Reading For Addiction Recovery

addiction recoveryAs 2016 comes to a close, with Christmas and Hanukkah on our doorstep and New Year’s following close behind, it could be easy to end on a grim note. With overdose death rates holding strong, the result of increased use of heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, overdose deaths now take more lives annually than traffic accidents. Lawmakers continue to draft legislation for combating opioid addiction, but there are still many fears about how the various programs like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and 21st Century Cures Act will work and be funded to ensure addiction recovery is accessible.

Millions of Americans still struggle accessing addiction treatment and mental health services in several regions across the United States. So, at this point, the best thing everyone can do is hope that 2017 will be a better year regarding addiction recovery across the country. We should not find ourselves becoming discouraged, but rather remain optimistic about the addiction-focused legislation passed this year.

Rather than talk about the dark side of addiction this holiday week, we feel it is important that we discuss the millions of people across the globe who are dedicated to “living one day at a time.” It is often said that recovery is the most difficult thing people with an alcohol or substance use disorder will ever do. Which speaks to the paradox of addiction. Turning one's back on substances that are in fact trying to kill you, would seem like a logical, even easy choice—at least to someone who has never walked down the dark road of addiction. Those who are actively working a program know this reality all too well, which is why they must make a daily commitment to abstain from drugs and/or alcohol and invest their energy in living a spiritual life. It is extremely challenging to stay the course year in and year out, but with the help of recovery programs and those working them—we can, and do recover from the pernicious disease of addiction.

Reading for Recovery

Those who found sobriety in the rooms of 12-step recovery, whether that be in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, are all too familiar with the “Big Book.” They also know that without its guidance, long term recovery would be even more difficult to achieve. Inside the tomes of recovery, you will hear your own story of addiction (or a variation of it), and you will learn what is required of you to achieve continued recovery. The basic texts of AA and NA are essentially “how to” guides to working a program, helping people all over the planet work the “steps” and help others do the same. It probably comes as little surprise that TIME Magazine included AA’s basic text on their list of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 (the first year of the magazine's publication).

The basic texts of addiction recovery are invaluable assets to society, considering that one’s mental illness has a negative impact on the entire community. It is fair to say that the world would be a little bit darker, if it were not for such books being written. We would be remiss if we did not point out that there are other books that can help people in recovery on their journey to be their best self. If you have been in the program for some time now, it is likely that you have read some recovery related literature. And maybe the writings of others helped you on your path. If so, then you may be interested to learn about, “Out Of The Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery." Written by authors Neil Steinberg ("Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life) and Sara Bader (the creator of Quotenik), the book could prove to be a useful resource on the road of addiction recovery. “Out of the Wreck I Rise” is:

Structured to follow the arduous steps to sobriety, the book marshals the wisdom of centuries and explores essential topics, including the importance of time, navigating family and friends, Alcoholics Anonymous, relapse, and what Raymond Carver calls ‘gravy,’ the reward that is recovery. Each chapter begins with advice and commentary followed by a wealth of quotes to inspire and heal.”

Staying Proactive During the Holiday Break

Those of you in the program who will be traveling over the holidays may want to consider the recovery companion. You could have a lot of down time at airports or train stations, a perfect opportunity to invest in your program. There is much to be learned about addiction from authors who have struggled with the disease themselves even if, like Hemingway, the battle was lost.

At PACE Recovery Center, we hope that everyone has wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah, one that does not involve picking up a drink or a drug. Please remember, if you find yourself in times of trouble, help is always just a phone call away.

Addiction Family Work: A Two-Sided Problem

Addiction is a Family Disease

An addict’s net cast wide…” HBO Mini Series A Night Of, August 28, 2016
Family Work Two-sided ProblemIn five simple words, the above quote manages to capture the essence of the disease of addiction. It is a family disease, not unlike any other chronic disorder. It requires family work. It is a two-sided problem. But for some reason, an addiction diagnosis, like many mental health disorders, often carries with it elements of shame and guilt. With any health diagnosis one can experience an array of emotions: shock, terror, fear, resentment, confusion...and so the story goes. How we learn of a family member’s addiction diagnosis will vary. One might be standing in a hospital emergency department, one could receive the phone call in the middle of the night from a jail, one may find himself at a parent-teacher conference listening to someone describe their child’s unexplained behavior. Every parent has their own story. But most parents won’t share their story after receiving a final diagnosis of addiction. They will pull inward, feeling guilt, shame and fear of the unknown.

So, what steps should parents pursue to start the family’s recovery?

First and foremost, the family must understand and accept they are not alone. An estimated 21 to 25 million Americans struggle with substance abuse. Indeed, last month the U.S. Surgeon General reported that one in seven Americans struggle with substance abuse. To put that number in perspective, if you live in a neighborhood of 100 people, then 14-15 could be dealing with addiction. And each of those 15 have a story they are afraid to share. Secondly, get the facts. If you have a family primary care physician, seek their advice. If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), then determine what programs might be available for your loved one. Third, take a deep breath, have a family meeting and make a plan. If planning doesn’t come easy, then perhaps you need an interventionist to guide you in this process. Fourth, if an intensive primary care substance abuse treatment program or intensive outpatient treatment program are in order, then review your health insurance policy and move forward. Finally, take the first step and start to care for yourself; learn to set your boundaries. Seek out an Al-Anon meeting and understand the three “C’s”: You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. Work your own program of recovery and allow your loved one to work their program.

Dr. Phil helps one young man take his first step

Dr. Phil logo This past November Dr. Phil viewers were allowed to meet one young man and his parents. If you happened to tune-in, you may have been shocked to hear their story. But if you have a family member with an addiction diagnosis...then you may have been empathetic and hopeful that this family will find recovery. Here is how Dr. Phil guided the family to consider PACE Recovery Center’s multi-pronged approach to addiction and co-occurring disorders. In his own words, Dr. Phil explained:
There is an organization called PACE Recovery Center and it is a gender specific, extended care program for young men struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues, such as immaturity, the inability to modulate, regulate,  predict their behavior. Whether it is neurological, psychological, or whatever. The  PACE approach utilizes a model of integrating philosophies and research and clinical practices from medical, psychiatric, psychological, social, familial and self-help communities. I mean this is a very integrated model."
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Family recovery is possible…

PACE Recovery Center specializes in treating young men. We have a core philosophy to offer a place where men can delve into their underlying issues, which have caused them to resort to substance use and self-defeating behaviors. We understand that a positive attitude changes everything. Parents are encouraged to attend family therapy with their loved ones at PACE to address how addiction has impacted family members. This therapy allows family members to leave behind the guilt and shame; they are encouraged to share their story. Working with PACE Therapists and counselors, family members can learn about the disease of addiction, acquire tools to end enabling or co-dependency, and develop new healthy communication patterns in sobriety. Yes, the story goes on...

Under the Influence of Alcohol this December

DUIMany of our readers who are actively working a program of addiction recovery, know all too well what is like to be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In some cases, multiple DUI’s are part of one’s story. It can be that part of a narrative which embodies the unmanageability that led to you seeking help in the first place. While many of our stories are similar in several ways, the catalysts that precipitated treatment are often quite similar—arrest. It is often said that you cannot force someone to take the initiative regarding seeking recovery. Until someone is ready to help them self, how can they be expected to accept help from others? If demanding that someone seek help was all that was required for beginning to work an honest program, there would likely be many more people with continued long term sobriety. There is a significant number of people in the rooms of recovery who believe that hitting rock bottom is a prerequisite for being able to truly admit that one has a problem, accept that their way is not working and surrender. If there is any doubt in one’s mind, that uncertainty can quickly go from a spark of an idea to the wildfire of relapse. Naturally, for large percentage of people working a program of recovery, the penalties of driving under the influence were their bottom—leading to giving recovery a chance.

Alcohol and Driving by the Numbers

Of course, not everyone who drives under the influence has a problem with alcohol—”normal” people make poor decisions, too. People from every legal driving age group make the choice to get behind the wheel under the influence every day of the week in the United States. A choice that puts not just the driver's life at risk, but the lives of those they share the road with. Encouraging people to make sounder decisions when it comes to driving while inebriated is not an easy task, and every year the country must rededicate itself to education and prevention efforts. The major news regarding the dangers of using mind altering substances revolves mostly around opioids these days, and for good reason. The number of opioid overdose deaths every year has surpassed traffic fatalities in the preventable death department. However, it is important that we do not lose sight of DUI prevention, considering that 10,265 people died in the U.S. due to alcohol-impaired crashes in 2015, up 3.2 percent from 9,943 in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2015, there was an alcohol-impaired traffic fatality every 51 minutes.

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

As we move through the 12th month of 2016 in anticipation of the New Year, we can all do our part to fight drunk driving. It is no secret that December is a month typified by heavy alcohol consumption, with holiday parties and all. More people will be in a position to make bad decisions then most months of the year. And even if you are not imbibing, you may be at risk if you are on the road. You may find yourself at a get together with friends and family who are drinking, some of whom will think they can drive. You may be able to talk them out of it, offering to drive them yourself or calling a taxi for them. Believe it, or not, little interventions like this could have huge benefits—potentially saving a life. The increased dangers on the road in December is why this is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, as proclaimed by the President of the United States. The proclamation calls on the entire nation to do their part to help prevent deadly car accidents that can result from drinking alcohol or using drugs. The President writes:
“Whether encouraging parents to set a good example for their teen drivers or educating every driver on the dangers of unsafe driving, we must recommit to doing everything we can to prevent driving-related injuries and fatalities. This month, let us continue empowering drivers to make responsible decisions and educating the American people on ways they can help keep our roads safe and our futures bright.”
For more information on drunk driving prevention efforts, please click here.

PAARI: Addiction “Angel Programs”

PAARIIt has been nearly 20 years since the beginning of the American opioid epidemic, the greatest public health crisis of modern times. With the continued overdose death rates now at an all-time high, and scores of people being denied access to substance use disorder treatment, it may be time to stop and ask some vital, albeit hard, questions to answer. And at the top of the list is: What have we learned?” Of course, that question could be succinctly answered in a number of ways, for instance: we have learned that our reliance on prescription opioid painkillers is alarming, unparalleled in any other country. We have learned that making it harder to acquire prescription opioids has the unintended effect of fueling a demand for heroin, a drug that is often stronger and cheaper than prescription opioids. Perhaps the most import knowledge gained by battling an epidemic for two decades, something that addiction professionals have been arguing for since time immemorial, is the fact that we cannot arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic—treatment is the answer.

Providing Access to Addiction Treatment

Previously we have written about the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill that was passed which aims to, among other things, provide access to addiction treatment to the millions of Americans who need it. The bill, at the end of the day, is a perfect example of what can be achieved when lawmakers put their differences aside for the good of the country. However, there are many experts who believe that the bill lacks adequate funding for all the programs the legislation calls for, leading to a letter written to Congress and Senate by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The letter aims to persuade the same lawmakers who passed the bill to fully fund CARA. Hopefully, action will be taken to ensure that happens. CARA, adequate funding or not, is still a step in the right direction, a move that will surely aid some people in receiving the help they need. There is a new bill that was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, known as the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill will likely be approved in the Senate as well, according to USA Today. While the bill is not without criticism, due to some glaring signs of impropriety, the legislation would provide $1 billion in new funding over the next two years for opioid addiction prevention and treatment. With 2017 just around the corner, millions of Americans are hoping to reap the benefits of both CARA and the Cures Act, but in the meantime, opioid addicts continue the fight for access to treatment. And in some cases, both lawmakers and law enforcement have come up with some novel ideas for providing treatment, and just like addiction recovery, it all starts with surrender.

PAARI: “Angel Program”

As lawmakers continue to argue over how to fund addiction treatment, in some parts of the country local law enforcement agencies have resorted to a novel idea: Encourage opioid addicts to come to the police station and surrender their narcotics without fear of punishment, in turn the police will link the addicted individuals with addiction treatment services. In 2015, officials in Gloucester Massachusetts created the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), otherwise known as the “Angel Program.” The initiative was so successful that it has spread throughout the country, with 160 police-based programs nationwide, and more to follow. PAARI has released its first annual report, with some promising results:
  • More than 400 Gloucester individuals have been helped into treatment by the Police Department
  • Nationwide, thousands more have been helped by other Police Departments.
  • PAARI communities have seen a 25 percent reduction in crimes associated with addiction.
  • More than 5,000 doses of nasal naloxone have been distributed.
  • PAARI can be found in more than 20 states, working hand in hand with more than 300 treatment centers.

Working with Young Adult Men

Here at PACE, we have a multi-pronged approach to our men's addiction treatment program and philosophy because we understand that our clients are complex beings. Having a place where men can delve into their underlying issues, which have caused them to resort to substance use and self-defeating behaviors, is the core philosophy of PACE.

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