Recovery: Exercising Gratitude and Giving Back

recovery

With all the opioid overdose deaths occurring across the country each day, it is easy to forget that for each tragedy there is a second chance (i.e., recovery). Now that first responders and the families of addicts can access naloxone, or Narcan, with greater ease, it is possible to reverse the deadly side effects of some opioid overdoses. In the blink of an eye, a person can become a hero thanks to their quick response in administering the life-saving antidote.

Today, the majority of EMTs, firefighters, and police officers carry naloxone kits in their vehicles. In the wake of the American opioid addiction epidemic, the need for overdose reversal has skyrocketed. In recent years, the easy to use drug has become one of the essential tools among those whose job it is to come to the aid of others. What’s more, many addicts and their families can acquire Narcan with relative ease, and in some states without a prescription. Expanding access to naloxone has saved countless lives, considering that many reversals go unreported.

Those who survive a drug overdose are usually pretty shaken up and for a good reason. Walking the precipice between life and the hereafter is a traumatic experience, by anyone’s standards. One could even argue that being within a hair's breadth of perishing, is as about as close to a “bottom” as any one person can get when battling substance use disorder. As a result, many advocates for recovery seize on such an opportunity to reach people who could benefit from addiction treatment services.

An Opportunity for Recovery

While not every person’s overdose is a catalyst to seeking recovery, there are some who do find help. Many addicts are starting to understand that fentanyl exposure is becoming more and more common. Those same people are learning that naloxone isn’t always capable of bringing them back from an overdose involving dangerous synthetic opioids. And, given that many addicts experience several overdoses during their using tenure, it’s likely the odds of returning to consciousness diminish each time.

Fentanyl isn’t forgiving! It was never intended to be administered without medical supervision. What’s more, even when a person is aware that their heroin contains fentanyl, it’s difficult to gauge a safe dose. As a result, seasoned addicts are succumbing to opioid toxicity. If ever there were a time for opiate addicts to consider treatment and recovery strongly, the time is now.

Synthetic opioids are more common than ever, and experts do not expect that trend to wane in the coming years. At PACE Recovery Center, we implore each person struggling with opioid use disorder to seek addiction recovery services. Recovery is possible; recovery is life-saving!

Giving Back In Recovery

In the rooms of recovery people often talk about paying it forward. Once individuals have a foundation for building a new life they can begin making efforts to help others. Another critical facet of working a program is selflessness; being of service to other people (not just those who are in recovery) whenever possible. Little acts of kindness can have a remarkable impact on one’s life, and they can help individuals stay clean and sober. It feels good to provide unsolicited assistance to anyone, even perfect strangers.

An instance of kindness and gratitude made the news recently, involving six (6) EMTs, a recovering addict, and an IHOP. Last Friday, six emergency services volunteers were eating breakfast in Toms River, New Jersey. When it was time to pay the bill, members of the Toms River First Aid Squad learned that their check was taken care of by an anonymous woman, WSMV reports. The EMT’s receipt for $77 said: "Paid, thank you for all you do! Have a great day!" — signed: "Recovering Addict."

Alyssa Golembeski, captain of the Toms River First Aid Squad, asked the IHOP manager if they could thank their benefactor only to learn that she wanted to remain unknown, according to the article. Captain Golembeski said she doesn’t know if the anonymous woman is in recovery from opioid use disorder. But, she added that the opioid crisis is terrible in New Jersey, which made the act of kindness all the more special.

This gift was amazingly thoughtful, and brought our table of tired EMTs to tears," the squad posted on Facebook. "We are so blessed to be able to serve you and everyone else who lives and works in the greater Toms River area. Good luck on your journey of recovery!"

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

PACE Recovery Center is a gender-specific, specialized treatment for men struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. If you are in the grips of an opioid use disorder, please contact PACE as soon as possible. We can help you make lasting recovery your reality!

Addiction Research Sheds New Light

addiction

There isn’t an alcoholic or addict who hasn’t asked him or herself, ‘why me, and not them? Why is it that when I drink, it affects me differently than most of society?’ This simple musing isn’t unique to the millions of people whose lives are turned upside down by addiction; researchers continue to probe for answers to an age-old question. What are the prerequisites for chemical dependency?

Even people with a rudimentary knowledge base of the known mechanisms for addiction understand there are many factors to consider. Three elements that are thought to play a significant part in the development of use disorders come to mind: biological, psychological, and social factors. The interaction between and an understanding of the bio-psych-social relationship helps clinicians treat those who contend with alcohol and substance use disorder.

When trying to get to the bottom of a mental illness like addiction, researchers attempt to make sense of the relationship between a person’s genetics and biochemistry; with mood, personality, and behavior; along with cultural, familial, and socioeconomic factors. All of which are worth considering, and attempting to understand these connections can help clinicians establish therapeutic targets for fostering recovery.

While making sense of the myriad factors that play a role in addiction is of the utmost benefit, such knowledge doesn’t wholly answer the question at the start of this article. It’s one thing to identify the similarities between addicts and how they differ from the general population, it is another thing altogether to pinpoint one item that all people who’ve struggled with substance abuse share. If only 15 percent of people who drink alcohol become “hooked,” mustn’t there be something under the surface consistent from one alcoholic to the next? In addiction research, whys often lead to more whys.

The Vulnerable Minority of Addiction

In short, psychiatrist Markus Heilig has a history of racking his brain about addicts and alcoholics. Helig spends a lot of time studying rats and mice, and their minds on chemicals; and he says that he and his fellow researchers have been going about it all wrong, The Atlantic reports. Markus points out that at the end of each rodent study the findings “will lead to an exciting treatment” for alcoholism. Unfortunately, Linköping University professor’s labor never bore fruit when transitioning from animal models to clinical trials; Helig became disillusioned for time, and then he made a breakthrough.

Helig excels at making rodents alcoholics; he can even treat and potentially “cure” their alcoholism. With alcohol in the cage, practically every rat or mouse develops a problem with the substance. Whereas, every human can access alcohol if they want and 85 percent don’t experience problems. Why? The answer appears to be “options.” Researcher Eric Augier, whose previous work involving cocaine and mice, gave the rodents more than just the cocaine option, adding sweet nectar to the menu. Helig, together with Augier, et al., used Eric’s technique; they gave rodents the choice of alcohol or sugar water. Eureka!

Remarkably, rodent trial after rodent trial produced results consistent with humans; only 15 percent of rats choose alcohol over sugar. Even when deterrents are in place (i.e., bitter tasting, electro-shocks accompanied doses), 15 percent of rats drank regardless.

Embedded in the criteria for diagnosing alcoholism is that people continue to take drugs despite good knowledge of the fact that it will harm or kill them,” says Heilig.

Once they were able to establish correlations between human and rodent behavior, the next task was determining why 15 percent are vulnerable to addiction. What was different in the brains of the minority?

Amygdala, GABA, and GAT3

Scientists know that there is an association between the primitive brain and addiction, and have known this for some time. Notably, the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens—regions of the brain involved in processing emotions and fight-or-flight behavior—researchers hold are underpinnings of addiction. Helig and Augier looked for gene variations in six areas of the brain thought to have a role in use disorders, according to the article. Five revealed no apparent differences; however, the researchers found something in the amygdala.

The team noticed that in the amygdala of alcoholic rats exhibited indication signs of low activity in several genes linked to a neurochemical called GABA. In the brain, particular neurons produce and release GABA into neighboring neurons to prevent them from firing. After which, the neurons producing GABA use the GAT3 enzyme to pump the molecule back into themselves for recycling. This cycle occurs in everyone's brain, but in the alcoholic’s brain something unusual happens.

Helig’s team found that the gene that makes GAT3 is much less active in the amygdala of alcoholic rats, and makes only half the usual levels of GAT3. The shortage of the pump enzyme causes GABA to accumulate around the neighboring neurons, rendering them inactive. By reducing GAT3 in the amygdala of non-alcoholic rats, Helig was able to turn them into rats that now preferred alcohol over the nectar. The researchers then looked at postmortem brain tissue samples from alcoholics and found low levels of GAT3. The study suggests GABA-influencing chemicals could lead to helping people manage their addictions.

Curing alcoholism in rats is not important,” says Helig. “What’s important is what this looks like in humans with alcohol addiction.”

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

The above research is very significant and will guide future research. A better understanding of the biological mechanisms of addiction could lead to new treatments that will aid counselors as they help clients cope with the psychological and social factors that can disrupt recovery. Alcohol use is a severe problem in the U.S., and research published this week shows a 65 percent increase in deaths from cirrhosis of the liver in the U.S. since 1999. What’s more, the most significant growth is among millennials; cirrhosis-related deaths are rising 10 percent a year among people aged 25 to 34.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center to start the process of healing if you are a young adult male living with an alcohol use disorder. Our gender-specific, addiction treatment center for men is the perfect place to begin the life-long journey of recovery.

Taking Addiction Recovery to New Heights

addiction

Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a crucial facet of addiction recovery. In order to turn your life around you must exercise commitment and fortitude; sticking to a program is trying at times, and the slightest of obstacles can place your recovery in jeopardy. It is vital to remember—at any stage in a person’s quest for self-care—that the use of mind-altering substances is but a symptom of a more significant issue: an inability to take life as it comes, essentially. Take away the chemicals, and there still exist multiple aspects of one’s life that lead a person to begin looking for an antidote to the issue of Self.

More than half of people living with use disorders have a dual diagnosis, which means they are contending with conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. When psychological comorbidity is a factor, individuals seeking recovery will find achieving their goals next to impossible unless the co-occurring illness is addressed along with the addiction. The good news is that people who seek treatment for alcohol and substance use have an opportunity to deal with every aspect of their mental health. At the time of discharge, clients are better equipped to manage their depression for instance, through utilizing tools to help cope with their symptoms.

People who do the work in treatment will find that they no longer need to rely on their old methods for coping with life. With continued professional therapy, participation in a program of recovery (i.e., 12 Steps or SMART Recovery®), and an influential group of peers to support you along the way, long-term recovery is made possible. Of course, people can have all the things mentioned above and still run into problems, particularly in the first months after treatment.

Helping Recovery Along

Those who take measures to go above and beyond, whenever possible, position themselves not only to make progress but to make it last. If you have completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, then you have an excellent foundation for building a new life. In treatment, you learned that you will always be a work in progress; and, what you do moving forward and every decision that you make must be in service to your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. The days of selfish and self-centeredness and self-harm and self-defeating behaviors have to be behind you, if the seed of recovery is to grow.

In the early days, weeks, and months of working a program, one must face difficult feelings that arise head on without chemical assistance. In treatment, many safeguards keep dangerous types of thinking in check. Being surrounded by people working toward similar goals and a team of addiction professionals—many of whom are themselves in recovery—act as safeguards to acting on cravings and triggers. After treatment, one must be quick to replicate the layers of support provided while in rehab.

In whichever modality (program) you subscribe to, go to a meeting and put yourself out there as soon as you can after rehab. Introduce yourself to people before and after the meeting. Ask those who you meet if you can get to know them better over coffee, for example. Get phone numbers, use them, and develop relationships with like-minded people. Those same individuals may one day talk you out of a relapse, which is nothing short of saving your life.

Service Gets You Out of Your “Self”

Going to meetings is crucial and fostering relationships is critical, but being of service to others can take your program to a higher plane. Addicts and alcoholics are prone to get lost in their head. If people in recovery stay busy in productive ways, they are less likely to harp on the past or spend too much time dreaming of a future yet to arrive. Being present is a pillar of addiction recovery! With that in mind, helping others is an exceptional method for staying in the here-and-now.

People who work a program glean quickly that service is invaluable to recovery. Meetings offer service opportunities, of course, but you can be of help to your peers in other ways, too. Merely talking to someone at a meeting who has less time than you, could be a move that keeps that person from acting on thoughts of using. Assisting someone with their “service commitment” is another way to affect change in your peers' lives. Providing unsolicited assistance is a useful way to comport yourself at meetings. What’s more, it feels wonderful to know that you have made other people’s day just a little bit brighter; a realization that makes you worry less about things in life that are out of your control.

You aid the greater community if time permits it, by looking for local volunteer opportunities. Houses of worship and community centers are ideal places to find ways you can help others. In the process of volunteering, you will have less time to worry about things that cannot change. Along the way, please remember to trust in what you were taught in treatment — trust in the process.

Addiction Treatment and Lasting Recovery

PACE Recovery Center, located in Huntington Beach, CA, is the ideal place to begin the life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We offer gender-specific treatment to men struggling with use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions who would like to overcome the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol and lead a meaningful and productive life.

Recovery Boys: Young Men Living With Opioid Use Disorder

Recovery Boys

Beyond drugs and alcohol, there is a meaningful life to be had for anyone provided however they are willing to make significant changes. We know this, we have seen it first hand at PACE Recovery Center; each year we help young men pull themselves out of the depths of despair and embrace a wholly new way of living. Males whose prospects for the future were exceedingly dim just a short time ago are today committed to doing whatever it takes to keep their disease at bay. Those same men are living examples of the power of recovery, and they serve as an inspiration to all who are interested in following a similar path.

When scrolling through news feeds of addiction-related topics, it can be easy to adopt the opinion that recovery is nearly impossible. Such is especially for some people when they see headlines about the almost two-decade-long opioid addiction epidemic, a crisis that has shattered families and stolen the lives of both young and old alike. With over 100 Americans perishing from opioid-related causes every day, and another 2.1 million people whose next use could be their last, it can be easy to become discouraged.

It is vital we balance the scales and dispel myths about addiction and recovery. And, the general public should know that for every tragic story, there is one of hope; with the help of detox facilities, treatment centers, and a daily program, men and women can persevere. This most deadly illness has a weakness, that of community, compassion, and empathy; working together with those who came before, people can overcome use disorders and find peace and serenity.

Recovery Boys

Encouraging people to take the leap from substance use to recovery isn’t simple, addiction has a way of persuading people to act in ways counter to their best interest. With that in mind, it helps if addicts first believe that recovery is possible and one way to accomplish the task of encouraging individuals to seek treatment is to show them stories of success. Documentary filmmaker and director, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, has made it her mission to light the way toward healing for many young men still “out there.” In her latest film, “Recovery Boys,” Sheldon follows four young men living with opioid use disorder as they chart a path out of the dark cave of addiction.

If you are familiar with her prior work about the opioid epidemic, “Heroin(e),” then you would likely agree that Sheldon aims to erode the stigma of addiction. “Heroin(e)” follows three women in Huntington, West Virginia, working on the frontlines of the epidemic. Some call Huntington the “overdose capital of the United States!" If you have not seen the Oscar-nominated film, you can stream it on Netflix.

While the spotlight focuses on empathetic people trying to save the lives of addicts in “Heroin(e),” Sheldon turns the lens on young men who do not want opioid addiction to be the end of their story in “Recovery Boys.” Like most people in early recovery, the four human subjects in Sheldon’s new film have many obstacles ahead, but watching them go through the process may inspire others to embark on similar journeys.

I make this film not to victimize, pity or make excuses for individuals, but to uplift the stories of people who are actively trying to make change, no matter how big or small,” Sheldon said in a statement.

Please take a moment to watch the trailer:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Many young men across the country believe that recovery is not an option. Some of those same people give recovery a go for a time only to relapse; when that happens, it’s easy to resign oneself to negative lines of thought about the prospect of change. Becoming discouraged is understandable, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to give up on recovery altogether. The fact is that there are thousands of compassionate people working in the field of addiction medicine, many of whom are healing from addiction too, who are committed to helping others adopt a program of recovery. Mental illness is treatable; we can break the bonds of the disease, and long-term recovery is achievable. Although to achieve the above ends, individuals must work together!

Due to the complexities of opioid dependence, long-term treatment is the most effective way of bringing about lasting recovery. If you are a young adult male who is battling an opioid use disorder, our team of highly skilled addiction professionals can show you how life in recovery is possible. Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about the PACE Recovery model.

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