Tag Archives: drugs

Suicide Rates Steadily Rising In America

suicide

The majority of people with a history of alcohol and substance abuse wrestles with the life and death quandary of how — and whether or not — to live. It is probably fair to say that most people in recovery can remember a time when they gave some consideration to calling it quits (i.e., suicide) on the enterprise of existence. In the darkest hours of one’s addiction the mind is no longer an ally; and, it can be hard to move forward when an individual can no longer trust him or herself to make rational choices. A quote from William Burroughs, “every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage,” might tolerate an update; each person living with a mental illness, has inside himself a parasitic…

The desire to end one’s life is compounded too when attempts at sobriety fall flat; adopting a program of recovery is no simple matter, and those who might characterize themselves as chronic relapsers are apt to lose hope. If the term “chronic relapser” resonates with you, it is worth trying to keep in mind that relapse is part of many people’s story; there are a good many people with long-term sobriety who came in and out of the rooms of recovery for years before finally grasping what was necessary for lasting progress.

Those who were once the epitome of hopelessness find themselves, now, living fulfilling lives; what finally changed in each of the individuals mentioned above is subjective, but more times than not treatment reignites the fires of hope for a meaningful life. Such people ultimately find the courage to carry on, even when their disease tries to reassert itself, vying for the spotlight once again.

Suicide in America

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. —Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Vital Signs, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that the rate of suicide in the United States increased 28 percent from 1999 to 2016; almost 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide in 2016. In the last half-decade, we’ve seen many notable people succumb to suicidal ideations; attempting to understand why individuals who have everything (seemingly) would opt for deliberately killing oneself has had a lasting effect on all of us.

Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014. Nearly four years have passed, but doesn’t it feel like yesterday? It is difficult to not think about all the remarkable people that left indelible marks on society and then checked out prematurely. Even a cursory inquiry reveals several parallels between famous people committing suicide; mental health disorders are a foregone conclusion and, more times than not, substance use plays a significant role. And finally, the ever insidious stigma of mental illness continues to prevent people from getting help.

There is almost too much to consider when it comes to trying to make sense of the driving forces behind felo de se (Latin for "felon of himself"). The act of deliberate self-destruction is a discussion that we have to have, especially in the light of the recent deaths of fashion icon Kate Spade and culinary raconteur Anthony Bourdain. In every sense, the Internet is abuzz with rumor and speculation regarding the untimely demise of both stars; and, in almost every case, that which people are focusing on misses the most salient point. Rather than blaming, we must center our attention on dismantling stigma and encouraging treatment.

Stigma is The Key

The topic of stigma is one that comes up often; in fact, this blog features several articles on the subject. The two recent suicides, occurring just days apart, demand that we discuss stigma at greater length. Some of the reports circulating the web right now include interviews with people close to both Kate and Anthony. One such instance is an interview between the designer's older sister, Reta Saffo, and the Kansas City Star; the other is an open letter from actress and activist Rose McGowan who was close friends with Anthony and his partner, Asia Argento.

In order, Reta Saffo tells the newspaper that Kate’s death was not unexpected. Saffo says that on numerous occasions she made attempts to get Kate into treatment, “we'd get so close to packing her bags, but — in the end, the 'image' of her brand (happy-go-lucky Kate Spade) was more important for her to keep up. She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out." Kate’s husband published an open letter in the New York Times stating that she was seeing a doctor for the past five years and was taking anxiety medication for a mood disorder but was not abusing alcohol or drugs. There seem to be differences in opinion regarding Kate’s relationship with alcohol; some fashion insiders claim that her drinking was significant.

If Saffo view is accurate, that concerns about brand and image stood in the way of Kate seeking treatment, it something that millions of people can relate to today. Being “branded” as mentally ill prevents people from seeking the care they need; without treatment, such people are exponentially more susceptible to suicidal ideation and making good on their intentions. The case of Bourdain, it seems, is something altogether different.

Men Don’t Ask for Help

In an interview, Bourdain gave to addiction expert, and father of an addict, David Sheff (Beautiful Boy), Anthony says he struggled with cocaine and heroin since he was around 13-years old. When asked about getting clean in the 1980’s, he reveals a less-than-orthodox approach to recovery; while he gave up the coke and heroin in rehab, Anthony never wholly turned his back on marijuana and alcohol. Instead, he tells Mr. Sheff:

I reached a point where I thought, This is horrible. I’m not saying it’s any particular strength of character or anything like that. I’m definitely not saying that. This notion that I’m so f*cking tough and such a badass that I can kick dope without a 12-step program—that’s not what I’m saying. I don’t hold myself up as an example or an advocate or as anybody, okay? I made my choices. I’ve made f*cking mistakes. I made it through whatever confluence of weird, unique-to-me circumstances—I’m not going to tell anybody how to live, how to get well or any of that sh!t.

In the end, though, it wouldn’t be heroin that killed Mr. Bourdain; instead, a decade's long battle with depression, likely compounded by the use of alcohol. In McGowan’s open letter at the behest of Asia Argento, Rose points out that Anthony was the product of a generation that solves problems on sheer will alone. Hubris, perhaps?

Don’t Let Stigma and Pride Stand In the Way of Recovery

The life-and-death problem of whether, and by what method, to exist was likely on the minds of both Kate and Tony. Countless people will offer insight into their suicides; some will get things right and others will not. We will never know for sure what was going on in the troubled minds of the above icons, and that is OK. Moving forward, we all must set ourselves to task in reinforcing the possibility of recovery; Our mission is to encourage people to look past the barriers to treatment and fight for their lives. There is no shame in asking for help!

Anthony was 61, the same age my father was when he died. My father also suffered from intermittent deep depression, and like Anthony, was part of a “pull up your bootstraps and march on” generation. The a “strong man doesn't ask for help” generation. I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor's advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt … Anthony's internal war was his war … There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting. —Rose McGowan CC: Asia Argento

Help is available to all who can bring their self to surrender. Each time a person seeks help the stigma of mental illness becomes weaker and snowball recovery is a real possibility. When people seek treatment and find recovery they empower others to do the same; a life in recovery is not perfect but the joy of striving for something meaningful outweighs the alternative.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Life is complicated, made even more challenging when substance use and misuse accompany mental illness; but, you are not alone, treatment works, and recovery is attainable! If you would like to begin a journey of lasting recovery, PACE Recovery Center can help. Please contact us today.

The Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

If you have suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

PTSD Awareness Month: Learn, Connect, and Share

PTSD

June is PTSD Awareness Month; we can all help those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a severe iteration of mental illness that requires treatment and daily maintenance; those who recover rely on a combination of trauma-focused psychotherapy, counseling, and non-narcotic medications. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of individuals living with the affliction never receive the kind of care they require; such persons are apt to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope which only serves to make the underlying condition more serious.

Those of you in recovery from alcoholism and substance use disorder are no strangers to trauma; after all, people’s active addiction often involves one uncomfortable experience after another. In some cases, traumatic experiences precipitate the use of mind-altering substances; in other scenarios, people’s substance use puts them into situations where experiencing trauma is almost a foregone conclusion. Human beings are capable of putting themselves at great peril due to mental illness; as a result, one both inflicts wrongs upon others or are their self the victim of another person's’ wrongdoing; in either case, being OK in one’s skin and sleeping at night is not an easy endeavor.

The painful incidents that occur during active addiction often lead to a vicious cycle; using leads to trauma and one of the reasons people continue to use is to quiet the internal echoes of one’s past discomforting episodes, and at a certain point, one loses sight of where the trauma ends, and they begin.

Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before." —Junot Díaz

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Not surprisingly, PTSD is one of the more common co-occurring mental health disorders accompanying alcohol and substance use disorder. While treatment is effective and long-term recovery is possible, people living with the afflictions like PTSD often struggle accessing assistance. Encouraging people to seek help is of the utmost importance, and society benefits when those struggling receive aid.

In order for individuals to get treatment we first need to discuss what the condition looks like; the signs manifest differently in each person, but the National Center for PTSD lists four symptoms:

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  3. Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can't trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly.

PTSD, Self-Harm, and Suicide

Most people associate post-traumatic stress with combat; those returning from conflicts overseas often experience lingering effects from exposure to trauma. However, PTSD doesn’t just affect veterans, a noteworthy percentage of general public struggles with the condition, as well; in fact:

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).

In the absence of treatment, people rely on using drugs and alcohol to cope with their feelings of hopelessness, shame, and despair. While mind-altering substances may quiet one’s anxiety and depression, alcohol and substance use tend only to exacerbate the underlying condition. It’s worth mentioning again that self-medicating mental illness is a vicious cycle; the behavior is a sure path to addiction, self-defeating behaviors, and self-harm. There is a robust association between PTSD and suicidal ideation or attempts. If you or a loved one is contending with thoughts of self-harm, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Encouraging PTSD Treatment

Greater understanding and awareness of PTSD will help Veterans and others recognize symptoms, and seek and obtain needed care." - Dr. Paula P. Schnurr, Executive Director of the National Center for PTSD

During June, the National Center for PTSD asks that everyone take some time to Learn about PTSD and the valid forms of available treatments; Connect with support services for yourself or a loved one—reach out for help; and Share what you learn about PSTD with the world via social media. When we work together to take the mystery out of mental illness, we can encourage more people to seek help.

At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one learn how to navigate life without resorting to drug and alcohol to cope with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Our highly qualified team of addiction professionals can address your co-occurring mental health disorders and provide you with tools for dealing with symptoms. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs.

National Prevention Week: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow!

National Prevention Week

Preventing substance use initiation, also known as "first-time use," can spare many young people from experiencing significant challenges later in life. While most drug and alcohol prevention efforts target adolescents, we cannot overlook the fact that there is a remarkable number of individuals who use drugs and alcohol for the first time after leaving home for college. What’s more, the late teens and early twenties are when many young people develop unhealthy relationships with mind-altering substances.

Illicit drug and alcohol use is pervasive in high school; however, many teens can avoid situations that could precipitate substance use. Some parents can successfully impress upon their children the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use; and, when young people fully grasp the potential consequences, they are more likely to make informed decisions.

There will always be teens who disregard the pleas of their parents and teachers to refrain from alcohol and substance use, and fortunately, the majority of such teens will not develop a use disorder down the road. Although, given that it is impossible to predict who will suffer from addiction later in life, it is critical that health experts, college faculties, and parents work together to prevent substance use initiation as long as possible. Furthermore, the use of drugs and alcohol can still cause severe injury or death even without the presence of a use disorder in an individual.

SAMHSA National Prevention Week (NPW)

A teenager or young adult can begin using drugs or alcohol at any time of the year; however, research shows that there are certain months that young people are more likely to start using mind-altering substances. For instance, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that college students most often use a drug or alcohol for the first time during June or July. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) believes that May is an excellent time to focus on prevention efforts. The hope is that as the school year or second semester comes to a close, young people will think twice before using drugs and alcohol.

The SAMHSA Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) reports that 2,100 to 2,500 full-time college students aged 18 to 22 used alcohol for the first time in June and July; compared to between 1,100 to 2,000 young people using alcohol for the first time during other months of the year. The organization finds that tobacco, marijuana, and inhalant use initiation among college students aged 18 to 22 peaks over the course of the summer, as well.

Each May, SAMHSA hosts National Prevention Week! Before young people break for summer, the administration helps schools and organizations host prevention-themed events aiming to strengthen the community, school, and family bonds that can shield adolescents and young adults from substance use. SAMHSA’s primary goals this week are to:

  • Involve communities in raising awareness about behavioral health issues and implementing prevention strategies;
  • Foster partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to behavioral and public health; and
  • Promote and disseminate quality behavioral health resources and publications.

NPW Prevention Challenge: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow!

Given that not everyone can take part in a National Prevention Week event in person there are other avenues of participation. There are several webinars up in the form of YouTube videos that you may find of interest. The NPW Prevention Challenge is another way young people can take a proactive approach to avoiding the trappings of drugs and alcohol. The theme for NPW 2018 is Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow. SAMHSA asks you to write a video letter to yourself and, if you feel comfortable, upload it to social media. You can find an example below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

NPW 2018 Prevention Challenge: #DearFutureMe encourages others to take action today for a healthier tomorrow!

PACE Academy

National Prevention Week is an important event that can steer young people toward making healthy decisions. For some young people, however, the cycle of addiction is already in full force, and there is a need for more significant attention. There is a substantial number of college students struggling with drugs and alcohol who require treatment. Unfortunately, a remarkable number of people who need help are resistant to it because they don’t want to get behind in school. The good news is that individuals can address their alcohol and substance use disorder with only a slight disruption to their education.

At PACE Academy, we help young people break the cycle of addiction and equip them with the tools necessary for working a program of long-term recovery. We help clients working towards an associate or bachelor’s degrees at several community colleges and universities. At PACE Recovery Center, we can help you or a loved one keep addiction from derailing one’s future; please contact us today to learn more about our programs.

Alcohol Use Disorder Prevention and Recovery

alcohol use

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

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

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

Alcohol Awareness Month

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

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

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

NCADD Message to Parents

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

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

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

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

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

Recovery Impacted by Smartphones

recovery

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

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

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

Connection Strengthens Your Recovery

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

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

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

Hyper-Socializing is Problematic

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction, Recovery, and “Beautiful Boy”

addiction

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

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

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

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

Addiction Writing for The Family

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

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

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

Hope, Against All Odds

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

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

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

Beautiful Boy On The Big Screen

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

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

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

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

Depression Screening Early In Life

depression

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

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

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

Mental Illness Screening

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

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

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

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

Spotting The Signs of Depression Saves Lives

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

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

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

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

Addiction Recovery: An Avenue of Recourse

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

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

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

Wreckage of Addiction

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

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

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

Unconquered In Recovery

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

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

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

Hope Springs Eternal

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

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

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

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

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

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

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

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

Young Americans Misguided Beliefs

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

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

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

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

Shatter The Myths® About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Treatment

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

Recovery: Preparations for Christmas Day

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With Christmas less than a week away, preparations are in order—many people in recovery know what that means. Those of you are in the first year, may strive to find meaning in the above words, so let’s take a minute to discuss what it meant by preparations. Major holidays are often hard on people new to recovery; this time of the year can be stressful for anyone, no matter how long they’ve been in the Rooms due to the emotions that arise. People in recovery must be prepared to defend against things that can disrupt a program during special days of the year.

Being unable to cope with emotions can wreak havoc on a program, especially if it’s already a little fragile—a common occurrence for newcomers. Struggling with one’s feelings is normal, and as long as one can keep their finger on their sentimental pulse this coming Sunday and Monday, it's possible to respond to them in healthy ways. Your perception of things and your ability to stay positive at trying times, will play an instrumental role in making it through Christmas without incident.

If you are a young person in early recovery there’s a chance you might find yourself suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s likely you associate holidays with spending time partying with friends. Just because you’ve decided to walk a different path in life, doesn’t mean that your desire to recreate past experiences disappears completely. What’s more, you might have concerns that your choosing to work a program will cost you fun-wise; you may think that attending a holiday gathering without imbibing will make people feel less of you. Take it from us; if people do look at you in an unfavorable light, they are not people you need in your life.

Your Journey of Recovery

Nobody wants their friends and family to think they’re a stick in the mud. However, at the end of the day the perception of others regarding what you are doing pales in comparison value-wise to your conception of your life-changing journey. If you have plans to spend time with friends and family who are not in the program this weekend, that’s great. Although, you should take a little time in the coming days to shore up how you will present yourself to others, and more importantly how you will respond to specific questions. People can’t help but be curious about your new-found mission to abstain from drugs and alcohol, and instead live a principled and honest life.

First and foremost, you are in recovery because your life became unmanageable; as a result, you came to realize your powerlessness over all mind-altering substances. Such an understanding prompted you to seek treatment and learn how to live life, one day at a time, going to any lengths to accomplish the goal of a lasting recovery. We hope that you can appreciate the gravity of your decision, and be proud of the tremendous courage you exhibit each day rebelling against a disease that is trying to kill you. If you are in recovery, then you have had your fair share of parties and inebriation. Today, you derive pleasure from being authentic and of service to those in your life, just as others in recovery are to you.

Your program is Yours; the general public's opinion of your choice to live sober is of no consequence. You know that not everyone was fortunate enough to find the program before their disease took everything. If people question your path, pay them no mind and be enthusiastic about the Gift you’ve received.

Addiction Recovery Is Worth Being Enthusiastic About

“When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It's very simple.” — Paulo Coelho

People still in the early months of recovery may find it challenging to exude positivity, after all, early recovery demands much from one. You are working the steps (most likely), which means that you’ve been doing a lot of emotional processing. Now Christmas has reared its head and with it, new emotions with which to wrestle. Please do not become discouraged, try looking at holidays as teachable moments for your program. When a feeling arises that you don’t like, try thinking of something that you’ve done recently that makes you proud. We must take stock of people we’ve helped and efforts made for our lasting recovery.

On Christmas Eve and Day, it’s vital that we get to meetings and keep in touch with one’s sponsor or recovery peers. We must pray and meditate just as we would any other day of the year, constant conscious contact with our higher power is a requirement. Doing all of these things will help ward off that which can compromise your program. People who also take time to keep an attitude of gratitude and positivity will find getting through the holiday is made more accessible. Again, your perception can make or break your ability to navigate Christmas without drinking or drugging. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone; we keep our recovery by working together.

The thoughts and prayers of the Gentleman of PACE Recovery Center are with everyone committed to keeping their recovery this Christmas. We wish everyone a merry, safe, and sober holiday.