Women react differently than men to alcohol, and this means that they may respond better to gender-specific treatments for alcoholism, according to new research form the Rutger’s Women’s Treatment Project.
22 Aug 2011
Alcohol and Stress a Double-Edged Sword
Many people have long believed that a simple cocktail can help them relax, but the link between alcohol and stress is really a double-edged sword. Acute stress is believed to hasten alcoholic drinking. However, the ways in which severe stress can actually increase the consumption of alcohol are not yet clear.
A recent report on Doctor NDTV suggests that alcohol can dampen the negative emotional or physical effects of stress. The research involved 25 healthy males who were asked to perform a public speaking assignment that was known to increase stress and to complete a non-stressful assignment to compare it against.
After completion, the first male study group received alcohol administered intravenously, equivalent to two normal drinks and a placebo, while the other group received them in the opposite order, with the placebo first. Both groups were monitored to test their anxiety levels.
The results showed a multifaceted interaction between stress and alcohol, meaning it lowered the hormonal reaction to stress but prolonged the negative experience of the situation that was skewed while the stress lowered the enjoyable aspects of the alcohol. The conclusion: Using alcohol to manage your stress may in fact make matters worse.
The study further showed that stress may change the way we feel when drinking alcohol and cause us to drink more. Drinking more to relieve stress or tension may ultimately make you feel worse and prolong your stress.
Our stress response can actually benefit us because it helps us react to unpleasant events. If we alter the way our body handles stress, we may in turn be increasing the chances of later developing a stress-induced disease that possibly leads to alcohol addiction. Using alcohol to cope with stress may, in fact, only add to your problems and extend your recovery period from the initial stressor.
22 Aug 2011
What Happens During Drug Detox?
Many addicts and alcoholics believe they can quit using substances on their own. But after a few painful and confidence-crushing failed attempts, the need for an inpatient drug detox at a residential drug rehab often grows clearer.
Taking that first step to rid your life of drugs and alcohol requires a giant leap of faith. The life that you’ve come to know is about to change dramatically. And while some of those changes require patience and a bit of uneasiness, ask any recovering addict and they will tell you the rewards are well worth it.
Knowing what to expect during drug detox can help assuage unsettled nerves and reinforce your commitment to treatment. So what exactly happens during drug detox?
Intake Consultation and Assessment Before Detox
On the first day of drug rehabilitation, you will be welcomed to the start of your recovery. An experienced counselor will talk with you about your history, substance use and any medical issues. Based on this information, your therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan that matches your unique needs. Upon arrival, you will also have time to get comfortable in your room and take a tour of the facility, if desired.
Being in an unfamiliar place with a group of people you’ve never met can be intimidating. You may feel anxious, angry and nervous, and you may begin to rationalize all the reasons you don’t really need detox.
During this volatile time, your drug rehab program will guide you through the process and support you every step of the way. If at any time you feel like leaving drug rehab, rest assured that those feelings are normal and that they will pass with each day you spend getting well.
Medical Evaluation Before Detoxification Begins
By the time you enter drug detox, months or years of drug abuse have taken a toll on your body. To address any medical issues, nutrition deficiencies and health concerns, a medical team will conduct a comprehensive evaluation.
As part of the evaluation, the medical staff, which may include nurses, a nurse practitioner and/or physician will talk with you about the most effective ways to treat your withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Drug testing and mental health evaluations are often necessary to adequately address withdrawal symptoms and other health concerns.
Medically Supervised Detox
Depending on the type of addiction and length of drug use, your treatment team may recommend medically supervised detox. A supervised medical detox is critical for individuals addicted to alcohol or benzodiazepines (which can be life-threatening), and is well-advised for many undergoing opiate detox.
Under the close supervision of a licensed physician, you may receive medications such as methadone, Suboxone and buprenorphine to minimize drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications are backed by many years of scientific research and can be used solely for short-term detox (roughly 3-10 days) or for longer periods of time. The medical team may also recommend nutritional supplements, fluids to treat dehydration, pain relievers and non-addictive medication to address body aches and other complaints.
Many inpatient drug rehabilitation centers will limit your contact with family and friends during drug detox. This “blackout period” allows you to focus on treatment and allows your loved ones to take proper care of themselves while you are away.
Your Participation in Drug Detox Treatment
While medication can greatly reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox, you probably won’t feel 100% during this part of the recovery process. Even though detox typically only takes a few days, push yourself during this time to take advantage of all the drug rehab program has to offer.
Although you may be housed in a separate detox area, your treatment team will recommend that you participate as much as possible in counseling, activities and other services offered at the drug rehabilitation center. Getting involved will remind you why you’re going through detox in the first place, and will help combat the tendency toward isolation that is characteristic of addiction.
Recovery Begins After Detox
At the end of drug detox, you will look, think and feel better than you have since you started using drugs. But this doesn’t mean you’ve overcome addiction. Detox prepares you to participate in a drug rehab program that includes 12-Step meetings, therapy, life skills training, stress management, family counseling, relapse prevention planning and recovery-related activities. There are many different types of rehabs, so be sure to look for one that meets your specific needs, whether that be a Christian drug rehab or an executive drug rehab.
If you’re feeling excited but scared, empowered yet powerless, welcome to recovery! This journey is hard, long and worth every minute.
20 Aug 2011
Learning to Say Yes I Can in Recovery
“It’s the moment you think you can’t that you realize you can.” – Celine Dion, Canadian recording artist and entrepreneur (born 1968)
We’ve all had the thought that we simply can’t go on, that our troubles or circumstance – of our own making due to our addiction – are just too much for us to bear. We may look for the easy way out, but at the very least, we come face-to-face with the reality of our own actions. We tell ourselves we can’t do what’s expected of us, what we’re told is the way out of the darkness and into recovery.
That’s precisely the time when we realize – if we’re open to it – that we can, indeed, do exactly that. We can make it through whatever has happened or is happening now. What is at stake is our very life, our way of being, and our humanity. We can stare at the abyss and step back from it. In fact, we already have, since we’ve come through the serpentine labyrinth of addiction and made it out on the other side. Okay, it may be a tremulous and halting recovery to this point, but at least we’ve come this far. That’s really an achievement and one that we need to acknowledge. This is important because it gives us the strength and helps foster the determination to go on, to tackle the next obstacle or embrace the next opportunity that comes our way.
And we all face challenges and opportunities each and every day. Sometimes we don’t recognize them for what they are. We lump certain situations into the category of a roadblock when in reality, they’re really opportunities in disguise. We’ve heard the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The same could be said here. When we encounter a problem or a difficulty of major or minor proportions, we can choose to look at it one of two ways. First, we can tell ourselves that it’s too much for us to handle and give up on it altogether. Second, and the more constructive way to deal with it, is that we can look closely at the situation, learn what we can from it, and figure out a way that we can deal with it and move on. In other words, we turn a bad situation into something that works for us. We learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward in recovery.
The key to being able to do this is a belief that we can. For some of us, this belief in our capabilities and self-worth is sorely lacking. We may have endured an abusive childhood or been down on our luck for many months or years or our entire life. It will be tough to summon this belief that we have what it takes, and that’s where counseling or therapy can be very beneficial to us. We can overcome the nightmare of the past, but we can’t do it alone. Professional help may provide the means and the way forward. We will need to give therapy time to work, particularly if we’ve had a long history of trauma, abuse and addiction. But we can do it. Yes, we can.
Start today by working on something small on our list of things to do for our recovery. As we accomplish the first task, whatever it may be, add this to our success list of achievements. This will begin to boost our self-confidence, to reinforce that we can do what we set out to do for ourselves in recovery. Yes, we can, and yes, we will.
18 Aug 2011
Thoughts on Weathering the Storm
“No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm.” – Charles F. Kettering, American inventor, engineer, teacher, humanitarian, and holder of 140 patents, better known as “Boss Ket” (1876-1958)
When we think of a storm, images of roiling black clouds, thunder, rain, and miserable conditions come to mind. It’s not a stretch to extend this mind’s-eye view of a storm to our experience in recovery, especially early recovery. That’s because when we first begin our recovery journey, we’re likely not at our best. First of all, we’ve just gotten clean and sober for perhaps the first time in a long time, or perhaps another time in a series of relapse events. At any rate, we’re feeling a little rocky – okay, maybe a lot worse than just rocky – and not at all sure we’re prepared for what’s ahead, or even if we have it in us to deal with the challenges.
Indeed, our bodies and minds are screaming for it, is to drink or do drugs again. Maybe our drug of choice was a combination of alcohol and drugs and gambling, or compulsive sex, overwork, overspending, even overeating. Whatever it was, we each faced a tremendous number and variety of hurdles just to arrive at this point in our path toward sobriety. It was a long haul, and, quite frankly, more than likely very exhausting.
Now, just when we think we should be able to coast, or ease off a bit, we’re learning that the hard work is only beginning. Looking at what we’ve chosen for ourselves, sobriety, is starting to maybe look like an impossible task. Are we really going to find the courage or determination to be able to make it through whatever storm is on the horizon?
Perhaps the best bit of advice anyone can give the newcomer to recovery is to keep on moving forward. Looking backward isn’t productive, since there’s so much in our rearview mirror that we’ve now left behind. There’ll be plenty of time to deal with our recollection and inventory of our past behavior that caused harm to others and to work on making our amends. For now, however, we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and get down to the business of healing in recovery.
We’re on this ship of recovery, even though the storm clouds may be gathering or a downpour has just occurred. We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to stick it out, hold true to our desire to remain clean and sober. We’ll go to the 12-step groups and be present in the rooms. We’ll get a sponsor, learn all we can about how to live a healthier lifestyle, work the steps and get more in tune with our inner self, the one who’s chosen this path of recovery.
We can weather the storm. We’ve got it within us. All we have to do is believe in our ability to do so. No, it isn’t going to be easy all the time. There will be days when it certainly seems as if we’re lugging a tank uphill by our teeth. We’ll be tempted to give up, give in, and numb out. When those kinds of thoughts nag at us, it’s important to keep in mind that the end-goal, recovery, is a journey. It isn’t a destination. We’re in this for the long haul, whatever storms may erupt along the way.
Working in a large law firm, it wasn’t unusual for a partner to go missing for days or weeks on end. The official explanation was usually exhaustion, a medical problem or an “extended vacation,” though the young associates would take guesses whether the truth was closer to a nervous breakdown or admission into drug rehab.
12 Aug 2011
New Study Finds More Than Half of Patients Prescribed Opioids Still on Them Five Years Later
A new study published online July 13 Journal of General Internal Medicine reveals that more than half of the people taking opioids for chronic pain are likely to still be taking the painkillers five years later.
10 Aug 2011
Getting Addicts into Drug Addiction Treatment
It is estimated that roughly twenty-five million Americans over age of twelve need treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism. Sadly, fewer than 20% of those who need treatment actually receive it. As a society, we must focus on increasing the availability of effective treatment, especially in lower socio-economic classes. This involves increase the number of drug rehab programs covered under insurance policies, eliminating the stigma associated with drug addiction, and educating people about the value of treatment. When a health care professional suspects that a patient has become addicted to drugs, he must screen the patient for addiction, use brief intervention techniques, and refer out to treatment professionals when appropriate.