Tag Archives: alcohol

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.

Addiction Recovery Centers Receive Funding

addiction recovery

In early addiction recovery and beyond, individuals are advised to avoid all mind-altering substances—including legal drugs. In recent years, many states have voted in favor of legalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes, even though the drug has no accepted medical purpose and has a high potential for abuse.

In total, 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana; four states passed recreational marijuana legalization measures earlier this month. While ending cannabis prohibition may be a step in the right direction criminal justice-wise, people in recovery need to remember that legal does not mean safe.

Many relapses have come about from thinking that marijuana will not lead to a return to drinking or using other drugs. If you are determined to keep your recovery intact, then please continue avoiding any substance that has the potential for abuse.

Legalizing Drug Use

On November 3, 2020, a number of states passed marijuana-related measures. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voters approved the use of cannabis for recreational purposes, USA Today reports. Both South Dakota and Mississippi passed medical marijuana initiatives; such legislation has now been passed in a total of 36 states.

Oregon took legalizing drug use a couple of steps forward. Having passed recreational marijuana use legislation some years back, now it’s legal to possess small amounts of more harmful drugs.

Oregon voters approved Measure 110, making it the first state to eliminate criminal penalties for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine possession. Measure 110 expands addiction services using the state’s marijuana tax revenue. Those found in possession of such drugs will be given a $100 fine, which would be waived if the offender seeks an assessment from an addiction recovery center.

I think Oregonians made it clear that they support a more humane, effective approach to drug addiction,” said Anthony Johnson, one of the measure’s chief petitioners. “We took a huge step for funding more treatment and recovery services, and for ending racist drug war policies.”

Naturally, opponents of Measure 110 contend that the initiative goes too far. They fear it will lead to increased drug use, especially among young people. The bill’s opponents argue that it could also lead to more overdoses.

Expanding Addiction Recovery Centers

One of the essential facets of Measure 110 is the reallocating of funds to expand or strengthen addiction recovery centers throughout the state, according to the article. The measure directs the Oregon Health Authority to redistribute marijuana tax revenue to funding for addiction treatment and recovery services.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office says the funds will also be used to expand evidence-based and trauma-informed treatment services. What’s more, the marijuana tax revenue will go towards providing housing for individuals with substance use disorders and overdose prevention education.

”It’s clear that the current approach of arresting and jailing people for their drug addiction has failed, and that people realized that Measure 110 was ultimately about people, not drugs,” said Johnson. He adds:

It’s about what do you want for your loved ones. Do you want them arrested, jailed and saddled with a criminal record? Or do you want them provided recovery services.”

Addiction Recovery Services for Men

It will be interesting to see how Measure 110 plays out in Oregon. Doing away with criminalizing drug use could result in more individuals seeking assistance rather than keeping their problems a secret. Most Americans agree that non-violent drug offenders do not belong behind bars. In the near future, we could see other states following Oregon’s lead on drug use.

Millions of men and women working programs of recovery are proof that there is another way of life. If you are an adult male struggling with drug or alcohol use, we invite you to contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer evidence-based, gender-specific treatment services to help men turn their lives around.

Our team specializes in the treatment of mental illness as well. If your problem is something other than drugs or alcohol, please do not hesitate to reach out for support.

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.

Substance Use Disorders and Adoption

substance use disorders and adoptionWhen kids are adopted, it can be a life-changing event. Children who are born into unsafe environments or whose parents cannot or choose not to take care of them properly can benefit tremendously from being adopted into a caring, loving family. Being adopted, though, can also mean that the child experiences an underlying struggle between logic and emotion. Research has found a link between substance use disorders and adoption that is connected to that struggle.

Increase in Adoptions

Researchers at Pew state that a record number of children in foster care are being adopted. In 2018, more than 63,000 kids were adopted from foster care, an increase of nearly a quarter from four years earlier. The percentage of children leaving foster care for adoption has increased from 21% in 2014 to more than 25% in 2018. A total of 135,000 children are adopted each year and there are currently 1.5 million adopted children in the US today. The increase in adoptions is good news in that these children are in more stable homes, but the increase is also in part a reflection of the devastating effects of the opioid crisis in this country.

Substance Use Disorders

Research has found a connection between substance use disorders and adoption, in that adoptees have a higher rate of substance use disorders than non-adoptees. The studies demonstrated an increased risk of lifetime substance use disorders in adopted adults. The odds ratios were found to be high for both abuse and dependence, of both alcohol and drugs.

In a separate study conducted in Sweden, researchers found that 4.5 percent of adopted individuals had problems with drug abuse, compared with 2.9 percent of the general population. Adoptees who had at least one biological parent who abused drugs had drug abuse problems at more than twice the percentage, 8.6 percent, of people whose biological parents did not have drug abuse issues, 4.2 percent.

Contributing Factors

Genetics and environment have been found to be contributing factors in the connection between substance use disorders and adoption as well. Genetic risk factors include alcoholic and psychiatric disorders in biological parents. Children who experienced fetal alcohol effects, alcoholic adoptive parents, and multiple pre-adoption placements were also more prone to substance use disorders. Psychological factors unique to adopted children also contribute to the increased rate of substance use disorders.

Adoption Trauma

One of the underlying causes of substance use disorders is unresolved adoption trauma, rooted in the shock and pain of being permanently separated from a person’s biological family. The birth parents as well as the child being adopted can suffer from adoption trauma. The level of mental and emotional challenges can depend on the child’s age and maturity level when adopted. Unresolved emotional pain arising from the separation can lead to an increased use of drugs or alcohol as unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms.

Awareness and Treatment

Understanding the underlying causes can help the adopted person become more aware of the potential for substance use disorders as well as prevention and treatment options. Recognizing early signs and symptoms and taking steps to get help can reduce the damage and increase the chance of recovery among adoptees who are experiencing an addition to drugs or alcohol.

Resources that can help the healing process include the adoption-related treatment program at PACE Recovery. Therapy can alleviate the adoption trauma and treat the underlying issues that contribute to substance abuse. Treatment options can include Gestalt therapy, attachment-focused therapy, and emotion-focused therapy. Social skills training and specialized support groups can also benefit the adoptee significantly.

People who are adopted may feel rejected by their biological family or pained by their own history. Treatment focused on support, education, and advocacy can help them work through their vulnerability and fear, facilitating healing and healthy discussions about their adoption. Treatment for substance use disorders for adoptees must first address their insecurities and inconsistent attachment styles.

Gender-Specific Addiction Recovery Center

The professionals at PACE Recovery Center understand that the struggles you may encounter as an adoptee can manifest as anxiety, depression, and unhealthy coping mechanisms, including anger and substance abuse. Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you have been adopted or an adoptive parent and struggle with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Our gender-specific, evidence-based addiction recovery center for men will help you begin the healing process and begin a remarkable journey. Our highly skilled team is adhering to COVID-19 guidelines to ensure you remain safe. You can reach us today at 800-526-1851.

Addiction Recovery Inspirations During a Pandemic

addiction recovery

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

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

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

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

Personal Milestones in Addiction Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspirations for Addiction Recovery

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

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

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

Depression and Cannabis Use Among Young People

depression

Last month, we shared with our readers about research that upended a long-held association between alcohol use and depression among young people. In the post, we were particularly interested in the link between binge drinking and depressive symptoms.

As we pointed out at the time, binge drinking among young men and women is on the decline. However, there’s been a significant rise in depressive symptoms among young individuals.

As such, researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health are no longer able to find a correlation between binge drinking and depressive symptoms. The findings of the study, the researchers suggest, indicate that the relationship between binge drinking and depressive symptoms is decoupling.

While the observations are uplifting news and can help experts redirect their targets for addressing both depression and hazardous alcohol use, there remains a clear link between substance use and depressive symptoms.

On numerous occasions, we have pointed out that addiction often goes hand in hand with co-occurring mental illness. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and bipolar disorder affect people living with use disorders regularly.

Some individuals develop a dual diagnosis for mental illness after prolonged bouts of drugs or alcohol use; whereas, others who already meet the criteria for a mental illness will self-medicate with drugs and alcohol resulting in the development of co-occurring behavioral health disorders like addiction.

Self-medicating mental illness is one of the leading causes of people developing an alcohol or substance use disorder. Drugs and alcohol may alleviate some of the symptoms of mental illness initially, but in the long run, the practice only creates more problems.

New research suggests that people living with depression are at twice the risk of using cannabis, according to Wiley. The findings appear in the journal Addiction.

Depression and Cannabis Use

In recent years, the public perceived dangers associated with cannabis use has declined significantly. The trend is likely partly due to the relaxing of marijuana laws, including medical cannabis programs and recreational use decriminalization. While it might be true that using pot may be a relatively benign behavior for average citizens, we cannot say the same for those with pre-existing mental illness.

The new survey-based study included 728,691 persons aged 12 years or older, according to the article. The researchers found that cannabis use in America increased from 2005 to 2017 among men and women with and without depression. However, the data indicates that people living with depression were approximately twice as likely to use marijuana in 2017 compared to those without the condition.

Even more concerning, the data shows that nearly one-third of young adults (29.7 percent) aged 18-25 with depression reported using marijuana in the past 30-day period. Among all persons over the age of 12, the prevalence of past-month cannabis use was 18.9 percent among those with depression compared to 8.7% among those without depression. What’s more, 6.7 percent of people with depression reported daily cannabis use. Whereas, only 2.9 percent of non-depressed people reported everyday use.

Perception of great risk associated with regular cannabis use was significantly lower among those with depression in 2017, compared with those without depression, and from 2005 to 2017 the perception of risk declined more rapidly among those with depression. At the same time, the rate of increase in cannabis use has increased more rapidly among those with depression,” said corresponding author Renee Goodwin, Ph.D., MPH, of Columbia University and The City University of New York.

Cannabis Use Disorder and Depression Treatment for Young Men

Young men who struggle with depressive symptoms and also use cannabis put themselves at significant risk. They are likely to worsen their symptoms of depression and often develop cannabis use disorders. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment for young men.

At PACE, our team of experts relies on evidence-based therapies to help men overcome the challenges they have experienced due to alcohol, drug abuse, and mental illness. We are available at any time to answer any questions you have about our gender-specific treatment center. 800-526-1851

Recovery During Thanksgiving: Maintaining Your Sobriety

recovery

You don’t need to have alcohol for a good Thanksgiving. If you are in addiction recovery, alcohol will not only complicate your day, but it will derail your program. With the significant holiday quickly approaching, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself for keeping your sobriety intact and have an excellent time as well.

Men in the first 365 days of recovery are entering the holiday season for the first time. Such people may not fully know what to expect, but it’s safe to say that many have some concerns. Some will be around family members this Thursday, which means there may be questions about why they are not drinking.

While your recovery is nobody’s business but your own, you may want to think about having something to say for any off-putting questions. Your closest family members may know you are working a program, but others may not. As such, the latter may encourage you to drink or inquire as to why you are teetotaling your way through the celebration.

It is reasonable if you do not feel comfortable divulging information about the path you are on. Having a script in the back of your mind can save you from having to answer uncomfortable questions. It may feel as though you’re dishonest when, in fact, you are merely guarding your personal health information.

You can say that you are taking a medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol. It’s also okay to say that you are working on being healthier and that you are more committed to exercise and diet than drinking. There is a myriad of acceptable responses to explain away your alcohol intake. Talk to your sponsor to discover how they handle unsolicited questions about sobriety.

Recovery Comes First Every Day

Thanksgiving shouldn’t be treated differently than any other day of the year. Those who work a program and are committed to a new path understand that recovery must always be priority number one. As the saying goes, ‘put your sobriety first to make it last.’

It’s challenging to prioritize recovery day in and day out, 365 days a year. However, the task can be even more arduous during the holiday seasons. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a time of added stress and unwanted emotions. Not everyone looks forward to the holidays, even if they are time for togetherness.

Many people in early recovery associate the holidays with unpleasurable memories. What’s more, not everyone in early recovery has their family back in their lives. The thought of not being welcome at the family table can be hard to stomach. Fortunately, you have your support network to spend time with this coming Thursday.

Whenever a holiday comes around, you can rest assured that a member of your support group (homegroup) will be hosting a get-together. If you have not heard anything yet, ask your sponsor or share at your next meeting that you are wondering how others are planning for Thanksgiving. Your support network will be able to guide you on safe and sober ways to occupy your time.

On Thursday, please resist the temptation to isolate and ensure that you make it to at least one meeting. It never hurts to go to multiple meetings during a holiday, either. Do your best to start your day how you would any other day of the year, i.e., prayer/meditation, exercise, a healthy breakfast, reading, or step work. Know what meetings you plan to attend ahead of time!

Protect Your Sobriety

While it’s best to spend your holidays in sobriety with other sober people, you may feel obligated to make an appearance at Thanksgiving dinner. People who plan to attend an event that involves alcohol should see if that can bring a friend for support, preferably someone else in the program. If that is not possible, and you still plan to attend, then keep your phone charged so that you can always reach out for help.

It’s a helpful practice to show up a little late and leave early from holiday gatherings. Doing so can spare you from being cornered into answering unwanted questions and prevent you from being around drunk people.

You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you are leaving early. It also helps if you can be responsible for your transportation. Those who do not drive can benefit from making preparations to be dropped off and picked up by a friend in the program; this practice is an extra level of accountability.

Once you leave a holiday event, get yourself to meeting to decompress. There may be things that you saw, heard, or felt that need to be processed. At the very least, make plans with friends from your support network to close out the day.

A Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

The Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center would like to wish everyone a safe and sober Thanksgiving. Never hesitate to reach out for support; always call before your fall. If you experience challenges, such a relapse, get to a meeting ASAP to recommit yourself to the program.

We invite men to contact PACE to discuss your options if you may feel like you need more significant assistance. We are available at any time to answer your questions and help you get back on the road to lasting recovery.

Trauma, PTSD, and Substance Use Disorder

trauma

Trauma can dramatically impact the course of one’s life; if it is left unaddressed, adverse experiences can lead to premature death. A new report on mortality from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that childhood trauma is a public health issue that we must address. The report shows that one in six people across the United States has experienced four or more kinds of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs.

Trauma can take many different shapes: neglect, abuse, familial separation (i.e., adoption), and exposure to mental health or substance abuse problems. Each person is different; an event may be more traumatic for one person than it is for another. There is no way to predict how an experience will influence a young person.

Author Junot Díaz, writing for The New Yorker in a piece titled: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma, said, “Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before.” His writing lays out how an adverse childhood experience influenced everything, from relationships to employment.

In the field of addiction medicine, professionals are acutely aware of the correlation between childhood trauma and substance use and abuse. Paradoxically, many will use drugs and alcohol to cope with untreated trauma, but the practice has the unintended effect of placing such people at risk of being re-traumatized. It’s a vicious cycle, an ouroboros: a snake eating its tail.

Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events, at any point in life, can have disastrous consequences like the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, when traumas or ACEs occur during one’s formative years, the risk of experiencing more significant problems is much higher. A previous study from the CDC on adverse childhood experiences found:

  • For each ACE, the risk for early initiation of substance abuse increases two to four times.
  • Individuals with three or more ACEs have higher rates of depression, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and heart disease.
  • Men and women with five or more ACEs are seven to 10 times more likely to become substance abusers.
  • Almost two-thirds of intravenous drug users report ACEs in their history.

Trauma, whether it occurs as a child or in adulthood, must be addressed by professionals. Too often, the lingering effects of trauma are left untreated; PTSD becomes a person’s reality, and self-medication ensues. Drugs and alcohol can provide temporary relief, but the practice places people at risk of developing alcohol and substance-related issues. PTSD and addiction are common co-occurring disorders.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that about one-third of people exposed to trauma develop PTSD. Moreover, 75 percent of people in substance abuse treatment report having experienced abuse and trauma. While men are more likely to be exposed to traumatic events, women are at a higher risk of developing PTSD.

Veterans with PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

With Veterans Day around the corner, we must discuss rampant PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD) in the military. As we pointed out, exposure to adverse events can lead people down a precarious path. If an individual doesn’t receive care and support for their condition, then they are likely to resort to drugs and alcohol for temporary relief.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that more than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD. What’s more, almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD has PTSD as well.

Fortunately, effective treatments exist to address both PTSD and SUD simultaneously. Those who experience trauma as a child or in adulthood, who develop use disorders can and do recover.

We have found that both posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use can be treated concurrently [meaning, at the same time].” — Ronald E. Acierno, Ph.D., Vice-Chair For Veteran Affairs and Executive Director Of The UTHealth Trauma And Resilience Center

Orange County Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

If you are struggling with PTSD, SUD, or both, then please contact PACE Recovery Center at your earliest convenience. We specialize in the treatment of men who face challenges related to addiction and mental health disorders. We offer several different types of programs to serve the unique needs of each client best.

Recovery begins with a phone call or email to an admissions counselor. Please take the first step: 800-526-1851.

Recovery: The Benefits of a Positive Attitude

recovery

Alter your thinking, and you change your life. A positive attitude changes everything and working a program of recovery changes the way you see the world. Recovery is an evolution of the mind that allows men and women to achieve their goals and see their dreams come true.

When men and women begin working programs of recovery, they are starting a life-long process. Many things will change along the way, especially the way one thinks about their relationship to the world. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a radical change, and so is adopting a mindset geared toward being of service to others and yourself.

In early recovery, most people are somewhat run-down—exhausted from years of substance use and overall dysfunction. It’s not always easy to put a smile on and maintain a sunny disposition. Working a program isn’t easy at first; it’s often a time of significant discomfort. Most individuals are bogged down by painful memories. As the fog clears, one cannot help but recognize the damage caused by their addiction. There is usually no shortage of regret and shame in early sobriety.

While it’s only natural to be bothered by one’s past actions and behaviors, it’s essential not to use them as excuses for relapse. Each person in recovery has things they wish they could take back or change about their story, but it’s paramount to move past such thoughts. When the time is right, each member of the recovery community will have an opportunity to make amends.

In the meantime, it’s best to continue doing things that are conducive to healing, like finding good in each person and each experience. Today, focusing on the present is what matters most, which means taking time each day to maintain a healthy outlook. Positivity is crucial to long-term progress.

Finding the Good in Early Recovery

The mind of someone in the first year of recovery isn’t the safest place. Addiction is always attempting to regain control. It’s beneficial to stay as busy as possible in the first months and years. The more time you spend trying to make progress, the less time you will spend dwelling on the past.

Changing your outlook on life hinges on doing many things each day to protect and strengthen one’s program. Negative thoughts will not overtake those who establish a routine and stick to it. Attending meetings every day provides you with ample opportunities to practice being of service to your peers. Recovery is a collective effort; just as you need the support of others, they require your help too.

Moreover, it feels good to do kind acts for other people. Even the simplest acts of kindness, such as offering a newcomer a ride home, makes you feel better. When you feel good, you are less likely to want to escape reality. Maintaining a positive attitude is made more accessible by tiny selfless acts of service. The smallest of actions can have a tremendous impact.

If you are in recovery, then it means you are willing to do whatever it takes to heal. This process is aided by trying to find the good or silver lining in each experience. If you fixate on what isn’t going your way, then you are likely to miss something salient. In recovery, you learn that not every day is going to be a walk in the park. When times are challenging, it helps to remind yourself of what is right in your life.

Staying positive takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Whenever you are feeling sorry for yourself, be reminded by your progress and the people who’ve helped along the way. Draw strength from the Fellowship, let the energy of the group revitalize you in times of darkness.

In time, you will see the good around you and be less bothered by things you can’t control. Find in recovery some higher purpose, and there will be no limit to what you can achieve.

Southern California Addiction Rehab for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of adult males with addiction, co-occurring mental illness, and mental health disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. Our team of highly trained addiction and mental health professionals can help you break the disease cycle and learn how to lead a positive life in recovery.

Addiction Linked to Trauma: Finding Recovery

addiction

People who struggle with drugs and alcohol share many commonalities. While each person’s story is unique, there are many experiences that men and women in the grips of addiction share.

In the rooms of recovery, it is not uncommon for an individual to hear parts of their story when another member shares. This is because the life events that often precipitate chemical dependency have similar effects on each person’s brain. Not always, some people seem naturally equipped to better cope with adverse experiences, particularly adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Still, a large percentage of people who deal with addiction were subject to traumatic events during childhood.

Children will begin using mind-altering substances after they experience trauma 76 percent of the time, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Scientists have found correlations between growing up in a chaotic household or being separated from parents via foster care or adoption and addiction. When a child’s equilibrium is disrupted, or they lose their sense of security, it can leave lasting impressions on their psyches. They may be unable to develop healthy coping skills for dealing with stress, as a result. Such scenarios can lay a foundation for the development of mental and behavioral health problems in adulthood.

The same can be said for emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; such traumatic experiences are part of many alcoholic’s and addict’s stories. When a child lacks the tools to cope or never receives professional help in the wake of abuse, they are at significant risk of looking for unhealthy means of escape.

Lifetime drug and alcohol use is positively associated with exposure to childhood physical, sexual, and emotional abuse severity, overall trauma exposure, and higher levels of emotional dysregulation, according to the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

From Trauma and Addiction to Recovery

Addiction is a complex disease that develops from many different factors; a combination of nature, nurture, and genetics play vital roles in disease progression. Even when severe trauma isn’t present, it is still possible for a person to develop an alcohol or substance use problem.

Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience,” Dr. Gabor Maté wrote in his 2010 bestseller, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. “A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviors.”

Fortunately, it is possible to recover from both the lasting effects of trauma and addictive disorders. At PACE Recovery Center, we have worked with many young men over the years who had ACE-related post-traumatic stress and co-occurring substance use disorders. With professional counseling that utilizes evidence-based treatments, each person can achieve lasting recovery.

One young man recently shared about his journey from addiction to healing from trauma and finding recovery. Thrive Global is an organization that helps “individuals, companies and communities improve their well-being and performance and unlock their greatest potential. One of their projects is called From Addict to Entrepreneur. As the name suggests, it involves interviewing people who have overcome their addictions to lead successful, healthy, and productive lives in recovery.

Project creator Michael Dash recently spoke with author and adventure coach Aaron Rentfrew about his traumatic past and struggles with addiction.

Dealing WIth Trauma and Finding Recovery

In a lengthy interview, Rentfrew shares about his addiction and then about his path to recovery. He says that he had a mostly normal childhood until a messy divorce left him in foster care for a year. Then he bounced between homes before finally settling with his mother in the 5th grade.

In middle school, he learned that his suspicions were correct about being molested as a child. The confirmation of abuse was the impetus for Aaron withdrawing from friends and family. He would eventually turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with his feelings; substance use helped him escape.

“What drew me deeper and deeper into my addiction was the untreated trauma from my childhood. It was a gaping wound that left me feeling empty and confused. I had trouble feeling normal without being intoxicated, and this cascaded into a life of constant drug use and abuse. I had to be completely wasted to find balance and a sense of normality.”

After years of substance abuse and heartache, Rentfrew reached out for help from a close friend. He was put in touch with other sober people, and he began working a program of recovery. Of equal importance to confronting addiction, Aaron worked on the trauma.

“I had to deal with the trauma around my childhood, which was the spark that started the fire. I did this by having frank and honest discussions with my parents and seeking to understand the full scope of what happened.”

Through dedication and hard work, Aaron was able to put his life back together and now helps others do the same. He believes that helping someone else with a problem you worked through is the cornerstone of recovery.

Specialists in Adoption-Related Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, our dedicated team of professionals helps adult men who struggle with addiction and mental health conditions. We have created a unique program for clients whose lives are negatively impacted by the trauma that stems from adoption. Please contact us today if you were adopted and are contending with untreated mental or behavioral health issues.

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