Tag Archives: addicts

Recovery Demands Your Honesty

recovery

Honesty is a real lifesaver for people in addiction recovery; truthfulness, with yourself and others, is key to long-term sobriety. Most people working a program would probably agree that it’s not always easy telling the truth. After years of duplicitous behavior, many find it trying to let others know what is bouncing around their mind. For some, dishonesty is ostensibly second nature, and turning it off takes practice.

In most cases, a failure in forthrightness is venial, or forgivable. Case in point: Did you call your sponsor today? Answering yes (when the opposite is true), isn’t necessarily going to result in returning to drug or alcohol use. However, making a practice of telling even white lies, can come back to haunt a person. Being mendacious – in certain circumstances – may not be inherently harmful; but, even half-truths and omissions can set a dangerous precedent. Men and women in recovery who present delusive impressions to their peers, subvert progress!

People incapable of being honest with their peers or sponsor about doing the Work are likely going to be the same individuals who keep a relapse to him or herself. It's exceedingly common; a relapse occurs, and a series of charades follows closely behind—indefinitely. Fear of social consequences drives some to continue attending meetings and sharing; they feel unable to divulge the fact their program has eroded. Such instances are the epitome of the disease of addiction at work; too sick to pull back the curtain, too prideful to ask for help.

Reasons for Being Dishonest (In an Honest Program)

A couple of idioms that hold water in recovery: honesty is the best policy and pride comes before the fall. Each person in the program, whether he or she has a week or ten years sober, wants to succeed. Everyone would like to be free from the bondage of self, a veritable ball-and-chain keeping one from fulfilling his or her real potential. Even though telling the truth is more straightforward than dishonesty, human beings tend to convince themselves that the opposite is factual. Unfortunately, for addicts and alcoholics, the above mindset carries with it a substantial and pernicious cost.

Myriad kinds of deceit exist and why one feels the compulsion to be deceitful is subjective. However, in the rooms of recovery, lying is often the byproduct of desiring to meet other people's expectations. Or, better still, what one believes is expected of a person in recovery. Both men and women have a way of gauging their successes in life on other’s perceptions. This reality can create an echo chamber of sorts or opposing mirror effect. Justifying a deception now and again becomes more comfortable to stomach, as such. If one’s peers think they are doing well, it’s possible to internalize and convince oneself that everything is OK.

In early recovery, there is an internal power struggle for control between the disease and the spirit. An apt characterization of addiction is ‘self-will run riot,’ the misconception that one holds dominion over their existence. Sometimes people lie because honesty can feel like ceding control. Many individuals think that they alone must influence the narrative of life. Moreover, such people are willing to go to great lengths to achieve that goal. Persons deluding themselves and others in recovery may find that truth is inconvenient!

Cascading Lies Lead to Relapse

Dishonesty is defendable, at times, when hoping to avoid offending others. Duplicity is, after all, a human behavior; it is likely that nobody is honest all the time. We all know that established social, and behavioral norms almost demand one lie on occasion. Still, all who contend with mental illness needs be wary of being misleading or lying by omission.

Those who omit specific details with their support network tend to experience enormous guilt and shame. Motivations for lying aside, individuals who keep unhealthy thoughts or feelings from their peers become mired in stress. Each person in recovery has shortcomings they must contend with; and, the program provides recourse for addressing imperfections. Downplaying weaknesses for fear of judgment or social persecution is counterproductive. Minimizing deficiencies to your peers will destabilize the mission to heal and erodes any advancements.

In recovery, as in life, men can and do struggle with sharing emotions and vulnerabilities. An inability to open oneself up entirely to their support group has unintended consequences. Guarded individuals are more vulnerable to relapse. Those unable to practice honesty in every affair will find being accountable to and responsible for a program an impossibility. Each of us learns at a young age that lies beget lies, untruths snowball quickly and become hard to contain.

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.” —Mark Twain

A single drop of dishonesty can honestly morph into a torrential downpour of negative emotions. People who can't find the strength to come clean, with haste, put more than their recovery at risk.

Addiction Recovery

Please reach out to PACE Recovery Center to take the first step toward recovery and leading a life of authenticity. We offer a safe place, for men in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder, to delve into the underlying issues of their illness. We can provide tools and teach you skills to live honest, happy, joyous, and free.

Is Fear Standing in The Way of Recovery?

recovery

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

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

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

Creation In Spite of Addiction

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

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

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

Identity is Important to Everyone. Even in Recovery!

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

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

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

Does Recovery Kill Great Writing?

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

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

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

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

Addiction Recovery

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

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

What You Learned In Addiction Treatment

addiction treatment

On January 1, 2018, the State of California begins a new chapter regarding marijuana. The drug is legal to use for adults over the age of 21 after the holiday season comes to an end. The change in legality may not seem like a big deal, after all, a medical marijuana program has been in place for two decades. California became the first state to allow doctors to recommend cannabis for specific health conditions in 1996. However, broad legalization for recreational purposes could create problems for some people, especially those in recovery.

Cannabis use laws in California are of particular interest to us at PACE Recovery Center—with our specialty being addiction treatment. We are aware that young adult males are a demographic long associated with high marijuana use. Legalization could have the unintended effect of encouraging people in recovery to think that a little “pot” use is harmless. People without a history of cannabis misuse may convince themselves that the drug will not be a sobriety breach.

It’s entirely vital that those in recovery from any form of addiction understand the inherent dangers of using marijuana. Just because your drug of choice (DOC) is alcohol, doesn’t mean that cannabis is fair game. Many an alcoholic has experienced a full-blown relapse because they thought of a little weed smoke as harmless. It’s not just people with alcohol use disorders, either; hard drug users often scoff at the addictive nature of weed. True, fewer people reach the depths of despair from cannabis use, compared to other “harder” drugs. Nevertheless, such realities don’t imply the drug is safe.

Recovery Work Going Up In Smoke

Smoking pot is a sure way for people in recovery to find themselves returning to their DOC. If you’re regularly attending 12 Steps meetings, then there is good chance you have heard where cannabis use leads. It doesn’t matter which substance precipitated requiring addiction treatment; no mind-altering drug is safe. Addiction is a severe mental health disorder, and substance use is merely a symptom of the overall condition. Introducing any euphoria-producing drug to your body can cause severe problems in your life, and jeopardize your recovery program.

Whether you have 30 days or 30 years sober, you’ve have invested much into turning your life around. Using marijuana will cause all your hard work in recovery to go up in smoke. Legality shouldn’t impact your decision to partake in cannabis use; mental health pays no mind to the laws of man. Case in point: despite alcohol’s legality, the substance is highly addictive and takes more lives than any other vice. In spite of marijuana's benign nature, use can lead to dependence, addiction, and other health problems.

People in recovery who decide to use THC (Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol) products are at even higher risk of experiencing problems. More times than not, recovering addicts and alcoholics return to their drug of choice after using cannabis. It may not happen right away, but smoking weed will cause the minds of people with use disorders to crave their DOC. Usually, it’s a question of when, not if, regarding a return to more dangerous mind-altering chemicals.

Ask Around

If you’re still relatively new to recovery or fresh out of addiction treatment, we hope you grasp what’s at stake. Getting to where you are today required tremendous courage and even more effort, breaking the cycle of addiction wasn’t an accident. If you are living in California, some of your peers may be excited about the “green tide” coming into port. If they are not in recovery, using marijuana is their prerogative; if they’re in the program, keep your distance.

People in recovery contemplating using the drug come January should consult others with more recovery time, first. Chances are, such people will share relapse horror stories that began with something innocuous like cannabis, like cases when a little bit of pot resulted in a drug of choice relapse. Your older peers may tell you of former members who never made it back to the program after using marijuana.

Please remind yourself of what you learned while in addiction treatment. For starters, yours is an incurable disease! Without continued spiritual maintenance and steadfast dedication to total abstinence, everything you’ve tirelessly worked for could disappear. While relapse is a part of many people’s story, there are no guarantees of making it back to the rooms. Anything you can do to protect your recovery’s survival, the better; avoiding marijuana falls on the list of such things.

Cannabis Addiction Treatment

Again, young adult males use marijuana more than any other demographic. As a result, such people often find themselves in the grip of cannabis use disorder and require assistance. If your life is unmanageable due to marijuana use, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in the treating young adult males with substance use disorders. Our experienced team can help you break the cycle of addiction and self-defeating behavior. Life in recovery is possible; we can give you the tools to make it a reality.

Fentanyl and Heroin: A Deadly Mixture

fentanyl

The game has changed dramatically regarding illicit opioids in America. What was once a relatively unnoticeable trickle of fentanyl making its way onto the streets has become a whitewater torrent. This fact should be cause for concern for anyone currently abusing heroin or prescription painkillers purchased on the black market. Given that fentanyl has been linked with thousands of overdose deaths, in recent years. As the prevalence of the deadly analgesic increases, people with opioid use disorders would do themselves a great service to consider addiction treatment. Sooner, rather than later.

One not even need to do heroin mixed with fentanyl to experience an overdose; heroin on its own can be more than potent enough. People die from heroin overdoses every day in the United States. However, fentanyl makes something that is already deadly exponentially more fatal. It is worth remembering that fentanyl (depending on quality) is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Opioids, like heroin or morphine, cause respiratory depression. Fentanyl, on the other hand, causes more prolonged respiratory depression. Taken on its own or as an admixture, the risk of overdose is great.

To make matters worse, the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone is often ineffective with fentanyl. That is not to say it never works in cases involving the powerful narcotic. But, users should be aware that if they play with fire, water may not put it out. The fentanyl situation in America is made even more precarious by the fact most heroin users are not aware of the drug's presence. Making it next to impossible to dose “safely.”

To Fentanyl and Beyond

If you are actively abusing heroin today, it is not just fentanyl that you need to be worried about. Other analogues of the drug are being mixed with heroin or stamped into pills to resemble painkillers, such as OxyContin. Carfentanil is one analogue that has led to deaths, being approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). U-47700, otherwise known as “Pink,” is an opioid analgesic that is around 7.5 times the potency of morphine. The drug has been mixed with heroin or stamped into pills, as well.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been quick to reign in fentanyl analogs of late. Aside from adding the deadly narcotics to the list of controlled substances, they have been pressuring China to ban their production and distribution. Just recently, China placed bans on U-47700 and 3 other compounds, Stat News reports. Hopefully, the bans, which take effect at the beginning of July, will translate to lives saved down the road. Only time will tell. In the meantime, it is important that people with opioid use disorder fully understand the risks. And, the likelihood of buying heroin or fake OxyContin that actually contains something more dangerous.

Fentanyl In Southern California

This month, the DEA busted three traffickers in San Diego who were in possession of 44.14 kilograms of fentanyl, according to a United States Department of Justice news release. It was the culmination of a long-term investigation, and was one the biggest opiate synthetic fentanyl seizures ever in the United States. With the federal indictments, the three individuals could face a maximum penalty of life in prison and up to $10,000,000 in fines.

Considering that just 3 milligrams is enough to kill an adult male, the 44.14 kilogram seizure represents over 14 million lethal doses.”

Fentanyl is a topic that is of the utmost importance to us at PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in the treatment of young adult males, a demographic whose heroin use and overdose rates has been on the rise. While the San Diego fentanyl bust is welcome news, it is probably only the tip of the iceberg. More and more of the drug will find its way into the country. Which is why it paramount that young adults abusing heroin strongly consider addiction treatment. Recovery is possible.

The longer one waits, the greater the risk. Please contact us today to discuss your options and to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Voluntary Addiction Treatment for Cannabis

addiction treatment

We find ourselves in a brave new world with marijuana. A good thing in several ways, especially regarding the impact the drug has on people’s lives. Specifically, fewer people are being sent to jail due to cannabis possession. This is a good thing, considering that our jails and prisons have long been filled with nonviolent drug offenders. needlessly serving unjust lengths of time because of draconian drug policy. To be certain, nobody who’s caught with relatively small amounts of marijuana should have to spend time in a cell. And in recent years, those charged with possession have been offered addiction treatment as an alternative.

Although, as more and more states embrace decriminalization and full, adult legalization—the need for such referrals is diminishing. Adults can now smoke “weed” legally in Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Undoubtedly, more states will hop on board the marijuana legalization train in the coming years. Medical marijuana started as a trickle with California becoming the first state to launch a program. Now, a mere twenty years later, 29 states and D.C. have medical cannabis programs.

As you can probably imagine, those working in the field of addiction treatment have some concerns about marijuana in America. Our stance is certainly in favor of decriminalization, because no one should have to serve time for drug use. But, we must be leery about marijuana addiction, and elevated rates resulting from legalization. If you are like many Americans, there is a good chance that you believe marijuana is benign. Meaning, that it has a small likelihood of causing serious bodily harm. And for the most part you are right, at least when compared to other mind-altering substances. However, and we must be clear on this, marijuana can be habit-forming and cannabis addiction is a real thing.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Pop culture has helped create certain stereotypes about “pot” use. You have probably seen movies that paint a harmless-looking picture of marijuana addicts. Perhaps you have seen the movie Half Baked (1998)? If so, then you saw actor Bob Saget berate Dave Chappelle for being addicted to weed. For those who haven’t seen the movie, it doesn’t matter. The point is that in the realm of addiction, marijuana dependency is often viewed as being less legitimate. Believe it or not, there exists a kind of reverse hierarchy among addicts and alcoholics. Somebody with an opioid use disorder may look down upon a person seeking help for marijuana.

That being said, how others view your addiction is irrelevant. What matters is how it affects your life. No one should delude themselves into thinking that because marijuana is now legal—it’s harmless—because the exact opposite is true. Thousands of Americans seek addiction treatment for marijuana every year. Chronic cannabis use can have a negative impact on your cognitive abilities and there is a risk of dependence. People who find themselves dependent on marijuana do experience withdrawal symptoms during cessation.

Regarding cognitive deficits arising from cannabis use, teenagers and young adults are at particular risk. As an addiction treatment facility specializing in helping young adult males, we should join the narrative about marijuana. Young people need to have all the facts about pot. Thinking the drug does not carry risks just because it is now legal in your state is erroneous. Please remember, alcohol is legal and there is no shortage of suffering alcoholics in America.

Voluntary Treatment for Cannabis

Over the past few years, the number of people court ordered to addiction treatment for cannabis possession has declined. The byproduct of legalization. It must be noted that people court-ordered to treatment are not necessarily addicts. Being caught by the law doesn’t dictate having a substance use disorder. On the other hand, those who choose to go to treatment voluntarily probably have an issue worth considering. Evidence suggests that the number of people seeking addiction treatment voluntarily for cannabis use disorder is on the rise, The Washington Post reports. Evident by the overall number of people being treated for marijuana remaining stable, despite a 40 percent drop in court mandated treatment since 2011.

More people are using marijuana than ever in this country. It stands to reason that more young people will try and use the drug due to misconceptions about danger. The likelihood of greater numbers of people voluntarily seeking help is good. In Europe, the Netherlands has long had a light stance on the drug. Is it a coincidence that the Dutch also have the highest rate of seeking marijuana treatment in Europe?

If America is to blaze a different path than the Dutch, we need to be conscientious of the message being spread. Deterring young people from trying the drug will go a long way. Not by fear of punishment, but by giving them the facts. Marijuana is not benign, it can harm you. Dependence happens fairly often, and with it—addiction. If the drug is negatively impacting your life, please contact PACE Recovery Center today.

Addiction Treatment Begins With Surrender

addiction

There are many young men and women whose addiction has reached untenable heights. Perhaps “lows” would be more apt. Either way, when one begins down the perilous path of substance use, abuse and addiction in their teens, then by their early or mid-twenties life has already become unmanageable. If you are one such person who can identify with that path, trust and believe that it is far more common than you might think.

Societal tropes and stereotypes of addicts and alcoholics in recovery often resemble middle-aged and older people. While it is true that many do not decide to work a program of recovery until later in life, most such people would probably tell that they were definitely eligible for the need of assistance for years—if not decades earlier. Every case is different, but a significant number of people have fought and will continue to fight tooth and nail to remain in a state of denial about the severity of their condition. Even though alcohol and substance use disorders are an accepted form of mental illness.

Nobody, addict or not, wants to admit defeat. In some ways, we are programmed at an early age to continue fighting even if we know that a fight is unwinnable. While perseverance may be a sign of strength in a clearly unwinnable high school sports game given that there is no certainty that it will end the way everyone thinks, when it comes to active addiction perseverance can and often does mean premature death. Often after years of heartache and despair.

The Comparison Problem With Addiction

It cannot be stressed enough. The longer an alcoholic or addict waits to seek help, the worse it gets. Always! The problems that accompany substance abuse may be solely superficial at first, but over time the persistent fueling of the fire of addiction leads to systemic health problems—many of which cannot be reversed (e.g. cirrhosis, cancer, cognitive dysfunction and co-occurring mental health disorders).

There is a common delusion among chemically dependent people that their problem is not as bad as ‘that person's’. That It won’t get as bad, because you are somehow unique. You may be special in many ways, but when it comes to addiction, comparisons will only pave the road to becoming as worse off as the very people you compared to yourself to keep you from surrendering. The “comparison problem,” if we may, is especially pervasive among young people. It is a barrier to hope and serenity, two feelings that people living with active addiction are in short supply.

Has your use of drugs or alcohol brought about a series of negative consequences before, or in early adulthood? If your answer is yes, then we implore you to stop comparing yourself to your peers and seek assistance. It may be that your friends and family have a problem too, but you are in no position to help them until you help yourself.

Strength in Surrender

Dependence and addiction touch the lives of young people quite often. The good news is that many young men and women can, and do recover. What’s more, they can go on to live productive and fulfilling lives with a clear head on their shoulders, developing a meaningful relationship in both their program of recovery and society at large. And they have the power to be there for their peers when life throws curveballs. All such people, started with the courageous act of surrender.

Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage,” wrote William S. Burroughs.

Accepting that your own will is not acting in your best interest, allows you to start the process of first seeking treatment followed by continued growth in recovery. It gives one the ability to accept help from others who have been down into the dark cave of addiction, and returned to the light via a program of recovery. It is hard to admit to oneself, “I don’t have all the answers.” But it is of the utmost importance.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work with young adult men who have been touch by the hand of addiction. The PACE Recovery Center team is made up of addiction treatment professionals, many of which have first-hand experience with addiction. We know the courage it takes to ask for help and break the cycle of this pernicious disease, and embrace the principles of a wholly new way of thinking and living. Please contact us today.

Anonymity, Depression and Instagram

anonymity

When it comes to addiction recovery, one of the more appealing aspects of the 12-Step program is the focus by members on anonymity: the condition of (of a person) not being identified by name. Those who turn to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for support and guidance, are encouraged to introduce themselves by their first name only. If there are more than one person with the same first name, sometimes the first letter of one’s last name will be attached to the end (i.e. John T. or Amanda S.) to avoid confusion when referring to people.

Some of you may be wondering, ‘what’s with all the secrecy?’ A question that can be answered in multiple ways, all of which are good reasons for not disclosing one’s full identity. But, perhaps, the most important reason for avoiding self-disclosure among members is the newcomer. People who suffer from any form for mental illness, whether it be addiction or depression, have long been given pejorative labels and looked down upon by society. While we have come a long way in the United States regarding ending the stigma of mental health disorders, there are still those who would use another's issues as ammunition.

Those who make the brave decision to seek help for alcoholism and/or drug abuse, need to be and feel like they are they are in an environment that will not cast judgement. That the things that they share will not be used against them at a later day by another. Even if you have zero-experience with substance abuse, you could probably imagine that a big part of the healing and the recovery process rests on honestly sharing aspects of one’s past that are extremely difficult to talk about (e.g. where they have been, what they have seen and the unsavory things they did while out there in active addiction). When it comes to the latter, there is hardly an addict or alcoholic who has not broken one or multiple laws.

As was mentioned earlier, honesty is vital to the recovery process. If a newcomer does not feel like he or she can share their life candidly without repercussions, it is unlikely that they will share at all. Or stick around long enough to experience the miracles of recovery. In a world where social stigma can destroy lives, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. While individuals are free to share their story and full name with whomever they please, they are expressly prohibited from sharing that of others. To ensure that people do not disclose information about others, the safeguard of not using one's full name is staunchly encouraged. Under the model of 12-Step recovery, there are in fact 12 steps that need to be worked, but there are also 12 traditions that members are asked to respect, the twelfth tradition reads as follows:

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

Anonymity In The Information Age

When the founders of the 12-Step modality wrestled with anonymity, it was at a time when the average person did not have the ability to reach millions of people. Your typical American could not share their story or the stories of others by way of press, radio, and films. Those that did were strongly encouraged to exercise extreme caution, lest they break another person's anonymity.

In the 21st Century, the outlets for expressing oneself in seemingly cathartic ways has reached new heights, i.e. blogs, Facebook and Instagram. There is hardly a young person in America who does not have a social media account. What’s more, most young people in recovery spend a good amount of time on the internet.

Our laptops and smartphones allow us to reach total strangers, who cannot easily figure out who is the one doing the sharing. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Sharing one’s struggles on social media platforms can result in one receiving support for their issues, but given that we are talking about the internet, a hotbed for vitriolic unmasking—such platforms can tempt people to disclose things that they wouldn’t likely disclose with others in person. Thus, inadvertently revealing the identity of others.

If you rely on social media sites for therapeutic reasons, sharing your struggles with the hope of feedback, be sure to keep what is said be about you. You are responsible for your own anonymity, be sure that what you share will not have the unintended effect of coming back to hurt you later. For more information on sharing with others while remaining anonymous, please click here.

Support from Social Media

A significant number of young men and women battling with mental illness have turned to Instagram for support. Unlike Facebook, Instagram allows its users to maintain a greater level of secrecy. This has a twofold effect: 1) People can share what they are going through anonymously (e.g. a relapse or a depressive episode) and get feedback that might help. 2) Masked user activity allows people to negatively comment on what people share, what is known as “trolling,” a behavior that has led suffering people to suffer more.

The general public often hears of horror stories involving trolls, mental illness and suicide. We hear less about people with specific disorders finding support and help by way of social media. A new study sought to shed light on the power of anonymous social media posting, and the feedback users received. The researchers found that the majority of responses on Instagram to posts about mental illness using the hashtag “#depression,” were actually positive and supportive, Vocativ reports. The findings will be presented at the Association For Computing Machinery conference.

There’s this kind of double-edged sword about being anonymous and not having to use your real name,” said Nazanin Andalibi, one of the study’s lead doctoral researchers. “The popular narrative around anonymity has been that people will troll each other and everything will just be really abusive…but opportunities for anonymity are really central to disclosing things that are sensitive for some people and to give and provide support. It just so happens that in this particular platform people are finding each other and being supportive of each other.”

The researchers point out that further study is needed to see what users do with the positive feedback they received. Does it lead to positive change?

Depression: Let’s Talk

Last Friday, was World Health Day. The focus of discussion was depression, a mental health disorder affecting more than 300 million people around the world. The World Health Organization(WHO) launched a yearlong campaign. “Depression: Let’s Talk” aims to empower people to talk about their condition with people they trust, so they can get the help they require. With respect to the aforementioned study, not only do people with depression get positive feedback, but Instagram allows posts that appear to be cries for help to be flagged. When that happens the users, who may be at risk will be sent messages that include resources for help with mental illness. Talking about despair, can lead to hope treatment and recovery.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work with young adult men, targeting the underlying issues that contribute to addictive behaviors and behavioral health diagnoses. The PACE Recovery Center team provides multidisciplinary treatment for co-occurring disorders, including depression. Contact us for more information, “Let’s Talk!”.

Stigma of Addiction: Stop the Shame

stigma

How we treat people who have diseases which can be fatal says a lot about who we are both as a nation and a society. Our ability to express empathy to those who are suffering from conditions that are, in many cases, outside of one’s control is of vital importance—especially in this day and age living in a country that has been racked by addiction.

Throughout out the second half of the 20th Century and into the 21st, the United States has made and gone through significant changes with how we look at those afflicted by a substance use disorder and how to best effectively treat addiction. Not too long ago, the majority of Americans would have said of addiction, if asked, that it was likely a moral failing; such people lack constitution or willpower and are an example of extreme narcissism.

To be fair, a superficial look at addiction could present a picture of the aforementioned pejorative statements. It could be easy for anyone without all the facts to view the disease in such a light, and such viewpoints are then perpetuated and disseminated to others who also lack the ability to grasp what is actually going on inside the mind of an addict. As a result, thunderous clouds of stigma float permanently above the millions of Americans who have been touched by this pernicious mental illness.

Yet, a closer look through the lens of science reveals the nature of addiction as being something altogether different. Which is why, for quite some time the disease of addiction has been classified as a serious mental health disorder, a condition that has little to do with a moral compass. Scientists have overwhelmingly concluded, that while no one chooses to be an addict and there is not a cure for the disorder, with assistance those living in active addiction can make changes to break away from drugs and alcohol and recover. Going on to live a meaningful and productive life, existing as part of society rather than being the subject of ostracization.

From Stigma to Empathy

If addiction is a disorder which has no cure, but can be maintained allowing for individuals to live relatively normal lives, then do you wonder why addicts are viewed so differently than those who suffer from other incurable conditions? The response to that question is far from easy to answer, being the subject of many an investigation. But simply put, much of the stigma of addiction rests on the fact that the complex disease is not well understood. Such a reality has opened the door for people without any qualifications to draw conclusion about substance use, and nonchalantly disseminate their “2+2=5” summations.

We would like you to imagine for a moment and entreat you to look honestly inside your selves, that somebody close to you contracted a serious illness. Perhaps a condition that science currently offers no cure, but does provide treatments that can prove effective at slowing down the progression of such disorders (e.g. diabetes, HIV, cancer and Parkinson’s). Could you picture yourself acting towards that individual in such a way as to elicit guilt or shame inside your loved one? Can you see yourself saying to someone dying from cancer or AIDS that they are ‘not trying hard enough?’ That they could get better, but are choosing to do otherwise. While rhetorical questions like this may seem like “no brainers,” they illustrate the absurdity of casting stones at somebody with a terminal illness.

Now, please close your eyes, picture your mother, daughter or neighbor is not suffering from cancer, but rather addiction. Would you act the same way in respect to them, as you would if they had cancer?

PSAs About Stigma

Breaking the stigma of addiction is a process that requires a multifaceted approach involving several agencies. Last week, the American College of Physicians (ACP) published a position paper arguing that addiction should be viewed as a “chronic disease” requiring treatment. Substance use problems are not a "moral disorder or character defect."

At the same time, a new campaign was launched called “Stop the Shame,” which released two public service announcements aimed at breaking the stigma of addiction. We must warn you ahead of time, the PSAs are hard to watch due to the videos accuracy with regard to how people living with addiction can be, and often are treated.

PSA 1: Addicts Hear Comments Cancer Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

PSA 2: Addicts Hear Comments Parkinson’s Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Far Reaching Effects

The tough comments that people with addiction endure on regular basis have a serious impact, affecting American society. Those made to feel shame and guilt about addiction are less inclined to seek help for their condition. As a result, their illness progresses, sending ripples throughout the country. For starters, without treatment, more and more families find themselves burying loved ones before their time. There is also a huge economic toll that is associated with untreated addiction. Lawmakers have tried arresting addiction away, unsuccessfully. The time for compassion, is now.

Addiction Linked to Weak Working Memory

addiction

Addiction and poor impulse control. Well, it is fair to say that the two go hand in hand. Addicts and alcoholics can easily be typified by making rash decisions, that are rarely in one’s best interest. A major component of addiction recovery is reining in such destructive impulses that, in recovery, can surely lead to relapse. It isn't an easy task. True addiction develops over the course of years. During which time, people’s brains become wired to act and react to various things in certain ways. Breaking such patterns is hard work, requiring continued maintenance.

Those living in active addiction have a “go to” response for most things that come up. If they are stressed, they use. If they are happy, they use. Ad infinitum. But in most cases, the continued reliance on a substance for coping with all things Life, comes down to how your brain functions with regard to memory. Addicts and alcoholics often have short attention spans, and minds that easily forget where drugs take them. Sure, one may find relief in using a substance for a time. But such relief is always outweighed by the bad that comes with the use of a substance. Despite that fact, people continue to use regardless.

Naturally, we are all wired a little bit differently, sometimes a lot differently. Beginning at a young age, individuals process things in a subjective manner. Some young people excel at staying focused and on-task, while others struggle to keep their heading. There is compelling research indicating that those who struggle with impulse control and working memory, the capacity to focus on a task without being easily distracted, are at greater risk of substance use disorder later in life, according to a study conducted by researchers at three institutions. The findings of which, were published in the journal Addiction.

Risk of Addiction

More times than not, teenage substance use is a risk factor for a substance use disorder in adulthood. Early drug and alcohol initiation, while the brain is still developing, can wreak havoc on the course of one’s life. However, that is not always the case. The majority of teens who experiment with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in high school, don’t progress to addiction later in life. For a significant minority, the future holds something altogether different.

It goes without saying there isn’t a test that will identify who will be touched by addiction. Sure, there are several factors that often play a part in the development of the disease (i.e. family history and upbringing), but they do not necessarily mean that the child will follow the same road as an addicted parent. While doctors cannot look at any one thing and say emphatically, ‘this teen will have problems later in life,’ identifying which adolescents have certain risk factors can help guide prevention methods that may mitigate the likelihood of addiction developing in the future.

Researchers looked 387 study participants (ages 18-20) who were recruited as 10- to 12-year-olds in 2004 for a long-term study, a University of Oregon news release reports. Baselines for the participants working memory and impulsive tendencies were defined at the beginning of the study. Teens with weak working memories and poor impulse control were at a greater risk of experimenting with substances at a young age, and having a substance use disorder later in life.

We found that there is some effect that was carried through the early progression in drug use. It is a risk factor," said Khurana, who also is a research scientist in the UO's Prevention Science Institute. "But we also found that the underlying weakness in working memory and impulse control continues to pose a risk for later substance-use disorders."

Predicting Addiction Later In Life

In middle schools and high schools across the country, substance use prevention efforts employ a total abstinence methodology. The idea being that if teens don’t ever use drugs and alcohol, they will be less likely to have a problem later in life. While that may be true in some cases, it is an idea that isn’t based in reality for the simple fact that young people will often do that which they are told not to do. As was mentioned earlier, most of the young people who experiment will not have a problem later in life. With that in mind, it would seem that prevention and intervention methods that work to improve certain behavioral deficits, could help many young people in the future.

Drug prevention strategy in the schools typically focuses on middle school when early drug use tends to take place and assumes that any drug use at all is a problem,” said Co-author Dan Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “This study suggests that prevention needs to be more nuanced. The risk depends on whether drug use is likely to progress.”

If impulse control and one’s ability to stay focused is strengthened, teenagers and young adults would benefit greatly with regard to the relationship they develop with mind-altering substances.

Working with Young Adult Males

Through intensive, one-on-one addiction psychotherapy, under the care of licensed Master Level Therapists, PACE Recovery Center clients learn about and become aware of their experiences with addiction and behavioral health issues. They begin to identify personal core beliefs associated with negative sense of self, which exacerbates self defeating behaviors such as depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol use. Clients begin to challenge these self-destructive beliefs and ultimately restructure them into a healthier and more adaptive way of living free from mood altering substances. Each client's treatment plan is closely monitored, modified when necessary and evaluated by their therapist and the clinical treatment team.

Addiction Recovery Requires Assistance

addictionThose of you who have ever spent time in 12-Step meeting, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and/or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are probably aware that a number of people found their way to addiction recovery via the legal system. Over the last several decades people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or possessing an illegal narcotic are commonly required to attend 12-Step meetings.

From Incarceration to Recovery

While many of the people who are mandated to go to recovery meetings are only doing so to fulfill an obligation, a significant number of people hear something said that resonates and they decide to give recovery a shot. Another group of people with substance abuse disorder find their way on the road of recovery while they are behind bars—serving time for a felony drug conviction. Despite the fact that the recidivism rates for felony drug offenders is nothing short of staggering, there are some who are tired of living in the insidious cycle of addiction and manage to work a program of recovery while incarcerated. It becomes a new way of life which they plan to embrace and continue to work at after their release. Unfortunately, the odds of success outside prison walls are low, partially due to the fact that the options for felony drug offenders are limited. If you are working a program of recovery, it is likely that you are no stranger to the feeling of hopelessness—and you are probably aware that such feelings can lead to relapse. In fact, in many states across the country, those who are released from a penal institution after serving time for a felony drug offense, find that there they are not eligible to state assistance programs. Such benefits do not apply to people with the aforementioned past, yet those same people often require such services more than anyone when you consider the fact that it can be hard for a felon to find work. Without work, being able to afford sustenance is difficult to say the least.

A Second Chance

In recent years, lawmakers have begun to sing a different tune regarding addiction in light of the American opioid epidemic. It seems like that with each day that passes, Americans become more accepting of the idea that addiction is mental health disorder rather than a moral failing. The paradigm shift in thinking has led to changes in mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenders; therefore, giving addicts the option of treatment over jail time. Moving away from draconian drug sentencing laws has lead the current White House administration to commute 562 sentences since 2008. The vast majority of those incarcerated were serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, some of which were serving life. But what about those who have already served their time and the felony on their record makes it next to impossible to survive in an above the board manner. Recognizing that drug felons need help upon release if the chance of recidivism is to be mitigated, a number of states have begun let up on restrictions that prohibit such people from receiving state assistance, such as food stamps, PBS NewsHour reports. Thus another move in the fight to change archaic laws that only serve to disenfranchise those whose only crime was that of addiction.
One of the best ways that someone can move on after they’ve been released from prison is their ability to eat and take care of themselves,” said Marissa McCall Dodson of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
In 1996, a federal ban went into effect that prohibited those convicted of felony drug crimes from receiving food stamps and cash assistance, according to the article. You may find it interesting to learn that the ban did not apply to all felons, just drug felons. Fortunately, states have the option of loosening up on such restrictions. And now, there are only seven states that still enforce the full ban on drug felons receiving food stamps. Those states include
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Is An Option

PACE Recovery’s men only rehab and intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment is ideal for men that require additional support with their addiction and/or behavioral health issues. The curriculum is flexible to allow clients to continue their everyday activities, such as work, school, volunteer or family commitments. We understand the importance of helping our clients learn to manage both recovery and life’s obligations.