Tag Archives: addiction

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.

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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

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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).

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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.

Recovery Strengthened by Breathing Exercises

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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.

Mental Health and Loneliness Epidemic in America

mental health

After months of living life in a unique way, it’s hard to quantify what the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be regarding the American psyche. While several states have begun phasing into reopening businesses, life is hardly back to normal for people from every walk of life, including millions of members of the addiction and mental health recovery community.

If you have been following the endless COVID-19 news cycle, then you are aware that many of the states which made attempts to return to a semblance of life before the pandemic have reaped severe consequences.

The result of such actions – despite stimulating our economy – led to a dramatic surge in new cases and subsequent coronavirus related deaths. The Southwest and western states have been particularly impacted. Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California have all seen spikes in new cases in recent weeks.

While it’s challenging to predict what’s to follow in the coming days and months, most Americans will likely need to continue practicing social distancing and following stay at home orders. Experts continue to argue that the above actions are essential in slowing the spread of the virus.

With tens of millions of Americans still out of work, 2,442,395 people who’ve tested positive, and 123,092 coronavirus-related deaths, it stands to reason that we will all continue to contend with life in isolation. In previous articles, we’ve discussed the repercussions of prolonged separation from other humans. We’ve also talked about how loneliness can take a toll on people in recovery who depend on support networks for maintaining their program.

Loneliness Epidemic During a Public Health Pandemic

Many of you might find it hard to believe that, according to the most recent census, 35.7 million Americans live alone. Such individuals do not have the benefit of sheltering in place with friends and family members. Naturally, mental health experts have severe concerns about the stress caused by prolonged social distancing. Such professionals are particularly concerned about members of society with pre-existing mental health conditions.

A cohort of physicians from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School believe we could witness a significant spike in suicides in the near future, TIME reports. The doctors published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine that pandemic-related isolation, stress, and a surge in firearm sales could exacerbate the decade-long suicide epidemic in America.

It’s worth noting that the United States was already contending with a loneliness epidemic long before COVID-19 arrived in America. A recent report from Cigna suggested that around 60 percent of American adults felt some degree of loneliness before the pandemic. Moreover, about 25 percent of women and 30 percent of men said they felt coronavirus-related loneliness, according to a SocialPro survey.

Loneliness, says Dr. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is “the subjective feeling of isolation.” While loneliness is not a mental health disorder listed in the official diagnostic manual for mental health disorders (DSM-), it usually goes hand in hand with many disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.

This is a huge topic, but it’s been kind of sidelined,” Perissinotto says. “Now everyone is forced to look at this in a different way. We can’t keep ignoring this.”

People in Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Must Reach Out

Individuals who contend with mental health or addiction or both cannot ignore the toll that prolonged isolation has on their well-being. There are online resources available for attending mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, but virtual attendance may not be enough for some people.

If you are struggling with life in isolation or feel that it’s causing mental illness symptoms to emerge or worsen, please make a concerted effort to keep in close contact with your peers. Those living in isolation may also be feeling the urge to use drugs and alcohol to cope. However, acting on the urge to use will only make your current situation worse.

A relapse will make it far harder to weather the pandemic storm and could have disastrous consequences during these troubling times. Accessing therapeutic treatments and professional help is perhaps more challenging than ever. If you find yourself battling the desire to use, then you must contact your sponsor and other peers immediately to prevent a worst-case scenario from arising.

Mental Health and Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we fully understand how trying life is of late and that many Americans are living in isolation while contending with mental illness and active addiction. The professional team at PACE specializes in treating men who are in the grips of mental health disorders and alcohol or substance use disorder.

Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one get on the path to lasting recovery. Our team is available around the clock, and we are still accepting new patients. Please call us today at 800-526-1851.

Pain Medication: Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

tolerance, dependence, and addiction

Overuse and abuse of pain medications continue to be major issues in the US. People who are prescribed pain medication for injuries or illnesses can develop a tolerance, dependence, and addiction to those drugs. While medications can help you deal with pain, they are not a cure and are designed only to guide you through a specific recovery period. Tolerance, dependence, and addiction happen when the pain medication is misused or overused.

Overdoses

Taking too much of a prescription medication or an illegally obtained pain medication can lead to an overdose. In 2018, more than 67,300 people in the US died from drug-involved overdoses. Death rates from opioid-involved overdoses rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 46,802 in 2018. Death rates from prescription opioid overdoses rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 14,975 in 2018.

Understanding Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

There is a difference between tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Tolerance means that you continuously need higher doses of the pain medication to achieve the same effect as when you first began taking it. Your body develops a tolerance to the effects of the pain medication and doesn’t respond as well unless you continue to take more. This can also lead to an overdose.

When you are dependent on a drug, it means that if you don’t have it your body will go through withdrawal. You can experience physical and mental symptoms in withdrawal. Some of these symptoms may be mild – for example, if you decide to give up caffeine, you may experience some level of discomfort. However, others can have life threatening consequences, such as would be the case if you stop using a prescription pain reliever without professional supervision.

Many people who take a prescription medicine every day over a long period of time can become dependent; when they go off the drug, they need to do it gradually, to avoid withdrawal discomfort. Dependence typically happens when you use a drug long-term (six months or longer) to manage pain associated with a medical condition. Your body builds up a tolerance to the pain medication and then you become dependent on it to maintain the same level of effectiveness.

Addiction is a chronic, treatable disease. When you continue to use a pain medication and do not feel as though you can stop despite any negative consequences you may be facing, you have an addiction. You can be dependent or have a tolerance for a drug and not necessarily be addicted.

Addiction can have devastating, life-long consequences if not properly treated. Also known as a substance use disorder, addiction results in compulsive behaviors as well as an inability to control the use of the pain medication. Although addiction and dependence are different, when you are addicted to opioids, you are also typically dependent on them.

Addictive Pain Medications

According to Dr. Karsten Kueppenbender, an addiction psychiatrist at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, “ninety-seven percent of patients don’t have a problem with opioids.” However, there are pain medications that can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Opioids decrease the perception of pain and create a feeling of euphoria for some people, especially those who take the pain medication even though they are not actually in pain. Opioids are typically used for the short term, to treat severe pain following surgery. They may also be used for some long-term pain, such as pain related to cancer and terminal illness.

Opioids are a family of drugs that include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl (including brand name Duragesic)
  • Oxycodone (including brand name OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox, and Roxicet)
  • Morphine (including brand name MS Contin)
  • Meperidine (including brand name Demerol)
  • Hydrocodone (including brand name Vicodin and Lortab)
  • Hydromorphone (including brand name Dilaudid)

At Risk for Addiction

Even though some people can safely take pain medications that are properly prescribed by their physician without developing a tolerance, dependence, or addiction, there are factors that can predict your vulnerability to becoming addicted to pain medication, including:

  • Family history of problem substance use
  • Misuse of other substances
  • Other risky behaviors (such as problem gambling)
  • Past history of problem substance use

Additionally, undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues, such as depression, can predict an eventual reliance on substances for self-medicating tendencies that, in turn, only make the issue worse.

Contact PACE for Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

At PACE Recovery, we’ve helped hundreds of men enter into a life of recovery from opiate addiction through a combination of traditional and alternative therapeutic methods. If you are in the downward spiral of a pain medication addiction, contact PACE today to begin your life-changing journey. You can reach our highly trained staff at any time by calling 800-526-1851 to learn more about our programs, admission, insurances accepted, and availability.

Addiction Recovery Inspirations During a Pandemic

addiction recovery

During these challenging times, it can be a real struggle to find stories of inspiration in the realm of addiction recovery. Millions of men and women around the globe have been cut off from the support networks. What’s more, many people working a program have lost friends to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, 1,687,687 Americans have tested positive, and just over 100,000 have perished.

Still, life must go on for the courageous individuals who have dedicated their lives to recovery. Experience, strength, and hope are what is shared in the rooms of 12 Step recovery. Of late, the message has been carried in the digital world for the first time since the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous. For many, it’s been arduous to stay the course while in isolation, but countless individuals have shown it is possible.

When the community of recovering alcoholics and addicts faces adversity, they come together to support one another in any way possible. The helping hand of recovery is far-reaching, and there is nothing a committed person working a program will not do for their fellow peers. It’s fair to say that the coronavirus pandemic has mostly brought out the better angels of addiction recovery.

Thanks to video and teleconferencing platforms, the addiction recovery community has been able to continue putting in the work for a better life. While there has been an uptick in relapses in recent months, the majority of men, women, and teenagers have managed to maintain their commitment to lasting recovery.

Personal Milestones in Addiction Recovery

As you well know, nobody is exempt or immune to the disease of addiction. It does not spare people based on their background: rich or poor, black or white, and the young or old are all eligible to develop problems with drugs and alcohol. The same is true for celebrities.

Many of you may be aware that Elton John celebrated 29 years of sobriety last July—nearly one year ago. There is an excellent chance he will hold a chip commemorating 30 years in a couple of months. When he reached the momentous milestone, he wrote on social media:

29 years ago today, I was a broken man. I finally summoned up the courage to say 3 words that would change my life: ‘I need help’. Thank-you to all the selfless people who have helped me on my journey through sobriety. I am eternally grateful.”

You might also know that Elton John was instrumental in helping several famous musicians summon the courage to chart a path toward long-term addiction recovery – paying it forward – including Marshal Mathers. Better known by his fans as Eminem, the Emmy-winning rapper struggled with substance abuse for years. He has been open about his addiction recovery and has shared that his mother also battled drug use.

Last month, Eminem, 47, took to Instagram to share a picture acknowledging a personal milestone, USA Today reports. The picture displayed a 12 Year coin from Alcoholics Anonymous; in the caption, he wrote: “Clean dozen, in the books. I’m not afraid.”

The rapper did the same thing when he received an eleven-year chip. Each year he lets other young men know that addiction recovery is possible. He can be a source of inspiration to countless men around the world who are caught in the disease cycle.

Inspirations for Addiction Recovery

At PACE Recovery Center, we understand that men of all ages are struggling to cope with the pandemic. Many are relying on drugs and alcohol to get through each day. With some 40 million Americans out of work, it’s likely that despair will be the impetus for a large number of individuals requiring professional assistance.

Both Elton John and Eminem are evidence that the miracle of addiction recovery is within reach for all those who seek to lead a positive and productive life.

If you are an adult male who is currently in the self-defeating, downward spiral of alcohol or substance use disorder, we invite you to contact PACE today to begin a life-changing journey. You can reach our highly trained staff at any time by calling 800-526-1851 to learn more about our programs, admission, insurances accepted, and availability.

Addiction Relapse and Risk of Overdose After Reopening

addiction

The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but many states are taking steps to reopen businesses and loosen restrictions. It is still unclear what impact the changes will have on the addiction recovery community. Naturally, going back to in-person meetings in the near future is welcome; however, we should be concerned about heightened relapse and overdose rates among people in early recovery.

We must be clear; the pandemic is not over. Some 1,570,154 Americans have tested positive, and 93,436 have died from complications related to the coronavirus, a 9 percent increase since May 15th. Each of us must continue practicing social distancing, and the wearing of face masks in public is still strongly advised.

It is still unclear how much longer millions of Americans will have to live in relative isolation, which we pointed out before is not healthy for men and women in recovery. At PACE Recovery Center, we are hopeful that you continue to take precautions to protect your physical and mental health.

As an aside, one of the unforeseen byproducts of the COVID-19 crisis was the effect it would have on the international drug trade, drug sales, overdoses, and the addiction treatment industry. Many of you are probably aware that drug trafficking into the country is much more challenging than it was just a few months ago.

Naturally, stay at home orders made it harder for drug dealers to meet clients on the streets. Heroin shortages resulted in the stretching of product with deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a drug that is 100 times more potent than morphine. We don’t have data yet, but it’s fair to wager there has been an uptick in overdoses in some parts of the country as a result.

Opioid Addiction During a Pandemic

Unable to access opioids from one’s usual dealer, many turned to new avenues of acquiring heroin and pills, NPR reports. Utilizing a foreign supply source may not seem like a big deal, but according to an addiction expert in Orange County, California, such changes are fraught with peril.

When they had to use another dealer, they would be getting a different strength. So they weren’t really sure of how they should measure it and how much they should use. So we started seeing a lot of overdoses and a lot of overdose deaths in the first couple of weeks of the pandemic.”

Travel restrictions at the southern border, and on flights from Asia or South America, have decreased the availability of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine significantly. Shortages led dealers to increase their prices exponentially, according to the article. With more than 35 million out of work and store closures preventing shoplifting, many addicts could no longer afford to purchase their drugs.

Many people sought addiction treatment services as one might expect, rather than face painful opioid withdrawal symptoms. Jack MacEachern, who runs a Salvation Army residential drug recovery program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says the pandemic has led to a decrease in relapse and overdose rates.

Reopening Could Lead to Relapse and Overdose

When a person detoxes and begins a program of recovery, their tolerance to opioids changes. When life returns to normal, and drug supply routes open back up, a number of those who got clean during the lockdown may decide to start using again. Such individuals may not understand that their tolerance is not the same, which could result in a spike of fatal overdoses.

The above concern has resulted in discussions about ramping up access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, a tactic that the head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Elinore McCance-Katz, supports, the article reports. However, she says that such measures are complicated.

In some areas, first responders such as law enforcement do not want to administer naloxone because they’re afraid of being exposed to the coronavirus,” said McCance-Katz. “I found that very concerning because the option is that the person dies.”

Opioid Addiction Treatment for Men

Please reach out to PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male struggling with opioid use disorder. Opioid addiction is a treatable condition, and long-term recovery is possible with the guidance of professionals. Our gender-specific treatment center for men can give you the tools to break the cycle of self-destructive and self-defeating behavior and help you begin a new life.

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