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sharing addiction story, breaking anonymity

Breaking Anonymity and Sharing Your Addiction Story

Breaking Anonymity and Sharing Your Addiction Story

When life’s circumstances don’t go as we originally intended, it’s easy to feel guilty about choices we’ve made leading us to where we are today. Many people who file for divorce, declare bankruptcy, or have a substance abuse issues blame themselves for their problems. Harboring that guilt and embarrassment may make sharing your addiction story very difficult.

Very few worthwhile endeavors are also easy, and that includes telling others about your battle through addiction. Just remember that you are not the only person who has been down this road. Some twenty million Americans are addicted to a non-tobacco substance, and only about 10 percent of them seek treatment for their illness. If your story inspires one of these people to make the call, sharing your addiction story was more than worth it.

Talking about abuse is important to recovering addicts as well. Statistics vary widely, but there is no doubt that serious relapse is a problem. Once again, if your story keeps just one person in recovery, you should tell it.

Some Reasons Sharing Your Addiction Story is Important

Your recovery story is not just about a personal journey. Elements of your long, hard journey resonate with many other people in the recovery community. Understanding these facts makes it easier to overcome guilt, embarrassment, or whatever else is holding you back. If you need some specific reasons, here are just a few:

Making it Real

Your recovery story is not really a story until you share it with others. Once you open up and share it, the whole experience becomes more real to you and to them.

Organizing Your Thoughts

Funeral eulogies are not just for broadcasting nice things about the departed. Many people have multiple and confusing feelings about their lost friends and loved ones whom they lost to addiction. Only preparing and telling the story helps them make sense of everything.

Making a Contribution

These shared experiences help us find strength in times of great need. When you share your story, you are creating an atmosphere where others feel comfortable to tell theirs as well.

Strengthening Your Resolve

Sharing your story gives you more of a stake in your recovery. If we know people are watching, we tend to watch our steps a bit more closely. Furthermore, as mentioned, your story could well be the catalyst which drives someone to seek help.

Note that some of these reasons are about other people, and some of them are about you. Your story has the power to impact more people than just yourself.

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How to Share Your Addiction Story

For some people, speaking or writing in front of an audience is second nature. But for many others, such actions may be harder than rehab. Desert Cove Recovery staff is here to help you share your story.

Many people start with anonymous online comments on addiction-related blogs or news stories. Or perhaps, you can start by liking recovery stories online. By using social media, sharing your addiction story can be safe and anonymous. Such comments have a cathartic effect for you, and they may have an inspiring effect on others.

Posting a comment or blog on our Facebook page may be the next step. People who are interested in addiction and recovery issues will see the post. It is like preaching to the choir. These public comments in a non-threatening environment are a good way to not only help yourself and inspire others, but also help build community.

When you are ready, post on your own blog site, Facebook page, or other social media account. People outside the addiction/recovery community will hear what you have to say. There may be some negative feedback, because people are not always empathetic. But such posts enable you to connect with your circle of friends in a very meaningful way. And truthfully, some people post negative comments on anything they see! Try not to focus on the naysayers, and instead remember what you have accomplished by beginning your recovery.

If you need help finding your voice or getting the words right, reach out to us or find fellow recovering people in recovery for help. Remember, you are not the only one who has problems in this area.

Finally, consider an informal speaking engagement at a local support group. Sometimes, that just means speaking up when you have the chance. Other times, that could mean being a guest speaker for a group. These things can be very intimidating for many people, but you have already come this far. Taking this next step will complete this part of your recovery.

Recovery is not easy and is not limited to your activities at a treatment facility. Recovery is hard and requires lifelong effort. For both yourself and for others, recovery should include sharing your addiction story. If you are struggling with any aspect of a substance abuse problem, you can always count on Desert Cove Recovery for help.

Deep Brain Stimulation May Treat Severe Alcohol Addiction in the Future

Despite all the attention that has been paid to the current opioid crisis, alcohol addiction hasn’t gone anywhere. According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, rates of alcohol use disorder rose by just over 49 percent in the US population in the years 2001-2013. One in eight adults meets the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Mild Electrical Current Used

Researchers at Stanford University have found that deep brain stimulation (DBS) could be a possible treatment for even the most severe cases of alcoholism. The results of the study, which were published in the journal Neurosurgical Focus, involves sending a mild electrical current through the affected person’s brain.

How Body Responds to Alcohol

When alcohol is consumed, the brain naturally releases dopamine. This is the body’s “feel good” neurotransmitter, which is released during pleasurable activities, like watching a movie, eating a good meal, exercising or having sex. When the brain becomes overstimulated by drinking alcohol, it associates alcohol with pleasurable experiences.

If that person continues drinking regularly and consumes large amounts of alcohol, the brain becomes desensitized to the release of dopamine. Alcohol no longer provides the same level of enjoyment it once did. The person needs to drink more alcohol to feel pleasure from the experience.

The Slide Toward Addiction

The slope toward addiction starts at the point when the brain compensates for alcohol’s depressant effects by increasing its glutamate function. Glutamates cause cells to increase their level of activity. In the case of someone with AUD, being around alcohol feels exciting and this feeling continues when alcohol is no longer present. He has to continue drinking to feel normal and less excited.

The longer someone has been drinking, the harder it is to stop. Regular, high-level consumption of alcohol rewires the brain and affects the decision-making process that tells an alcoholic not to drink.

Deep Brain Stimulation Technique for AUD

Deep brain stimulation is already being used to treat Parkinson’s Disease and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Scientists have also noticed that this type of therapy also reduced alcohol cravings in patients.

Dr. Casey Halpern, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University, stated that DBS is a minimally invasive form of brain surgery. When treating Parkinson’s, doctors place deep brain stimulators to restore normal functioning to dysfunctional parts of the brain. Patients improve right away when a small dose of current is applied to these areas. Dr. Halpern went on to say that a similar treatment should possibly be able to treat alcoholism.

This may sound like an extreme method of treating AUD. Researchers point out that DBS is one of the least invasive and safest procedures performed by neurosurgeons.

To date, DBS has not been approved as an AUD treatment by the US Food and Drug Administration. This status may change at a later date as more positive evidence is gathered by researchers.

How Meth Use During Pregnancy Affects Neonatal Outcomes

Methamphetamine addiction is on the rise again in many areas. Meth use by pregnant women resulted in a number of negative neonatal outcomes, according to results from a systemic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. The review indicated meth use during results in a measurable decrease in the following:

• Infant birth weight
• Head circumference
• Body length
• Gestational age at birth

The review also found that expectant mothers who were exposed to methamphetamine didn’t experience “excessive pregnancy complications” due to their illicit drug use.

Pregnant Women “Vulnerable Population” for Meth Use

Dr. Dimitrios-Rafail Kalaitzopoulos, from the Reproductive Endocrinology Unit, First Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, wrote that pregnant women are one of the “vulnerable populations” that use methamphetamine. Dr. Kalaitzopoulos stated that data about the effects of meth use during pregnancy is limited, since existing studies have involved only small samples and have not accounted for the participants using other drugs as well as methamphetamine.

The investigators examined several types of materials while conducting their review, including an orderly review of clinical literature and a deep dive analysis of case-control studies. They included studies which compared women who were exposed to methamphetamine during their pregnancy with a control group who didn’t use meth.

Multiple Studies Examined by Researchers

Eight studies involving a total of 626 participants who used methamphetamine during pregnancy and 2,626 women who didn’t use the drug during pregnancy (the control group) were examined and analyzed. The results showed no difference (statistically) between women who used meth during pregnancy and the control group on preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) rates.

Dr. Kalaitzopoulos pointed out there was a limitation to this type of meta-analysis due to the methods used to identify pregnant women who used meth. The ones who were recruited into the methamphetamine users group were placed there through a combination of self-reporting and toxicological reports, such as maternal urine tests, meconium tests performed on the infant’s first bowel movement or neonatal urine toxicology. In some instances, self-reporting only was used or taking a urine sample from the infant only was used.

None of these methods is considered ideal. To determine the extent of maternal drug use, all these methods should be used together, according to Dr. Kalaitzopoulos.

Study Finds Obstacles and Delays to Getting Help for Substance Abuse

When patients with substance abuse disorder visit their doctor’s office or the local emergency room seeking help, finding appropriate treatment for them is challenging in many instances. Physicians and treatment center administrators shared their thoughts about the obstacles and delays to getting help in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Several issues contribute to gaps in patients getting into treatment programs, according to the study conducted by researchers at Brown University and Butler Hospital. The opioid crisis has underlined the gap between the high need for substance abuse treatment and lack of availability to programs in the US.

SAMHSA Report Reveals Shortfall in Substance Abuse Treatment

A report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that 21.7 million people living in the US need substance abuse treatment. Only 2.35 million of them receive the help they need at a facility specializing in providing this type of care. There hasn’t been much information gathered at the organizational level about the barriers to treatment for people seeking help for substance abuse disorders.

Major Obstacles and Delays in Getting Help for Substance Abuse

Researchers interviewed 59 people they referred to as “stakeholders in the treatment referral process”. These included emergency room doctors, addiction specialists, drug and alcohol treatment center staff and administrators. When the interviews were analyzed, four major ideas stood out:

1. Healthcare providers may not be fully aware of scope of treatment options.

Providers may not have the knowledge required to determine the best type of treatment for a patient. If a healthcare provider does determine the right treatment level for a patient, he must find a program that is a good match for the patient’s needs.

2. Healthcare providers have difficulty determining patient eligibility.

Each treatment center sets its own eligibility requirements, which may prevent a particular patient from receiving needed care.

3. Providers unable to find out whether treatment centers have space available.

Once a healthcare provider determines a patient needs treatment, it is challenging for the provider to find out whether the chosen center has a bed available.

4. Communication challenges make referrals from emergency room directly to a treatment bed difficult.

Often, there is a delay in starting treatment. Direct referrals, where the patient can be taken directly to the drug and alcohol treatment center, are the best approach, especially for patients needing help for opioid use disorders.

Number of Addiction Recovery Programs Increasing on College Campuses

For many young people, experimenting with drugs and alcohol starts during their teen years. By the time some of them get to college, they have already developed an addiction and been to treatment. Some college campuses are responding to this need by offering specific programs for students in recovery, including sober housing.

A college education is considered part of finding one’s self as a young adult and a necessary step to prepare for certain career paths. For some students, it’s their first taste of freedom in an atmosphere where there are multiple opportunities to party and no one to stop them.

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among College Students

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that approximately 60 percent of college students in the 18-22 age group had consumed alcohol in the previous month. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed had engaged in binge drinking during the same time.

Students living with an addiction or those who are currently in recovery may be reluctant to seek help from their school, even though college counseling centers do offer services for substance abuse. This topic is not one that is usually highlighted in information provided to prospective students and their parents.

Time to Provide Help for Students with Substance Abuse Problems

Recovery professionals feel that it’s time to move past the stigma against people living with addiction, along with the perception that hard partying is simply part of going away to college. Providing help for the students who need it can make a difference between moving on to living well and having life cut tragically short.

College recovery programs vary in philosophy, size and staffing levels. Many of them have specific requirements for how long a student must be clean before enrolling; some of them will make exceptions for students who stay clean once enrolled.

Rutgers University, Penn State and Slippery Rock University are among the schools offering recovery housing to students. The University of Pittsburgh and Temple University are considering implementing the idea.

Special Recovery Schools Help Teens Stay Clean

Young people often seem to be at a disadvantage when trying to get off drugs. Less than half of addiction treatment centers in the US will accept teens, and not all of those actually offer programs specifically geared toward clients in this age group.

After a teen completes a course of treatment, there is typically little in the way of structured support. When they return to school, they are faced with offers to start using again from their friends.

When Students Hold Each Other Accountable

Recovery schools, like Hope Academy in Indianapolis, are places where all learners have something in common. These tuition-free schools create an environment where the students hold each other accountable.

The opioid epidemic has affected adults in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s for the most part, but teens haven’t been immune, thoug. Every day, 1,100 young people in this age group start misusing pain medications. Additionally, overdose rates continue rising for teens as well.

Researchers still have work do to get the full story about the effects of opioids on young brains. However, it is known that starting at an early age is one of the risk factors for addiction, as the majority of adults in treatment for a substance abuse problem say they were teens the first time they started using.

The research does show that adolescents in recovery do better in special schools that rely on peer communities to support students’ sobriety. Currently, there are about 36 schools of this type in the US. Interest in them is growing among educators and health officials due to the opioid crisis.

Drug Tests and Recovery Coaches Part of the Plan

Random drug tests are conducted on students at recovery schools. If they test positive for a substance, they attend a meeting with a recovery coach. During the session, the recovery coach uses tools such as motivational interviewing to ask open-ended questions and reflective listening to discuss the situation and get the students to think for themselves. These young people are not used to having someone say to them, “What do you think you should do next?”

There are times where residential treatment centers simply aren’t appropriate for teens who are abusin drugs, but they still need a change of environment. Resources like recovery schools help provide necessary interventions while being able to keep progressing socially in a supportive educational environment.

gaming addiction

Gaming Addiction to be Classified as a Mental Health Condition

Spending time with our screens has become a regular part of our lives. Some of us even joke that we spend so much time with them, we are addicted to our devices. However, gaming addiction is a very real issue for some people, and experts have determined that it is rooted in a mental health condition.

Therapists and other health professionals have become aware that overuse of electronic devices poses health risks. In 2013, Internet Addiction Disorder was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

Gaming Disorder will be classified as a mental health condition in the 2018 edition of the International Classification of Diseases. The list, which is published by the WHO (World Health Organization), will include several additions.

Definition of Gaming Disorder

The draft form of the entry states that if someone has a gaming disorder, they make gaming a priority “to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests.” This is similar to other addictions, whether they include substances or processes.

Lure of Gaming Appealing for All Ages

Most people are able to enjoy video games as a source of entertainment and then return to their everyday activities. Over time, the experience of playing the games provides an escape from everyday stresses and strong emotions. Children, teens and adults can end up turning to gaming as a coping strategy to escape other problems or unwanted situations.

When someone becomes addicted to online gaming, they become disconnected from the real world. Over time, someone in this situation develops a warped perception of real-world interactions; much of their time and attention focuses on characters and story lines in their online game environments.

With the new classification from the WHO and gaming addiction being recognized as a mental health condition, more people will be able to get help. With mental health treatment, someone with a gaming addiction can re-engage with loved ones.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

We often see people who have process addictions such as this also have substance use disorders of varying levels. This common occurrence is why we have a dual diagnosis program.

diversion program for DUI

How Well Do Diversion Programs Work for DUI Offenders?

Tiger Woods entered a guilty plea in court on Friday to a charge of reckless driving, a less severe offense than Driving Under the Influence (DUI). According to reports, part of his plea agreement includes the golfer entering a diversion program for intoxicated drivers. Many judges, in fact, are turning to diversion programs for DUI offenders. 

DUI diversion programs exist in a number of other states, such as Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana and Georgia. Rules vary, depending on the program. Some states, such as Florida, allow local officials to decide whether to offer the program.

High Success Rates Observed

In the past four years this program has graduated close to 2,500 first-time offenders in Palm Beach County, FL. According to Deputy State Attorney Richard Clausi, the official who oversees misdemeanor prosecutions, stated recently that less than one percent of diversion program participants have reoffended.

Mr. Clausi went on to say that the key to this high success rate is having the participants take responsibility for their actions. The diversion programs for DUI offenders accomplish this goal without requiring the participants to go to trial. Instead, they must complete the diversion programs.

How the Diversion Program Works

Woods will spend one year on probation. He will also be ordered to pay a $250.00 fine plus court costs. Woods must also meet the following requirements:

• Attend DUI school
• Perform 20 hours of community service
• Attend a workshop where he will learn how victims of impaired drivers’ lives have changed

Woods will also undergo regular drug tests, since prescription drugs and marijuana were found in his system when he was arrested.

Once he completes the program, Woods can request that the court expunge his reckless driving conviction. If he is ever charged again, Woods is not eligible for the diversion program a second time. As a repeat offender, he would be facing stiffer penalties, including a possible jail sentence, a more expensive fine and a license suspension (mandatory).

One of the greatest golfers in history is attempting to make yet another comeback, as he just announced a tournament he’ll play in this November. Hopefully the diversion and rehabilitation program as well as his surgery will help to have him on track to avoid the self-medicating trap of addiction he was stuck in.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please contact an addiction counselor today at Desert Cove Recovery for help.

sober dorms

Sober Dorms Provide Support for College Students in Recovery

The college years are a time when young people are exploring and finding out who they are, in addition to furthering their education. For many of them, this process includes spending time partying with friends and making decisions about drinking and using drugs.

The results of a 2016 report compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) found that 1.2 million full-time college students consume alcohol. The same report also revealed that more than 700,000 students smoke marijuana on a typical day.

Binge Drinking Common on College Campuses

Binge drinking (defined as consuming five or more drinks in two hours for men and more drinks in two hours for women) is a common occurrence on college campuses, according to figures released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Students who arrive on campus can expect that there will be a certain level of drinking and drug use going on. For young people with a history of substance abuse or addiction, this level of exposure may not be helpful for them.

Significant Percentage of College Students Have History of Substance Abuse

According to Lisa Laitman, the director of Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) at Rutgers University, up to 30 percent of college students have a history of substance use disorders. Research has also shown that substance abuse rates are higher for college students than for peers of the same age who are not enrolled in classes.

More Collegiate Recovery Programs Now Include Sober Dorms

Colleges are responding by offering “collegiate recovery programs” (CRPs) to provide help to students stay sober and stay enrolled in school. These programs include:

Mental health counseling
• Substance abuse counseling
• Peer-to-peer support
• Recovery support group meetings
• Sober social activities and programs

A number of programs include sober dorms where no drugs or alcohol are permitted. These are environments where students support each other’s sobriety.

Transforming Youth Recovery, a non-profit organization, says the number of CRPs has grown from 35 to over 150 over the past five years. Approximately 50 have sober living residences for students.

In the wake of the biggest overdose epidemic in American history, it would be great to see every college and university campus to start creating sober dorms in recognition and support for the students who need ongoing help.

vaccine for cocaine addiction

Research Continues on Cocaine Addiction Vaccine

Dr. Ron Crystal, a researcher at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College, is working on a vaccine to treat cocaine addiction. The inspiration for the project came to Dr. Crystal in an unusual way: As he was walking by a new stand, he happened to see a copy of the magazine, “Newsweek,” with the words, “addiction vaccine” printed on its cover.

The idea took hold with Dr. Crystal. He started thinking about the possibility of linking an addictive molecule, such as cocaine, to a cold virus or certain parts of a cold virus. If successful, he thought, there was a potential to “trick the immune system” into thinking that the addictive molecule was a cold virus. The body would respond by developing an immunity to the cocaine.

How the Vaccine Works

The vaccine induces antibodies in the body. When someone snorts cocaine, the antibodies bind it up and prevent it from reaching the brain. As a result, the user doesn’t experience the “rush” or sense of euphoria associated with cocaine use.

The vaccine would render cocaine ineffective as a way to get high. Without the physical and psychological rewards associated with cocaine use, it may be easier to stop using the drug.

Cocaine Vaccine Wouldn’t Stop Cravings

The cocaine vaccine wouldn’t stop cravings that an addict experiences. A person would still need to undergo addiction treatment to learn strategies for coping with them.

Human Trial Starting Soon

The cocaine vaccine has already been successful in animal trials. Dr. Crystal commented recently that experimental animals can be given a shot of cocaine “and it doesn’t touch them at all.”

Dr. Crystal and his research team are currently recruiting people for a human clinical trial, which will involve 30 participants. This part of Dr. Crystal’s research is expected to be completed next year. If the first human trial proves successful, it will still be a number of years before a vaccine for cocaine addiction is available on the market.

Is a Vaccination for Cocaine Addiction a Viable Solution?

Without more research, it’s difficult to say whether a vaccination will actually help those with cocaine addiction. In the meantime, those struggling with addiction should reach out for help. If you or a loved one are addicted to cocaine, or another substance, contact a professional at Desert Cove Recovery today.