Addiction Recovery: Reaching New Heights

addiction recovery

Addiction recovery is many things and working a program asks a certain height of individuals. Those who commit themselves to a program learn that if they can adhere to certain principles, there is no limit. Naturally, such discoveries are welcome news to individuals who – in some case, have been in the grips of despair for years and even decades.

Believe it or not, the fact is, that some in recovery have gone on to lead extraordinary existences. Men and women who are willing, to be honest, find him or herself able to accomplish what was once unthinkable. There are others who, after losing touch with their aspirations of yesteryear, now have the tools to see their dreams come to fruition.

There exist plenty of clichés to describe what is achievable through a daily commitment to sobriety. Perhaps, too many to list. People new to the program may be apt to disregard what “old timers” claim they will achieve if they stay the course, at first. However, with each milestone in the program, the very same individuals learn that what they heard early on is correct. Addiction recovery carries with it endless possibilities. Inside all of us is a near infinite limit of potential!

Addiction Recovery Inspires

Any human, regardless of their background, can be touched by a debilitating illness of the mind. While the disease of addiction skips over most people, affliction is the unfortunate reality of hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Just as anyone can feel the impact mental illness, each of us can recover, provided however we work together.

Using one of several codices of addiction recovery, guided by those who came before, men women can dream of something better. They learn if they do the work, emphasize honesty, and never give up no matter how difficult life is at times the doors of opportunity will open. The dream of addiction recovery realized, begets new aspirations. The fire of ambition stifled by past drug and alcohol use is reignited by committing oneself to live life on life’s terms.

At PACE Recovery Center, we see the blessings of sobriety take young men out of the abyss of Self and enable them to fulfill their potential. Embracing recovery, our clients see both old and new goals realized; they excel in school, reconnect with their families, land dream jobs, and help others accomplish the same. Each person in recovery receives the gift of being a beacon of hope for countless others still “out there” or new to abstinence.

The Realization of Near Infinite Potential

Men and women who are preparing to embark upon a journey of recovery often require a nudge to take the next step. Those already doing the work are at risk of becoming impatient; some will stray as a result. There are individuals too – with years of sobriety – who find their existence stagnate and their drive for progress in a state of dormancy. Recovery, after all, is rarely a flat line; the flames of ambition can dim even when one is doing all the work.

A new documentary aims to not only inspire people to take the journey of addiction recovery for the first time, but, what’s more, the filmmakers seek to galvanize those with significant lengths of continuous sobriety, as well. ‘Six Gifts’ follows surfer Ben Gravy, snowboarder Scott French, skier Rebecca Selig, endurance athlete Chris Vargo, yogi Monica Lebansky, and cross-fitter Melody Schofield. Sober and Stoked produced the movie.

The movie is meant to inspire people currently suffering from addiction and those who are unable to find that missing piece to the puzzle to help finally get them sober. It's also for people who are already sober and feel like they need something else to get them motivated and out enjoying life, so they don’t fall back into previous traps and pitfalls.”

Sober and Stoked co-founders, Scott French and Eugene Stiltner, plan to use the proceeds, according to the website, from the movie for launching the "Sober and Stoked" non-profit:

to help equip halfway houses throughout the country with athletic gear, art supplies, instruments, and more, so that those new to recovery can have a chance to rediscover a lost passion, or finally discover their purpose!”

Please take a moment to watch the ‘6 Gifts’ trailer:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Recovery Can Be Yours, Too

Please reach out to our gender-specific, men’s addiction treatment, if you are ready to make changes in your life. PACE Recovery Center can teach you how to lead a life free from drugs and alcohol, and go on to realize your goals. It would be our great pleasure to be part of your incredible journey into recovery.

PTSD and Addiction Treatment for Veterans

PTSD

Veterans Day 2018 in the United States of America is Sunday, November 11; but, the country will officially observe the holiday on Monday. Each year, the Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center like to express our gratitude for those who serve bravely in the military. As a treatment center specializing in bringing the light of addiction recovery into the lives of young men, the coming holiday is acutely important. We understand that many people who come back from armed conflict overseas struggle in civilian life. The prevalence of mental illness among such people is high, conditions that include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress or PTSD, and substance use disorder.

The rates of substance abuse or use disorders for male veterans aged 18–25 years are higher compared to civilians, according to a recent study. Substance use disorders can precipitate the development of coöccurring mental illness or can emerge secondary to conditions like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is common among individuals who witness or experience trauma; without evidence-based treatment, men and women are more likely to self-medicate.

The order in which a psychological disorder presents itself pales in importance compared to the need for therapy. Veterans who are unable to access the care they need are likely to continue misusing drugs and alcohol. Continued substance abuse does little to ameliorate PTSD symptoms, leads to or worsens a substance use disorder, and significantly increases one’s risk of self-harm. Veterans who commit suicide have drugs and alcohol in the system regularly.

Young males, struggling with substance use and coöccurring mental illness like PTSD, are encouraged to seek help. Immediately! The more extended treatment is put off, the more deleterious it is to the individual.

PTSD Treatment That’s Right For You

A new study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that PTSD patients, including veterans and survivors of sexual assault, who have a say in the form of treatment they receive, fare better. The researchers found that patient preference in the course of treatment impacts the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy and use of antidepressants, according to a University of Washington press release. The study was the first large-scale trial of hundreds of PTSD patients.

This research suggests that prolonged exposure and Sertraline are both good, evidence-based options for PTSD treatment -- and that providing information to make an informed choice enhances long-term outcomes," said study lead author, Lori Zoellner, a UW professor of psychology and director of the Center for Anxiety & Traumatic Stress.

Analysis indicates that SSRI antidepressants and prolonged exposure therapy show promise in mitigating the symptoms of PTSD. However, the group of patients who were offered a choice in the type of treatment they receive exhibited:

  • Fewer symptoms;
  • a greater ability to follow their treatment plan;
  • and, some no longer met the criteria for PTSD two-years later.

Almost 75 percent of patients who underwent their preferred method of treatment, completed the program, according to the article. Whereas, fewer than half in the non-preferred group saw their therapy through to the end.

Dr. Zoellner and our team showed that we've got two effective, very different interventions for chronic PTSD and associated difficulties," said study co-author Norah Feeny, a psychology professor at Case Western Reserve University. "Given this, and the fact that getting a treatment you prefer confers significant benefit, we are now able to move toward better personalized treatment for those suffering after trauma. These findings have significant public health impact and should inform practice."

Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Approximately 50 percent of veterans who need treatment for mental health conditions seek it, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. However, just more than half who receive treatment receive adequate care. Mental health conditions among veterans are no small issue; approximately 18.5% of service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD or depression. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have substance use disorder.

Studies, like the UW/Case Western, are vital and should help guide screening, diagnosis, and the determination of a treatment plan. It’s also worth mentioning that a large number of veterans are unable to access evidence-based treatment where they live. Such individuals can benefit from seeking help in another area. If you are a male veteran who is struggling with substance use disorder or coöccuring mental illness (dual diagnosis), please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Veterans Day 2018, we would like to honor two of our staff members who served in the U.S. Marine Corp, our Chief Operations Officer Sean Kelly and our Lead Resident Manager Victor Calzada. Additionally, our PACE team members Helen O’Mahony, Ph.D., Hisham Korraa, M.D., and Ryan Wright, M.D. all have extensive experience working with veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues.

Again, the gender-specific environment at PACE enables men to share openly and without fear of judgment or social pressure. Our team works together with referring physicians and healthcare providers to create individualized dual-diagnosis treatment plans that emphasize continuity of care. Please call 877.405.9411 or submit a confidential online inquiry, to learn more about our innovative program for men.

Addiction to Recovery: A Young Man’s Journey

addiction

Who better to inspire young men in the grips of addiction to take a leap of faith and embark on a quest of recovery then a young man. Addicts and alcoholics – seemingly by nature – feel disconnected from the world around them; such individuals convince themselves that no one else can understand their struggle. As a result, men and women battling the disease consider the desolate course they are on as being the only option. Even when friends and family encourage a loved one to seek help, their pleas can fall on deaf ears.

The sad and unfortunate reality is that too many people believe recovery is impossible. Alternatively, if it is attainable, thoughts of not having what it takes abound; they become convinced that their disease is too advanced or worse, they do not deserve freedom from the scourge of addiction. Driven by countless forms of guilt, shame, and regret, some will spurn recovery services and continue on a path typified by self-defeating and destructive behaviors.

In many ways, it is more onerous to encourage young men and women to seek treatment. College-aged persons have a difficult time believing that they meet the criteria for addiction, even in the face of life spinning more and more out of control. It is easy to persuade one’s self that you are too young to have drunk and drugged yourself to the point of developing a progressive, incurable disease. Young folk who’ve seen movies with recovery themes, picture older people sitting in circles identifying as addicts and alcoholics; when applying the images they have in their head to their reality, it can be grueling to relate.

Never Again?

There are some young people, meeting the criteria for a use disorder, who have a hard time reconciling with the fact that recovery means total abstinence. Explaining to someone in their twenties that a fulfilling and productive life depends on never drinking or drugging again (among other things), is news that some struggle to welcome. The disease, while inanimate, is always pushing people away from making decisions that are in one’s best interest. Even those looking up at the bottom of despair will put limits on the sacrifices they are willing to make to lead a healthy life.

Not everyone who needs addiction treatment is willing to admit it to him or herself. Perhaps the most significant paradox of addiction that people who appear to have lost everything think that they can stand to lose more before they surrender. The lengths a person will go to continue down a path toward almost certain death is astonishing. Even in the 21st Century, in a country devastated by an overdose death toll, addicts and alcoholics persuade themselves into thinking that it can’t happen to them; such people consider themselves somehow different.

Being unwilling to commit to a life of total abstinence or being too young, are just two of many reasons given by individuals to avoid seeking help; there are myriad excuses one can put forth to skirt making the courageous decision to seek help. If you are a young person who thinks himself too young-in-age, we implore you to think again. Please understand that thousands and thousands of young men are currently working programs of lasting recovery; they are both inspired and given direction by the young men who came before.

A Young Man In Addiction Recovery

Millions of Americans, many of whom are young men, are battling addiction and coöccurring mental illness. There exist treatment centers, fellowships, and support groups which guide these young men out of the abyss of self and into the selfless light of recovery. There are men in their late twenties with more than ten years clean and sober.

One young man in long-term recovery is an author, Nic Sheff. If you follow and read this blog regularly, then you are probably aware that Nic’s story is the subject of a new film in theaters now, “Beautiful Boy.” We covered some of the details of the film last month and are pleased that it is well received by both moviegoers and Nic and David Sheff. Recently, Nic sat down with actor Timothée Chalamet for a Q&A; Chalamet plays Nic in the movie. Please take a moment to watch and listen to Nic as he shares about his inspiring experience. If you are a young man dealing with active addiction, perhaps you will derive hope from the young man's experience with the disease and recovery. Nic rightly points out, “As long as there is life there is always hope.”


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
With addiction, when you get sober, it’s not like your life just goes back to the way that it was before. Your life gets so much better than it ever had been,” says Nic during the Q&A. “It’s a really amazing life that’s possible sober. The fact that addiction is not a death sentence, and that the love that a family has is always there even after everything that we all went through, to have that love, in the end, is beautiful.

If you are new to recovery, Nic advises that you ‘take things slow and just hold on,’ things will not always be this way.

Young Adult Rehab Program

At PACE Recovery Center, the goal of our gender-specific, young adult rehab program is to equip our clients with the tools and skills to live healthy, happy, and balanced lives free from substances. If you or a male loved one needs assistance for a substance use disorder and/or coöccurring mental illness, please contact us today.

Addiction Medicine Pioneer Leaves Lasting Impressions

addiction

Addiction medicine is – in the grand scheme of things – a relatively new field. The transition from seeing use disorders as a choice or worse a sin, one commonly made by those with shortages in moral fiber for instance, to that of a disease can be traced to the middle of the 20th century.

The first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM treated substance use disorder (i.e., “drug addiction” and “alcoholism”) as most commonly arising from a primary personality disorder. As you can probably imagine, the previous action stigmatized addiction by listing it with other societally disapproved disorders. In 1965, the American Medical Association (1965) recognized alcoholism, declaring the condition a medical disorder. The DSM-II (1968) encouraged separate diagnoses for alcoholism and drug addiction, according to the US National Library of Medicine. The DSM would make several changes over the years regarding how scientists and the medical community conceptualized unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol.

  • DSM-III (1980): adopted atheoretical, descriptive diagnoses but required tolerance or withdrawal to diagnose dependence.
  • DSM-III-R (1987): included physiological and behavioral symptoms and reflected the substance dependence syndrome.
  • DSM-IV (1994): the concept of dependence was unchanged, i.e., emphasis on biology.>/li.
  • DSM-V (2013): declares that all substances taken in excess activate the brain reward system.

Pioneers In Addiction Medicine and Recovery

The criteria for addiction have evolved over the years and so have the modalities of treatment. Such changes are owed to the tireless work put in by several individuals, perhaps too many to list. In the 19th Century, an 1849 essay titled Alcoholismus Chronicus, by Swedish physician Magnus Huss gave birth to the disease model. Huss’ essay defines the characteristics of alcoholism (a brand-new term at the time) as disease-like in nature; one that causes severe physical harm and can be fatal. Another body of work of note is E.M. Jellinek’s The Disease Concept of Alcoholism, which splits alcohol addiction into several stages.

In the field of recovery and use disorder treatment, some people come to mind often. Bill Wilson is a notable name, being a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s; a program that relies on addressing the spiritual side of the disease. While 12 Step programs are not scientific, many treatment centers utilize them along with other forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Nora Volkow is someone who is worth mentioning as she heads up the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA). There are also other names that most people have not heard – even those who work in the field today – whose contributions to addiction medicine deserve mention.

Dr. Herbert D. Kleber is one person who deserves recognition, especially in light of his recent passing. It’s fair to say that most Americans are unfamiliar with Dr. Kleber, even those who have undergone treatment in centers that utilize evidence-based methods. A researcher in the pathology of addiction, Dr. Kleber worked to develop evidence-based techniques to ease the discomfort of withdrawal, The New York Times reports. He also focused on helping such people avoid relapse and achieve long-term recovery.

Evidence Based Therapy

Upon completing his medical residency, Kleber went on to volunteer for the United States Public Health Service. His service took him to Public Health Service Prison Hospital (PHSPH) at Lexington, Ky. in 1964, roughly a year before the AMA’s recognizing alcoholism as a medical disorder. The PHSPH was a jail treating addicts and alcoholics, as part of the Addiction Research Center, NIDA’s predecessor.

Dr. Kleber understood that people with use disorders did not deserve punishment, according to the article. He would instead take a scientific approach; the doctor was instrumental in making the study of addiction into a discipline.

He was at the vanguard of bringing scientific rigor to the area of addiction,” said Dr. Frances R. Levin, director of the division on substance use disorders at Columbia University Medical Center, a program started by Dr. Kleber.

Over the decades, Kleber would continue to influence the field; he started and oversaw the drug dependence unit at Yale, the article reports. With his wife, he founded the division on substance use disorder at Columbia. Kleber was also a co-founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, now the Center on Addiction. He served as deputy to the Nation’s first drug czar during the George H.W. Bush administration. However, his dismay with the “war on drugs” and the lack of funding going towards addiction treatment led to his resignation. At his confirmation, someone asked how he remained optimistic working with addicts; responding by quoting the Talmud he said:

The day is short. The task is difficult. It is not our duty to finish it, but we are forbidden not to try.”

Addiction Treatment

In 2015, Dr. Kleber said, “the last thing in the world I wanted to do was to treat addiction.” It is hard to imagine what addiction medicine would be today if it were not for Dr. Herbert D. Kleber contributions to the field. The Gentleman of PACE would like to express our gratitude for Dr. Kleber.

We invite you to reach out to us if you are struggling with drugs or alcohol and desire to find a new way to live. At PACE, we specialize in the treatment of males affected by use disorders and coöccurring mental illness.

Recovery: Attitude Changes Everything

recovery

Attitude can make or break a person’s recovery! Those who fixate on the negative aspects of their life – there are often many in early recovery – are at a significant disadvantage. Conversely, individuals who do everything in their power to find the positive in every situation find themselves more able to stay on track. As we say here at PACE Recovery Center, Positive Attitude Changes Everything.

It is not uncomplicated to find upsides in one’s life in the beginning; guilt and shame are known to accompany early sobriety. When the thick haze of active addiction first settles the wreckage of the past is usually overwhelming. People begin to see the real impact their mental illness has not just in their life but also the lives of those they love when the dust settles after entering treatment. For most, looking at the big picture of addiction is extremely painful; some may find looking in the mirror too much to handle, at first.

Coming to terms with where your life is when recovery is in its infancy could be compared to an emotional rollercoaster. On the one hand, you have the elation that comes with making the courageous decision to address your disease. On the other, there is the reality that putting down the drugs and alcohol may be the least laborious aspect of one’s recovery; clients quickly learn that they will have to face their feelings and delve into the underlying issues of addiction to achieve their goals.

Treatment and working a daily program of recovery asks much of an individual, but each person can take comfort in knowing that they are not alone. Unlike the experience of active alcohol and substance use, you can take pleasure in knowing that you have support today. Some days will be remarkably difficult and maintaining a positive attitude will make all the difference. When a man sets a course for recovery, he comes to realize that his line of thinking can hinder progress.

Searching for Positivity in Recovery

Once detoxification is complete, the mind is clearer which can reveal some unwelcome aspects about oneself. A person has to contend with the outcome of leading the kind of life they once lived before finding treatment, and face – perhaps for the first time – some of the fallout. Simply put, most find it hard to move the facial muscles into the shape of a smile in early recovery and for understandable reasons. However, it is paramount that such men do not let the upsets of their past prognosticate the future.

Each person in long-term recovery was once a newcomer, and they had to make sense of the same types of realizations that those new to the program are wrestling with presently. The mere fact that they were able to skirt the pitfalls of early sobriety can serve as a source of comfort and hope that how you feel today will pass. If you remind yourself that feelings are not facts and that ‘this too shall pass,’ lasting recovery is possible; but, it is paramount that you surround yourself with positive people. Optimism is a guiding force in recovery and sticking close to the people you meet in the program with good attitudes will help you find the strength to spurn negativity.

Some who work a program swear by the aphorism, “fake it till you make it;” in recovery circles, the statement may be held as a platitude, one that you will hear much over the years. Essentially, the above saying suggests that those who imitate confidence and optimism will one day realize such qualities in himself. Simply put, smiling even when you think there is nothing to smile about can have a beneficial impact on your behaviors. Give it a try; you may be surprised.

Tips for Positive Outlook

A good many people new to the program believe they have deficits that need to be addressed. Some are out of work, while others have lost their license due to a DUI. There are those whose families are no longer conversing with them, and it will take time for their loved ones to notice the changes afoot. Still, others are in debt from years or decades of financial mismanagement; the list can go on and on, but what is missing from one’s life is not the salient matter. What’s essential in the first months of recovery is learning to live life on life’s terms and incorporating the principles of the program into everyday life.

Developing life skills in place of self-defeating behaviors allows people to address all the negative aspects of life leftover from the past when the time is right. Learning what it means to be responsible for your actions and accountable to others is a means of affecting the changes men and women desire.

Take stock of the small milestones each day as you plot a course to your broader goals. Each day that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol is worth being proud about and may even result in a wave of joy, ride it.

Gratitude is an excellent way to improve your outlook. Be grateful for the things you possess right now, and for some of the things that you lack for they give you something to work towards. Tell those who are helpful to you how thankful you are to have their support. Do something kind, even a minute gesture of kindness, can go along way; when you make another person’s day better, you benefit too. Pay it forward!

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. – Aesop

Positive Changes

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if drugs and alcohol have made your life unmanageable. Our team can assist you in achieving your goals with the help of evidence-based therapies. We offer a safe, sober and supportive environment for making positive changes in your life. We are available at any time to field any questions you have about our program.

It is our great pleasure to be part of your incredible journey into recovery.

Stigma Curing During Mental Illness Awareness Week

stigma

While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, October 7–13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week or MIAW 2018. Naturally, there is some overlap between these two essential observances—namely—ending the stigma of psychological disorders like addiction and depression.

We cover stigma on this blog frequently due to our understanding that there exist forces preventing Americans from seeking treatment. More people need to see the person, not the illness. Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. Given that individuals living with untreated mental health conditions are at significant risk of self-harm and suicide, collective action is needed immediately.

The National Alliance On Mental Illness or NAMI chose Cure Stigma as its theme this year for Mental Health Month and MIAW 2018. The organization would like it to be known that: together we can encourage more people to seek treatment. NAMI’s campaign manifesto reads as follows:

There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.

Mental Health Facts

Most Americans are more than likely unaware of just how pervasive mental illness is around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 300 million people are living with depression. What’s more, the vast majority of the afflicted have never undergone therapy, counseling, or treatment.

The truth is that too many people have little understanding of mental disease; lack of knowledge – ignorance – is a contributing factor in persons lacking empathy and compassion. If a more significant number of Americans could appreciate that mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults in the United States, maybe they’d exhibit greater understanding. With that in mind, let’s take a look some of the more recent figures to bring depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction in to focus.

Here are the facts:

  • 60 million people in the United States are living with a mental illness.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in America who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences a severe mental illness in a given year.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

Armed with such information, anyone can see that we have a real crisis on our hands when it comes to mental disease. This week provides an opportunity to take to social media and spread the message that stigma hurts us all; that empathy and compassion save lives; and, that together we can affect real change.

Fighting Stigma On World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2018! The focus this year is Young People and Mental Health In A Changing World.

mental health

The World Health Organization writes:

Investment by governments and the involvement of the social, health and education sectors in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is essential. This investment should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health and to help peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students. This is the focus for this year’s World Mental Health Day.

In recognition of MIAW and World Mental Health Day, we hope that more people will open their hearts to friends and family members affected by mental illness. Mental health disorders are not going anywhere, but we can make stigma disappear. As a result, millions of people will find the courage to seek help and go on to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

We mentioned above that more than ten million Americans are living with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder. It is paramount that such individuals receive treatment for their use disorder and dual diagnosis concurrently for successful outcomes. If you are a young adult male whose life is unmanageable due to mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our program. Parents of young men are also welcome to reach out to our team to learn how we can help your child break the cycle of addiction and heal from mental illness.

During World Mental Health Day and Mental Illness Awareness Week, PACE is spreading the message that the stigma virus is 100% curable; and, the antidote is compassion, empathy, and understanding.

Addiction and Recovery is the Focus of ‘Beautiful Boy’

addiction

In the springtime, we wrote about a book-to-film adaptation many people in recovery and their family can relate to, being that addiction recovery is the focal point. The movie, which debuts one week from today is titled, “Beautiful Boy.” Some of our subscribers may be familiar with the story of journalist David Sheff’s arduous struggle to help his son Nic find recovery. David Sheff’s effort to get his boy help, and Nic’s resistance to receiving assistance (at first), is a story that millions of Americans are familiar with firsthand. The millions who’ve been witness to the power of a disease that does not go away without a fight, and certainly not quietly.

Nic Sheff’s use and abuse of a host of drugs during his teenage and young adult years brought him to his knees in despair. His addiction to heroin and methamphetamine showed a side of the Northern Californian that his family had never seen before; Nic’s loved ones watched powerlessly as substance use disorder transformed the young man into a stranger. They were witness to Nic’s lies, cheating, stealing, and worse to maintain his addiction; his multiple trips in and out of treatment; his relapses; and finally, his acceptance of his condition and dedication to living a life free from drugs and alcohol.

“Beautiful Boy,” the film, premieres around the country on October 12, 2018, and stars Oscar nominees Timothée Chalamet (Nic) and Steve Carrell (David). While the movie’s name comes from the title of David’s book, the screenplay is based on material from Nic Sheff’s memoir as well. Nic, like his father, is a successful writer with his focus being on addiction and recovery.

Two Memoirs On Addiction

The younger Sheff’s first book is titled Tweak. David’s memoir is essentially about where addiction took his son and the complicated nature of trying to help someone who isn’t ready to help themselves recover. Nic’s memoir covers his experience with addiction and subsequent mission(s) to embrace recovery. Like many young men, Nic’s recovery didn’t take root on his first attempts. Simply put, relapse is a part of the younger Sheff’s journey.

Nic Sheff’s Tweak: Growing Up On Meth was followed by another memoir We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction. Anyone who read Tweak may have sensed that its ending had a “to be continued feeling.” In Nic Sheff’s second read, he discusses treatment, relapse, and what it’s like to be a young man in recovery.

Hollywood doesn’t always get drug and alcohol use and addiction right. One could argue that it takes someone with a history of mental illness to portray such conditions accurately. That’s not to say that screenwriters and directors are never up to the task, just that a lot can go wrong when capturing the harrowing nature of addiction. In a recent interview with Sam Lansky for TIME Steve Carrell shares being reticent even to discuss the movie; he fears that the story is not his to relay. In the interview, both Chalamet and Carrell seem to grasp the importance to get right on screen something that is misunderstood by millions of Americans.

Talking about the movie is almost as daunting as doing the movie,” Carell says. “You don’t want to speak as if you’re an authority.”

Writers In Recovery

Beautiful Boy will likely be affecting for some people to watch, especially those in early recovery. From the reviews published already, one can expect some disturbing scenes. However, it is worth mentioning that while the subject matter in the film will be painful to watch at times, at this point, Nic is leading a life in recovery and has had success writing for and producing television—the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

The author of the interview discussed above, Sam Lansky, is in recovery. He understands that when it comes to talking about the disease in book, film, or otherwise it is hard to make sense of everything. Lansky could relate to what it must have been like for his father who, like David Sheff, had to get Sam into treatment on numerous occasions. Lanksy had to wrestle with the emotions that many in recovery who read David’s Beautiful Boy experience, a first-hand account of what one’s addiction does to the loved ones who are trying to help. Lansky says that when he finished the interview with Carrell and Chalamet, he called his father on the way home.

So of course it’s hard to talk about: because when you talk about addiction, there are, maddeningly, no satisfying answers. And even I, after many years clean and sober, never know exactly what to say about it. Which is both the challenge and the triumph of the film: it’s not a movie that claims, Hollywood ending and all, that the love of a parent is enough to save a sick kid. But it’s a powerful reminder that it’s worth trying.”

Addiction Recovery

PACE Recovery Center is here to help men in the grips of addiction and co-occurring mental illness find recovery. Our gender-specific, extended care treatment center assists men in getting to the underlying issues that led to substance use and self-defeating behaviors, and learn tools and skills for leading a life in recovery. Please contact our team to learn more.

Alcohol Use Disorder Global Report

alcohol use disorder

To adequately address a problem, it helps to have all the facts. Simply put, the United States and much of the western world has a harmful relationship with alcohol. Both young and older individuals alike are significantly impacted by alcohol-related harm, disease, and premature death. Right now, millions of Americans and hundreds of millions more around the globe are struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). What’s more, the vast majority of people with AUD have never received any form of intervention or treatment.

A good many people maintain misconceptions about the impact of moderate and heavy alcohol use. It is easy to think that physical harm resulting from drinking occurs only after decades of consumption. However, wine, liquor, and beer have the power to kill in a relatively short time. Case in point: research appearing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) indicates that the number of 25- to 34-year-olds who died annually from alcohol-related liver disease nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016 in the United States. Not surprisingly, men succumb at a far higher rate; men had a higher burden of age-adjusted mortality due to cirrhosis compared with women by a 2:1. Males lost their lives to hepatocellular carcinoma compared to women by a nearly 4:1 ratio.

The above figures from the BMJ highlight just how dangerous heavy alcohol use and AUD are in this country. Nearly a thousand Americans between the age of 25 and 34 died prematurely due to liver diseases in 2016. It seems impossible to ignore such figures and the life cost to society. Alcohol, alcohol use disorder, and dependence is a worldwide crisis, even though evidence-based treatments exist. A sharp look at the analysis of available research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) should give us all pause.

Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health

WHO reports that an estimated 283 million people aged 15+ years had an alcohol use disorder around the globe in 2016. While AUD can affect both sexes, the majority of individuals living with the condition are men. WHO found that 237.0 million adult men and 46.0 million adult women had an AUD in 2016. At the same time, hazardous alcohol use led to 3 million deaths (5.3% of all deaths) worldwide and 132.6 million disability-adjusted life years.

At PACE Recovery Center, our specialty is the treatment of males presenting for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. When we look at the WHO report, it is evident that alcohol use among men and women varies widely and, as such, the costs affect men more significantly. Alcohol-attributable deaths among men make up 7.7 percent of all global deaths compared to 2.6 percent among women.

For those living with alcohol use disorder, the presence of an AUD at least doubles the risk of having depression (WHO cites: Boden & Fergusson, 2011). Risk of suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts and completed suicide are each increased by 2–3 times among those with AUD (Darvishi et al., 2015). Alcohol consumption leads to major depressive disorders, according to two reviews (Boden & Fergusson, 2011; Fergusson, Boden & Horwood, 2009).

The relationship between alcohol and the onset of major depressive disorders is due, in part, to:

  1. Alcohol consumption leading to depression, and
  2. persons with depressive disorders being more likely to consume alcohol in larger volumes and in more detrimental patterns – i.e. the “self-medication” hypothesis (Bolton, Robinson & Sareen, 2009),
  3. the possibility of underlying genetic vulnerabilities that affect both the risk of depression and alcohol consumption.

Moving Forward

Three million people is a shocking figure, but it is probable that the total cost of life owing to alcohol use is even higher. The research on AUD and the prevalence of co-occurring mental illness like depression is a facet of the report that should guide future efforts to address mental health around the world. It is also worth noting that globally, more than 300 million people are living with depression; such men and women are at high risk of self-medication and developing an AUD as a result. The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health is nearly 500 pages long, and anyone who would like more detail than we provide here is welcome to click this link.

alcohol use disorder

The World Health Organization concludes:

With 3 million alcohol-attributable deaths in 2016 and well-documented adverse impacts on the health and well-being of individuals and populations, it is a public health imperative to strengthen and sustain efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol worldwide. A significant body of evidence has accumulated on the effectiveness of alcohol policy options, but often the most cost-effective policy measures and interventions are not implemented or enforced, and the alcohol-attributable disease burden continues to be extraordinarily large. The wealth of data and analyses presented in this report can hopefully provide new grounds for advocacy, raising awareness, reinforcing political commitments and promoting global action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery

If you or a family member is one of the 237.0 million adult men living with AUD, please know that evidence-based treatments exist. With the help of PACE’s specialized clinical therapy for men addiction recovery is possible. We equip men with the tools to go from early recovery to long-term sobriety. Please contact us today to learn more about our program.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Opioid Addiction Epidemic Solutions

opioid

More than 72,000 people in the United States died from accidental drug overdoses last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While it is difficult to quickly pinpoint the exact cause of a fatal drug overdose – prescription drugs, heroin, or synthetic opioids – opioid painkillers are one of the leading reasons. Drugs like oxycodone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone are responsible for many deaths each year, despite efforts to rein in overprescribing and doctor shopping.

Even if a prescription opioid isn’t linked to an overdose death, there is a good chance that a victim was introduced to opiates by a physician. Deadly introductions to opioids are extremely common, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 80 percent of heroin users first misused prescription painkillers. The reasons for changing from FDA-approved drugs to street-grade heroin vary; but, it often stems from a patient no longer being able to acquire their prescriptions easily.

Anyone living with opioid use disorder – whether they’re still active or in the first 5-years of recovery – knows that in most states it’s more difficult than before to meet the demands of their disease. Why is more challenging? Because practically every state in the country has some form of prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP); many doctors have a better understanding of the disease; and, most physicians are unable to write refill after refill for opioid narcotics. Patients are now receiving smaller, less potent drugs than before and more doctors are determined to taper patients off in a timely manner.

In many cases, not all, patients will turn to the black market to acquire the drugs they desire—narcotics that will prevent painful withdrawal symptoms. However, many Americans still find ways to obtain their prescription meds and use them in dangerous ways.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Mandate

PDMPs exist, but few doctors rely on the life-saving tools! Each doctor gives their reasons for resistance, and such reasons vary from state-to-state. Here in California, and despite being the first state to implement a PDMP, the track record of use is nothing short of dismal.

The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, debuted in 1997; but, by 2012 less than 10 percent of providers and pharmacists had signed up for access to the database, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation. In 2012, the opioid addiction epidemic was well underway, and Californians were succumbing to overdoses at a staggering rate. Moreover, few doctors were turning to CURES to learn about their patient’s prescriptions, who prescribed the drugs, and which pharmacies filled them.

Given that doctors are in a wholly unique position to identify patients at risk of abuse, or those already showing signs of addiction, utilizing CURES is no longer up for debate. Whether a physician likes the database or not (some have complained that it is hard to use), starting next month use is mandatory, The Los Angeles Times reports. State Sen. Ricardo Lara’s SB 482 goes into effect requiring, among other things, that:

A health care practitioner authorized to prescribe, order, administer, or furnish a controlled substance to consult the CURES database to review a patient’s controlled substance history no earlier than 24 hours, or the previous business day, before prescribing a Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV controlled substance to the patient for the first time and at least once every 4 months thereafter if the substance remains part of the treatment of the patient.

Stemming the Tide of Addiction With Due Diligence

Despite being around for more than 20 years, the program has had a number of problems that have been addressed over the years. Originally described as “clunky and far from user-friendly,” the system was revamped in 2009 and CURES 2.0 was released in 2016 with a better interface, according to the article. The newer database is far from perfect and can use some improvements; even still, compulsory use of CURES will undoubtedly save lives.

California joins New York, Kentucky, and Tennessee in requiring doctors to consult a prescription drug database before prescribing. According to the article, a 2017 study showed that mandatory use of New York’s I-STOP database in 2013 led to a leveling off of prescription opioid deaths in the state.

California created the first system to track prescriptions of the strongest painkillers, but our state fell behind as the opioid crisis grew,” said state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who drafted the legislation in 2015. “I wrote SB 482 to require that doctors and others consult the CURES system before prescribing these powerful and addictive drugs. This tool will help limit doctor shopping, break the cycle of addiction and prevent prescriptions from ever again fueling an epidemic that claims thousands of lives.”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Men

Please reach out to PACE Recovery Center if you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin, or your loved one is about to complete inpatient treatment and can benefit from extended care. Relying on a combination of traditional and alternative therapeutic methods, we can help you or a family member enter into a life of recovery from opiate addiction.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

mental health

September is a crucial month regarding mental health in America. Those who follow our blog know that this is National Recovery Month, which we covered in some detail last week. Hopefully, many of you have taken the time to promote this observance on social media. Now is also a time to celebrate people in recovery and acknowledge the treatment service providers who help men and women make critical changes in their lives. When we shine a spotlight on those committed to leading productive lives while abstaining from drugs and alcohol, we encourage others to seek help.

When alcohol and substance use disorders go without treatment, the outcome is usually tragic. Addiction is a progressive mental illness with no known cure, and like any mental illness left untreated, the symptoms often become deadly. One need only look at the overdose death toll year-after-year or consider the 88,000 Americans who die from alcohol-related causes annually, to see evidence of the disease’s destructive nature. However, we have the power to reduce the number of people who succumb each year by eroding the stigma of mental health conditions. The simple fact is that evidence-based therapies exist; people can and do recover from diseases of the mind provided they have assistance.

While many people who fall victim to addiction do so owing to physical health complications, sadly there are some who decide they’ve had enough. The vicious cycle of addiction takes a significant toll on the psyche of many individuals, and some make fateful decisions that are irreversible. Such persons come to believe that treatment is inaccessible, they convince themselves that recovery is an impossible dream; such resignations can result in suicidal ideations or worse—attempts on one’s life.

Eroding Stigma Saves Lives

One of the most efficient ways to take the wind out of stigma’s sails is by having real conversations about mental health disorders. Anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and alcohol and substance use disorder are treatable, but many people are of different opinions. What’s more, many of those who live with such afflictions fear what others will think of them if they seek help. It’s as if reaching out for support makes one’s condition more real, and it's impossible to hide an illness from others if treatment is sought.

Men and women don’t develop a fear of seeking help for no reason, much of society either consciously or subconsciously looks unfavorably upon mental illness. Even individuals with afflicted loved ones can still harbor misconceptions about mental health and the possibility of recovery. Much of society could stand to alter their understanding of mental illness and take a more compassionate approach. People who suspect a friend or family member is battling mental illness can affect change by merely asking how said person is doing or if they need help. It doesn’t matter the type of disease in question, everyone benefits when we open up the dialogue on mental health.

National Recovery Month aside, September is also National Suicide Prevention Month. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) asks that we reduce suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another and talk about mental illness. The organization points out:

We don’t always know who is struggling, but we do know that one conversation could save a life.

National Suicide Prevention Week

Not too long ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a startling figure: more than 300 million people worldwide are living with depression. Major depressive disorder, just one of several mental health conditions, is believed to be the leading cause of mal-health on the planet. It probably will not surprise you to learn that depression is the most common mental disorder associated with suicide. It’s also worth mentioning that depression and addiction often go hand-in-hand, more than half of the people living with a use disorder meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental illness. Moreover, depression like addiction is underdiagnosed and undertreated. The AFSP reports that only 4 out of 10 people receive mental health treatment.

One in four people who die by self-harm is under the influence at the time of their death, according to the organization. It is of the utmost importance that everyone in recovery and those with affected loved ones, spread the message that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength. We need to end the pervasive association that seeking assistance is an indication of weakness or failure. There is no time like the present, and there is certainly no time to waste: each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide. The AFSP shares that:

  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
  • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age (white men in particular).
  • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

This week and throughout the month, everyone is encouraged to talk about mental illness and what can happen without treatment. We can all benefit from learning the warning signs of mental disorders and share messages with each other that promote treatment. If you would like to get involved, you can find shareable images here. On social media, the hashtags #SuicidePrevention #StopSuicide #RealConvo are trending. Together we can fight suicide!

When addiction accompanies depression, bipolar disorder or any mental disorder for that matter, it heightens people's risk of suicide exponentially. However, when individuals receive simultaneous treatment for use disorder and their dual diagnosis, long-term recovery is achievable. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of men living with co-occurring mental health disorders. Please reach out to our team at your earliest convenience to learn more about our evidence-based programs.

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