Category Archives: Uncategorized

Alcohol Use Disorder Prevention and Recovery

alcohol use

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that an estimated 16 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. In 2015, 9.8 million men, 5.3 million women, and an estimated 623,000 adolescents (12–17) had AUD. You can see that alcohol use is affecting the lives of far too many people; and given that most people who are struggling with mental illness, like addiction, do not receive the care required for recovery—their lives will only get more chaotic. Opioids are the primary focus of lawmakers and health experts when it comes to substance use and abuse these days, and for more than a decade now. If you consider that far more people succumb to alcohol-related illness each year than opioids, you may find yourself wondering why we are not having more conversations about alcoholism?

Research appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017 indicates that more than 2 million Americans are grappling with an opioid use disorder (OUD). It stands to reason that this number will continue to grow before it shrinks unless more significant efforts are taken to educate people about the risks (addiction and overdose) of prescription painkillers and to use any form of opioid narcotic. There are more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, but an estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men) die from alcohol-related causes annually.

Opioids are and should be a critical concern across the nation; although, we must never lose sight of the dangers of using other mind-altering substances, especially those that are legal to use under federal and state law. Permission to use isn't an endorsement for safety; mental illness pays no mind to the often arbitrary laws of humankind.

Alcohol Awareness Month

Education is the most significant tool for preventing alcohol use. Even though young people are pretty much guaranteed to flirt with alcohol at some point during adolescence, teaching them about the dangers of heavy and continuous use could lead many to make more responsible choices. Having all the facts can spare people from forming unhealthy relationships with substances and prevent countless people from developing a use disorder.

It is equally vital that steps are taken to encourage individuals who are already struggling with alcohol use disorder to seek assistance in the form of treatment. The stigma of addiction has gone on for far too long, at a terrible cost to millions of families. Let it be known, whenever possible, that alcohol and substance use disorder is not a moral failing, a deficiency in willpower, or a lack of a constitution. There is no fault to place on people, any more than you would blame a person with diabetes for having too much sugar in their blood. What’s more, addiction, like diabetes, has no known cure but can be managed provided that people are given the resources to do so in an effective manner.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The event is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD). For more than 30 years, organizations and addiction experts have taken the opportunity to support public awareness about alcohol, reduce stigma, and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. If people are better able to identify the signs of addiction and understand that treatment can spare them from unnecessary heartache and physical harm, they are far more likely to seek help. When society views individuals with compassion rather than stigma, they are more apt to reach out for assistance.

NCADD Message to Parents

Alcohol Awareness Month is also relevant to teenagers, as well. It is not that uncommon for alcohol-related problems to arise during adolescence or a little further down the road in young adulthood. It is crucial that parents do everything in their power to prevent their children from forming unhealthy relationships with alcohol; that includes doing away with the misguided notion of parental provisional alcohol use. There is no evidence that parents supplying teens with alcohol leads to responsible use, but there is evidence to the contrary.

The theme of Alcohol Awareness Month this year is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’” Local, state and national events aim to educate parents about the vital role they can play in helping their children understand the impact that alcohol can have on their lives. If you would like more information on events this April, please click here.

Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and CEO of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If alcohol is impacting your life in negative ways and you find it seemingly impossible to abstain for any length of time, there is a high likelihood that you meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. At PACE, we specialize in the treatment of young men caught in the vicious cycle of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors that typify alcoholism. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about how we can help you begin the process of healing and learn how to lead a productive life in addiction recovery.

Is Fear Standing in The Way of Recovery?

recovery

Fear is one of the primary components of addiction. It would be difficult for any one person, in recovery or still active, to deny the role that fright has had in their life. It has been said on numerous occasions, by countless people, that when you strip away all the layers of an addict or alcoholic, what you find is fear. Underneath the anger, resentment, dishonesty, et al., you see a person who trembles at the thought of living another day with substances, or without drugs and alcohol.

Let’s be clear, people living with substance use disorders are not a bunch of scaredy-cats. You might even say that Fear, as it pertains to people struggling with addiction is more of a philosophical dilemma than the typical worries that the average human contends with from day to day. Existential angst may be a more fitting description of the addict’s condition. When a person can’t live with something while simultaneously being unable to live without it, it is a dilemma in the strictest sense of the word—a cruel paradox.

Many articles have touched upon the subject of fear and the part it plays with mental illness and how it can be a catalyst for addiction. With that in mind, getting to the roots of people’s unease, or “dis-ease” for that matter, is an integral component of addiction recovery. Ironically, people only learn this after they have made the courageous “fear-less” decision to ask for assistance and valiantly accept help. In a sense, those who go into treatment choose to resist against their fear, and ignore the chatter in their head that says, ‘you’re not worth it, you will fail, and think what you stand to lose?’

Creation In Spite of Addiction

If you are not in recovery or do not struggle with addiction, the question above may seem baffling. You may ask yourself, ‘what could a person caught in the grips of mental illness have to lose by choosing recovery?’ It’s a good question, and the answer may not be an obvious one, so perhaps you can keep an open mind for a time.

Please consider for a moment that not every person with a substance use disorder in need of treatment is in the final iteration of the disease. Most people who require treatment are somehow managing to hold things together, at least on the surface. Each day, countless active using addicts and alcoholics get up, and go through the same motions as “normal” people; a significant number of people living with mental illness are successful, talented, and in quite a few cases—famous. We probably do not have to run down the list of all well-respected artists, musicians, authors, and performers who are both actively using or are in recovery.

We can probably all agree that it’s possible to make some of your dreams come true despite drugs and alcohol dependence. In spite of the pain, heartache, guilt, and shame that comes with addiction, individuals can create a masterpiece using their preferred medium. One could even argue, and many have, that substance use is a form of muse that guides them toward creation. Whether such a suggestion is right or wrong is debatable, what is certain is that no matter what excuse people have for continuing use, the choice comes at a significant cost— often, the ultimate price.

Identity is Important to Everyone. Even in Recovery!

Years of drug and alcohol use shapes people in many ways. Those caught in the cycle of addiction often define themselves by their struggle, convinced that their fight while deadly, is beautiful. What’s more, since humans are prone to gauge who they Are by how they see themselves in the eyes of others, one can easily convince their self that giving up drugs and alcohol will result in people viewing them differently. We all strive for consistency in how people see us, the thought of people changing their view (even when it is for the better) can be too much to stomach.

Addiction becomes a part of people’s identity; therefore, the thought of abstaining is tantamount to sacrificing (real or imagined) who they Are in the name of health. If a person’s identity is inextricably bound to that which they create, it’s difficult to justify anything (recovery) that could jeopardize creation. There is a pervasive mindset among many people with alcohol or substance use disorders who create art; the idea that self-improvement will diminish their ability to create. The fear of losing that which one loves most keeps people rationalizing their behaviors. Fear justifies continued use, one might say to themself, ‘what good is recovery if I’m going to spend the rest of my days mourning the loss of Art?’ For such people, their passion is more valuable than a healthy existence.

So, does recovery hurt the ability to be original and authentic? The simplest answer, and the right answer is, NO! Sadly, many people never come to that determination because their life was cut short by the disease.

Does Recovery Kill Great Writing?

Those who find the strength to stand up to their disease and give recovery an honest chance, discover an exponentially more exceptional ability to create. Fear is a dominant force, but it is not all-powerful. Fear can convince people that they have the answers to questions without having to do any research. Being convinced of something without conducting a proper study, is to live in ignorance. The only way to know what is possible in recovery is to do the work; only by openly and honestly giving a program of healing a chance can you answer the lingering questions bound to your fear.

Saying that anything is possible in recovery may sound suspiciously catchy; that doesn’t make it any less accurate. Recently, an article appearing in The New York Time’s Magazine, set its sights on the topic of recovery affecting creativity. The article is adapted from Leslie Jamison’s “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath,” to be published next month. Jamison is an author who has several years sober in recovery which, like many artists, struggles with fear. The piece covers many areas relevant to people in recovery and in-need-of recovery. Even if you are artistically inept, everyone can relate to fear.

Jamison’s adaptation can speak to anyone, regardless of artistic background; but, it is likely to resonate most with people who have a penchant for reading and writing. Please find time to read this article, if you have used up your free NYT online articles for the month, the mobile site should still work. Reading the piece might serve to allay the fears of people still teetering on the fence of recovery; it can show you that there is beauty in recovery, resisting doubt is a beautiful struggle. Hopefully, it inspires you to pick up the phone and reach out for help. Making the brave decision to resist fear and seek change could lead you to create your best work yet; naturally, there is only one way to find out, just as Leslie Jamison would discover.

During days spent in the archives and during the midnight hours of my own attempts to write, it was liberating to start questioning the ways I’d understood torment as a prerequisite to beauty. It was liberating to start imagining that there could be meaningful stories told about wreckage, sure, but also meaningful stories told about what it might mean to pull yourself out from under it: stories about showing up for work, for intimacy, for other people; stories about getting through ordinary days without drinking enough vodka to forget yourself entirely. The lie wasn’t that addiction could yield truth. The lie was that addiction had a monopoly on it.

Addiction Recovery

It is hard work facing your feelings without the aid of alcohol and drugs. Early recovery is a difficult time for anyone, but what you will discover along the way will change your life for the better. Recovery is not an antidote for fear; it is a tool that allows you the ability to cope with and manage the state of being in healthy ways. Abstinence is the only absolute when it comes to healing, other than that, recovery isn't a trade-off. You will still be You when working a program, arguably an even better version of yourself.

If you are ready to face your fear and embrace changes in your life for the better, please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin a remarkable journey.

Problem Gambling Screening is the Focus of PGAM

problem gambling

Alcohol and substance use disorder are what most people think of when they hear the word “addiction,” and for a good reason—left untreated, they are deadly mental health conditions. The national conversation about addiction, these days, almost always leads to opioids and the ever-growing number of overdose deaths in the U.S. While it is vital that we keep our focus on finding solutions to the American opioid addiction epidemic, it’s paramount we do not lose sight of the big picture. There are a plethora of mental health conditions plaguing Americans; even if individual disorders do not carry the risk of overdose, they can indirectly contribute to premature death; people living with untreated mental illness stand to lose everything if they don’t get help. Such is the case for problem gambling, otherwise known as compulsive gambling.

At PACE, we understand that the complexities of non-substance-related addiction, i.e., eating disorders, sex, shopping, and gambling. Arguably, disorders not involving drugs and alcohol can persist unnoticed far longer than substance abuse disorders. Despite being manifestations of psychological turmoil, it’s difficult for doctors to screen patients for conditions like problem gambling. When a person sees a physician complaining of back pain, it’s unlikely that the caregiver will inquire about how the chips are falling these days. However, primary care doctors can play a role in helping some of the over ten million pathological gamblers in America.

Problem Gambling Signs and Symptoms

People might contend that it’s not a doctor’s place to ask about behaviors that, on the surface, do not bring about physical harm. One could argue that patients have the right to spend their hard-earned cash any way they like, whether it be shopping or at a craps table in a smoke-filled casino. Nevertheless, while non-substance addictive behaviors appear relatively harmless, they most certainly have the power to disrupt and destroy peoples’ lives.

Any practice that persists despite negatively impacting one’s life is concerning. Your average adult can go to a casino for a few hours—win a little or lose a little—and then go home thinking little of their experience ever again. Others may occasionally buy a scratch ticket or Powerball ticket, fully expecting that they just wasted some money for the fun of it; in both examples, such individuals have no illusions about hitting the jackpot. Unfortunately, for many Americans, casinos and the Lotto are not some frivolous activity. What’s more, the costs of gambling can significantly exceed what is lost at the card table.

As with any behavior, the line between casual and problematic is exceedingly thin. People failing to recognize that they have a problem is not uncommon. There are a number of symptoms that could indicate that a problem exists, according to the Mayo Clinic, including but not limited to:

  • Lying to family and friends about your gambling.
  • Attempting to stop gambling without success.
  • Gambling as a method of escape from life problems or to relieve troubling feelings.
  • Gambling to raise money to pay off gambling debts.
  • Losing jobs, relationships, and opportunities because of the behavior.

Anyone can see, the above symptoms are quite similar to the behaviors of your typical substance user.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2018

Some of you may be aware that March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), an observance led by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). Now in its 14th year, the organization wants to steer the national conversation towards problem gambling screening. This year’s theme, “Have the Conversation,” is meant to encourage healthcare providers to screen patients for this concerning mental health disorder.

As with any national observance devoted to raising awareness, events are being held over the month of March to discuss prevention methods and get the word out that treatment and recovery works. The organization has created a toolkit to help doctors identify signs of problem gambling and assist them in talking to patients about their options.

If you are unable to attend an event this month, you can still take part in the campaign to raise awareness. NCPG has created graphics that you can share on your social media accounts.

Problem Gambling Treatment and Recovery

If you or a loved one’s life has become unmanageable due to any type of gambling, please contact PACE Recovery Center for a free consultation. Unchecked problem gambling will continue to complicate your life, the sooner you seek help, the better. We specialize in assisting clients to get to the root of their addictions or behavioral health disorders and provide them with the tools to lead a fulfilling and productive life in recovery.

Recovery Impacted by Smartphones

recovery

Young men and women in recovery must exercise caution when it comes to distractions. It’s paramount that those who begin a program of recovery stay focused if they are going to stay the course; there is a lot to take in, so it is vital that people do what they can to avoid any activity that can stand in the way of their goals. In the age of technology that we live in you can probably see that it’s not that easy to shield oneself from our smartphones constant interruptions. Let’s be honest; cell phones are always vying for our attention via push notifications from people social media apps.

All of us have an internal desire to connect with our peers, even those people who do not live close to us. Our smartphones allow us the opportunity to keep track of the lives of others, and they give us feedback about how peers receive our posts. Naturally, in small doses the behaviors associated with pocket devices can be healthy, social networks are a good thing after all. It’s when a person's digital social network comprises connection with their peers in the “real world” that problems can develop.

Smartphones haven’t been around long, which means scientists do not yet fully grasp the implications of substantial screen time. Common sense dictates that whenever someone prioritizes digital social networking over in-person relationships, it’s bound to lead to some issues. The rub is determining the problems that can stem from scrolling through timelines for hours instead of making a concerted effort to communicate with people outside of broadband?

Connection Strengthens Your Recovery

The topic of smartphones, as they pertain to recovery, is perhaps more important than you’d think. If you consider that working a program requires being part of a fellowship or support network of some kind, anything that can distract from forming strong bonds with your peers should be contained. If you have been in the program for even a brief time, then you know that progress depends on working with others toward shared goals. Meetings, working with a sponsor or mentor and socializing with your friends after the meeting are critical components to achieving your objectives.

When in the grips of active addiction socialization isn’t exactly a priority for most people. Everything a person does is in service to their disease, maintaining an insatiable illness is hard work and doesn’t afford many opportunities for establishing meaningful bonds with others. Conversely, recovery is a complete 180; isolation can no longer prevail, those bent on improvement must foster relationships with other humans. While social media can aid a person’s program on certain, extra specific occasions, by and large, human interaction should take precedence.

Smartphones, in a sense, are a hard nut to crack. There are times when not having one would make life incredibly trying, i.e., getting directions, keeping track of schedules, and calling your sponsor. When you think about it, isn’t it ironic how smartphones connect you with everyone in the world, wide web; and yet they serve to cut you off from people in the real world? They serve as tools that allow people to be über social but isolate you from your peers.

Hyper-Socializing is Problematic

There is an ever-growing concern that smartphones are habit-forming. The range of applications available allows people to spend hours upon hours on their phone each day. When you see people staring at their cellphone consistently, you might be inclined to think that they are isolating or are antisocial. However, one researcher argues that heavy smartphone users who continuously monitor their social media are hypersocial, Science Daily reports. Professor Samuel Veissière, a cognitive anthropologist from the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, says that we have an evolutionary predisposition to both observe and be observed by our peers. The findings of the research appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Professor Veissière’s work indicates that hyper-connectivity can result in the brain's reward system going into “overdrive,” according to the article. As a result of massive social media interaction on a regular basis, addictions can develop. Smartphone addiction may not lead people down the same dark roads as drugs and alcohol, but they can disrupt people’s lives and cause serious problems. The good news is that there are safeguards on your phone that can mitigate the risk of your phone butting in when you are focusing on something more critical, like recovery.

...the pro-social needs and rewards [of smartphone use as a means to connect] can similarly be hijacked to produce a manic theatre of hyper-social monitoring," the authors write in their paper.”

If you have made a habit of checking your phone throughout the course meetings, try turning off your phone or disabling notifications. If you are on your phone a lot when in the company of others, put your phone on a silent mode and engage with your friends. Little efforts can pay off in big ways down the road, if recovery is your priority—it must be prioritized.

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If you are a young man who is ready to break the cycle of addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center for a free consultation. We specialize in treating young adult males living with alcohol, substance use, and coöccurring disorders.

Addiction, Recovery, and “Beautiful Boy”

addiction

"Beautiful Boy” is a touching song by the late John Lennon; it is also a harrowing story about one father’s experience with his son’s battle with addiction. The father, David Sheff, the son Nic Sheff; both are accomplished writers, and each of them have given us remarkable true-accounts that speak to anyone touched by the disease. Naturally, Nic’s road to literary acclaim came at a hefty price given that his illness very nearly cost him his life.

It is not an easy read, Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction. The difficulty is owing less to the style of writing than the, at times gut-wrenching and tear-jerking, content. It’s likely that many of you have had an opportunity to read Sheff’s account of Nic’s battle with mental illness. Perhaps, you’ve even read Nic Sheff’s bestselling book, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines. If you haven’t had the chance, it worth adding both titles to your reading list, especially if you are a parent attempting to make sense of the senseless disease of addiction. If you are, like so many parents today, at your wit's end regarding how you can help your son or daughter find recovery—David and Nic Sheff’s writing can help. The material can shine a light on your struggles and potentially assist you in plotting a course toward healing.

Anyone who has lived through it, or those who are now living through it, knows that caring about an addict is as complex and fraught and debilitating as addiction itself.” — Beautiful Boy

There are many books out there covering the subject of mental health, with a focus on alcohol and substance use disorders. Sharing one’s story regarding the insidious nature of addiction has become somewhat of a trend in recent years; the surge of related content happens to coincide with the rise of opioids and overdose deaths in America. However, Beautiful Boy hit the shelves in 2008 (Tweak in 2009), before anyone would dare to even whisper the words opioid addiction epidemic in a sentence. With that in mind, you may ask yourself, ‘in the ever-changing landscape of the American epidemic, are roughly ten-year-old book still topical?’

Addiction Writing for The Family

Discovering that your child is in the grips of an incurable illness is a massive blow. Most parents bend over backward to afford their children every opportunity in life, and then you come to find out that an unwelcome guest is stymieing your efforts. What’s more, mental illness is an uninvited guest that will not leave the premises without a fight. Parents rudely awakened by the realities of a child's addiction quickly learn that they will need to fight for their kid's life. They come to find out that, no matter how hard they try, explaining away addiction is impossible.

How addiction gets in the front door in the first place is of little importance; what your family plans to do about the discovery is essential. One need only look at their local newspaper to understand what’s at stake with untreated mental illness. Of course, the ideal response to addiction is treatment; which presents another potential issue, will your child be receptive to receiving help? Hopefully, your child will opt for assistance and that they will adopt a new way of living that is conducive to recovery. One could only imagine that that was David Sheff’s hope for his son, after finally getting Nic into treatment.

At risk of spoiling some parts of the book, let’s just say that Nic would come to find the courage to break the cycle of addiction and adopt a program of recovery. Today, he has multiple years clean and sober, and he is a successful writer working in California.

Hope, Against All Odds

The road to recovery for Nic was one of severe heartache; his addiction brought him to the absolute depths of despair; in his darkest hours, he was checking “y.e.t.’s” (you're eligible too) off his list with vigor. However, while conscious of the fact that there are no guarantees in long-term recovery, Nic’s story is a success story. Not only that, Nic’s writing has helped countless people who’re fighting the good fight against the slings and arrows of mental illness.

You can read more about Nic’s experience in his follow up, We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction. His second book covers treatment, relapse, and “what it means to be a young person living with addiction.” David Sheff has been busy too, his journey of addiction and recovery with Nic led him to devote his time learning and writing about addiction. Following the release of Beautiful Boy,” David wrote another best-seller, Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy.

What started with fighting to save his child’s life, segued into a mission to help others who find themselves on similar paths. Just like in the rooms of recovery, we learn from our peers about how to keep doing the next right thing. We can’t do this alone, any secondary sources that provide insight into your specific problems should be welcome.

Beautiful Boy On The Big Screen

So, is David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy still topical? Let’s just say the writing and illumination it can provide families and addicts alike is timeless. Right now, there exists millions of Americans struggling with addiction, many of them are young men like Nic; which means that there are an even more significant number of parents who, like David, want to do everything they can to encourage recovery.

But here’s the rub of addiction. By its nature, people afflicted are unable to do what, from the outside, appears to be a simple solution—don’t drink. Don’t use drugs. In exchange for that one small sacrifice, you will be given a gift that other terminally ill people would give anything for: life.” — Beautiful Boy

This year, the Sheffs' story of hope has a chance to affect a much broader audience. On October 12, 2018, Amazon Studios will release Beautiful Boy, starring Oscar nominees Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carrell, Paste Magazine reports. The timing couldn’t be better; countless Americans need to know that recovery is possible; Nic, like so many others without notoriety, is living testament to that fact.

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If you are a young man who is ready to break the cycle of addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center for a free consultation. We specialize in treating young adult males living with alcohol, substance use, and coöccurring disorders.

Depression Screening Early In Life

depression

Can you relate to experiencing symptoms of anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness? If so, you are not alone; over 300 million people around the globe struggle with depression. The above symptoms are painful to contend with and ignoring the disorder can lead to harmful behaviors. It’s no wonder that alcohol and substance use disorders frequently accompany coöccurring mental health conditions like depression; when individuals have no way of coping with their symptoms self-medication seems logical. Unfortunately, resorting to drugs and alcohol for managing mental illness can and does lead to addiction. What’s more, substance use exacerbates the intensity of depressive symptoms.

The road to addiction is often slow, it starts with an internal whisper and develops into a terrible roar. While use disorders are a form of mental illness, they’re usually rooted in or grow out of other types of psychological turmoil. There is no telling when pathologies will strike or in what order; it is not uncommon for addiction to predate depression. We could spend hours debating which came first, the chicken or the egg, but the sequence of onset is of little importance in the grand scheme of things. What is salient is that alcohol and substance use disorders be treated simultaneously with any coöccurring mental illness. If one condition goes without treatment, successful outcomes rarely result.

Knowing what needs to happen is only half of the equation to recovery, the other portion involves encouraging others to talk about their struggle. The latter isn’t an easy task, the stigma of mental illness is pervasive; on top of that, a large number of people who meet the criteria for depression don’t know that’s what they are facing.

Mental Illness Screening

The reason many depressives are unaware of the true nature of their feelings is a lack of screening. When individuals operate without a diagnosis, they can convince themselves that how they are feeling is normal, so they don’t talk about their symptoms with friends and family. Over time, sometimes slowly, mental illness worsens; self-defeating behaviors like drugs and alcohol stand-in for treatment and in a significant number of cases, suicidal ideations become ever-present.

There is a large number of people whose mental strife progresses quickly, requiring intervention at a young age. At PACE Recovery Center, we treat young men from all walks of life for alcohol and substance use disorder. It is not uncommon for clients to learn in treatment that drug and alcohol use is just a symptom of a more significant problem. Many of those same clients discover that they meet the criteria for a coöccurring mental illness like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. In many cases, a client’s symptoms of depression were present when they were in middle or high school. While there is no sure way of knowing what people might have been spared had mental health screening occurred during adolescence, early diagnosis often prevents disease progression.

Given that 1 in 5 teenagers contend with symptoms of depression during adolescence, it’s critical doctors act. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shares the sentiment and updated its guidelines for pediatricians regarding screening, TODAY reports. Annual checkups for patients 12 and up should include one-on-one discussions about mental health. The organization encourages pediatricians to get more training in how to assess, identify and treat depression.

So many teens don't have access to mental health care," said family psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein. "It has to start with their pediatrician, and these changes really point in that direction."

Spotting The Signs of Depression Saves Lives

Adolescence involves enormous changes in one’s mind and body. With puberty comes hormones and physical changes, every adult can remember how awkward life was at that time. Simply put, being a teenager isn’t defined by comfort, so it’s possible that someone can present symptoms of depression without actually being a depressive. Smoke doesn’t always mean fire, so it is up to physicians to be able to discern the difference between circumstantial and neurochemical problems. In either case, young people need support; they require an outlet to talk about how they are feeling without fear of judgment. If there is a fire, necessary steps toward recovery can follow.

When doctors address mental health concerns early on, they have a crucial opportunity to offer treatment options. Treating depression before unhealthy behaviors present themselves can spare young people from significant heartache and mitigate the risk of self-medication. Drugs and alcohol make any issue worse and can lead to premature death; early interventions are the most efficient way to prevent such outcomes.

There isn’t a cure for mental health disorders; however, with screening and treatment, it is possible to lead a fulfilling and productive life. We understand that millions of people are living with psychological disorders that their doctors were unable to spot, a broad cross-section is also dependent on drugs and alcohol. If that sounds like your story, please know that recovery is possible with the right help.

At PACE Recovery Center we specialize in the treatment of young adult males who struggle with a dual diagnosis, otherwise known as co-occurring disorders. We’re fully equipped to treat both presenting mental health conditions and give you, or a loved one, the requisite tools for achieving lasting recovery. Please contact us today to begin a truly life-changing journey.

Adoption-specific Treatment Program for Mental Illness

adoption

The origins of alcohol and substance use disorders vary from case to case, but there are two primary variables worth particular consideration. First, a genetic predisposition that people have for mental health disorders; second, the environment in which a person is brought up. Both factors, each in unique ways, will have a hand in who we grow up to be; they will shape how we form attachments with our peers, influence our ability to love others, and how we allow ourselves to experience affection in return.

While there isn’t a guarantee that people with a family history of addiction or alcoholism will struggle with the disease one day, those with a genetic link to mental health conditions are thought to be at more significant risk. The same idea applies to surroundings, just because somebody grows up in toxic environs doesn’t necessarily imply that an individual will self-medicate to cope. Although, as with genetic links, experts tend to agree there is a heightened risk of experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol if a person suffers trauma at an early age. Furthermore, when individuals hail from both detrimental environments and families with addiction in the lineage, the likelihood of problems developing is exponentially higher.

During the developmental stage of a person’s existence, we shape our perspectives about ourselves and others. Our interactions with people early in life, especially our parents or lack thereof, can wreak havoc on the psyche. There is an inextricable link between attachments during adolescence, and our self-worth, self-esteem, and identity development. If a person isn’t able to form bonds with their parental figures (biological or not), it can stunt one's ability to make attachments later in life. Isolative tendencies may ensue.

Genetics, Environment, and Adoption

mental illness

Mental illness thrives in solitude and interpersonal darkness; left unchecked the means of coping are often disastrous. Many children fail to receive the care and attention that fosters a healthy psyche, especially kids who go into foster care or are placed for adoption. Each case is unique to be sure; however, the ways, means, and timing of a young person’s separation from birth parents (regardless of the quality of their birth parents) is often traumatic.

Where a child ends up, a good home or an unloving environment, coupled with a genetic predisposition to mental illness, is often a causal sequence to addiction. While it’s regularly the case that predisposed young people struggle with drugs and alcohol after being separated from biological parents, it’s not a foregone conclusion. A study of adopted children reveals that family history of addiction and environment are equally crucial to substance use initiation, CNN reports. The findings appear in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Overall, 4.5% of adopted individuals had drug-abuse problems, but those with genetic ties to addiction were at double the risk of mental illness compared to those without the link. Researchers found a higher risk of drug abuse in children adopted into environments that include parental divorce, death, criminal activity, and alcohol problems.

Knowing the medical history of children who will be adopted is always a good idea, however... genes are not destiny," adds Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the division of epidemiology, services, and prevention research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "This study shows that in a healthy, safe, and secure environment with little exposure to drug abuse and other problems in the adoptive relatives, even children with multiple drug abusing biological relatives do much better than those whose adoptive families don't provide such advantages."

Addiction With A History of Adoption

Where we come from plays a deciding role in how we navigate through life; it plays a part in whether or not we will ultimately struggle with substance use and co-occurring mental health conditions. The study mentioned above didn’t account for the age at which the children, who would later develop addiction disorders, were adopted, which researchers should address in future studies, according to the article. Highlighting the research is meant to provide readers with an idea of how prevalent use disorders are among people in the demographic.

At PACE Recovery Center, we’ve treated many clients whose backgrounds involve adoption. We understand that a successful treatment outcome and achieving the goal of long-term recovery is contingent upon addressing clients’ underlying attachment issues. A significant number of adults raised in adoptive families struggle with anxiety or relationships. In dealing with a traumatic past, many people resort to drugs and alcohol to cope; self-medication is a sure path to dependence and addiction.

adoption

PACE is proud to announce the creation of our unique, adoption-specific program for men struggling with alcohol, substance use, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Working with Brett Furst, M.A., MFTI, clients can explore how a clash between logic and emotion precipitated and contributed to the development of mental health conditions, i.e., anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder.

If you were adopted and are in the grips of a progressive mental health disorder, please contact us to begin the journey of recovery and self-discovery. We can provide you with the tools to help you heal from a traumatic past and help you foster healthy relationships moving forward. Connecting with your peers in recovery will prove vital to fulfilling your dream of lasting recovery.

Addiction Recovery: An Avenue of Recourse

addiction

Once drug and alcohol detox concludes, individuals must begin planning a course for long-term addiction recovery. Each person’s path to achieving the goal of lasting embetterment is unique in various ways but, by and large, they are mostly similar. The process usually begins with medical detox, residential treatment, and some form of extended care. During the early stages of recovery people adopt the principles of a program, guides for keeping you on the straight and narrow after treatment is no longer necessary.

If you are new to the program, or contemplating embarking on a journey of recovery, then you know a difficult task is before you. It’s probably apparent that help is needed if you are going to achieve the long-desired goal of abstinence. Outside support is of the utmost importance, accepting the help of others is really the only way to succeed. If you are thinking about treatment or are fresh in the program, chances are you tried to quit on your own once or twice. For most people in recovery, many failed attempts had to occur before they came to realize they could not do it on their own.

Addiction is a severe form of mental illness, driving victims to look for serenity in harmful ways. The disease tricks people into thinking they are strong enough to handle any problem on their own. What’s worse, those living with active alcohol and substance use disorder start believing they can manage through life, alone. Perhaps addicts and alcoholics could benefit from reading the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, especially the lines: ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’

Wreckage of Addiction

It’s vital to remember that drugs and alcohol are a symptom of a more significant problem. Sure, mind-altering substances are problematic, and continued use will result in bodily harm; however, like most serious problems, they originate from within, not without. In early recovery, young men and women learn that the great issue they must contend with is that of Self. The internal drive to satiate an insidious yen: wanting what you want when you want it. It’s a mindset that leads to people doing unspeakable things to friends and family members in service to their disease.

Ego, selfishness, and self-centeredness results in people taking great risks, gambling with their future for a jackpot in the present. However, it’s a windfall that will never come; these are the delusions of grandeur besetting every addict. Living in service to mental illness may work for a time, but in the end those who do not address the problem of self by way of recovery—never fare well. Healing occurs when you look to your fellow man for support and guidance. Paradoxically, it’s when you surrender that you find freedom.

Many of us in recovery have impressive resumes that we would like nothing more than to erase, both on paper and in the minds of others. After a couple weeks in treatment, when the acute withdrawal subsides, and the mind comes into focus, one begins to see just how far the pendulum of reason had swung. It leads to a desire to clear up or amend our past mistakes or errors in judgment. Fortunately, recovery provides an avenue of recourse; it won't happen right away, but in time, those who stay the course find hope. Individuals working programs of recovery will get the opportunity to “Act” for forgiveness, rather than ask.

Unconquered In Recovery

Regret, shame, and guilt are all words the addict and alcoholic are acutely familiar with in early recovery. One must do everything in their power to not let said feelings drive them out of the program before the miracle is revealed. When you are no longer using you have made a choice to surrender, you’ve admitted to yourself, and something greater than you, that you are powerless over your disease. You’ve asked for help, and you found it in the form of treatment and a community of caring men and women who have taken an interest in your success. It’s the beginning of an awakening.

Working a program will empower you to achieve goals, you likely have many goals after years of substance misuse and abuse. You see that others have cleared up the wreckage of their past as best they can and are seemingly happy with the path they chose. Rest assured you are eligible too; as long as you keep doing the next right things profound changes will occur in your life. That is where patience plays an important role, alterations for the better don’t happen overnight. Improvement takes place on life’s terms and it’s vital you do not lose hope.

In Latin, the word Invictus means “unconquerable” or “undefeated.” We choose recovery because we want to survive. We don’t owe our surrender to defeat, but rather a desire to live.

Hope Springs Eternal

When we were actively using we thought we had control over everything in our life’s sphere, the words ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,’ could have been our motto but for all the wrong reasons. In recovery we must apply the words above; in doing so we learn that the only thing we’ve got power over is our decisions; to Be for addiction or Be for progress. In recovery we find courage where none is apparent, we find dignity in making right our wrongs.

If you are hopeful for better days ahead and are willing to surrender and ask for guidance, it’s an action that will save your life. Drugs and alcohol may have stripped your ability to manage your life’s ins and outs, but they haven’t taken your will to choose to live for something better. With help, you can transcend the limits of addiction and prosper in the infinite possibilities of recovery.

At PACE Recovery Center, we are happy to help young men take the remarkable journey that is addiction recovery. We will give you the requisite tools and skills to lead a fulfilling life. Please contact us today.

Parental Provision of Alcohol Use

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Parents want the best for their kids. Mothers and fathers take steps to ensure their children have as little risk exposure as feasible. Preventing one’s son or daughter from making mistakes is no easy challenge; a task which gets more difficult as children mature. The majority of people with children shield their kids from engaging in alcohol and substance use as much as possible. Many parents understand the risks of developing unhealthy relationships with substances at a young age, notably the risk of alcohol use disorder or drug addiction.

Going one step further, a good number of parents grasp the susceptibility of developing brains. Adolescents who experiment with drugs and alcohol use are at an exponentially higher risk of developing alcohol or substance use disorders. With that in mind, it’s entirely critical that parents not do anything that might encourage the development of such problems.

There is a mindset shared by a good many parents, the idea that teenage alcohol use is safe when they, as parents, manage the conditions of use. The resignation that teens are going to drink alcohol regardless of the wisdom imparted to them by their elders leads to the above course of thinking. Some parental units decide that they alone can teach their children how to deal with alcohol responsibly, i.e., moderation, not drinking and driving, etc. Notwithstanding parents’ ability to justify supplying their teens with alcohol, scientific evidence suggests that the behavior may lead to more detriment than benefit.

Parental Provision of Alcohol Use

A long-term study involving 1927 teenagers aged 12 to 18 and their parents, should help to debunk some of the myths mothers and fathers have about alcohol. The six-year analysis shows no significant benefits tied to providing teens alcohol, The Lancet reports. In fact, one could interpret the findings as evidence that parental provisional alcohol use heightened the risk of problems down the road. The researchers point out that alcohol use is the number one cause of “death and disability in 15-24-year-olds globally.”

The research indicates that when parents supply teens with alcohol in one year, it doubled the risk the teens would access alcohol from other people in the following year, according to the article. The same teens were found at most significant risk of engaging in binge drinking and experiencing harm from alcohol use; notably, alcohol abuse, dependence, and alcohol use disorders. There’s no evidence to support the idea that parents supplying teens with alcohol leads to responsible alcohol use.

In many countries, parents are a key provider of alcohol to their children before they are of legal age to purchase alcohol. This practice by parents is intended to protect teenagers from the harms of heavy drinking by introducing them to alcohol carefully, however, the evidence behind this has been limited," says lead author Professor Richard Mattick, University of New South Wales. "Our study is the first to analyse parental supply of alcohol and its effects in detail in the long term, and finds that it is, in fact, associated with risks when compared to teenagers not given alcohol. This reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied. We advise that parents should avoid supplying alcohol to their teenagers if they wish to reduce their risk of alcohol-related harms."

Binge Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as when men consume 5 or more drinks, or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Essentially, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period. The risks of this behavior are many, and young people rarely understand the inherent pitfalls of heavy alcohol use. What’s more, parents are not an exception; otherwise, they may think twice about introducing their children to alcohol in any environment.

At the end of the study, binge drinking was reported among:

  • 81% of teenagers who accessed alcohol through their parents and others reported binge drinking.
  • 62% of those who accessing alcohol from other people only.
  • 25% of teens whose only supply came from parents.

It’s worth mentioning that the longer a person refrains from substance use of any kind, the better. Adolescence does not end until a person is in their mid-twenties, which means the brain is still developing. Exposing our most important organ to alcohol while it’s taking shape can cause many problems, including mental illness. The effects alcohol has on the brain tend to be more pronounced when heavy alcohol use occurs. Notwithstanding the laws that allow for alcohol use, everyone can benefit from using alcohol as intermittently and sparingly as possible.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Adolescent alcohol use often progresses to alcohol use disorder in young adulthood. Once that transition occurs, there is no turning back the clock. However, those caught in the grips of alcoholism can recover, provided they have help.

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

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The internet, social media, television, movies, and music have a lot to say about drugs, alcohol, and addiction. Unfortunately, sometimes the message isn't clear, and information doesn’t always deal in fact. The above trend may not seem like that big a deal until you consider the misconceptions that teenagers and young adults walk away with regarding substance use.

In the 21st Century, young people have access to more media outlets than ever before. Theoretically, it should lead to such people having a more informed grasp on any given subject. In just a few moments, one could learn all there is to know about drug and alcohol use on the internet. Television shows air programs that highlight the symptoms of mental illness and the risks of substance abuse. While it’s nice that there is now a lot of buzz about the above subjects, the information projected into the minds of youths is rarely science-based.

Again, talking about drugs, alcohol, substance use disorder, and mental illness is, without any doubt, of the utmost importance. Young people should understand what’s at stake when experimenting with any mind-altering substance, from cannabis right on down to heroin. Right? A problem of concern arises when you look at surveys focusing on this subject matter, revealing that young people have a multitude of potentially dangerous mistaken beliefs.

Surveys, such as Monitoring the Future, often highlight that both adolescents and young adults are misinformed about addiction. It’s entirely critical that younger Americans grasp the risk of prescription drug use, for instance. Experts must reiterate the dangers of binge drinking and regular cannabis use. When people are uninformed about alcohol and substance use, they make decisions putting their life in jeopardy.

Young Americans Misguided Beliefs

Each year, high schools and colleges devote significant amounts of time and resources in educating young people about substance use. Such efforts have paid off in many ways, ever-declining rates of tobacco use are just one example. However, while it’s clear most young people understand the dangers of smoking, many do not seem to have a grasp on the risks of addiction. E-cigarette use is prevalent among young people. Cigarette use down, e-cig use up is just an example of mixed messaging and a demographics failure to grasp the implications of their behavior.

Young people with stimulant medications for ADHD regularly divert their Adderall and Ritalin to their peers. A large number of people don’t see the harm, saying to themselves, ‘if it’s safe for me to use, surely it’s safe for my friend.’ Prescription stimulants are not to be toyed with, both highly addictive and known to cause dangerous side effects. We are in the midst of a prescription drug use epidemic in the U.S., and yet drug diversion is a clear indicator that thousands of young Americans downplay the seriousness of the situation. Another reason why experts must appeal to young people with facts.

A plethora of teenagers and young adults still don’t see the harm of grabbing oxycodone from the family medicine chest. What’s worse, parents will sometimes divert their opioid meds to an injured son or daughter. The takeaway is that young people are not the only ones with misguided beliefs about drug use.

We could offer up a long list of examples highlighting the misunderstandings young Americans share, but it’s more salient to discuss how to inform such people better, instead.

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

This week, addiction and health experts around the country are observing National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week®. Now in its 8th year, NDAFW brings young people together to get the facts on drugs, alcohol, and addiction. Scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are using this week to Shatter The Myths®.

Here are a few facts that should be of interest to young people:

  • The brain keeps developing well into a person’s 20s, and alcohol can alter this development, potentially affecting both the brain’s structure and its function.
  • Smoking THC-rich resins, known as “dabbing,” pacts so much of the psychoactive ingredient that young people regularly need emergency services.
  • More than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids every day. Nearly 23,000 people died in the United States from prescription opioid pain reliever overdoses in 2015.

Such facts are just some of the information experts are talking about with young people this week. In all 50 states, young people have an opportunity to get clarity on several subjects at community and school events. At NDAFW events, scientists and experts from several fields encourage teens to ask questions about how drugs affect the brain, body, and behaviors. Last year, 2174 events took place in the U.S.

Even if you are unable to host an event or attend one, you can still spread the word about NDAFW. You can partner with the NIH by giving a Shout Out on Social Media (tweet, blog, or update your Facebook status).

Addiction Treatment

When young people don’t have the facts about drugs and alcohol, they are more likely to start down a treacherous path. Young adults struggling with addiction today, more times than not, began using in high school. Many of them had no idea that their behavior was problematic, and would lead them to heartache. If you are a young adult male battling alcohol and substance use disorder, please contact PACE Recovery Center. Let NDAFW be the week you decide to stem the tide of addiction, and embrace recovery.