Tag Archives: addiction

Addiction Recovery: Christmas 2020

addiction recovery

Working a program of addiction recovery teaches men and women how to overcome obstacles. Christmas is this Friday; it’s a holiday that can be challenging for those in sobriety. Many individuals in early recovery are celebrating their first significant holidays clean and sober. They must do all that they can to keep their program intact.

It goes without saying that this holiday season has been like no other. Many will have to contend with isolation and feeling cut off from their support network. During standard times, you might attend several meetings in person during Christmas. However, COVID-19 has made it difficult for many meeting houses to host in-person meetings. Fortunately, you can continue to put your recovery first despite the obstacles presented by the pandemic.

Some, certainly not everyone, will decide to travel this week. Hopefully, such people will adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to protect their health. The coronavirus is still out there, disrupting people’s lives. More than 18 million Americans have tested positive, and more than 320,000 lives have been lost. Please do everything in your power to prevent contracting the coronavirus.

If you decide to travel this Christmas, please be sure to have a plan to protect your recovery. Having a schedule in place that includes the meetings you plan to attend will be helpful. Set check-in points throughout your day; checking-in with your sponsor or other members of your support network will help you remain accountable.

Never leave anything to chance in recovery. Those traveling may find themselves in situations that can jeopardize one’s program. Being in strange environments or in a setting where people are drinking could trigger a relapse. If you find yourself in a risky situation, get to a safe space or call for help immediately. Remember, the helping hand of addiction recovery is always just a phone call away.

A Lonely Christmas in Addiction Recovery

For those spending Christmas in relative isolation, it’s beneficial to still stick to your recovery routine as best as possible. Even if you’re not attending holiday gatherings, problems can still arise. You may find yourself feeling lonely or disconnected from your peers in the program. It can be easy to start wallowing in self-pity.

Take steps to avoid boredom this Friday. Again, it’s crucial to have a schedule. You will still want to attend meetings, even if you plan to participate virtually. At this point in the pandemic, you probably have experience protecting your addiction recovery by attending meetings online.

This Christmas Eve and Day, meetings will be happening around the clock. You may want to attend multiple 12 Step meetings on a given day. You can never participate in too many meetings. The nice thing about virtual 12 Step meetings is that you can hop online at a moment’s notice. If a problem arises or you begin to feel shaky in your recovery, open your computer or grab your smartphone and log on.

The more meetings you attend, the less lonely you will feel. Remember, isolation is no friend to recovery. We understand how challenging it has been to maintain a program of recovery this year. However, you know it’s possible through utilizing all the tools at your disposal.

If isolation starts to make you feel down on yourself, take a moment to compose a gratitude list. Think back on all the things in life you are grateful for to gain some perspective. Gratitude lists are highly beneficial tools; they remind you that you have many things to be thankful for even when you feel disconnected. Throughout the day, turn to your list to ground yourself.

Recovery is a gift. Never forget how far you have come, and you will be able to get through another day clean and sober. Take time to let people in your support network know how important they are to you. When you prioritize an attitude of gratitude, good things continue to happen in life.

A Christmas in Recovery

If you are struggling with drugs, alcohol, or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center. The holiday season could be when you decide to break the cycle of addiction and change your life. We offer gender-specific treatment for men who are interested in turning their life around. Please know that we are strictly adhering to CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of our clients.

Early Recovery: Perseverance and Patience Matter

early recovery

Perseverance and patience are vital components of recovery; those who stay the course have limitless potential. Those who’ve succeeded in achieving long-term recovery understand the above, and they pass the wisdom along to the newcomer.

If you are new to recovery, it’s vital that you not give up before the miracle happens. There will be obstacles along the way, but they can be overcome. Working a program gives you the tools to push through barriers. What’s more, you do not have to work through each problem independently; lasting recovery is achieved by working together.

Perhaps you are facing complications in your life today? Many people in early recovery have to contend with wreckage from their past. Some face legal challenges, others have broken marriages, or they are estranged from their families. No matter the challenge, recovery is a pathway toward reconciliation and reparation.

Early recovery can feel daunting at times; many throw in the towel before they have a chance to see the fruits of their labor. Please do not let your past dictate how your future will turn out. Be patient, and you will see what working a program can do for you.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. —John Quincy Adams

Setting Goals In Early Recovery

With the end of the year in sight, now might be an excellent time to start thinking about what you would like to accomplish in the coming year. Talk to your sponsor or trusted peers in the program about what you would like to see come to fruition in the 365 days to come. It’s critical to set realistic goals and formulate a plan for achievement.

It’s salient to remember that recovery must come first if you would like to see your goals come to fruition. Keep in mind that your program must be an integral component of any plan. Letting up on your recovery will be detrimental to any goals you set for yourself.

Setting goals in early recovery is beneficial; they give you something to work towards each day. Keep in mind how important it is to set recovery-related goals. You may not be in a position to set long-term goals yet; however, you are always in a position to think about milestones you’d like to achieve in recovery.

When you have 30 days clean and sober, you might start thinking about achieving 60 or 90 days without taking a drink or drug. In many ways, recovery milestones are just as important as going back to school or repairing relationships marred by addiction. That is because neither of those mentioned above will work out without a strong recovery.

When you are too focused on your life goals, there is a chance you will let up on working a program. If that happens, you open the door for addiction to reassert itself in your life. A failure to put your recovery first can result in a relapse, which inhibits you from achieving other goals you have set in your life. Recovery first, always!

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” — Pablo Picasso

Prevailing in Recovery

Early recovery is a challenging time for anyone. Sacrifices have to be made in order to persevere. There will be times when you feel the urge to give up—moments when you think the task is too difficult. Again, please do not give up before the miracle happens.

Another critical component of succeeding in recovery is being compassionate toward others and also toward yourself. Mistakes will be made along the way, but mishaps are a part of life. Remember that learning how to live and become the best version of yourself without drugs and alcohol is a learning process.

Prevailing in recovery means not beating yourself up when things do not go as planned. You may not achieve your goal on the first attempt, but that doesn’t mean it’s forever out of reach. Setting and achieving goals for recovery and day-to-day life requires endurance. If things do not work out at first, then learn from your errors rather than giving up. You will likely try harder the next time or do things differently. Don’t give up!

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.” — William Faulkner

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment in California

If you are struggling with addiction and are ready to take steps toward recovery, please contact PACE Recovery Center. Our Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment in California helps men begin the journey of recovery. You are invited to reach out to us at any time to learn more about our programs and services.

Recovery Safeguards: Safely Celebrating Thanksgiving

recovery

Thanksgiving 2020 is on the near horizon with just a couple of days to go. Typically, this coming Thursday would see all of us gathering together with friends in recovery or family members—giving thanks. This year is like no other year in living memory; all of us must consider health and safety.

The COVID-19 third wave is staggering, with over 150,000 new cases daily. Nearly 258,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus in the United States thus far, a number that is sure to grow with each passing day. It’s essential that you do everything you can to reduce your risk of contraction.

Public health agencies warn that Thanksgiving has the potential to be a “super spreader” event. Millions of Americans have already ignored the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) warning about traveling over the holiday. The CDC states:

Travel can increase the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Local, state, and federal agencies caution against both traveling and congregating in large groups during Thanksgiving. Even gathering outdoors carries inherent risks, and those living in colder climes will have difficulty hosting outdoor celebrations. What’s more, the CDC cautions:

Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”

Safely Celebrating Thanksgiving

Between November 10th and the 23rd, there were 2,300,507 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. alone. We can all have a hand in slowing the spread this week by adhering to CDC guidelines. The public health agency recommends:

  • Having a virtual dinner with friends and family. Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.
  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday

The day after Thanksgiving or “Black Friday” is when millions of people seek out holiday sales. Some people will wait in line for hours to get a video game console such as a PlayStation or Xbox. Naturally, being around large crowds this Friday could put your health at risk. Utilizing the internet is in everyone’s best interest.

Please consider doing as much as you can virtually this Thanksgiving, including attending 12 Step meetings. Every year, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are held around the clock during major holidays. This year, you can benefit from utilizing video conferencing platforms to attend meetings.

Coping With Isolation in Recovery

Many people in recovery live alone, which means that this Thanksgiving could be extremely challenging. Since it may not be safe to get together with one’s support network, such individuals will have to stay connected virtually.

Isolation is unhealthy for recovery any day of the week, but it’s incredibly hard during the year’s emotional days like holidays. Please start planning now for how you will manage the upcoming holiday. Just because you may be unable to congregate with friends and family does not mean that you will be utterly alone.

You can navigate Thanksgiving in isolation by attending meetings online. A member of your support network may be hosting a virtual dinner that you can attend—ask around. Throughout the day, please be sure to call other members of the recovery community, especially newcomers. You can help others and yourself stay clean and sober by reaching out.

The more you stay connected, the better; always remember that the fellowship is only a phone call or video conference away. Utilize your recovery tools for managing your feelings. If you find yourself feeling down, then grab a piece of paper and write out all the things you’re thankful for in recovery.

Seeking Help During the Holiday Season

If you are struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, there is help available. At PACE Recovery Center, we help men begin the journey of recovery. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and lead a productive and positive life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn about our gender-specific behavioral and mental health programs and services.

Addiction and Mental Illness: Diseases of Despair

addiction

Unemployment, social isolation, and uncertainty are words all too familiar to millions of Americans in 2020—owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless men and women have struggled to stay afloat during these trying times, especially for those who suffer from the disease of addiction and mental health disorders, which have come to be known as “diseases of despair.”

Recent polling data shows that:

More than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus; and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people.”

Even those working a program of recovery have found it challenging to keep themselves on track. Relapse rates and overdose rates are up across the country. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), “The AMA is greatly concerned by an increasing number of reports…suggesting increases in opioid- and other drug-related mortality—particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.”

More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder.”

Addiction and Mental Illness: Diseases of Despair

When life becomes more difficult, people are more apt to turn to mind-altering substances to cope with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This summer, 40 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health and substance abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alcohol use and substance use disorders are on the rise this year as many people try to grapple with this new way of life. However, alcohol and drug misuse and suicidal thoughts and behaviors have been steadily rising for the last decade following the great recession.

Between 2009 and 2018, diseases of despair rose 170 percent, HealthDay reports. Alcohol use disorders increased in practically every age group. Substance use disorder diagnoses increased by 94 percent. New research suggests that diseases of despair can be linked to:

  • Economic Decline
  • Stagnant Wages
  • Fewer Community Ties
  • Unemployment

Among those ages 18 to 34, the rate of suicidal ideations and behaviors rose by 210 percent, according to the research appearing in the BMJ Open. What’s more, the researchers report that men had almost 50 percent higher odds of being diagnosed with a disease of despair than women. The new study included 12 million Americans.

Study author Emily Brignone – a senior research assistant – reports that it will take many years before we fully understand the pandemic’s impact on diseases of despair. She adds, however:

There is some evidence of COVID-19-related changes in diseases of despair, including increases in opioid overdoses and high numbers of people reporting suicidal thoughts. Diseases and deaths of despair represent an urgent public health issue, and the COVID-19 pandemic in some respects may exacerbate the conditions that give rise to these problems.”

Talking About Mental Health and Addiction

Evidence-based treatments exist, which can help individuals find recovery and get their life back on track. Addiction and mental health treatment work and people need to feel comfortable reaching out for help. Unfortunately, stigma still stands in the way of getting help for many Americans.

Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer for the Well Being Trust, calls the new study a “call to action,” according to the article. He says helping people get back to work is one preventive measure against diseases of despair. He adds that employment could lessen the pandemic’s impact on addiction and mental illness rates.

More importantly, Miller says people need to be able to have conversations about addiction and mental health. He adds:

We have to look at how to embrace the hard conversations around mental health and addiction. We need to know how to talk to each other, and be empathetic and supportive.”

Talking about behavioral and mental health disorders isn’t easy. Reaching out for help takes much courage, but it saves lives. If you know someone who is struggling, please take the time to lend them an empathetic ear.

Behavioral and Mental Health Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we treat men struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. Our team relies upon evidence-based treatment to help men find the gift of recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.

Adoption Month: Talking About Addiction and Trauma

adoption

One’s upbringing has a lasting impact on one’s life. What we experience growing up can set us up for success or challenges down the road. There is no formula for predicting how a person’s life will pan out in the long run. However, there are life events like adoption that can predispose people to have issues such as addiction later in life.

Many people who have traumatic childhoods are unable to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Those who are subject to abuse, emotional or physical, are often ill-equipped to live life on life’s terms. Many adopted individuals struggle with anxiety and depression; some will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms.

Trauma is a significant predictor for who will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. For instance, those living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at a higher risk of using drugs and alcohol to deal with symptoms. PTSD is not always the result of combat or physical abuse; it can develop from an insecure living environment.

In The Primal Wound, Nancy Verrier writes:

Adoptees trauma occurred right after birth, so there is no ‘before trauma’ self. They suffered a loss that they can’t consciously remember and which no one else is acknowledging, but which has a tremendous impact on their sense of self, emotional response, and worldview. Even in adulthood, adoptees may unconsciously perceive the world as ‘unsafe and unfamiliar,’ remaining in a near-perpetual state of heightened anxiety and constant vigilance.”

Adopted individuals may struggle with lingering attachments, which are often the most significant source of anxiety. Many will have difficulty with never knowing their birth parents. Feeling unwanted can take a toll as well.

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, an initiative to increase awareness of the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system. This year’s National Adoption Month theme is “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn.” The The Children’s Bureau writes:

It is well known that teenagers are less likely to be adopted, often because of their age, and are much more likely to age out of foster care without strong or stable family support. Securing lifelong connections for teens in foster care, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.

While it would be nice to think of adoption as being a seamless transition, it’s often a long, drawn-out process that can significantly affect the course of one’s life. Those who are wards of the state are removed from unsafe homes or experience trauma while in foster care. Some adopted children have biological parents who struggle with drugs and alcohol. At this time, we would like to bring people’s attention to the prevalence of addiction among people who were adopted.

The combination of a genetic predisposition for addiction and lingering attachment issues can cause complications. According to researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School, adopted individuals are at an increased risk of mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD).

If you were adopted and are struggling with mental health or behavioral health disorder(s), you are not alone. Data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions indicates that adoptees are 1.87 times more likely to face substance use disorder problems. The authors write:

Adoptees had higher odds for lifetime SUDs than non-adoptees in this study using NESARC data. Despite the advantages of adoptees’ higher educational levels probably due to being raised by higher educated, higher-income adopting parents, adoptees are still at higher risk to lifetime SUD. Awareness of adopted persons and their adoptive parents to this risk may help in primary prevention (never using substances; having conservative rules about doses and frequency of use) and in secondary prevention (being alert to early signs and symptoms; timely intervention to reduce damage and increase the chance of recovery). The findings can also be useful for clinicians and policymakers to provide education, prevention, and support for adoptees and their families.”

Additional Reading on Adoption, Addiction, and Mental Illness

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of adoptees that struggle with mental illness and substance use disorders. We have written about the subject on numerous occasions and we invite you to learn more about the subject:

Specialists in Adoption-Related Addiction Treatment

Today, please contact us to learn more about our mental and behavioral health specialized services for those who were adopted. Call the PACE Recovery Center team at 800-526-1851 to learn how we can help you or a loved one heal and lead a healthy life in recovery.

Early Recovery: Stay Close to Other Men in the Program

early recovery

In 12-Step programs, men work together with other men to achieve lasting recovery. The same is true for women. People of the same sex can relate more easily. Moreover, working the steps with someone of the same gender makes it easier to open up in early recovery—free from the distraction of the opposite sex.

Early recovery is a challenging time. Anything you can do to mitigate the risk of distractions will aid you significantly. There is a reason why it’s suggested to avoid dating in the first year of recovery. Few people are equipped to keep their program intact and juggle the needs of a romantic relationship in early recovery.

What’s more, if a relationship runs into problems and a break-up occurs, it can be an impetus for relapse. If you can avoid romantic entanglements in the first year or until you’ve worked all the steps, you will not be sorry. Doing so will allow you to put all your energy into laying a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

A straw poll of people at meetings would reveal that relationships are right next to resentments in being a leading cause of relapse. In many cases, a toxic relationship begets resentment that is a catalyst for deciding to drink or drug again.

If you are new to working a program, devote your energy toward fostering friendships with other men in the Rooms. Other men in the program will be the people who are there for you when you face challenges. Another man will also serve as your sponsor; he will show you how to work the steps and stay sober one day at a time.

Sticking With Other Men in Early Recovery

There will be plenty of time down the road to think about romance. Early on, your focus must be on adopting new behaviors and practicing the principles of recovery in all your affairs. What’s more, early recovery is time to learn how to be friends with others in healthy ways.

When in the grips of addiction, practically everyone you associated with had something that serviced your disease. Now, you are looking for people who are also serious about their program; other men who have what you want—those whose lives are on the right track because of their recovery.

Look for individuals whose daily actions for recovery inspire you to keep doing the next right thing. Stay close to the men who put their recovery first in every aspect of life. Recovery requires eternal vigilance; it can never come second.

Early recovery is a time when your addiction is working tirelessly to reassert itself in your life—to retake its former position on center stage. It’s easy to get off track and to become distracted. Ensure that you are around other men in the program when you are not working or in meetings.

Develop a deep-bench of supporting men in recovery; such relationships will help you stay on course. In COVID-19 America, it’s vital for men and women in recovery to stick together. Preventing relapse during these challenging times must come first and foremost.

Whenever you find yourself struggling, call another man in the program and ask them for help. You might be surprised how beneficial picking up the phone can be. Make a call before you fall. You are not alone.

We Help Each Other Stay Sober

Reaching out for help when you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed helps you and the person you lean on for support. You never know, the man you talk to might be having a hard time too. Your call or meeting with that individual helps them stay sober as well.

A sponsor helps you stay sober, and you help him stay sober too. A sponsor cannot keep their recovery if they do not give it away. Interconnectivity or fellowship is the life-blood of the program.

You make progress each time you join forces for recovery in a meeting or one on one. Staying connected with the people in your deep bench is the key to reaching new milestones.

If you’ve been isolating because of COVID-19 or otherwise, please do not hesitate to reach out. Addiction thrives in isolation, and alcoholics and addicts cannot afford the luxury of solitude. Take advantage of video conferencing platforms to remain an active participant in your recovery.

Orange County Gender-Specific Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we show men how to work together toward a common goal. Our gender-specific addiction and mental health treatment are the ideal launching point for any adult male who’d like to better their lives. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.

MIAW 2020: You Are Not Alone With Mental Illness

MIAW

With National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month behind us, the focus on mental health continues. While it’s vital to remember that raising awareness about addiction and mental illness is a year-round effort, the first full week of October is of significant importance. National Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) runs from October 4 – 10.

Right now is an unprecedented time of isolation, and it is critical to remind people suffering from mental health disorders that they are not alone. One in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) encourages everyone to take part in MIAW. The organization provides many avenues for participation, from sharing one’s story of recovery and hope and by posting mental illness-related content on social media platforms.

There are also mental health-related events throughout MIAW, including:

  • Tuesday Oct. 6: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
  • Thursday Oct. 8: National Depression Screening Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: NAMIWalks National Day of Hope

At PACE Recovery Center, we hope you find time to help NAMI raise awareness about mental illness. Mental health disorders affect men and women around the globe. Depression alone impacts the lives of more than 300 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, depressive disorders are the number one cause of poor health worldwide. NAMI writes:

Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. However, mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread.

Getting Involved With MIAW 2020

You Are Not Alone is a year-long awareness campaign. NAMI invites people living with mental and behavioral health disorders to share their experience, strength, and hope. Doing so encourages men, women, and teenagers to ask for help before one’s condition worsens. The majority of people who experience suicidal ideations or commit suicide struggle with symptoms of mental illness.

When people affected by mental illness share their stories, they help fight stigmas that stand in the way of recovery for millions of Americans. The recovery community’s stories help the public understand that mental and behavioral health disorders are not a choice. As such, members of society are less likely to stand by or spread misinformation.

You can read some other people’s experience, strength, and hope here.

Mental Illness Awareness Over Social Media

This Sunday, you can also start posting to social media about mental health. You can create unique status updates to attach to infographics. You can also utilize NAMI sponsored posts, such as:

  • There is a lack of understanding surrounding people experiencing mental illness. That’s why @NAMICommunicate is sharing some of the most misunderstood aspects of mental illness each day during MIAW. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • Mental health is a huge part of overall health and should be a priority for everyone, whether you have a mental health condition or not. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • There is no health without mental health #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • (10/10) Today is World Mental Health Day. We all have mental health challenges and if you are struggling right now, know that You Are Not Alone. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • Mental health can and should be a priority this election season. Visit NAMI’s new election website, vote4mentalhealth.org, and pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth.

More Facts About Mental Illness

Many Americans do not realize how common mental illness is, even when it affects someone they love. Since mental health is still a taboo topic to discuss, the ubiquity of psychiatric disorders is often overlooked. Below you will see a snapshot by demographic; according to NAMI, mental illness affects:

  • 37% of LGB adults
  • 27% of Mixed/Multiracial adults
  • 22% of American Indian or Alaska Native
  • 20% of White adults
  • 17% of Latinx adults
  • 16% of Black adults
  • 15% of Asian adults

Mental Health Treatment for Men

PACE Recovery treats adult men living with mental health and co-occurring disorders. Our team utilizes the latest evidence-based treatment modalities to facilitate long-term recovery. Mental Illness Awareness Week is an ideal opportunity to disregard stigma and reach out for assistance. We are standing by around the clock to field any questions you have about our programs and services. Please call 800-526-1851 for more information.

Recovery Brain Heals Over Time: New Research

recovery

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

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

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

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

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

Scanning the Addicted Brain

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

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

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

recovery

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

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

Alcohol Use and Brain Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Men

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

Recovery and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

recovery

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

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

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

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

mental health

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

Suicide Prevention Week 2020

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

suicide-prevention-day

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

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

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

suicide prevention month

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

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

You Are Not Alone—Recovery is Possible

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

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

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

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

Mental Health Treatment for Men

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

National Recovery Month: Join the Voices for Recovery

National Recovery Month

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

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

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

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

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

Mental Health Disorders and Addiction During The Pandemic

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

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

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

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

Mounting Relapse and Overdose Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Recovery Month

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

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

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

Addiction Recovery Center for Men

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

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