Very often someone in the throes of drug addiction will consider getting treatment for a moment, then think “What difference does it make?” First of all, consider the alternative – sticking with drug abuse. How’s that working out for you?
Of course, we want more for our clients than that smart-aleck phrase. Sometimes the most eloquent argument for substance abuse treatment is from someone who’s made it through that struggle. From an alumni:
I am 27 years old and I am recovering from a heroin, cocaine, and xanax addiction. My sobriety date is 11/04/12. Growing up I never felt a part of, or comfortable in my own skin. I found a solution to that early on in drugs. It was fun at first but then it got bad, really bad. I was in 12 treatment centers before Transformations, and I never put in the work to maintain sobriety and always went back to what I knew, drugs.
By the grace of God I made it to Transformations after a bad overdose, and this time I was ready to be done. I was ready and willing to put in the work to maintain sobriety. In Transformations I was not the model client but this time I realized I didn’t have all the answers and started to listen. I don’t know when, where, or how things clicked but they did and I started taking suggestions.
I stayed in Transformations for almost 60 days, went to a halfway house and stayed there for 9 months. I got a sponsor IMMEDIATELY out of treatment and jumped right into step work because that was what I was told was the solution by people I trusted and respected in recovery. I didn’t work the steps perfectly but I didn’t pick up under any and all circumstances.
As a result of working the steps I found a higher power that I call God, and began to rely on him. Since getting sober my life has become much better than anything I could have ever imagined. I have people in my life who I can call at anytime day or night that will be there for me no matter what.
My life in sobriety has not been perfect, in fact it has been anything but that. I have experienced and dealt with pain, grief, loss, happiness, sadness, ups, and downs, and remained sober. I love my life today and would not give it up for anything. It’s not perfect but it’s mine and I am grateful for everything and everyone in my life today. God has truly blessed me and I will continue to put in the foot work to maintain those blessings. Remember, without negatives we can never truly appreciate the positives in life.
If you think that continuing to abuse drugs is what you want to do, go back and read Shawn’s story. His journey should be instructive.
Many years ago, before the advent of all these modern over-the-counter pain medications, aspirin was pretty much the only choice. A cliché even developed regarding the standard advice from physicians – “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” That seemed to be the treatment for everything from the common cold to broken limbs. The phrase was so overused that it became the punchline for jokes.
Now, of course, aspirin is frowned upon for regular use by most people due to its tendency to irritate the stomach lining and its connection to Reye’s Syndrome in children and teenagers. (Daily low doses of aspirin do seem to help people who have had heart attacks or cardiovascular disease; consult your doctor.)
One good thing about aspirin in its 100+ year history is that it very rarely became the subject of drug addiction. Over the last few decades, its more potent replacements have done exactly that. Addiction to prescription painkillers has skyrocketed in recent years. As this trend has become apparent to the medical and law enforcement industries, physicians have tried to wean their patients off of powerful painkillers – leading to a newer trend of people who were formerly addicted to prescription drugs becoming heroin users.
The answer is not in treating drug abuse, but in preventing it in the first place. Substance abuse prevention needs to be the focus of politicians, law enforcement, medical personnel and the average citizen.
First of all, try looking at yourself. If you take prescription painkillers, you need to monitor your own use and see
It’s not everyone’s business, of course, but those closest to you should know. If you’re hiding things from your doctor, you’ve got problems.
Next, it’s incumbent upon all of us to observe those closest to us. Do it in a caring, not a nosey, snooping way, of course. We’re concerned with their wellbeing, not sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong.
If life were as simple as it was just fifty years ago, and substance abuse was not such a large problem, then we could trust someone who said “Take two pills…”
However, life is much more complicated than it once was. It’s more important than ever that we look out for each other.
If there’s one thing that everyone involved in substance abuse treatment can agree on, it’s that beating addiction is hard. Very hard. Labors of Hercules hard. (That’s a nugget for everyone who enjoyed the Dwayne Johnson movie.) The process is so difficult that across the addiction treatment industry, the dropout rate is very high.
This fact is very pertinent. The very reason that a person is in treatment for drug abuse is what causes them to quit that very treatment. Addiction has a strong hold, whether it’s from prescription drugs, illicit street drugs, alcohol, or some other controlled substance.
The reasons for the difficulty are many. First there is the physical addiction itself. Drugs, when abused, alter neurotransmitters in the brain. Because of the miracle of the human body, addicts become used to the new imbalance caused by these changes, and this becomes their “new normal.” When they then try to reduce or eliminate taking the drug, the body rebels at the new imbalance, which is simply a return to what it’s supposed to be. This when withdrawal from the drug occurs, with all the physical discomforts that accompany it.
Next is the psychological dependence addicts have developed to taking the drug. Addictive substance become the person’s “friend” (although a friend with bad intentions,) and when they try to quit it’s as if they are breaking a friendship. Breaking an addiction creates emotional discomfort.
Finally, the person who drinks or take drugs usually sets up an environment that supports that habit. If you want proof, take a look at the designated smoking areas of an office building during smoke breaks.
Smokers surrounded by other smokers. People with drinking problems usually associate with other drinkers, and feel uncomfortable around teetotalers. Their world is set up to reinforce what they’re doing.
What’s the best way to prevent someone from dropping out of treatment for substance abuse? Research has given us a few clues. The dropout and recidivism rate is lower when a treatment center has a larger ratio of clinical staff to clients. Also, the more money a center spends on a client’s treatment, the more likely the client will stay with it. Individual attention, and treatment in small groups in a friendly, comfortable environment help.
One of the most important keys in keeping a person in addiction treatment is a rapid initial response. In other words, when a person first has a problem with substance abuse, the quicker they seek help and receive it, the more likely they will be able to receive complete and successful treatment for their addiction.
At Transformations Treatment Center we can provide all of the conditions necessary to help someone beat their addiction. However, the person – or an influential friend or family member close to the person – has to contact us before we can provide that help. It takes a village to prevent dropouts.
When most of us hear the term “emotional abuse,” it conjures up images of Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest screaming “No more wire hangers!” (That reference is for baby boomers. For younger readers it might be Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross or Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.) We’ve been trained by movies and television with their melodrama to perceive mental or emotional abuse as overt, violent language or acts.
Real life, however, is seldom that obvious. Emotional abuse (or mental abuse, or psychological abuse) is any behavior that makes another person feel stressed, anxious, or depressed. It’s usually in a situation where the abuser holds some sort of power over the other person. This power might be official, as in a boss who abuses his or her subordinates. It might also be a personality imbalance, as when one person with a powerful, assertive, confrontational personality dominates someone who is shy or more introverted. These situations may be described as an abusive relationship, bullying, or abuse in the workplace.
The abuse may, indeed, be overt. Screaming, derisive comments, and threats all exist. Often, however, the abuse may be as subtle as a scornful look. When an imbalance in the relationship exists, the victim is often constantly on the lookout for any signs that he or she has displeased the abuser.
As we have seen over and over again in our treatment center, substance abuse exacerbates this problem. An addict may be the abuser, using drugs or alcohol to fuel the inner rage that compels them to act in evil ways towards those with whom they have relationships. Very often it is the abused person who turns to drugs in an attempt to quell the fear they constantly feel.
A large part of our treatment process is working with clients to understand the nature of their relationships with other people. We probe to help find the causes of their addiction, and this often reveals that they have been abused, or conversely, that they have developed abusive personalities as a result of their drug use. In some cases we expose various levels of mental illness, either in the client or in those around them.
Drug abuse hotlines are one way that victims of emotional abuse can seek help. When help is as close as the nearest phone, the victim may not feel quite as powerless. It’s incumbent on those of us who see someone being emotionally abused to urge them to seek help. Chronic abuse, whether from violent language or actions, or simply from subtle non-violent looks, can destroy a person’s life.
If you know someone who emotional abuse and drugs or alcohol are involved in any way, give them this number – (888) 991-3296.
Recently the news is filled with a large number of people who have begun abusing prescription drugs, and the focus is on two groups that have almost nothing else in common – suburban housewives and professional football players.
The National Institutes of Health give a series of clues to determine if a person is abusing prescription drugs. Such a person might be:
A growing number of suburban housewives have made the news in recent months not only for abusing prescription drugs, but for also becoming a new generation of heroin addicts. For the last few decades, more and more people, especially women, have been diagnosed with maladies that require them to take pain medication. This has led to an incredible increase in the prescription for such medicines.
As the numbers have increased, the trend has drawn attention. Physicians have been told that they shouldn’t be prescribing so many potent pain killers, and they have reduced their prescriptions accordingly. Unfortunately, many women have become addicted to these painkillers, and have now turned to other means to try to satisfy their cravings.
More recently, the US Drug Enforcement Agency has begun investigating the abuse of prescription drugs, especially pain killers, in the NFL. According to news reports, “Agents from the DEA’s New York division are reaching out to former players to learn how NFL doctors and trainers get access to potent narcotics such as Percodan and Vicodin or anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, a nonaddictive prescription drug widely used around the league to treat pain.”
The DEA’s investigation began shortly after attorneys representing over a thousand retired players filed a lawsuit against the NFL, claiming that the league provided prescription drugs to players to keep them on the field longer, without informing them of the long-term effects.
When a drug problem affects groups as disparate as these two, it’s clear that a larger problem exists for the population as a whole. Help for those with a prescription drug addiction problem is available. Many of these people, however, don’t realize that they have a problem, or they may be too ashamed to seek help. It’s vital that those of us who can see the problem need to step in where necessary. We may not be acquainted with any NFL players, but looking to the wellbeing of our wives, sisters, and mothers is something each of us should take seriously.