Tag Archives: recovery

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.

Addiction Recovery: Summer Action for Winter Security

addiction recovery

Summer is knocking on the door, and most people are welcoming the uplifting season with open arms. The winter months are especially trying for some individuals working programs of addiction recovery; rain, snow, and cold weather are not conducive to warm feelings and thoughts, generally. If you also consider that a large percentage of men and women in the program struggle with a co-occurring disorder like depression, then you can probably understand that chillier months may contribute to dampening the spirits of some.

A good many people’s general outlook on life and feelings of worth seem inextricably linked to the weather. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD, a fitting acronym) is a condition that plagues a significant population; SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons which usually manifests between fall and spring. Naturally, those living with the disorder are likely to fare better in the Southwest; but, for those individuals residing in higher latitude environs, coping with the depressive snowdrifts of the soul during winter is a chore.

Those working programs of recovery whose psyche is sensitive to the weather must take measures to protect their recovery from fall to spring. Men and women who know that their feelings are susceptible to less hospitable climes must go above and beyond during the winter months to prevent relapse. Some of the tactics people employ to stay ahead of their seasonal depression are exercising, light therapy, psychological support via the program and professionally, and taking vitamin D. If you find it difficult, and potentially on the precipice of relapse when sunlight-deprived, it’s paramount to utilize some the above methods. At PACE, we are hopeful that recovering addicts and alcoholics were able to keep their SAD at bay this winter.

180° for Addiction Recovery

If your first year in recovery traversed the 2017/2018 winter and you found yourself struggling to keep afloat, it’s possible that you were not aware of techniques that could’ve helped. Perhaps the best way to prepare yourself for the many more cold seasons to come is taking a proactive approach during summer. Establishing a routine during this time of year will make life easier in 6 months. It’s worth noting that when you are feeling “down” it is difficult to motivate yourself, depressive symptoms beget depressive inaction. However, those feeling blue that get up and take a walk, exercise, and absorb available sunlight end up experiencing feelings of higher self-worth.

The weather is more approachable, now, and people in recovery will find it helpful to get outside and seize the day. Get outdoors as often as possible, exercise regularly, and eat foods conducive to a healthy mind and body. Did you know research shows that vitamin D along with marine omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are critical for serotonin synthesis, release, and function in the brain? People recovering from a use disorder and co-occurring psychological conditions can benefit from incorporating the above supplements into their dietary regimen. Since more than half of people managing an alcohol or substance use disorder also have a dual diagnosis, it’s fair to say that a good many people will find vitamin D and omega-3 useful to long-term recovery.

Before you make any significant changes to diet, first please discuss it with your physician and therapists. Anyone looking to be more active should also consider any physical limitations they may have before doing anything drastic.

Physical and Spiritual Fitness

Even if you are unable to hit the gym and weight train or commence doing cardiovascular exercises you can still do things to promote physical and spiritual wellness. Merely sitting outside with a book for a few hours or going for a swim can significantly improve how you feel, both inside and out. The more active you are during the summer months makes managing your anxieties and depressive symptoms next winter. The smallest of changes can produce essential benefits; when you encounter undesirable feelings next January, you’ll discover that you have tools to counter malaise.

It helps to look at addiction recovery as an agreement between mind, body, and spirit. The health of one affects the wellbeing of the other two; keeping active in the program and life, and with the aid of a healthy diet, is a recipe for long-term recovery. We encourage clients at PACE Recovery Center to place great stock in the physical and spiritual connection. Those who adopt healthier approaches are more likely to stay the course and make continual progress. We hope that anyone working a program takes advantage of the summer months to strengthen their recovery.

Addiction Treatment

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. Our highly qualified team of addiction professionals also address clients’ co-occurring mental health disorders and provide tools for coping with one’s symptoms. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs.

Addiction Treatment Week and Take Back Day

addiction treatment

As Alcohol Awareness Month (AAM) concludes, it only fits that this week is National Addiction Treatment Week. Each April events are held to educate the general public, especially young people, about alcohol, alcoholism, treatment, and recovery. Alcohol use disorder is a severe mental health condition; while there is no cure for the disease, nor any form of addiction for that matter, treatment works, and recovery is possible.

One of the most significant obstacles standing in the way of people and addiction treatment is the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Health experts and addiction medicine professionals expel tremendous energy and time spreading the message that alcohol and substance use disorders are not a moral failing but instead, a disease of the mind—the symptoms of which—can be deadly.

Please join PACE Recovery Center and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) during National Addiction Treatment Week (April 23rd through April 29th). Help us raise awareness that addiction is a disease and that evidence-based treatments are available. Use disorders are an urgent matter in the U.S., with nearly 20.5 million Americans struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), according to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. What’s more, only 1 in 10 people with a SUD receive treatment.

National Addiction Treatment Week

While this time is vital for raising awareness about treatable mental health conditions, it is also a call to action to young people considering working in the field of addiction. ASAM is urging clinicians to enter the area of study; the organization is hosting events and webinars for physicians and medical students about the pathways to addiction medicine certification. If you have a personal or professional interest in this vitally important area of study, you can discover more information at TreatAddictionSaveLives.org.

Raising awareness that addiction is a chronic brain disease, and not a moral failure, and qualifying more clinicians to treat addiction is vital to increasing patients’ access to treatment.” said Kelly Clark, MD, MBA, DFASAM, president of ASAM. “National Addiction Treatment Week supports ASAM’s dedication to increasing access and improving the quality of addiction treatment, and helping physicians treat addiction and save lives.

Addiction treatment and working a program of recovery provides countless opportunities to be of service to society. A not insignificant number of young men and women in recovery make the decision to pursue a career in addiction medicine after treatment, becoming counselors, therapists, and doctors. One might even argue that people with a history of addiction are uniquely equipped to help others struggling with the disease; they can relate with patients and clients on a level that your average clinician might find challenging. After all, doctors in recovery have been "there" and know firsthand what recovery asks of an individual.

DEA National Rx Take Back Day

addiction treatment

Aside National Addiction Treatment Week, there is another important event taking place on Saturday, April 28, 2018, starting at 10:00 AM. Across the United States, the general public has an opportunity to do a small deed that can help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. Saturday prescription drug collection sites are available in every state for the DEA’s 15th National Take-Back Day.

Did you know that the majority of prescription drugs used non-medically are obtained from family and friends, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health? At that time, 6.4 million Americans engaged in nonmedical prescription medication use, many of whom found the pills in the home medicine cabinet. Last October, a total of 5,321 take back sites collected 912,305 lbs. (456 Tons) of unused medication. Perhaps this April America can set a new record and help save lives in the process. If you would like to know where you can find a collection site in your area, please click here.

Please take some time to watch a short PSA:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Addiction Treatment Saves Lives

If you are a young man struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, PACE Recovery Center can help you break the cycle of addiction. Our dedicated team can teach you the skills and provide you the necessary tools for leading a productive life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our young adult rehab program.

John Goodman’s Battle With Alcoholism

alcoholism

Before John Goodman was a cultural icon known as Walter, the off-kilter, Jewish convert, Vietnam Vet who ‘doesn’t roll on Shomer Shabbos in “The Big Lebowski,”’ he was best known for his role as Dan Conner in “Roseanne.” Many of our readers may not remember that in the 1990’s, “Roseanne” dominated television ratings thanks to the humorous and touching interplay between Goodman and Roseanne Barr. Those of you who were regular watchers of the show may find it surprising to learn that all was not well on the set of the show during its first nine seasons, owing to John Goodman’s alcoholism.

Those of you familiar with John Goodman's body of work know that he is an immensely capable actor whose roles leave a lasting impression. From Hollywood to Broadway, he is notorious for stealing the scene; a powerhouse actor in Academy award-winning films, such as The Artist (2011) and Argo (2012). His honors for television include both Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.

After 21 years off the air, "Roseanne" returned to television with the original cast. Just to give you an idea of how successful the first show run (1988-1997) was, the current series premiere held the attention of more than 18 million viewers. Naturally, both Roseanne Barr and Goodman are fielding interviews left and right; and some of the questions people are asking Goodman concern his battle with alcoholism.

Addiction Beneath the Surface

In a recent interview with TODAY’s Willie Geist, Goodman discusses what finally occurred for him to seek addiction treatment. The combination of starring in a hit television show and his newfound loss of anonymity, Goodman says he began using alcohol to cope. He says he almost didn't see the series through to its end; he admits that drink on set was a regular occurrence; “My speech would be slurred.”

I got complacent and ungrateful. And after nine years—eight years, I wanted to leave the show,” he said. “I handled it like I did everything else, by sittin' on a bar stool. And that made it worse.

Some ten years ago after going on a severe bender, he found himself with shaking hands in need of help, according to the interview. Goodman called his wife, and from there he went into treatment.

I was shaking, I was still drinking, but I was still shaking," he said, recalling that weekend. "I had the clarity of thought that I needed to be hospitalized.

Please take some time to watch the interview:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Alcoholism Standing in the Way

One takeaway from Goodman’s decade-long sobriety is that life and work are possible without using alcohol as a coping mechanism. He was unable to appreciate life when he was at the top of the world in the 90’s because of his alcoholism; the reboot is an opportunity for him to do things differently, to do things right. It goes to show that when drugs and alcohol are out of the picture, one has the opportunity to be grateful for life and all the many blessings.

If you are a young man caught in the grips of alcoholism, PACE Recovery Center can help you break the cycle of addiction and begin the journey of recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our program.

Addiction: The Unforeseen Consequences of Stigma

addiction

What we say to one another matters, perhaps more than some are willing to admit; few people can grasp this as much as the addict. It isn’t just what we say to each person that is worth discussion, how we talk about groups of people can a lasting impact and unforeseen consequences. As the U.S. nears the end of the second decade of unprecedented opioid use and overdose rates, some hard questions are worth asking. If addiction is a mental health disorder, and the NIDA considers the condition a long-term, treatable brain disease; why does much of society continue to view the illness with scorn, ridicule, and judgment?

Searching the internet reveals that treatment works and recovery is possible. If you ask your friends and family members if they know someone in recovery, they will likely say ‘yes.’ Reading books or watching television can illuminate the lives of others who have gone to battle against the seemingly indomitable foe that is an addiction. While such people do not slay the dragon, they do find a way to tame (manage) it with the help of specific programs.

If a person is sick why would anyone want to discourage them from seeking assistance? If that same person gets better, why would people still look at them differently or expect that at a certain point they will fail? It is difficult to explain why some people will always view those whose addiction is at bay through working a program different from one whose cancer is in remission thanks to chemo.

It’s unlikely the answers to most of these questions will reveal themselves by the end of this article, and that is alright. Hopefully, by making inquiries into the nature of addiction, we might encourage people to rethink their views.

Defining Addiction

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian. ―Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Could a drunkard "actually" be more dangerous to the fabric of society than a person who "literally" consumes their fellow man? Of course not, but it depends on who you ask. As health experts and lawmakers continue to seek out novel ways of addressing addiction in America, the word “stigma” comes up in the discussion more often than not. If the addict were a horse, stigma is the wagon it pulls. With that in mind, it might be helpful to contemplate the origins of the words inextricably bound to mental illness.

The word ‘addiction’ results from the Latin ‘addictus,’ from the verb ‘addicere’ [ah-dee-keh-reh]. There are several translations for addicere, but a few stand out; enslavement, extreme religious devotion, and sacrifice. Other definitions can apply, but those above will suit for this article. Nobody can deny that people living in the grips of mental illness find themselves in a form of bondage. Each day, enormous sacrifices are made (against wellbeing) in devotion to the disease. What’s more, it may be worth mentioning that the verb addicere can also mean to judge, sentence, or condemn. It isn't hard to see that the way we talk about mental illness results in stigmatization.

Defining Stigma

stigma

Now, let’s talk about stigma or a mark of disgrace. Half a millennium ago, the word from the Latin Stigmata, meant a "mark made on skin by burning with a hot iron;" from the Greek stigma (genitive stigmatos) "mark of a pointed instrument, puncture, tattoo-mark, brand." Anyone with a Christian upbringing can probably deduce the association with Christ and stigmata. Stigmas "marks resembling the wounds on the body of Christ, appearing supernaturally on the bodies of the devout." The last bit there, and perhaps worth extended focus, is devout; if you remember from above the addict devotes him or herself to the point of slavery, and here we see that stigmas are brands upon such people.

You can easily see the link between addicts and stigmas in America; if we are honest, everyone living with mental illness has come face to face with judgment at some point. The question we should be asking is, ‘to what end?’ There is research with ample support to back it showing that stigma prevents people from accessing treatment, and by default—recovery. Given that addiction is an epidemic, and the symptoms of which are treatable; it begs the question, why does society continue to act and speak in a way that prevents mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers from getting help?

The perspective of addiction that many people adhere to is somewhat schizophrenic (in the non-psychological sense of the word); to give you an idea, please consider the data below. More than half of Americans believe addiction is a medical problem; however, less than 1 in 5 Americans say they would closely associate with people (i.e., friend, co-worker, or neighbor) struggling with addiction.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Survey

A survey involving 1,054 adults fielding questions online or by phone reveals the kind of troubling findings above. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey shows that forty-four percent believe opioid use disorder is a sign of lacking willpower or discipline; one-third of those participating see opiate addiction as a character flaw, The Washington Post reports. Equally as troubling is the fifty-five percent of respondents favoring a “crackdown” on people misusing drugs.

While two-thirds said policy-makers should expand access to treatment, it appears that respondents fail to grasp how their views of addiction bar people from accessing rehab. Federal research confirms what those working in the field of addiction acutely understand; stigma prevents people from seeking treatment. Over 2 million Americans are struggling with an opioid use disorder; but, only 1 in 5 receive “specialized treatment.”

“When something is stigmatized nobody wants to bring it up, so therefore people who need the help are less willing to come forward,” Dr. Corey Waller, an addiction specialist in New Jersey, told the AP.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

In my judgment such of us who have never fallen victims have been spared more by the absence of appetite than from any mental or moral superiority over those who have. Indeed, I believe if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. —Abraham Lincoln [addressing the Washingtonian Temperance Society, February 22, 1842]

Addicts are people living with a form of mental illness that they can manage and recover from provided, however, they feel compassion from their friends, family, and community. For too long stigma has had a hand in preventing individuals from finding support; we can no longer allow people’s “personal” views about any life-threatening conditions shape our policy. Millions of people are living with an opioid use disorder, and many millions more are battling alcohol use disorder; no family or community is exempt from mental illness. Compassion is far more valuable than judgment; branding our fellows as weak or flawed impacts society in myriad ways.

If prescription opioids or heroin is impacting your life negatively, PACE Recovery Center can help. We specialize in the treatment of young men caught in the vicious cycle of addiction and coöccurring disorders. Please contact PACE to learn more about how we can assist you to begin the process of healing and learn how to lead a productive life in recovery.

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.

Is Fear Standing in The Way of Recovery?

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

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

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

Creation In Spite of Addiction

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

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

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

Identity is Important to Everyone. Even in Recovery!

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

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

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

Does Recovery Kill Great Writing?

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

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

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

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

Addiction Recovery

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

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

Problem Gambling Screening is the Focus of PGAM

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Alcohol and substance use disorder are what most people think of when they hear the word “addiction,” and for a good reason—left untreated, they are deadly mental health conditions. The national conversation about addiction, these days, almost always leads to opioids and the ever-growing number of overdose deaths in the U.S. While it is vital that we keep our focus on finding solutions to the American opioid addiction epidemic, it’s paramount we do not lose sight of the big picture. There are a plethora of mental health conditions plaguing Americans; even if individual disorders do not carry the risk of overdose, they can indirectly contribute to premature death; people living with untreated mental illness stand to lose everything if they don’t get help. Such is the case for problem gambling, otherwise known as compulsive gambling.

At PACE, we understand that the complexities of non-substance-related addiction, i.e., eating disorders, sex, shopping, and gambling. Arguably, disorders not involving drugs and alcohol can persist unnoticed far longer than substance abuse disorders. Despite being manifestations of psychological turmoil, it’s difficult for doctors to screen patients for conditions like problem gambling. When a person sees a physician complaining of back pain, it’s unlikely that the caregiver will inquire about how the chips are falling these days. However, primary care doctors can play a role in helping some of the over ten million pathological gamblers in America.

Problem Gambling Signs and Symptoms

People might contend that it’s not a doctor’s place to ask about behaviors that, on the surface, do not bring about physical harm. One could argue that patients have the right to spend their hard-earned cash any way they like, whether it be shopping or at a craps table in a smoke-filled casino. Nevertheless, while non-substance addictive behaviors appear relatively harmless, they most certainly have the power to disrupt and destroy peoples’ lives.

Any practice that persists despite negatively impacting one’s life is concerning. Your average adult can go to a casino for a few hours—win a little or lose a little—and then go home thinking little of their experience ever again. Others may occasionally buy a scratch ticket or Powerball ticket, fully expecting that they just wasted some money for the fun of it; in both examples, such individuals have no illusions about hitting the jackpot. Unfortunately, for many Americans, casinos and the Lotto are not some frivolous activity. What’s more, the costs of gambling can significantly exceed what is lost at the card table.

As with any behavior, the line between casual and problematic is exceedingly thin. People failing to recognize that they have a problem is not uncommon. There are a number of symptoms that could indicate that a problem exists, according to the Mayo Clinic, including but not limited to:

  • Lying to family and friends about your gambling.
  • Attempting to stop gambling without success.
  • Gambling as a method of escape from life problems or to relieve troubling feelings.
  • Gambling to raise money to pay off gambling debts.
  • Losing jobs, relationships, and opportunities because of the behavior.

Anyone can see, the above symptoms are quite similar to the behaviors of your typical substance user.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2018

Some of you may be aware that March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), an observance led by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). Now in its 14th year, the organization wants to steer the national conversation towards problem gambling screening. This year’s theme, “Have the Conversation,” is meant to encourage healthcare providers to screen patients for this concerning mental health disorder.

As with any national observance devoted to raising awareness, events are being held over the month of March to discuss prevention methods and get the word out that treatment and recovery works. The organization has created a toolkit to help doctors identify signs of problem gambling and assist them in talking to patients about their options.

If you are unable to attend an event this month, you can still take part in the campaign to raise awareness. NCPG has created graphics that you can share on your social media accounts.

Problem Gambling Treatment and Recovery

If you or a loved one’s life has become unmanageable due to any type of gambling, please contact PACE Recovery Center for a free consultation. Unchecked problem gambling will continue to complicate your life, the sooner you seek help, the better. We specialize in assisting clients to get to the root of their addictions or behavioral health disorders and provide them with the tools to lead a fulfilling and productive life in recovery.

Recovery Impacted by Smartphones

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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.