Recovery Safeguards: Safely Celebrating Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving 2020 is on the near horizon with just a couple of days to go. Typically, this coming Thursday would see all of us gathering together with friends in recovery or family members—giving thanks. This year is like no other year in living memory; all of us must consider health and safety.

The COVID-19 third wave is staggering, with over 150,000 new cases daily. Nearly 258,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus in the United States thus far, a number that is sure to grow with each passing day. It’s essential that you do everything you can to reduce your risk of contraction.

Public health agencies warn that Thanksgiving has the potential to be a “super spreader” event. Millions of Americans have already ignored the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) warning about traveling over the holiday. The CDC states:

Travel can increase the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Local, state, and federal agencies caution against both traveling and congregating in large groups during Thanksgiving. Even gathering outdoors carries inherent risks, and those living in colder climes will have difficulty hosting outdoor celebrations. What’s more, the CDC cautions:

Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”

Safely Celebrating Thanksgiving

Between November 10th and the 23rd, there were 2,300,507 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. alone. We can all have a hand in slowing the spread this week by adhering to CDC guidelines. The public health agency recommends:

  • Having a virtual dinner with friends and family. Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.
  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday

The day after Thanksgiving or “Black Friday” is when millions of people seek out holiday sales. Some people will wait in line for hours to get a video game console such as a PlayStation or Xbox. Naturally, being around large crowds this Friday could put your health at risk. Utilizing the internet is in everyone’s best interest.

Please consider doing as much as you can virtually this Thanksgiving, including attending 12 Step meetings. Every year, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are held around the clock during major holidays. This year, you can benefit from utilizing video conferencing platforms to attend meetings.

Coping With Isolation in Recovery

Many people in recovery live alone, which means that this Thanksgiving could be extremely challenging. Since it may not be safe to get together with one’s support network, such individuals will have to stay connected virtually.

Isolation is unhealthy for recovery any day of the week, but it’s incredibly hard during the year’s emotional days like holidays. Please start planning now for how you will manage the upcoming holiday. Just because you may be unable to congregate with friends and family does not mean that you will be utterly alone.

You can navigate Thanksgiving in isolation by attending meetings online. A member of your support network may be hosting a virtual dinner that you can attend—ask around. Throughout the day, please be sure to call other members of the recovery community, especially newcomers. You can help others and yourself stay clean and sober by reaching out.

The more you stay connected, the better; always remember that the fellowship is only a phone call or video conference away. Utilize your recovery tools for managing your feelings. If you find yourself feeling down, then grab a piece of paper and write out all the things you’re thankful for in recovery.

Seeking Help During the Holiday Season

If you are struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, there is help available. At PACE Recovery Center, we help men begin the journey of recovery. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and lead a productive and positive life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn about our gender-specific behavioral and mental health programs and services.

Addiction and Mental Illness: Diseases of Despair

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Unemployment, social isolation, and uncertainty are words all too familiar to millions of Americans in 2020—owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless men and women have struggled to stay afloat during these trying times, especially for those who suffer from the disease of addiction and mental health disorders, which have come to be known as “diseases of despair.”

Recent polling data shows that:

More than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus; and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people.”

Even those working a program of recovery have found it challenging to keep themselves on track. Relapse rates and overdose rates are up across the country. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), “The AMA is greatly concerned by an increasing number of reports…suggesting increases in opioid- and other drug-related mortality—particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.”

More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder.”

Addiction and Mental Illness: Diseases of Despair

When life becomes more difficult, people are more apt to turn to mind-altering substances to cope with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This summer, 40 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health and substance abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alcohol use and substance use disorders are on the rise this year as many people try to grapple with this new way of life. However, alcohol and drug misuse and suicidal thoughts and behaviors have been steadily rising for the last decade following the great recession.

Between 2009 and 2018, diseases of despair rose 170 percent, HealthDay reports. Alcohol use disorders increased in practically every age group. Substance use disorder diagnoses increased by 94 percent. New research suggests that diseases of despair can be linked to:

  • Economic Decline
  • Stagnant Wages
  • Fewer Community Ties
  • Unemployment

Among those ages 18 to 34, the rate of suicidal ideations and behaviors rose by 210 percent, according to the research appearing in the BMJ Open. What’s more, the researchers report that men had almost 50 percent higher odds of being diagnosed with a disease of despair than women. The new study included 12 million Americans.

Study author Emily Brignone – a senior research assistant – reports that it will take many years before we fully understand the pandemic’s impact on diseases of despair. She adds, however:

There is some evidence of COVID-19-related changes in diseases of despair, including increases in opioid overdoses and high numbers of people reporting suicidal thoughts. Diseases and deaths of despair represent an urgent public health issue, and the COVID-19 pandemic in some respects may exacerbate the conditions that give rise to these problems.”

Talking About Mental Health and Addiction

Evidence-based treatments exist, which can help individuals find recovery and get their life back on track. Addiction and mental health treatment work and people need to feel comfortable reaching out for help. Unfortunately, stigma still stands in the way of getting help for many Americans.

Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer for the Well Being Trust, calls the new study a “call to action,” according to the article. He says helping people get back to work is one preventive measure against diseases of despair. He adds that employment could lessen the pandemic’s impact on addiction and mental illness rates.

More importantly, Miller says people need to be able to have conversations about addiction and mental health. He adds:

We have to look at how to embrace the hard conversations around mental health and addiction. We need to know how to talk to each other, and be empathetic and supportive.”

Talking about behavioral and mental health disorders isn’t easy. Reaching out for help takes much courage, but it saves lives. If you know someone who is struggling, please take the time to lend them an empathetic ear.

Behavioral and Mental Health Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we treat men struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. Our team relies upon evidence-based treatment to help men find the gift of recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.

Addiction Recovery Centers Receive Funding

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In early addiction recovery and beyond, individuals are advised to avoid all mind-altering substances—including legal drugs. In recent years, many states have voted in favor of legalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes, even though the drug has no accepted medical purpose and has a high potential for abuse.

In total, 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana; four states passed recreational marijuana legalization measures earlier this month. While ending cannabis prohibition may be a step in the right direction criminal justice-wise, people in recovery need to remember that legal does not mean safe.

Many relapses have come about from thinking that marijuana will not lead to a return to drinking or using other drugs. If you are determined to keep your recovery intact, then please continue avoiding any substance that has the potential for abuse.

Legalizing Drug Use

On November 3, 2020, a number of states passed marijuana-related measures. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voters approved the use of cannabis for recreational purposes, USA Today reports. Both South Dakota and Mississippi passed medical marijuana initiatives; such legislation has now been passed in a total of 36 states.

Oregon took legalizing drug use a couple of steps forward. Having passed recreational marijuana use legislation some years back, now it’s legal to possess small amounts of more harmful drugs.

Oregon voters approved Measure 110, making it the first state to eliminate criminal penalties for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine possession. Measure 110 expands addiction services using the state’s marijuana tax revenue. Those found in possession of such drugs will be given a $100 fine, which would be waived if the offender seeks an assessment from an addiction recovery center.

I think Oregonians made it clear that they support a more humane, effective approach to drug addiction,” said Anthony Johnson, one of the measure’s chief petitioners. “We took a huge step for funding more treatment and recovery services, and for ending racist drug war policies.”

Naturally, opponents of Measure 110 contend that the initiative goes too far. They fear it will lead to increased drug use, especially among young people. The bill’s opponents argue that it could also lead to more overdoses.

Expanding Addiction Recovery Centers

One of the essential facets of Measure 110 is the reallocating of funds to expand or strengthen addiction recovery centers throughout the state, according to the article. The measure directs the Oregon Health Authority to redistribute marijuana tax revenue to funding for addiction treatment and recovery services.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office says the funds will also be used to expand evidence-based and trauma-informed treatment services. What’s more, the marijuana tax revenue will go towards providing housing for individuals with substance use disorders and overdose prevention education.

”It’s clear that the current approach of arresting and jailing people for their drug addiction has failed, and that people realized that Measure 110 was ultimately about people, not drugs,” said Johnson. He adds:

It’s about what do you want for your loved ones. Do you want them arrested, jailed and saddled with a criminal record? Or do you want them provided recovery services.”

Addiction Recovery Services for Men

It will be interesting to see how Measure 110 plays out in Oregon. Doing away with criminalizing drug use could result in more individuals seeking assistance rather than keeping their problems a secret. Most Americans agree that non-violent drug offenders do not belong behind bars. In the near future, we could see other states following Oregon’s lead on drug use.

Millions of men and women working programs of recovery are proof that there is another way of life. If you are an adult male struggling with drug or alcohol use, we invite you to contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer evidence-based, gender-specific treatment services to help men turn their lives around.

Our team specializes in the treatment of mental illness as well. If your problem is something other than drugs or alcohol, please do not hesitate to reach out for support.

Adoption Month: Talking About Addiction and Trauma

adoption

One’s upbringing has a lasting impact on one’s life. What we experience growing up can set us up for success or challenges down the road. There is no formula for predicting how a person’s life will pan out in the long run. However, there are life events like adoption that can predispose people to have issues such as addiction later in life.

Many people who have traumatic childhoods are unable to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Those who are subject to abuse, emotional or physical, are often ill-equipped to live life on life’s terms. Many adopted individuals struggle with anxiety and depression; some will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms.

Trauma is a significant predictor for who will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. For instance, those living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at a higher risk of using drugs and alcohol to deal with symptoms. PTSD is not always the result of combat or physical abuse; it can develop from an insecure living environment.

In The Primal Wound, Nancy Verrier writes:

Adoptees trauma occurred right after birth, so there is no ‘before trauma’ self. They suffered a loss that they can’t consciously remember and which no one else is acknowledging, but which has a tremendous impact on their sense of self, emotional response, and worldview. Even in adulthood, adoptees may unconsciously perceive the world as ‘unsafe and unfamiliar,’ remaining in a near-perpetual state of heightened anxiety and constant vigilance.”

Adopted individuals may struggle with lingering attachments, which are often the most significant source of anxiety. Many will have difficulty with never knowing their birth parents. Feeling unwanted can take a toll as well.

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, an initiative to increase awareness of the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system. This year’s National Adoption Month theme is “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn.” The The Children’s Bureau writes:

It is well known that teenagers are less likely to be adopted, often because of their age, and are much more likely to age out of foster care without strong or stable family support. Securing lifelong connections for teens in foster care, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.

While it would be nice to think of adoption as being a seamless transition, it’s often a long, drawn-out process that can significantly affect the course of one’s life. Those who are wards of the state are removed from unsafe homes or experience trauma while in foster care. Some adopted children have biological parents who struggle with drugs and alcohol. At this time, we would like to bring people’s attention to the prevalence of addiction among people who were adopted.

The combination of a genetic predisposition for addiction and lingering attachment issues can cause complications. According to researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School, adopted individuals are at an increased risk of mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD).

If you were adopted and are struggling with mental health or behavioral health disorder(s), you are not alone. Data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions indicates that adoptees are 1.87 times more likely to face substance use disorder problems. The authors write:

Adoptees had higher odds for lifetime SUDs than non-adoptees in this study using NESARC data. Despite the advantages of adoptees’ higher educational levels probably due to being raised by higher educated, higher-income adopting parents, adoptees are still at higher risk to lifetime SUD. Awareness of adopted persons and their adoptive parents to this risk may help in primary prevention (never using substances; having conservative rules about doses and frequency of use) and in secondary prevention (being alert to early signs and symptoms; timely intervention to reduce damage and increase the chance of recovery). The findings can also be useful for clinicians and policymakers to provide education, prevention, and support for adoptees and their families.”

Additional Reading on Adoption, Addiction, and Mental Illness

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of adoptees that struggle with mental illness and substance use disorders. We have written about the subject on numerous occasions and we invite you to learn more about the subject:

Specialists in Adoption-Related Addiction Treatment

Today, please contact us to learn more about our mental and behavioral health specialized services for those who were adopted. Call the PACE Recovery Center team at 800-526-1851 to learn how we can help you or a loved one heal and lead a healthy life in recovery.

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