers to these questions will give you an idea of whether you’re going to feel like you’re lost in the crowd.

Your Needs and Preferences are Important

Going to rehab today is a much better experience than ever before.  The programs are structured in a way to allow for individualized plans that are suited specifically to each patient.  You can choose from traditional programs, faith-based, holistic, and many more.

Also, options such as residential, intensive outpatient (IOP), and partial hospitalization (PHP) are available.  The severity of your addiction and the substance involved will play a role in determining which type of treatment is best for you.

Some other things you’ll want to know about a facility:

  • Do they offer a specialized program or do they claim to be experts at everything?  If they claim to be experts at everything, they probably aren’t great at anything.
  • Are they a for-profit or non-profit facility?  For-profit facilities often offer extra types of therapies and amenities.  But, non-profit facilities also offer good options and they’re not likely to be concerned with seeking money.
  • Does everything sound too good to be true?  Trust your instincts on this.  Many facilities make claims that are often completely false.
  • What is the length of the program?  Is it open-ended or will you be forced to leave in 30 days whether or not you feel ready to be on your own yet?  Remember, you don’t want a quick-fix. You want a program that allows you time to heal emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
  • Do they offer detox on-site?  On-site detox is ideal because you won’t be tempted to leave detox and just go back home.  Detox isn’t a cure for your addiction. It just the first step in the overall treatment process that includes rehabilitation and aftercare.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want a facility that is close to home or further away.  The good thing about choosing one close to home is that your family will be able to visit. Also, if it’s close by, you can actually visit the facility before making your choice.

If you need more information before going to rehab and what to expect, please contact us today.

Vitamins and Nutrition in Recovery

Rehab Programs Helping Addicts Replenish Vitamin Deficiencies in Recovery

Drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent in America today and contributes to a host of problems. Addiction costs the country more than $740 billion annually due to losses in productivity, health care costs, and crime. Addiction takes a toll on the personal lives of addicts and their families, causing personal pain, damaged relationships, and broken families. And addiction certainly exacts a cost on the health of the user: addiction can lead to death, infectious disease, or chronic health problems, even after recovery. One less commonly noted impact of addiction on health is a vitamin deficiency.  Read more to learn about the importance of vitamins and nutrition in recovery from addiction.

Addiction-Related Vitamin Deficiency

Malnutrition is fairly common among people suffering from addiction; one study shows that 70% of addicts suffer from vitamin D deficiency and low levels of vitamin C, and another study shows that 50% of addicts in detox are deficient in either iron or vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, and E. These deficiencies stem from two causes: primary and secondary malnutrition. In primary malnutrition, addicts fail to eat a nourishing diet, choosing to abuse drugs or alcohol instead of eating. They consume too few calories overall, and the foods that they choose to eat may fail to provide proper nutrition. This can be because some drugs specifically impact appetite; for example, stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine, can suppress appetite and disrupt hormonal regulation, interfering with calorie consumption and nutrient processing. With secondary malnutrition, the addict consumes sufficient calories but the substance abuse causes improper nutrient metabolism, absorption, utilization, or excretion.

Importance of Vitamins and Nutrition in Recovery

Whether the cause is an overall lack of calories or failure to properly digest and absorb calories, the fact is that many addicts enter addiction treatment in a malnourished state that can interfere with recovery. Poor nutrition causes low levels of neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that pass messages from one part of the brain to another. Low neurotransmitter levels can cause depression, agitation, and dysregulation during the early phases of recovery. Specifically, low levels of serotonin cause sleep problems, irritability, and depression. Low dopamine levels can cause aggression and drug cravings.

How can nutrition help during recovery? Are there specific drug detox vitamins? The answer is yes. By supplementing the addict in recovery with the building blocks of these neurotransmitters, they can rebuild their neurotransmitter levels to help overcome mental health problems during recovery.

Vitamins and supplements that can help include:

  • Amino acids: critical for the building of neurotransmitters
  • Folic acid and Vitamins B6 and B12 for serotonin production
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to improve neurotransmitter function and help with depression
  • Iron to help with fatigue, depression, and attention
  • Vitamin D to improve immune function

As addicts transition to life in recovery, they often experience drug cravings, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Addressing the vitamin deficiencies can help to ease those symptoms.

If we look at methamphetamine use, in particular, there are specific health concerns for people recovering from meth addiction. Methamphetamine users often struggle with dental problems, including dental disease and missing teeth. These dental problems can impact what recovering meth addicts can eat, and these dietary constraints must be taken into consideration during recovery. It may be useful to consult a nutritionist for help in finding foods of the right consistency that will still provide sufficient vitamins and nutrition in recovery.

A Healthy Approach to Recovery

Addressing the nutritional needs of the recovering addict is part of a healthy approach to recovery, viewing the addict as a whole person instead of looking only at the drug addiction.  In fact, studies show that a healthy body fosters and healthy mind.  When the mind and body are in optimal health, the person is less likely to experiment with addictive substances.  This is why vitamins and nutrition in recovery are essential to restoring a person to an improved state of health and vitality.

If you or someone you love is looking for drug treatment, we can help. Call our toll-free number today.

Nature Walks in Addiction Recovery

Benefits of Nature Walks in Addiction Recovery

Walking can provide low-impact exercise for those who enjoy leisure and need physical activity. Any exercise can help increase the production of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. Nature walks in addiction recovery can help to provide pleasure and a sense of well-being for those who are starting new lives without substance abuse. Any natural way that your body can produce those chemicals without the introduction of outside substances can help your brain to re-learn the appropriate ways to ‘experience’ joy or pleasure, which can ease the symptoms of withdrawal for someone overcoming an addiction. The BRS website has more information on rehabilitation and treatment facilities if you are seeking recovery for yourself or a loved one.

Some of the Benefits of Nature Walks in Addiction Recovery

Aside from the direct benefits of exercise, being in nature can be very therapeutic as well. When in nature, a person tends to experience stress relief and relaxation. Furthermore, someone who gets outside often may have less risk for depression, or an easier time dealing with an existing problem with depression. The outdoors also gives the mind plenty to think about while enjoying overall stillness or serenity. It is not often that the brain is still for an addict. For this reason, the individual may experience a sense of boredom when he or she decides to seek help and stop using. Nature walks in addiction recovery can combat that boredom with the inherent stillness associated with being outside while also giving the mind ‘space’ to think and beautiful things to look at which can promote healthy mental patterns.

Another significant benefit that being in nature provides for someone in recovery is the sense of humility or ‘smallness,’ and the lonesomeness required for healthy introspection and reflection. A lot of addicts tend to seek a feeling of control or power when using. The truth is, not a single person has total control over his or her own life. To realize this can be a very freeing experience. Yes, we must make choices and undergo the consequences attached to them; however, nature can be a good reminder that the world is much bigger than ‘self.’  In these moments during which someone can see further than his or her problems, having space and quietness to think is essential. These moments help, also, to re-pattern the brain into more selfless thought. To spend excessive amounts of time thinking about yourself or your own problems can be exhausting and counterproductive to treatment and recovery. Most people who walk in nature on a routine basis also experience an increased attention span because they are forced to pay attention to the many small aspects of the world around them. Lower blood pressure, fewer worries, and reduction of stress are also all attributed to walking in nature.

Nature Reminds Us of More to Life Than ‘Self’

There is also something to be said about becoming aware that life is all around you. Reminders of this may be trees and plants or the many animals that share the outdoors with us. To see other life being played out innocently around us can be a reminder of the positivity associated with life in general. The seasons and their changing may also provide perspective. To see that with or without us, the world will change incessantly. Knowing this can be another freeing experience for those in recovery.

Any time that can be filled with positivity or health is essential in that it can help to replace time that would, otherwise, have been spent indulging in unhealthy practices. Any replacement for using, or for the unhealthy lifestyle associated with addiction is time well spent. Sometimes all that an individual may need is a sense of belonging or activity that is new, and resides outside of the patterns that were habitually repeated through addiction. It is imperative to ‘throw away’ any patterns or habits that were prevalent during the active drug use that could be associated with the drug or alcohol of choice. This can leave someone with a lot of spare time with which to deal.

Health and Mental Benefits of Being Outside

Health benefits of exercise and being outside, especially in combination with the mental benefits of nature, can be one of the most gratifying ‘time replacement’ schemes. Spirituality can also be visited while in nature. It is very easy to reflect on core beliefs or even to contemplate (maybe for the first time) what you believe when you are out in nature. Spirituality can be a great mental exercise and can provide a sense of connectedness.

It is, of course, essential to consider any limitations posed by your body before you venture out. If walking is difficult for you, or if you have special requirements, maybe choose a pathway or sidewalk that can accommodate your needs. Lastly, occasionally, it might be beneficial to bring a healthy friend or family member with you. After all, we are all here to invest in one another. Whatever your pace, whatever your style, nature walks in addiction recovery provide valuable space from the negativity, and can give a glimpse into success and the beauty that surrounds us.

Enabling an Addicted Loved One

Can You Get Compassion Exhaustion from Enabling an Addicted Loved One

As drug and alcohol addiction continues to plague our country, the family members and loved ones of addicts get hurt more and more. Addiction is a growing problem, with more people getting addicted each year than those who beat addiction. Not only that, but the addictions themselves are getting worse with each passing year. This is such that the problem of “drug addiction” and “alcohol addiction” are actually a lot more lethal than they used to be. All we have to do is look at the CDC’s death report on substance abuse to know that substance abuse claims more lives than it used to. And it’s not just because there are more addicts either. Statistically speaking the substances that are abused in 2017 are riskier than the substances abused in 1997.  Are you enabling an addicted loved one? If so, you can get something called compassion exhaustion; you have to learn to take care of yourself.

Enabling an Addicted Loved One

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are more than twenty-three million people hooked on drugs and alcohol in this country. With twenty-three million people addicted, it does not take a genius to know that there are a lot of people connected to those twenty-three million. Even if each addict only has about five or six family members, loved ones, friends, or business associates to whom they are very close, that is still over one-hundred million people being constantly, adversely affected by someone’s substance abuse. As much as we as a country need to come together and address those who are addicted, we also need to address those who are affected by another person’s addiction. Enabling an addicted loved one can hurt them more than helping them in the long run.

Losing Compassion While Enabling an Addicted Loved One

To an outsider looking in, a family member or loved one’s addiction can often feel like a never-ending cycle of viciousness and misery. In a lot of ways it is. If you spend too much time enabling an addicted loved one, you could begin to experience compassion exhaustion or compassion fatigue. You might actually start losing compassion for your addicted loved one.

Nicole Urdang, a medical doctor and specialist on holistic medicine, had this to say about addressing compassion fatigue to therapists and healthcare workers:

“It might manifest as insomnia, overeating, skipping meals, addictive behavior, isolating oneself, depression, anxiety, or anger. We might find ourselves fighting with partners or children, having no patience, feeling exhausted, noticing a lowered libido, unmotivated, and, paradoxically, being less interested in what our clients have to say,” she said. “Believe it or not, these are all helpful, as they quickly alert us to our depleted state. If we are paying attention and are committed to radical self-care, we can act on this awareness by rebalancing our life. If that is not possible, simply taking short breaks throughout the day to close your eyes, focus on your breath, or put your hands on your heart and send yourself some compassion can all make a big difference.”

Her words speak to the importance of taking care of oneself while also caring for others. Losing compassion for a loved one is not what you want to happen. Rather, a tough love approach that still holds on to compassion for a loved one (while absolutely not enabling them) is key. It is better to have tough love than enabling an addicted loved one, better to have compassion than sympathy, and better to have empathy for them than to enable them.

When one is truly able to step away from enabling their loved ones, they can regain their own stable ground and footing. They can present rehabilitation as an effective solution for their loved one and the only solution that they are willing to give. For help in accomplishing this, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at our toll-free number.

Cope and Stay Sober

How Recovering Addicts Can Cope and Stay Sober

There are many reasons that people turn to drugs, the most prevalent being a reach for some way to numb or quiet emotional pain or emptiness. Sometimes this involves the “dampening” or suppression of past pain or trauma. According to statistics, cocaine is the second most widely used drug in the United States. Cocaine is also notorious for the “numbing” effect of its high. It is known to give those who use it a sense of control and a boost of (perceived) strength or energy. This “cocaine numb” is similar to effects produced by other stimulants; however, cocaine is fairly common and widely available. As well as the inherent danger of cocaine’s side effects, there is considerable danger in taking any drug to mask or suppress emotional pain or to cope with stressful situations or feelings. There are ways, however, for recovering addicts to cope and stay sober.

You Can Learn to Cope and Stay Sober

Whatever has proven to be difficult for the user to overcome, when neglected, will never become better. Those emotions or pains will be there just the same at the end of the high or distraction provided by the drug. The only thing gained may be an addiction to a drug. This is the compounded chaos which is all too common for an addict. It is imperative for an addict, or someone with an addictive personality, to learn to cope and stay sober. A recovering addict can cope without the use of drugs or foreign substances. Yes, this can be very difficult if other substances have already been introduced or leaned upon for emotional relief in the past.

It may be beneficial, if you or someone you know struggles with addiction, to enroll in a 12-step program or another program. It is often helpful to surround yourself with others who are going through similar situations. This can provide a sense of community and even accountability. This kind of network of support may prove to be invaluable.

Another aspect of health associated with the ability to remain sober or clean is confidence and a sense of identity. If there are areas of your life or personality that may be underdeveloped due to past addictions, maybe it is an excellent time to do some self-exploration. For instance, if you or your loved one have not had a hobby or preferred activity, it may help to develop one.

Behavioral Therapy can be Beneficial

Positivity can be extremely powerful. Behavioral therapy refocuses negative thoughts or patterns by replacing them with positive counterparts. This can be done, to some extent, on your own. An example of this would be if you find yourself upset about long work hours, try instead, to think of the blessing of having a job to provide money and an outlet or purpose.

It is also recommended that beliefs and foundational identifiers such as spirituality and family values be followed intensely. This sense of self and purpose can give a person something to hold on to when purpose may have, otherwise, been hard to find. Whether it be a higher-power or parents, siblings, or children, something outside of ourselves can help by bringing the focus and pressure off of the self.

Don’t Let Yourself Become Overwhelmed

Lastly, life can be overwhelming. This is especially true when the future is looked upon all at once. It is often within the addictive personality to look at the big picture (health, work, children, global issues, etc.) and become overwhelmed. At this point, the big picture is replaced with whatever substance is typically abused to cope. It is important not to dwell on the big scary stuff and focus on accomplishing the task at hand or the next right thing. If you keep moving forward with that in mind, you can cope and stay sober. Then all of a sudden, the stuff that seems overwhelming may be well on the way to becoming that which has become overcome or accomplished. Life is too short to spend time worrying or struggling, and too long to spend looking at the end.