Mental Health in the Workplace: Exercising Compassion

mental health

From National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), significant efforts have been made of late to shatter stigma and promote mental health treatment. We can all lend a hand in encouraging others to seek help. By promoting wellness, lives can be both mended and saved. It’s vital that such efforts continue, there is much work to be done.

On numerous occasions over the years, we have written about the importance of mental health parity, mental illness treatment and the negative impact that stigma has on society. We are all affected by the well-being of our peers, demanding that everything in our power is done to inspire others to seek help. Whether someone is suffering from depression, battling addiction or both; treatment works, recovery can become a reality for the millions of afflicted individuals.

Regardless of where you live or how old you are, the odds are that you know someone affected by mental illness. Or, you may be struggling yourself. With depression affecting more than 300 million people worldwide (just one of the many forms of mental illness), the odds are high. There are over 260 million living with anxiety disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is next to impossible not to know someone touched by mental illness.

Mental Health In The Workplace

With such a high prevalence of mental health conditions, it stands to reason that most workplaces employ people affected. Unlike other typical illnesses, people with mental illness are far less likely to share what they are going through with an employer. Conversely, many employers are not keen on the idea of hiring people with mental health conditions. Creating closed-mouthed environments, one has to omit information to get a job. Then, has to do what they can to disguise their issues to keep it.

Obviously, it’s illegal to fire someone because of mental illness. But, that doesn’t mean that openly talking about it is typically welcomed in the workplace. This code of silence makes not only employees iller, but it also has an impact on the business itself. If someone feels that they can’t talk about what they are dealing with, they are less likely to seek treatment. For fear of repercussions to their career, individuals will do whatever they can to hide what they are going through on the inside. A trend that can have grave implications for the individual in the long run.

Without treatment and continued maintenance, people living with untreated mental illness will take desperate measures. Drugs, alcohol, and self-harm are conventional vehicles of coping with untreated mental health conditions. Behaviors that often lead to addiction, overdose, and premature death. Employers who promote environments of well-being can have a hand in reversing such outcomes.

World Mental Health Day

Some of our readers may remember that we discussed the topic of mental health in the workplace back in July? An exchange involving employee and employer. Yes, talking about needing time off for mental health, mirabile dictu, and it went unbelievably well. If you didn’t get a chance to read our post, below you can see the fantastic exchange:

Employee:

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”

Employer:

I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

The above discourse can serve as an inspiration to everyone. We can all promote mental health in the workplace. Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 (October 10, 2017). Depression and anxiety disorders, alone, cost $1 trillion in lost productivity each year, according to WHO. The organization would like to raise awareness for mental health issues, and the impact such conditions have on society:

Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains, not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work. A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.”

Dual Diagnosis Therapy

AT PACE, we would like to acknowledge all the employers who treat mental health with compassion. You are a model for all employers around the globe, promoting the facts. Mental illness is treatable; kindness pays off in the end.

A significant number of the millions battling anxiety and depression also meet the criteria for addiction. When that is the case, treatment can be complicated. In such cases, long-term recovery is dependent on treating both the addiction and co-occurring mental health condition. If you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, we can help. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving process.

Winnie-the-Pooh’s Mental Illness: How to Treat Others (in spite of their “flaws”)

mental illness

All of us in recovery have a story. Our stories go back to before we began walking down the treacherous road of addiction. Many of us had, for the most part, decent childhoods. Growing up in houses full of love. Parents who bent over backwards to ensure we would be afforded every opportunity in life. After all, that is the role that parents are expected to take in a child’s life. Two people who teach you how to be a good person, to yourself and to others.

However, our guides in early life had no way of knowing that deep inside their children something was amiss. Rather than a philharmonic orchestra, a syncopated jazz ensemble was on stage. The music sounded great, but it was off-beat. While there is certainly beauty in organized chaos, left unchecked the lines of discord and harmony become blurred. Truly, the number of variables that lead one toward the grips of addiction are numerous. Each individual case with unique roots, but the trees that would grow up were similar in appearance. Everyone recovering from addiction has unique experiences, but what brought us too surrender looked the same.

The signs may not have been picked up on early on. But, it can’t be denied that a significant number of people living with addiction met the criteria for mental illness. In one form or another, early on. Such conditions, and a lack of treatment, likely played a part in many people's’ path to drugs and alcohol. Verily, those touched by mental illness, but don’t have tools to cope or even talk about it, turn to self-medication. It doesn’t have to be in the form of substances, it can be behaviors as well. Patterns of risk-taking behaviors, specifically, resulting in co-occurring disorders.

What Does Winnie the Pooh Have to Do With People In Recovery?

When you were a kid, your parents likely read you children stories. Regardless of which decade you spent your childhood, A.A. Milne’s stories were probably read to you. Winnie the Pooh and his pals of the Hundred Acre Forest danced through your mind before falling asleep. We couldn’t see it then, but Milne was trying to reach us—even if it was inadvertently. You see, Milne fought in both world wars, which scared him. At the time “experts” would have called it bullet wind, soldier's heart, battle fatigue, or operational exhaustion. But, most people called it “shell shock;” what we would call post-traumatic stress disorder.

A new biopic ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin,’ explores A. A. Milne’s battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the creation of Pooh. Milne’s inspiration being his son and his toys, TIME reports. The Winnie the Pooh series has been dissected and has even been applied to schools of philosophy (i.e.The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet) over the years. Helpful for those in recovery, to be sure. Perhaps even more relevant to the field of addiction is a study from 2000, published in The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne.

In the study, Dr. Sarah Shea Read and colleagues started out with the intention of having a bit of fun. They assigned a mental illness to each character, using criteria from the DSM, according to iNews. Dr Shea claims that she hadn’t any knowledge Milne’s struggle with PTSD, at the time of the research. Milne’s characters were likely the author’s way of processing his own struggle with mental illness. Untreated mental illness, that is.

Concept of Comorbidity (Co-Occurring Disorders)

For some of you, decades may have passed since you read or watched something with Winnie the Pooh. Still, there is good chance you remember the attributes of the characters. iNews compiled some of the researchers’ insights on the characters:

Winnie the Pooh: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

This unfortunate bear embodies the concept of comorbidity [the presence of more than one disorder].
Most striking is his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As clinicians, we had some debate about whether Pooh might also demonstrate significant impulsivity, as witnessed, for example, by his poorly thought out attempt to get honey by disguising himself as a rain cloud.”

Piglet: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Had he been appropriately assessed and his condition diagnosed when he was young, he might have been placed on an anti-panic agent… and been saved from the emotional trauma he experienced while attempting to trap heffalumps.”

Eeyore: Dysthymia – or ‘Persistent Depressive Disorder’

We do not have sufficient history to diagnose this as an inherited, endogenous depression, or to know whether some early trauma contributed to his chronic negativism.”

Tigger: Recurring Pattern of Risk-Taking Behaviours

We acknowledge that Tigger is gregarious and affectionate, but he has a recurrent pattern of risk-taking behaviours. Look, for example, at his impulsive sampling of unknown substances when he first comes to the Hundred Acre Wood. With the mildest of provocation he tries honey, haycorns and even thistles. Tigger has no knowledge of the potential outcome of his experimentation.”

Rabbit: Possible Narcissism

We note his tendency to be extraordinarily self-important and his odd belief system that he has a great many relations and friends. He seems to have an overriding need to organize others, often against their will, into new groupings, with himself always at the top of the reporting structure.”

Do Unto Others… The Stigma of Mental Illness

People living with untreated mental illness are often treated poorly by society. What people can’t understand, often frighten them. Impelling them to treat people in ways that they would never wish to be treated. Perhaps all of us missed the most important aspect of Milne’s stories. That it is O.K. to be different. That things happen in life that are beyond any one person’s control. And rather than ostracize and exile others, compassion and love can be what helps them heal.

Humans have a long history of treating those with mental illness as broken. Moral weakness, and a lack of constitution, drove them to insanity and vice. That has never been the reality, but if people are treated that way they will never find the courage to recover. Recovery is possible, so long is people are given the opportunity to do so—without fear of repercussion.

More than anything, the key to the books are their tone of love and acceptance and unspoken forgiveness in the Hundred Acre Wood,” said Dr. Read. “The stories provide lovely examples of how humans should behave.”

Many of us, upon finding recovery, were unaware that our addiction was inextricably linked to a co-occurring mental health disorder. We found that when our depression or anxiety was treated, achieving lasting addiction recovery was exponentially more likely to come to fruition. If you are a young male battling addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We can help.

You can watch the ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ trailer below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Quitting Cigarettes Helps Your Recovery

cigarettes

Cigarettes, albeit legal, are particularly harmful to anyone’s health. All of us are taught at a young age to avoid tobacco products of any kind, especially cigarettes. Otherwise we put ourselves at great risk of developing life-threatening health conditions, including: cancer, respiratory and vascular disease. The warnings are everywhere, even on the boxes they are packed in. There are mountains of research to support correlations between smoking and premature death. Yet, smoking in the United States and beyond continues in spite of the clear and present dangers.

The reasons people give for why they began smoking in the first place are varied. Much like the reasons people give for why they continue to smoke. But, one thing is certain. Most long-term tobacco smokers say they wish the never started and they would love to quit. A wish that is extremely difficult to achieve. For the simple fact that nicotine, an alkaloid absorbed into the bloodstream when one smokes is highly addictive. Nicotine is a stimulant, but it also acts as a sedative producing feelings of calmness. Which is why people tend to smoke more when they are stressed. If you are a smoker, then you are no stranger to this tendency.

Smoking cigarettes has inherent risks beyond those listed above for people working programs of addiction recovery. Research published earlier this year indicated that smokers in recovery are at a greater risk of relapse. Researchers at Boston University’s School of Public Health found over a three-year period, smokers were about two times more likely to relapse than nonsmokers.

Such findings are of the utmost importance. Previous studies show that at least two-thirds of people with a history of drug/alcohol addiction, have histories of smoking. What’s more, research from the last decade shows that around 60 percent of people in AA smoke.

Protecting Recovery - Quitting Cigarettes

In the field of addiction recovery nicotine addiction is typically not the zenith of priorities. Treatment facilities stress smoking cessation, yet quitting is not a requirement for achieving long-term recovery. Options to help quitting are always provided and clients are impressed to utilize these while under care.

However, it’s highly unlikely that anyone ever chose to buy a pack of cigarettes over paying their rent. Nicotine is not something that many people have lied, cheated, and stole to acquire. You get the idea. But, it’s worth remembering that cigarettes are often tried before any other substance. Most people don’t usually start down the road of addiction with hard drugs. Substances like alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana tend to be the first chapters of most people’s addictive storylines.

In recovery, any substance that can cause even minute feelings of euphoria can potentially jeopardize one’s recovery. Mind-altering substances that are used to cope with stress versus dealing with a problem in healthy ways — can be risky. Regardless of being considered benign.

Whether you have 10 days clean and sober or 10 years, quitting smoking can help your program. If your program is the most important aspect of your life, then quitting should be entertained. And there is no better time than the present. It is a difficult chore, but with the aid of the 12 Steps, your support network, and cessation aids it’s possible.

Nicotine replacement therapies, such as gums, patches and inhalers can help you achieve the goal. The drugs CHANTIX® (varenicline) and Wellbutrin (bupropion) have helped a significant number of people quit, as well. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in conjunction with nicotine replacements and a support network typically bears the most fruit.

Long-Term Recovery Requires A Healthy Body

This post began with a focus on the negative impact that cigarettes has on one’s health. With that in mind, anyone looking to continually maintain a program of recovery must prioritize healthy living. Recovery may keep you from a premature death. But, if something else counters it, it’s a serious problem.

Smoking cigarettes for years can wreak havoc on the human body. In some cases, causing irreparable damage that may be irreversible. Have you been smoking for years? If so, you might be inclined to think that the damage done thus far, is done. Set in stone. Which could potentially reinforce a continuation of the self-defeating behavior, on your part. However, one of the most remarkable things about the human body is its ability to repair itself. Of course, it must be given the opportunity.

Tobacco is extremely caustic. Although, new research indicates that shortly after quitting smoking, specific metabolic changes occur — reversing some mal-effects caused by tobacco. The findings were published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Proteome Research.

Researchers analyzed lab samples of male volunteers attempting to quit smoking—up to three months after smoking cessation. The team observed 52 metabolites that were altered, and several that showed “reversible changes.”

At PACE Recovery Center, we have helped a significant number of young males abstain from cigarettes. We understand that long-term recovery is contingent upon taking care of one’s health. The cycle of nicotine addiction, like any addictive substance, can be broken if one is given the right environment and tools. Please contact us today to begin the life-long journey of addiction recovery.

Preventing New Opioid Use Disorders

opioids

As National Recovery Month quickly comes to a close it is important to talk, once again, about opioid use disorders. The use of which has resulted in the most serious addiction epidemic to ever bear down on the United States. Naturally, being in the field of addiction medicine, we’ve covered this topic at great length. From causation to consequence. While we can talk about such things ad nauseam, it is far more important to discuss some ways out this “perfect storm.”

In the immortal words of Robert Frost, “the best way out is always through.” So, and with that logic in mind — headfirst into the storm, we go. As has been pointed out, time and time again, the root of the epidemic rests with opioid prescribing practice standards. Which, up into recently, there were relatively few. But, even with greater utilization of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) opioids are still prescribed in great numbers. In fact, in many California counties, there more prescription opioids than people, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Case in Point: 2016 Trinity County population — 13,628 people. However, there were 18,439 prescriptions filled in the same year. The highest per capita rate of opioid prescriptions in California, in the fourth smallest county in the state.

The case of Trinity County is not unique to rural California, any more than it is to rural America. Prescription opioids may be a little harder to get or prescribed in large numbers. But, it has had very little effect overall. After all, more people died of overdoses in 2016 than 2015. The only real and notable difference is what people are overdosing on, and why.

Preventing New Opioid Use Disorders

Fewer people are dying from prescription opioids than just a few years, ago. Which is great. However, more people are dying from heroin and fentanyl, an even deadlier opioid analgesic. A New York Times analysis found that 15,400 overdose deaths could be attributed to heroin, 20,100 to fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses during last year. Which means that more people are dying from illicit opioids than prescriptions.

Such numbers should not be read to mean that the focus of addiction prevention should pivot to illicit opioids. Especially when you consider that most people report starting down the path to opioid use disorder with prescription painkillers. The heroin and fentanyl problem in America has its origins in prescription opioids. And opioid use initiation most commonly begins with a prescription, still. The Trinity statistics are a clear indication that the business of prescribing is, good.

There is no question, making headway requires a multifaceted approach. Calling upon both lawmakers to enact common sense legislation and health leaders to push for more informed doctors. The better doctors understand addiction, the fewer patients who will be prescribed opioids. In turn, reducing the number of future opioid use disorders. What’s more, encouraging doctors to only rely on a prescription opioid when it’s absolutely necessary.

In the United States we’ve become so reliant on opioids, we ignore the alternatives. Non-opioid methods of managing pain, that in many cases can be more effective, and certainly less dangerous.

Opioid Addiction Can Be Avoided

Every time opioids are prescribed, there is potential for future opioid use disorders. You may be surprised to learn that with some forms of pain, opioids can exacerbate one’s symptoms. If “addictive” and “prolonging pain” is a possibility, it dictates that doctors should look elsewhere in many cases. You’d even think that doctors would welcome opioid alternatives, and in many cases, they do. But, there are still others who rely heavily on prescription opioids for all things pain. Despite the risk of opioid use disorders. The reason for this is often because of financial incentives to prescribe certain drugs by the pharmaceutical and insurance industry.

opioid use disorder

Apropos to this, attorneys general (AG) from 35 states sent a message to insurers encouraging painkiller alternatives, The Los Angeles Times reports. Addressed to the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, the letter called for insurers to prioritize coverage of non-opioid treatments. As wells as, pain management techniques that include physical therapy and massage.

If we can get the best practices changed with insurance companies and the payment incentives are just a bit different than what they are today, I think that's going to continue to see the number of pills prescribed and dispensed drop dramatically," said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. "This is an important new front to open up."

Reducing prescriptions is just one step in reducing the prevalence of opioid use disorders, but it’s perhaps the most salient. With more than 2 million with opioid use disorders and rising, action is required now. Both the pharmaceutical and insurance industry can have a major role in ending an epidemic they helped create.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Efforts to change prescribing practices are vital, but they don’t mean much to those already in the grips of addiction. Equally important to reducing our reliance on opioids, is increasing our reliance on addiction treatment. Tempering the storm of opioid addiction is best achieved through opioid use disorder treatment. Recovery is possible, and if you have been touched by the disease, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. At PACE Recovery Center, we are fully equipped to assist young men who are ready to break the insidious cycle of addiction. Please contact us today, and make this Recovery Month the beginning of your own recovery.

In Addiction Recovery Your Voice Matters

e plu·ri·bus u·num

ē ˌplo͝orəbəs ˈ(y)o͞onəm/ noun

  1. out of many, one
addiction

In addiction recovery we all have a Voice. It is a fact that no one should ever forget. While in the grips of this most progressive mental health disorder people find themselves mute. Sure, you can speak and be heard when in the cycle of addiction, at least superficially. But, for the most part what you have to say is generally ignored by society. The byproduct of decade after decade of continued disenfranchisement due to social stigma. Despite being an accepted mental health condition, much of society continues to view people with the disease differently. Especially when compared to other life-threatening illness.

Doctors, scientists and psychotherapists all agree that addiction can be treated given the opportunity. Yet, much of society still views use disorders as a moral failing or a lack of willpower. And it can be hard to blame such people. After all, those who have never felt the powerful gravitational pull of mind-altering substances are not likely to understand. Any more than an ambulatory person could understand someone who’s bound to a wheelchair. But, just because we’ve never walked in one’s shoes doesn’t mean that compassion and empathy can’t be exercised en masse.

At this time in American history, the need for compassion and understanding is paramount. Millions of people are currently on a collision course toward premature death. Despite the fact that their disease carries the possibility of recovery. Many of those still out there living in the self-defeating cycle of addiction are deterred from seeking recovery. Having been convinced that recovery is a pipedream. Believing that they are flawed and there is little hope for any kind of redemption from their decisions in life. It’s understandable, but it is a line of thinking that is in error.

Being the Voice of Addiction Recovery

It is probably fair to say that many people in recovery have been patiently awaiting the turn of the tide. A paradigm shift in thinking about addiction among society as a whole. Which is not far-fetched, considering the opioid addiction epidemic which has stolen the lives of people from every demographic. Over the last decade we have seen several lawmakers sing a different tune. Those who, historically, viewed addiction as a moral failing and drug use as a crime now see it differently. In some cases, their enlightenment came at a heavy cost, having lost someone dear to them. The silver lining being that more and more lawmakers are advocating for addiction treatment over jail.

However, even though addiction treatment services exist all over the country they are often underutilized. This is why it is vital that people in active addiction be encouraged to seek treatment. It is crucial that those with alcohol and substance use disorders be shown that recovery is attainable. Rather than wait for society to come around to this well-known fact, we the people in recovery can help. We can share our stories of recovery to inspire those still in the shadow of addiction. It is worth remembering that people in recovery are not a small demographic.

Everyday, millions of people around the globe work programs of continued recovery. People from all walks of life sharing the common bond of recovery. Everyone’s addiction and recovery is their own, to be shared about at their own discretion. One of the pillars of recovery being anonymity. Yet, that doesn’t mean that one can’t decide to share their experience of recovery with people not in the program. You just can’t share another person’s story. Your story belongs to you.

Join The Voices for Recovery

Stigma still exists, to be sure. There are those who would use such information of your illness against you, still to this day. But, that is becoming less and less a reality. We are not out of the woods yet, by any means, but slow progress is being made in that respect. Evolution aided by the realities of the addiction epidemic in America.

In recent years you may have noticed that greater numbers of people are choosing to talk about their disease. Not just at meetings, but at large. Using media as a tool to show that addiction can happen to anyone, you are eligible too (YET). Such people are not doing this for sympathy, they bravely share their story of recovery to encourage others. When people in the grips of addiction see that recovery is possible, they are more likely to seek help. Which is why during National Recovery Month, SAMHSA is urging people in recovery to do something courageous. This September, Join The Voices for Recovery to inspire change.

Out of many, one. By ourselves little change can be affected, together the voices of recovery can ripple across the country. Potentially inspiring countless people to do something courageous, like seek treatment. We realize that not everyone can, or feels comfortable sharing their story in a public forum. Particularly not in the biggest public forum ever conceived—the Internet. But, many of you do, and have so far. Over the last couple weeks people have been using their voice on YouTube and beyond to encourage others. It could be argued that young people in recovery can have the greatest impact. Their peers being some of the more difficult to sway toward treatment. Young people with addiction are often in denial, saying, ‘I’m not what addiction looks like.’ Often a fatal delusion.

In Recovery: I Am, Because of You

If you’d like to Join The Voices for Recovery, you can find information here. You can see an example below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

All of us in recovery didn’t end up here by accident. Most of us resisted for years before being encouraged to seek help. Our story can only be told because others were there for us when we could not be there for ourselves. When we could not trust our own judgment. The fellowship took us in, when no one else would. Right now, thousands of young men battling opioid use disorder are at great risk of overdose. Encouraging such people to reach for recovery will in effect, help them save their own life.

If you are a young male who is ready to make the courageous choice of recovery, please contact PACE Recovery Center today. Recovery is possible and we can help you find it, and the gifts that come with the fellowship.

The Science of Addiction

addiction

One of the most read and loved monthly magazines is National Geographic. Most of us have fond memories growing up scanning the magazine for awe-inspiring images of animals and landscapes. With the first issue published in 1888, National Geographic now reaches more than 730 million globally in 172 countries and 43 languages every month. In the United States, there is a circulation of 3.5 million per month. Many readers subscribe for articles about pan troglodytes (common chimpanzee) or loxodonta africana (African bush elephant). But, Nat Geo focuses on human interests as well. In this month’s edition, the publication set its sights on addiction, and the conditions’ many complexities.

We often think of addiction as being an American problem. We know it affects people around the globe, but in the United States we are using the market share of drugs. Especially opioid use, as you must be acutely aware by now has reached epidemic proportions. Opioid use, prescription or illicit, is a serious concern that deserves overwhelming attention. Yet, it is worth pointing out that opioids, like alcohol or any other mind-altering drug, can cut life short. This doesn’t just happen in America, it is happening almost everywhere. Finding ways to mitigate the risks of premature death is no easy task, to be sure. Although, taking the focus off the substances, and placing it on the underlying condition is perhaps the most salient. The disease of addiction.

After all, addiction is addiction is addiction. What one struggles with pales in importance to what is to be done about it. History shows us that billions of dollars can be spent to make it more difficult to get “high.” Yet, people will still get high.

Addiction by The Numbers

In the U.S. we have tried “locking up” every addict, and most people still use again upon release. All we’ve accomplished is creating an overburdened prison system housing mostly nonviolent drug offenders. Exhausting billions in taxpayers’ money every year. To make a long story short, treating addiction as a crime hasn’t paid off—doing absolutely nothing good. Rather than delve into to Our track record of draconian policies on addiction in America, let's pivot our focus. As was pointed out earlier, Nat Geo published a lengthy spotlight on addiction and the scientific effort for clarity. But first, some figures:

  • 1.1 Billion Smokers Worldwide
  • Over 100 Opioid Overdose in America Every Day
  • 3.3 Million Worldwide Die Each Year from Alcohol
  • 21 million Americans Living With Drug or Alcohol Addiction

In 2015, 33,091 Americans died of an overdose, enough to make anyone wince, but again addiction is not just Our problem. Over 200,000 people worldwide die of overdose or drug-related Illness every year, The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime reports. Such figures you might find hard to believe. You may find it even harder to believe that more people are living with the disease of addiction than cancer in America. Both are deadly, but only one of them carries social stigma. Veritably, we don’t need to point out which. If addiction in America is an epidemic, addiction worldwide is nothing short of a pandemic. And if solutions are to be found it requires the attention of some of the world's brightest scientists.

The Science of Addiction

In a sense, addiction is a pathological form of learning,” said Antonello Bonci to National Geographic, a neurologist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Which begs the question, can it be unlearned? Many experts would argue, no, it can’t. And for good reason. Few people, if any, have ever thought their way out of an illness. However, science continues to shed light on the complexities of addiction. In turn, new avenues have been opened to help treat the disease and give a greater number of people hope for breaking the self-defeating cycle.

The Nat Geo article has many facets and layers of minutiae. We obviously can’t cover all of it, except for the main takeaways. One area covered had to do with advancements in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The researchers working with TMS point out that medications can only go so far. They [medications] can help people quit using, but they do little to prevent relapse. The idea that putting down drugs and alcohol is easy, how to not pick them back up is the crux of addiction science. Dr. Luigi Gallimberti, a psychologist and toxicologist who has been treating addiction for 30 years has hope for TMS, according to the article. Which could essentially reboot the human computer (brain) by activating drug-damaged neural pathways. Gallimberti worked with Bonci, and preliminary research showed promise with cocaine addicts. Future research is planned.

It’s so promising,” Bonci says. “Patients tell me, ‘Cocaine used to be part of who I am. Now it’s a distant thing that no longer controls me.’ ”

Keeping Cravings At Bay

The article transverses several areas involving addiction, from sex to overeating. It talks about the merits of spiritual programs based on the 12 Step model, and beyond. But the overarching theme, or target for that matter, is “craving.” How to stop the brain from craving substances or behaviors that are self-defeating? If the brain's trait of remarkable plasticity can easily lead to addiction, could it be used to foster recovery?

As it stands now, the ways and means of recovery utilized today seem to be anyone's best shot at recovery. A combination of medical detox, residential addiction treatment, medications and continued spiritual maintenance has borne the most fruit. A modality that will surely be fine-tuned as science uncovers the mechanisms of addiction more fully. Particularly regarding craving and keeping dopamine in check. Interestingly, the article writes: “In Buddhist philosophy, craving is viewed as the root of all suffering.”

Perhaps one day soon every addict will have a magnetic wand waved over one’s head. Putting an end to the cravings that lead to relapse. Programs of recovery today, are in no way full proof. But they can lead to long term recovery for anyone who is willing to give the program their all. Those who are committed to being vigilantly honest with them self and others can succeed. It is not easy, testament to the rates of relapse in recovery. But, those who lay a solid foundation to build their recovery upon can, and do recover. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of young adult males touched by addiction. Are you ready to break the cycle of addiction and learn how to mitigate cravings to avoid relapse? If so, please contact us today. Recovery is possible.

Addiction Recovery: Peer-to-Peer Model

addiction recovery

Peer-to-peer support is the model of 12 Step recovery. And it works. So well, in fact, that practically every method of addiction recovery has been designed around that model. Since the 1930’s, Americans have been coming together to share their experience, strength and hope. Today, 12 Step programs are being utilized around the world saving lives in some of the most unlikely of places.

While peer-to-peer support is highly effective at helping people turn their lives around, it is not foolproof. Those who do not follow the suggestions of their peers, or put in the necessary work, are unlikely to succeed. If you have been a member Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous for even a short time, you understand. One old saying couldn’t be further from the truth: “It only works, if you work it.” Those who are willing to share their struggle and be receptive to feedback, and actually heed it, have a great shot at long term recovery.

So, why does it work so well? For one thing, addicts and alcoholics are not the most receptive to being told what to do. Even with time under one’s recovery belt, it can still be a real challenge (at times) to follow direction. However, those who attend AA and NA meetings are not exactly in need of advice. In many cases, they know the right answer to a given problem. No, what recovery members look for is shared experience. As opposed to giving advice, the recovery community shares with one another what worked for them similar situations. It is a method that does not make one feel admonished or patronized. On the other hand, you feel as though you are a part of something greater than yourself. A part of a fellowship that has a vested interest in your success.

Peer-to-Peer Addiction Recovery

Today, there is hardly a town that does not have some form of 12 Step addiction recovery at one’s disposal. From large Alano Clubs in cities to the basements of small places of worship in rural America, 12 Step meetings can be accessed. For the majority of Americans, getting to a meeting is not a difficult matter. Although, and to be fair, there are some Americans who must drive long distances to access recovery support groups. There are others, still, that are leery about going to a meeting in their hometown. The fear of social stigma is still quite strong.

People who are new to recovery often have a hard time believing that their anonymity will be honored in such environs. Trusting that what they say in the “rooms” will stay in the room. Which makes sense, people who are newly clean and sober are not the most trusting. Until finding recovery their life has never given them cause to trust. The world of active addiction is one of manipulation and deceit. If you are new to recovery, please understand that recovery is the antithesis of addiction. What was true to the realm of addiction is the exact opposite in recovery. Ours is a fellowship of trust and respect.

The members of addiction recovery programs have no hidden agendas. No interest in disseminating personal information about another member. What we do have is an expressed desire in paying it forward. Helping others stay clean and sober, which in turn helps us keep the recovery we have acquired. Recovery can’t be kept if one is unwilling to give it away—freely. Those willing to do the work — exercising compassion and respect for their fellow members — succeed.

Digital Addiction Recovery

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Despite what has been said about being honest, some may still struggle to walk into a room full of strangers. Especially with the aim of baring one’s soul and asking for guidance. There are, in fact, places in the world whose society discriminates against addicts and alcoholics heavily. Even if there were a brick and mortar place to sit with people and talk, many will hesitate. Which is one of the essential reasons Dan Blackman and Tyler Faux created a peer-to-peer support app called Huddle. A place where people with mental health disorders like addiction, depression and anxiety can connect, Business Insider reports. Huddle users can join online peer support groups anonymously.

If you live in New York, you can go to 10, 20 meetings a day if you wanted, because we have such density and such a low social taboo around talking about your feelings," said Faux. "But in a lot of other places, and certainly in the rest of the world, that's not the case."

The idea to create the video peer-to-peer support app is personal to co-founder Dan Blackman. His father died from untreated alcohol use disorder in northwestern Pennsylvania, according to the article. Blackman says that there were not many options for people living with addiction or mental illness. Some people, like his father, fear seeking help because of blowback from the community. A fear that cost Blackman’s father his life. Huddle gives users control over how anonymous they want to be. Users can pixelate their face and have auto-generated username, if they like.

Recovery Reaches Further

It’s worth noting that not everyone using Huddle is anonymous, or new to the program. There are people in recovery with varying lengths of Time in the program. Some do not hide their faces. Which means that this could be a tool for, or an extension of one’s regular homegroup and weekly meetings. Perhaps when you are traveling or in rural areas. It is worth checking out, at the very least.

Are you a young man in need of addiction recovery? Do you feel that more than the going to meetings is needed, initially? PACE Recovery Center can help you stem the tide of active addiction and introduce you to recovery. We can show you how living a life in recovery is possible with the help of a fellowship. Please contact us today.

Addiction Treatment: The Endless Possibilities of Recovery

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Few other places in the country have been as ravaged by the opioid addiction epidemic as West Virginia. Prescription opioids and heroin have stolen the lives of young and old alike. Lawmakers and health experts continue to develop methods for turning the tide. While addiction treatment centers work tirelessly to spread the message of recovery to as many afflicted as possible. Addiction recovery being the most effective means of saving people from the insidious grip of opioid dependence.

America has been trying to get a wrap on the epidemic for nearly two decades. As as result, many are doubtful that it is even possible. Opioids are so addictive and incredibly deadly, yet the drugs are prescribed at alarming rates, still. Those who lose access to prescription opioids regularly turn to heroin. Thus, putting themselves at risk of fentanyl exposure, a synthetic opioid commonly mixed with heroin to boost potency. Fentanyl can be up to a hundred times stronger than morphine.

Without access to addiction treatment, those addicted to opioids are at incredible risk of experiencing an overdose. And a potentially fatal overdose, at that. Those who seek help often relapse shortly thereafter, testament to just how addictive this family of drugs is. A relapse after a short stent of abstinence increases the chances of an overdose exponentially. Because one’s tolerance has diminished. This is why it so important that people who seek help do so by way of long-term residential treatment. Therefore, further mitigating the risk of relapse and subsequent overdose. The longer an addict or alcoholic stays in treatment, the greater the chance for long-term recovery.

There are around 142 fatal overdoses every day in the U.S. Given the high morbidity rate, some might think that recovery impossible. But, it is, just ask Sturgill.

INTERVENTION℠ Endless Possibilities, Continued

So, who is Sturgill? A&E INTERVENTION℠, interventionist Sylvia Parsons and PACE Recovery Center gave a young West Virginian a life-saving opportunity. Sturgill (then 23) was in the grips of addiction, a problem that began the same way as so many Americans. With an injury that called for prescription opioids. A broken arm sent Sturgill into an addictive death spiral, involving the abuse of alcohol, benzodiazepines, methadone, and heroin. A potentially deadly admixture, to be sure.

Sturgill was a promising young golden gloves boxer and wrestler who dreamed of the Olympics. He was also an academically gifted pre-med student. But a broken arm and multiple surgeries led to a pain pill addiction, which soon turned to heroin.” —reads the A&E INTERVENTION℠ website

With the help of Parsons, Sturgill’s family implored him to choose life and take the opportunity to get treatment. He accepted the gift of recovery and last year came to PACE Recovery Center. While there are never guarantees in recovery, Sturgill's story went from one of despair to the light of the spirit. During the season premiere of A&E INTERVENTION℠ (Season 17) an update on our former client was provided to viewers. Now, with over a year clean and sober, Sturgill remains plugged into the local recovery community. His future plans include getting certified to be an alcohol and drug counselor (CADC).

The update shows that, in fact, with recovery there can be endless possibilities if one is willing to do the work. Please take a moment to watch the short clip below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Treatment Is The Answer

I can't put it into words how blessed I am… I do something for recovery every day." —Sturgill

Not too long ago, Sturgill was in the same frightful position as millions of other Americans. Today, with the help of his family and his family in recovery he is living a life in recovery. It all started with a willingness to surrender and make the courageous decision to go to treatment. It is often the hardest decision that one will make in a lifetime. The grip of one’s disease is extremely powerful. It will do whatever it can to keep you from saving your own life. But, it is possible to break the cycle and lead a fulfilling life in recovery.

If your story is similar to Sturgill’s, PACE Recovery Center can help you find the miracles of addiction recovery—too. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving journey.

Addiction Recovery Treatment Without Distraction

addiction recovery

If you have been in recovery for some time you know that romantic relationships can be risky. Especially in early addiction recovery. We have written in the past about the potential for messy relationships leading to relapse. With the goal of long-term recovery in mind, avoiding relationships in early recovery should be a priority.

Addiction recovery asks a lot of the individuals who would like to succeed. There are many recommendations and suggestions put forward by the basic texts of addiction recovery. As well as from counselors, therapists and sponsors. Co-ed addiction treatment facilities work tirelessly to avoid fraternization involving clients (much to the chagrin of the said clients). But, there are logical reasons for keeping people in treatment at more than arm’s length from each other. It should be said again, rarely does anything good ever come from a relationship in early recovery.

Try as counselors and behavioral technicians might, certain clients manage to become involved with each other while in treatment. Just as sponsees, against their sponsor’s advice, entangle themselves with other individuals in early recovery. Relapse is not a forgone conclusion of such scenarios, but it is more common than you might think. Even if drugs or alcohol never come into the picture during recovery trysts, problems can arise. Because, when you are focused on the needs of another, it is hard to give your own program 100 percent. Although, for the purposes of this article, the cart may be ahead of the horse at the moment. Let’s focus on treatment.

Early Addiction Recovery Romance

There are many excellent co-ed addiction recovery centers across the country. Every year these centers help thousands of Americans ascend from the depths of despair to the heights of recovery. Some of you reading this may have years of sobriety after beginning the journey in a co-ed facility. Unfortunately, at such rehab centers there are number of clients who have trouble keeping their desires at bay. Choosing not to stay totally focused on one’s reason for seeking treatment in the first place.

It is not necessarily the fault of the client. After years of drug and/or alcohol dependence, and then sudden cessation, the mind can fire off all but forgotten signals. After acute withdrawal subsides, many clients find themselves with a wandering eye. Looking for a way to fill a void left behind when the substances are out of the picture. Perhaps a way to sate one’s urges and desires. In some cases, a client's eyes may catch sight of another client. And voila!

Many an unhealthy relationship takes shape inside the confines of co-ed addiction recovery facility. In such cases, clients lose sight of what’s most important. As opposed to working a program of recovery, two clients begin working a “program of each other.” It is not uncommon for a client to make another client their higher power. Often without either one of them knowing this. It is a path that can lead to all kinds of problems, including expulsion from the treatment center. This is why it so important for individuals to remember what precipitated the need for treatment in the first place. Your own way didn’t work. You sought help. Deciding not to heed the policies of a treatment center would be a clear sign that one’s “disease” is still running the show.

Gender Specific Addiction Treatment

Making the decision to seek addiction recovery can change one’s life forever. Choosing which treatment facility will give you the best shot of achieving the goal of long-term addiction recovery is important. Addiction treatment centers are not one size fits all. One program may offer a feature that another doesn’t, which is why using discretion when deciding is advised. Given what has been said already regarding the dangers of romance in early recovery, you would be wise to consider the merits of gender specific addiction treatment centers. Thus, being a way of mitigating the risk of temptation.

If you are a young adult male in need of treatment, you might be thinking that such an eventuality will not be a problem for you. Saying to yourself, ‘I’m not going to dedicate all this time and money to find a woman who has just as many problems as me.’ Some men, for other reasons, won’t want to go to a facility treating only men. Perhaps craving a little diversity in recovery. It is worth noting that how you feel and think before going to treatment will change dramatically once substances are out of the picture. Trust and believe.

In active addiction, most people have been living a life of solitude for some time. Once in treatment, detoxed and beginning a program of recovery, how one thinks and feels can change quickly. Nobody goes to treatment looking for romance, many leave having regretfully found it.

Given the sates of active addiction are so high, you should do everything possible to achieve recovery. Some 142 Americans are overdosing in the United States every day. If recovery is not taken seriously, there may not be a second chance. There will be plenty of time for romance down the road.

Young Adult Male Addiction Treatment

Are you ready to take the journey of recovery? If your answer is yes, then success is contingent upon your willingness to go to any lengths. Working a program of recovery in young adulthood can be difficult. This is why it is of the utmost importance to choose a treatment center that can foresee any complication that could arise. For young adult males, the opposite sex is on the top of that list of possible complications.

Clients who seek help from PACE Recovery Center are benefited by the lack of distractions present at other co-ed facilities. We specialize in addiction recovery for young adult males, and can give the life-skills and tools for achieving success. Please contact us today, to begin the life-changing journey.

Addiction Recovery In College

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Did you successfully complete an addiction treatment program this summer, or sometime this year? If you answered ‘yes’ to that question, there is a good chance you are preparing to begin or return to college this fall. Many universities, in fact, begin classes at the end of August. This means time is of the essence for forming a recovery plan for while you are away at school.

Working a program of recovery is challenging during the first year. It is vital to limit one’s stress level and avoid situations that could precipitate a relapse. Naturally, collegiate environments are not often considered to be alcohol, drug or stress free. Nevertheless, it is possible to attend college in the first year, by ensuring that safeguards are in place. Always putting your addiction recovery first.

Whether you are attending college for the first time, or returning, you know that college life often revolves around alcohol. You know that there are parties every weekend, where young men and women imbibe heavy amounts of alcohol. Of course, you know that there is nothing for people in their first year of recovery at a college party. This is why you’ll want to avoid such situations at all costs. Even if you only have a few months sober, you have invested a lot of time and energy into your program. One party could jeopardize all your hard work.

Keeping that in mind, it is worth pointing out that avoiding parties may not be your biggest challenge. If you are in school it means you are challenging your mind. Absorbing huge amounts of information and abstract thinking can take its toll on your serenity. Preparing for exams and writing essays can hinder one’s ability to stay grounded. Thus, making it difficult to stay centered and Present.

Light Class Load In Early Addiction Recovery

In such situations people are inclined to seek escape, and before you know it you could find yourself at a bar or a party. Dealing in absolutes (seeing things in black or white) is a specialty of alcoholics and addicts. So then, it can be difficult to moderate. After getting clean and sober, you feel as though you have a new lease on life. No longer bogged down by drugs and/or alcohol, you may feel like diving head first into your studies. So, what might that look like?

A full class load is 12 units, but students often take more. Often with the hope of finishing school in under three years. The practice of taking more than a full load may be OK for some people. But for those working a program of recovery, sticking to 12 or fewer credit semesters during your first year is strongly advised. Financial aid recipients are often required to take a full load. If you are not dependent on financial aid, you should strongly consider taking fewer classes. Mitigating your risk of stress, and allowing you more time to focus on what is most important—your recovery.

Remember, at this time you are not just furthering your education. You are working a program, one that requires you to do the work, i.e. working with a sponsor and going to meetings. People in early recovery are advised to hit a meeting per day. Doing so helps you establish a support network, which will be there for you in times of struggle.

If you are attending college out of state, you may be going to meetings you’ve never been to before. And you may be in need of a new sponsor. Make sure your class load does not hinder that necessity. Recovery first, remember?

Sober Housing

Avoiding parties, taking a reasonable class load and going to meetings is crucial, and could make all the difference. Equally important, though, is where you are going to be living when you are away at school. If you are returning to school you know that the dorms can be a place of rampant drug and alcohol use, much to the dismay of the faculty. Try as campus facilitators might, keeping the dorms substance use and abuse free is next to impossible. Young adults working a program should be leery of living in the dorms.

However, you may not be aware that a number of campuses across the country have begun offering sober housing. Aided by the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE), certain universities are providing collegiate recovery programs (CRP). ARHE defines CRP’s as a:

...supportive environment within the campus culture that reinforces the decision to engage in a lifestyle of recovery from substance use. It is designed to provide an educational opportunity alongside recovery support to ensure that students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.

Students attending colleges with established CRP’s can live in dorms or housing among other young men and women in recovery. If keeping your recovery intact while in college is your top-priority, please take advantage of every resource available. If you would like to find out if your college offers addiction recovery resources, please click here.

College Is Not Going Anywhere

This article was intended for young people in recovery looking to go back to college. Although, some of you reading this may be planning to attend classes this semester and are still using. If that is the case, you would be wise to consider taking a semester off to seek treatment. Doing so will not only save your life, it will help you to better achieve your higher learning goals.

At PACE Recovery Center, our young adult male treatment program is designed to always consider our clients’ futures. While learning to work a program of recovery, we assist them to develop healthy coping skills for stress. Additionally, our PACE Academy program clients work toward the degree of their choice, while attending life skills groups. Prioritizing financial planning, combating procrastination and establishing healthy social habits. Please contact us today to learn more about PACE Academy.

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