Recovery Brain Heals Over Time: New Research

recovery

Early addiction recovery is a time of significant adjustment; learning how to live life without drugs and alcohol is only one aspect of a complex process. Most individuals new to recovery have been misusing mind-altering substances for a long time; some people used them for decades before making the decision to take certain steps.

It’s common for men and women new to working a program to struggle with patience; it’s said that the addict or alcoholic “wants what they want when they want it.” However, recovery is a process that takes time—one cannot expect to heal and change specific mindsets overnight.

If you are new to addiction recovery – in treatment or otherwise – please allow yourself a significant period of time to grasp and implement a new way of living. Your disease did not come about all at once; the same is valid for implementing a new set of principles and traditions.

Weeks and months can pass by before one feels a sense of equilibrium and achieving lasting recovery will require balance in all aspects of your life. It’s of significant value to understand the difference between acute withdrawal symptoms and post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). While the former feelings and cravings may dissipate rapidly – one to two weeks generally – following your last drink or drug, PAWS can persist for months and sometimes up to a year.

Owing to the protracted length of PAWS – usually psychological and mood-related issues – the longer one stays in treatment, the better. When PAWS is left unchecked by professionals, it drastically increases one’s risk of relapse in the first year of recovery.

Scanning the Addicted Brain

The early stages of addiction recovery can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions and mental turmoil. It’s vital to stick close to a support network to protect your recovery from acting on uncomfortable feelings and emotions.

Fortunately, the brain bounces back from the ravages of prolonged drug and alcohol use. Over time, you start feeling better, and it becomes easier to tolerate cravings.

In recent years, scientists have conducted studies using positron emission tomography (PET) scans. The type of imaging shows how well tissues and organs are functioning. Researchers scanned the brains of addicts and alcoholics before and after stopping use. The images revealed marked changes in brain functioning in relatively short periods.

recovery

The imagining shows the dopamine transporter levels – an indicator of dopamine system function – in the brain’s reward region. As soon as one removes drugs and alcohol from the equation, the mind begins to heal, and research shows that the brain dopamine transporter levels return to normal function in time.

While the brain scan above deals with methamphetamine use, the same changes were seen when people abstained from other substances. The fact that the brain has an exceptional ability to heal from prolonged alcohol and drug use is salient, and it shows that the damage done is not permanent.

Alcohol Use and Brain Recovery

New research dealing with alcohol use came back with some positive findings. What’s more, the study shows that the brain recovers quickly after taking the last drink, Yale News reports. The findings appear in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

At Yale University, researchers scanned the brains of people with alcohol use disorder. The scans were conducted one day to two weeks after their last drink. The researchers found disruptions disparities, among people with AUD’s, in a brain network associated with decision-making.

The more recently an alcoholic had their last drink, the more significant the disruption. Increased disruption was linked to a higher likelihood of returning to drinking. Such alcoholics will compromise their recovery, and begin drinking heavy again. The researchers found decreased disruption in activity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and striatum, the longer one abstained. The findings mean that more extraordinary lengths of abstinence make people more equipped to prevent relapse.

Rajita Sinha, professor of neuroscience and senior author of the study, says the brain scans can “help reveal who is most at risk of relapse and underscore the importance of extensive early treatment for those in their early days of sobriety.” She adds that a better understanding of brain disruptions in the brains of alcoholics could lead to new medications that can help people in early recovery.

For people with AUD, the brain takes a long time to normalize, and each day is going to be a struggle,” said Sinha. “For these people, it really is ‘one day at a time.’”

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Men

If you are or an adult male loved one is struggling with alcohol use, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our programs and services. We rely on evidence-based therapies to help men recover and live positive lives.

Recovery and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

recovery

At PACE Recovery Center, we are hopeful that you had a peaceful Labor Day weekend. We understand that many Americans in recovery are still out of work—furloughed or on permanent leave. As such, these are stressful times for a large percentage of the population. We also hope that you continue taking steps to safeguard your mental health and protect your progress.

We shared some alarming data regarding the dramatic increase in the number of Americans experiencing one or more adverse mental or behavioral health conditions. Being Recovery Month, we would be remiss for not reminding people – inside the rooms of recovery and out – that they are not alone.

Many people are struggling with symptoms of mental illness—some individuals for the first time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions linked with the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those surveyed, over 30 percent struggled with anxiety or depression; there is a significant chance that some of the respondents are still contending with symptoms.

Any mental illness must be addressed. The dangers of ignoring symptoms of depression and anxiety can result in self-medication or worse. Unfortunately, the CDC survey revealed that 10.7 percent of respondents reported having considered suicide in the 30 days prior.

mental health

While the survey was relatively small, 5,412 adults, it’s probable that the findings are the bellwether of a more severe problem. COVID-19 cases have bogged down our entire health care system. It’s more challenging for medical professionals to assist those struggling with mental illness. When a person’s psychological distress symptoms – whether it be trauma- and stressor-related disorder or depression – is unmitigated, then adverse outcomes are practically a given.

Suicide Prevention Week 2020

September is Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. What’s more, this is Suicide Prevention Week and this Thursday is World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2020).

suicide-prevention-day

The Each Mind Matters campaign asks organizations to focus on the intersection between suicide prevention, alcohol and drug use, and efforts that foster resilience and recovery. The initiative provides many resources that mental health and addiction recovery advocates can utilize.

Individuals can also get involved in the effort to promote hope, resiliency, and recovery. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) invites you to share resources or your story to increase awareness on this “highly taboo and stigmatized topic.”

Not everyone is ready to speak openly about their struggle with mental illness and suicide, and that’s okay; that may be the case for you. If so, you can make a difference in many ways; social media can be a tool for letting others know that they are not alone.

suicide prevention month

NAMI has scores of infographics and helpful wording that you can appropriate for use on your social media pages. Sharing about the ubiquity of mental illness and suicidal ideation lets those who are still suffering know that how they are feeling is not uncommon. Armed with knowledge, one might be more amenable to reaching out for help. For instance:

  • 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences a mental health condition in a given year.
  • Nearly 50 million Americans manage a mental illness each day.
  • Suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition.
  • Half of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental illness.
  • 75 percent of people who die by suicide are male.

You Are Not Alone—Recovery is Possible

Untreated mental illness and suicide is a year-round priority. Given that 2020 is one of the most challenging years for Americans in living memory, it’s even more vital to stay connected with one another.

When we take the time to reach out or share our experience and hope for one another, we affect change and save lives. No matter how difficult life becomes, suicide is never the answer. Together we can espouse mental health treatment and recovery; we can let men, women, and teenagers know that they are not alone. NAMI writes:

Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to stay connected with our community. No one should feel alone or without the information, support, and help they need. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention.

Please take some time this week or month to get the message out about treatment and recovery. Reach out to a friend or family member who you believe is struggling this year. A small action can make an enormous difference in the lives of others.

Mental Health Treatment for Men

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you or someone you care about struggles with mental illness or addiction. Our evidence-based treatment programs for adult males can help bring about lasting, positive changes in one’s life. National Suicide and Recovery Month is an ideal opportunity to begin a remarkable and healing journey.

National Recovery Month: Join the Voices for Recovery

National Recovery Month

It’s fair to say that National Recovery Month couldn’t have come at a better time; millions of Americans are struggling with addiction and mental illness—inside the rooms of recovery and out. We have to remind men and women that help is available, and that substance use treatment and mental health treatment works.

The last six months have been exceedingly challenging for countless Americans. What’s more, it will probably take years to quantify the impact of SARS-CoV-2. Tens of millions have lost their jobs, causing enormous financial strain at home. Many of us have lost loved ones or live in fear of losing someone dear. Moreover, the emotional stress packed into coming face to face with a pandemic has severely affected people living with addiction and mental illness.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect countless people around the globe. To date, 26 million cases have been reported worldwide, and as many as a million individual lives are lost. Sadly, the United States continues to have the highest figures. Some 6.12 million Americans have tested positive, and we’ve lost almost 200,000 men, women, and children to the virus.

COVID-19 is a traumatic event on a global scale. Just as people turned to drugs and alcohol during the Great Recession and the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, the same is proving true right now with the pandemic.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), sounded the alarm months ago about a rise in drug use and overdoses. The head of NIDA also said she was “hearing the distress calls from throughout the country” regarding relapses among those that had already achieved recovery.

Mental Health Disorders and Addiction During The Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey towards the end of June. Yahoo News reports that the pandemic was a factor leading to increases in alcohol use and depression cases. Researchers found 40.9 percent of participants had one or more adverse mental or behavioral health conditions.

The CDC survey showed that 31 percent struggled with anxiety or depression. Compared to the same time last year, anxiety symptoms increased threefold and depression fourfold. The survey indicates that 26 percent of participants had symptoms of trauma- and stress-related disorder.

Perhaps most salient, the CDC points out that lockdowns and overburdened healthcare systems make it challenging for state and local governments to respond to the uptick in mental and behavioral health disorders. The authors write:

Addressing mental health disparities and preparing support systems to mitigate mental health consequences as the pandemic evolves will continue to be needed urgently.”

Mounting Relapse and Overdose Crisis

Dr. Volkow’s announcement that opioid overdoses may have increased 30 to 40 since the pandemic began is reflected in separate data-gathering projects. The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), located at the University of Baltimore, confirms that drug overdoses are spiking across the country, NPR reports. ODMAP found that 60 percent of participating counties reported an increase in drug overdoses.

Data from more than 1,200 agencies nationwide submitted to ODMAP shows that overdoses have increased by roughly 18 percent. What’s more, many communities are in dire need of assistance to address the spike. The ubiquity of fentanyl makes a desperate situation even worse—particularly for those in recovery who lack tolerance for the potent opioid. For such individuals, a relapse can be a death sentence.

Jennifer Austin, a substance abuse disorder coach, points out that men and women in recovery depend upon structure and fellowship. Naturally, state and local-mandated lockdowns have made working a program of recovery troublesome for many individuals. Isolation is not a friend to recovery.

The longer people had to isolate it was relapse, relapse, overdose, relapse, overdose,” Austin tells NPR. “I’ve had people who I’ve never worked with before reach out to me and say, ‘Jen, what do I do?'”

According to the CDC, roughly 72,000 Americans died from an overdose in 2019, a five percent increase from the previous year. 2020 is likely going to be even worse; ADM Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says:

Every indication we have in terms of stress, in terms of surveys about increasing [drug] use during the pandemic, basically everything is pointed in the wrong direction.”

National Recovery Month

This year has been a trying one for all of us, but there is still time to make a difference. National Recovery Month is an annual observance to support people in recovery. Experts come together every September to educate Americans about substance use treatment and mental health services; both enable people living with mental and substance use disorders to “live healthy and rewarding lives.”

Throughout the month, webinars are replacing the typical in-person seminars to protect the well-being of participants. 2020 is National Recovery Month’s 31st observance; this year’s theme is, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections.” Please click the links for more information on webinars and events. We can all have a role in spreading the word about recovery at home using social media.

“Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections,” reminds people in recovery and those who support them, that we all have victories to celebrate and things we may wish we had done differently. This is true of everyone and, as in most cases, we cannot do it alone.

Addiction Recovery Center for Men

National Recovery Month is an ideal opportunity to reach out for support. If you or an adult male loved one requires assistance with addiction or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center today to learn more about our programs. Our highly skilled team utilizes evidence-based therapies to help men get on the road toward lasting recovery.

Adoption Trauma | Addressing Abandonment & Attachment

adoption trauma

Adoption can be a positive life event. Most adopted children are well-adjusted and enjoy a stable family relationship. However, issues can arise in an individual who has been adopted. Abandonment and attachment issues can cause other problems, as a child grows and becomes an adult. Adoption trauma should be addressed constructively, along with addressing abandonment and attachment issues, to help the adoptee re-adjust and cope in a healthier manner.

Adoption Trauma

Trauma can occur because of an isolated incident or as a result of an ongoing circumstance that affects someone personally. Adoption trauma refers to the shock and pain of being permanently and abruptly separated from biological family members and can affect both the birth parent and the child who is being adopted, given the circumstances of the separation. The level of emotional and mental difficulty, as well as the long-term impact of adoption trauma, varies depending on the child’s age, maturity level, and other circumstances involved in the adoption.

Abandonment Issues

Research has found that a child who is placed for adoption may feel abandoned, even after being adopted. The child may experience symptoms of abandonment well into adulthood, including:

  • Aggression and angry behavior
  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness
  • Self-image problems
  • Daydreaming, as they try to make sense of their story and identity
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Nightmares

This sense of abandonment can also lead to interpersonal and relationship problems. The person who has been adopted, even if now living in a loving and stable home, has lost their birth parents as well as a sense of being biologically linked to other family members. The individual’s sense of loss may not be acknowledged or may be downplayed. Addressing abandonment and attachment issues is critical to helping the adopted person regain a sense of comfort and security.

Attachment Issues

Feeling abandoned early in life can lead to attachment issues in adults who have been adopted. Those early social experiences, including loss and rejection, create individual differences in security, which shape relational attitudes and behaviors. Being adopted may be associated with a sense of having been rejected or abandoned by birth parents, and of ‘‘not belonging.’’ Adoption may be linked with perceptions that the individual is unworthy of love and attention or that other people are unavailable, uncaring, and rejecting.

Reactive Detachment Disorder

A rare condition that can be part of a child’s adoption trauma, reactive attachment disorder (RAD) occurs when infants and young children who are subject to extreme neglect or abuse fail to establish an expected bond. A child with RAD, which is diagnosed from 9 months to 5 years of age, rarely seeks or responds to comfort when distressed, shows limited positive affect, and has unexplained episodes of irritability, sadness, or fearfulness in contact with caregivers.

Signs of RAD in infants and toddlers include a withdrawn appearance, a failure to smile, and a failure to react when parents or caregivers attempt to interact with them. Instead of seeking nurturing from a parent or caregiver, these children will attempt to nurture and soothe themselves. When distressed, they may calm down more quickly without the attention of an adult.

Substance Use Disorders

Adoption has been associated with increased cognitive development and cognitive competence; however, it has also been found to increase the individual’s risk for substance use disorders. A recent study found that the prevalence of any lifetime substance use disorder was 43% higher among adoptees (50.5%) compared to non-adoptees (35.4%). Lifetime prevalence rates of disorders involving legal substances were 41.0% (alcohol) and 25.4% (nicotine) among adoptees. In non-adoptees, the rates dropped to 27.5% (alcohol) and 16.1% (nicotine). Lifetime prevalence rates of disorders involving illegal substances ranged from 2.9% (opioid) to 13.2% (cannabis) among adoptees and from 1.3% (opioid) to 7.6% (cannabis) among non-adoptees.

Awareness of adopted persons and their adoptive parents to this risk may help in preventing the individual from using substances and in being alert to early signs and symptoms, providing the opportunity for a timely intervention to reduce the damage and increase the chance of recovery. These findings can also be useful for addressing adoption trauma, including abandonment and attachment issues, by providing education, prevention, and support for adoptees and their families.

Specialists in Adoption Trauma Treatment

The professionals at PACE Recovery Center understand the struggles you may encounter as an adoptee, particularly in regard to adoption trauma and abandonment and attachment issues. Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you have been adopted or are an adoptive parent and struggle with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Our gender-specific, evidence-based addiction recovery center for men will help you begin the healing process and begin a remarkable journey. During these challenging times, our highly skilled team is adhering to COVID-19 guidelines to ensure you remain safe and healthy. You can reach us today at 800-526-1851.

The Relationship Between Homelessness and Addiction

relationship between homelessness and addictionHomelessness continues to be a significant problem in the US. Although the numbers had been trending down, in recent years they have been increasing again. A number of factors could contribute to a person becoming homeless. One of those factors is substance use. In addition, many people who find themselves homeless turn to drugs or alcohol as a result. So, the relationship between homelessness and addiction runs two ways.

Homelessness in the US

Over 500,000 people in the US are homeless on any given night. Approximately 65 percent are in homeless shelters, and the other 35 percent—just under 200,000—are unsheltered on the streets (in places such as sidewalks, parks, cars, or abandoned buildings). Homelessness almost always involves people facing desperate situations and extreme hardship. They must make choices among very limited options, often in the context of extreme duress, untreated mental illness, or substance abuse disorders.

The homeless include families and individuals. Of those individuals who are homeless, who make up about 67% of the homeless population in the US, over 260,000 are men and just over 106,000 are women.

Risk Factors

Severe mental illness, histories of incarceration, low incomes, weak social connections, as well as substance abuse problems each increase an individual’s risk of homelessness, and a higher level of occurrence in each of these factors may increase total homelessness. Of course, the vast majority of people with any of these issues is not homeless (even if all half a million homeless people faced all of these problems, there are millions of non-homeless Americans who face each problem as well).

Disproportionate Impact

The relationship between homelessness and substance abuse is complex, with studies suggesting that substance use can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness. Evidence indicates that substance abuse and overdose disproportionately impact homeless people.

A survey by the United States Conference of Mayors found that 68 percent of cities reported that substance abuse was the largest cause of homelessness for single adults. Substance abuse was also reported as one of the top three causes of family homelessness by 12 percent of cities.

In another study, 25 percent of homeless people surveyed, identified drug use as the primary reason for homelessness.

A study to determine the leading risk factors for homelessness among veterans indicated that substance abuse may have the highest impact on relative risk for homelessness in this population, even more so than bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. And a 2015 study of found that the prevalence of homelessness in veterans with opioid use disorder is 10 times more than the general veteran population.

A study in Boston showed that overdose has surpassed HIV as the leading cause of death among homeless adults and that opioids are responsible for more than 80 percent of these deaths. Homeless adults, 25-44, were nine times more likely to die from an overdose than their counterparts who were stably housed.

Homelessness and Addiction

Alcohol and drug problems can be causes and consequences of homelessness, as well as co-occurring problems that complicate efforts for individuals to find stable housing. Although studies vary, research consistently shows over a third of individuals who are homeless experience alcohol and drug problems and up to two-thirds have a lifetime history of an alcohol or drug disorder.

According to the 2018 homeless point-in-time count, 111,122 homeless people (20 percent) had a severe mental illness and 86,647 homeless people (16 percent) suffered from chronic substance abuse. In addition, mortality rates among homeless persons are more than three times that of persons with some type of housing.

The Need for Treatment

Homeless people with opioid-use disorder experience significant barriers to treatment. Obstacles include social isolation, lack of available transportation, a fragmented delivery system, and complex treatment needs including co-occurring conditions.

Research has shown that integrated treatment that incorporates housing and employment components provides better health outcomes than the usual care for people who are homeless. Studies do confirm that with increased clinical support and connections to homeless services, including housing, homeless patients are statistically as likely as stably housed patients to successfully complete treatment programs. 

Addiction Treatment for Men in Southern California

When you are ready to seek help for your addiction, we are ready to help. At PACE, we know that addiction is a serious disease that can impact your life in many ways. PACE Recovery Center is focused on helping men in southern California who struggle with addiction take that first step toward the journey of recovery. The professionals at PACE can help you find structure, purpose, and accountability as you overcome your addictive behaviors. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.

The Role of Sugar in Addiction

sugar addiction

Addiction is a brain disease that is demonstrated through compulsive substance use. That substance could be drugs, alcohol, or even sugar. People who are addicted have an intense focus on using that substance to the point where it can take over their life, without regard to the consequences. The role of sugar in addiction is complex, as it is involved in the addiction to certain drugs and it can be an addictive substance itself.

Sugar and Drug Addiction

Research studies have determined that chronic opioid exposure is associated with increased sugar intake.  There is strong evidence that opiate use and a preference for sweets are linked. Health conditions resulting from this type of substance use can include excess body fat, weight gain, dental issues, and abnormal blood sugar levels.

When the researchers studied heroin addicts, however, they found that they were typically underweight. Their condition was more than likely a result of spending more money on drugs than on food. Those heroin addicts who underwent methadone treatment typically demonstrated significant weight gain, possibly related to strong cravings for sweets during an extended period without using heroin.

The researchers advise that, in light of the growing body of evidence linking the opioid system to food intake and risk of obesity, proper exercise and dietary habits should be reinforced with opioid-dependent patients. Opiate antagonists, like naltrexone, appear to be at least weight neutral, and possibly weight reducing, by decreasing preference for sweet foods. 

An Addiction to Sugar

When the addiction is to sugar itself, that can also cause significant health issues. The role of sweets in addiction can sometimes be that sugar is the addictive substance itself. Eating sweet items releases opioids and dopamine in the body. Dopamine is the key part of the reward circuit associated with addictive behavior.

Regardless of whether the substance is a drug, alcohol, or sugar, it causes an excess release of dopamine, which then gives that pleasurable “high” feeling. The behavior is continuously repeated to re-experience the elation. The brain then adjusts to release less dopamine and the only way to continue to get the same “high” is to repeat the substance use in increasing amounts and frequency.

More Addicting Than Cocaine

Healthcare professionals, such as Cassie Bjork, RD, LD, believe that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine. Bjork says that “Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances, and more.” She adds that “Every time we eat sweets, we are reinforcing those neuropathways, causing the brain to become increasingly hardwired to crave sugar, building up a tolerance like any other drug.”

More Socially Acceptable

While studying the role of sugar in addiction, researchers from Connecticut College found that Oreo cookies activate more neurons in the pleasure center of rats’ brains than cocaine does (and, interestingly, just like humans, the rats would eat the filling first).

Eating sugar is more socially acceptable than doing drugs or drinking alcohol excessively. Sugar is also more prevalent and available as well as being harder to avoid. Eating Oreos is typically not questioned by friends or family, even though the consumption of sugar may become addictive and detrimental to the individual’s health.

Signs of Addiction

The signs of sugar addiction are very similar to the signs of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. If you recognize any of these signs in yourself, it may be time to reach out for help.

  • You hide your sugar consumption
  • You need more and more to satisfy the craving
  • You eat it even when you’re not hungry
  • You always crave sweets
  • You crave salty foods (cravings for salty and savory foods are one way that your body might be telling you to take a break from the sugar and eat something more nutritious)
  • You try to quit and have unusual symptoms
  • You use sugar to soothe
  • You know the potential consequences and eat it anyway
  • You go out of your way to get sugar
  • You have feelings of guilt about eating it

Addiction Treatment for Men in Southern California

Addiction is a serious disease that can impact your life in many ways. PACE Recovery Center is focused on helping men who struggle with addiction begin the journey of recovery. The professionals at PACE can help you find structure, purpose, and accountability as you overcome your addictive behaviors. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.

Using Social Media Responsibly During COVID-19

using social media responsibly during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you have fewer opportunities to venture outside your home to go to the movies or to have dinner with friends. You probably find that you do have more time to stay home and scroll through social media sites. As you post and read others’ posts, keep in mind that using social media responsibly during COVID-19 is important for your mental health and for your continued recovery.

Billions on Social Media

When you use social media, you are definitely not alone. A survey conducted in July 2020 found that more than half of the world now uses social media. There are 4.57 billion people across the globe who use the Internet, including 346 million who have just come online within the past 12 months.

COVID-19 on Social Media

During COVID-19, many people are turning to social media for news and updates. Even if you are not purposely searching for information on the coronavirus outbreak, more than likely you will find posts about the virus as you scroll through social media sites. A separate survey conducted by Gallup in April 2020 revealed that 46% of social media users said that “almost all” or “most” of what they see is about the coronavirus situation and an additional 37% said “about half” is.

In addition, over two-thirds of social media users say coronavirus-related posts that they see from public officials (70%) and news organizations (68%) are “very” or “moderately” helpful. Fifty-seven percent say the same about posts from family members and friends, while fewer say so about posts from neighbors (43%).

Social Media for Connection During COVID-19

You may be using social media during COVID-19 to reconnect with friends and family. The April 2020 Gallup poll also found that seventy-four percent of Americans who use social media say it has been “very” or “moderately” important to them personally as a way to stay connected with people who are close to them that they may not be able to see in person during the coronavirus situation. And 63% say the same about the ability to stay connected with people in their city, town, or local community. 

When you are not able to visit friends and family in person, social media can be a useful tool for keeping in touch. Using social media responsibly during COVID means, though, not sharing too much personal information online. Even when you think that only your friends can see what you post, messages can find their way through the virtual world to places that you don’t want them to go.

Manage Your Time

When you have nothing else to do, you may think there is nothing wrong with spending hours on social media. When you are using social media responsibly during COVID, you will limit your screen exposure, so it does not consume all of your time. Social media users spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on an average of 8 social networks and messaging apps. If you are spending more time on social media than on other constructive activities, it could affect your mental health.

Just the Facts

When using social media responsibly, focus purely on facts and verifiable information in the posts you read as well as your own posts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a phenomenon coined by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as a “pandemic of misinformation” has arisen on social media platforms. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they have seen news and information about the disease that seemed completely made up, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

Social Media Overload

As you are using social media responsibly during COVID, you will find that spending less time online and focusing on verifiable facts rather than rumors can be beneficial to your mental health. A number of research studies have concluded that low levels of social media usage are associated with better mental health. In fact, it has been discovered that people who limit their social media use to half an hour a day have significantly lower depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to a control group.

One large-scale study found that people who are occasional users of social media are almost three times less likely to be depressed than those who are heavy users. Another study revealed that younger people who use social media more than two hours per day are much more likely to rate their mental health as “fair” or “poor” compared with those who are occasional users.

Mental Health Treatment for Men During COVID-19

The professional team at PACE Recovery Center specializes in helping men who are faced with mental health challenges, including trauma and PTSD related issues. We also work with those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol who are looking for a more fulfilling life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize you may need help now more than ever. We are open and have put in place a stringent set of protocols to protect your health and safety. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get started on your path to lasting recovery. Please call us today at 800-526-1851.

Recovery Strengthened by Breathing Exercises

recovery

The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy is the definition of well-being. In these extraordinary times, we must strive to be well—mentally, physically, and emotionally. We are facing enormous obstacles due to the pandemic. People in recovery are perhaps more vulnerable now than ever.

It would be best if you kept your finger on your mental health pulse to ensure you do not slip back into harmful behaviors. Given all that’s happening, it’s only natural to be concerned. We have to remind ourselves of what we can control and what we cannot. We haven’t the power to change many things in life today.

Over the last several months, we’ve reminded our readers that “this too shall pass.” A common saying in the rooms of recovery, but one that can assist us when the day becomes dark. Thankfully, we are not alone; a fellowship exists that you can lean on if you’re triggered or symptoms of mental illness crop up.

Still, there are times when you might have to rely on your tools to overcome challenges. There are little things you can do throughout the day to preserve the gains you’ve made. Prayer, meditation, and mindful exercises will help you stay positive; a positive attitude changes everything.

Many of us are isolated from supportive peers, friends, and family. It’s not hard to feel alone and apart from the people we care for most. The coronavirus has proven a formidable foe, and there isn’t a concise prediction of when life will return to normal. Nevertheless, you have the power to keep your recovery intact. Men and women in mental and behavioral health recovery can see the other side of COVID-19 scourge even stronger.

Breathing for Recovery

It may be an inopportune time to make recommendations about how to breathe amid a pneumonic plague. Some 664,000 people have died from the coronavirus spreading across the globe. However, breathing is an excellent recovery aid for coping with stress.

Breathing can help you manage anxiety and depression, states of being that are the remora fish of the pandemic. Countless individuals are feeling discontent and frustrated. We all share the common trait of fearfulness because of the deadly virus and the havoc it has wrought on society.

Vestiges of the global outbreak, experts predict, will be higher rates of mental illness. What we do today might impact how we get through the days to come. You can improve your mental health by adopting breathing exercises, according to researchers at Yale University.

Mindfulness and Positivity

Research appearing in the Frontiers in Psychiatry shows that students who learn breathing techniques and emotional intelligence strategies are better able to manage stress and anxiety. Yale News reports that the practices also helped with depression and social connectedness.

In addition to academic skills, we need to teach students how to live a balanced life,” said Emma Seppälä, lead author and faculty director of the Women’s Leadership Program at Yale School of Management. “Student mental health has been on the decline over the last 10 years, and with the pandemic and racial tensions, things have only gotten worse.”

While the study focused on the efficacy of classroom-based wellness training programs, incorporating techniques for managing stress and anxiety is beneficial for everyone. Students taught SKY Breath Meditation, yoga postures, social connection, and service activities reported benefits in six areas of well-being: depression, stress, mental health, mindfulness, positive affect, and social connectedness.

If you are experiencing increasing anxiety and depression, please consider learning more about the above techniques. If you have gone through an addiction or mental health treatment program, maybe you learned about the value of yoga and breathing exercises for maintaining a positive attitude. Hopefully, you are still utilizing the practices.

Increased self-awareness and compassion are needed today. Please, do everything you can to achieve those noble goals. The downtime in the day is an opportunity for well-being techniques and to practice positivity. You can still be of service to your peers from afar.

I didn’t realize how much of it was physiology, how you control the things inside you with breathing,” said Anna Wilkinson, Yale ’22 B.A., who uses the practices regularly. “I come out of breathing and meditation as a happier, more balanced person, which is something I did not expect at all.”

Mental Health and Addiction Treatment for Men

Contact PACE Recovery Center if you are a male who struggles with mental illness or addiction. Our highly-trained team can help you begin the journey of recovery during this unprecedented time. We also offer a program designed for students: assisting young men with their academic pursuits. The PACE staff can help you find routine, structure, purpose, and accountability.

Recovery Community: Contact Tracing COVID-19

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Rampant unemployment in America, combined with the “stay at home” orders, affects countless members of the addiction recovery community. Moreover, many lack the ability to generate an income from home, which hinders them from supporting themselves in the weeks and months to come.

Now, is a time think outside the box employment-wise, and perhaps do some good towards putting an end to the pandemic. America is severely impacted by the global health crisis; more than 140,000 men, women, and children have succumbed to COVID-19-related health complications, and four million have tested positive. Each day the numbers continue rising in the United States.

At this point, countless individuals find that they lack purpose. What’s worse, requiring a cause can lead people down a dark path. According to multiple reports, many people in recovery have relapsed and returned to the disease cycle of addiction. Alcohol and drug use are on the rise, as are overdose deaths.

Many public health experts fear that 2020 could be the worst year in decades for heightened addiction rates and overdose. It doesn’t have to be the case, but these despairing times have left many people driving by fear, uncertainty, and finding it harder to continue down or start a path of recovery.

Those out of work might take steps to seek coronavirus employment and volunteering options to get out of their heads and stave off negative emotions. You feel better about yourself and maintain a more positive attitude if you have a sense of purpose, even when confined to your home.

Protecting Addiction Recovery and Saving Lives

By now, you have learned that of several things that can slow disease transmission and save lives. Wearing personal protective equipment, washing your hands, and avoiding large groups, to name a few examples. However, tracking down those who come in contact with the infected can prevent isolated outbreaks in communities across America.

Each of the four million people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 came into contact with others before their symptoms led to a diagnosis. Such individuals are also at risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus. It’s vital to track down everyone who is at risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 further. To that end, states have begun seeking out those interested in helping contact trace coronavirus exposures.

If you are looking for ways to earn income following a job loss or would like to volunteer your time to help bring this unprecedented event to an end, please turn to the internet to find such opportunities. The experience can support your addiction recovery program and potentially lead to a future in public health work down the road.

The Golden State is witnessing a dramatic surge in new cases. In response, the state government created California Connected—the state’s contact tracing program. The initiative states:

Under this program, health workers will talk to those who have tested positive. They’ll alert anyone they may have exposed, keeping names confidential. They’ll check symptoms, offer testing, and discuss next steps like self-isolation and medical care.”

It’s not just health workers charged with tracing the spread of infection. Tens of thousands of Americans have applied to help. The New York Times reports that 100,000 to 300,000 tracers are needed. Contract tracers work from home typically; if interested, there is a lot of information online for joining the cause.

Addiction Treatment During a Pandemic

At PACE Recovery Center, we are taking significant steps to ensure our clients are safe and free from COVID-19 exposure. Please reach out to us today to learn more about our addiction and mental health treatment programs for men.

Depression and Anxiety During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Are you feeling angry, discontent, frustrated, lonely, and stir crazy? Are you consumed by fear of the unknown and bogged down by states of anxiety or depression? If the words above resonate, aptly describing your sentiments of late, please know that you are not alone. The majority of people in recovery from addiction, mental illness, or dual diagnosis feel the same way. We implore you; take stock in remembering that this too shall pass.

It’s been several months since we learned that a deadly virus found its way ashore in America. A short time ago, we couldn’t have imagined that the United States would become the epicenter of the most severe public health crisis in 100 years. Moreover, we didn’t know that life as we know it would change immeasurably. Nevertheless, here we find ourselves; all 328 million-plus of us.

COVID-19 is a deadly coronavirus sweeping across America. From Miami to Seattle, from Bangor to Huntington Beach, more than three and half million have tested positive. What’s more, 135,000 Americans‘ lives have been cut short. Each day, the death toll and the number of cases rises; it’s understandable that you have concerns. A pandemic is an unprecedented event for 99.99 percent of those living; there isn’t a playbook to turn to for guidance.

While we shelter in place waiting for the storm to pass, it can be easy to become trapped in the endless news cycle. Headlines are informative to be sure, but they are also troubling. Acting on instructions to change behaviors reduces disease transmission and also flips our lives upside down.

Pandemic-Related Relapse

We are all trying to get through each day without resorting to self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors to cope. In the process, we must acknowledge that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on society long after scientists develop a vaccine.

In our last post, we pointed out that a third of Americans are showing signs of clinical depression and anxiety. Alcohol use is surging; the same is valid for drugs. According to the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, opioid overdoses may have increased 30 to 40 percent. She adds:

We know also that from some of the reports from the states that there have been increases in overdose fatalities, that there have been increases in patients relapsing that had already achieved recovery. So we are hearing these distress calls from throughout the country.”

If you live in a state hit hard by the coronavirus, you may be cut off from your support network. The only meetings of recovery you attend may be virtual. Hopefully, you’ve managed to stay on course toward progress despite the new normal. It’s not easy to keep your recovery intact in isolation, but it’s possible.

Fortunately, there are still resources at your disposal, even if they come from afar. Continue to practice the principles in all your affairs to get to the other side of this public health crisis without incident. The program teaches us that we have to live life on life’s terms to succeed; never have such words rang so true. In recovery, you are informed that anything can be overcome, provided you remember where you came from, and don’t lose sight of where you would like to go.

The Spell of Depression

It’s challenging to maintain a positive outlook when stuck at home and racked with concern. It’s possible to practice positivity, but a positive attitude is contingent on our behaviors; how you fill your day matters. Spending your days without purpose or in an unproductive manner will impact your well-being.

If depression and anxiety weigh you down, please talk to your peers or a professional about your feelings. Identify behaviors contributing to how you feel and make alterations as necessary. For instance, make daily walks a priority if you are feeling sedentary. Instead of binging too much Netflix, read more.

Books will transport you away from your negative thoughts. Memoirs and mindful texts abound, and there is no time like the present to check off boxes on your recovery reading list. If you are struggling with depression, you may be interested in a new book on the subject.

Essayist and literary critic, George Scialabba, has battled depression for decades. His latest text gives readers an up-close and personal look at the condition. Scialabba’s How To Be Depressed also provides those who contend with depression some helpful tools. The University of Pennsylvania Press writes:

Unlike heart surgery or a broken leg, there is no relaxing convalescence and nothing to be learned (except, perhaps, who your friends are). It leaves you weakened and bewildered, unsure why you got sick or how you got well, praying that it never happens again but certain that it will. Scialabba documents his own struggles and draws from the insights that may prove useful to fellow-sufferers and general readers alike. In the place of dispensable banalities—”Hold on,” “You will feel better,” and so on—he offers an account of how it’s been for him, in the hope that doing so might prove helpful to others.”

Southern California Mental Health Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in treating men suffering from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. If you or a loved one struggles with a mental health disorder, our highly qualified team of specialists could help bring about lasting recovery. Please contact us today to begin the healing process.

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