Tag Archives: prevention

sober during holidays

Staying Sober During the Holidays

Avoiding Relapse During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us once again. This time of year brings about many joyful opportunities for gathering together with friends and family members to enjoy food, fun, and laughter. However, for many who were once addicted to alcohol or other substances, the holiday season can prove to be a difficult time as well.

It can be difficult for many people who were once addicted to harmful substances to remain sober during a time when stress and many temptations abound. However, with a plan of action in place, it is possible to fight off temptations and remain sober during this trying time of year. The following tips have been gathered to help you remain sober during the holidays and get your new year off to the best and healthiest start.

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What Makes the Holiday Season Difficult for Many People in Recovery

The holiday season is something many people look forward to. It is a time of excitement, cheer, and happiness for most of us. However, there are certain things about this time of year that can trigger a person in recovery to drink or use a substance again. These temptations might include the following triggers or events.

Added Stress During the Holidays

Shopping for gifts for loved ones, making last minute travel plans, and having a house full of loud relatives can add to the already present stress of everyday life. Add in grocery shopping and cooking an elaborate meal for close friends and family and you have the recipe for a very stressful period of time. Handling stress and not letting it build up is an important part of maintaining control of the situation and your reaction to the events that occur. Sometimes controlling how you react to the situation is all you can do, so it’s vital to have proper ways in which to manage stress to help prevent relapse.

Running into Negative Associates

Whenever someone who is addicted to alcohol or other substances seeks proper treatment, part of the recovery plan usually involves creating a new circle of friends and avoiding those they once abused substances with. While attending holiday parties and other gatherings, it is possible that you may run into people you once spent time with when you were actively abusing alcohol or other substances. For many people, this may bring back memories that can create a strong desire to engage in those negative behaviors once again. Having a plan in place for proper ways to handle these temptations before they occur is an important part of triumphing over them.

Temptations at Gatherings

Holiday parties and gatherings usually include both food and alcohol. Just the mere presence of alcohol can be a reminder of the sensations you experienced when you were consuming it regularly. Therefore, it is important to realize ahead of time that these types of gatherings will almost always include alcohol. A support system that you can rely on to distract you from temptations can be helpful. Knowing your limits and weaknesses can also be beneficial. If you feel being confronted with the temptation of alcohol at parties will be too strong, it may be best to avoid attending them at all.

Tips for Remaining Sober During the Holidays

Having a proper plan in place for dealing with the previously mentioned temptations is an important part of overcoming them. The following tips can give you a good idea of different ways to start formulating a plan for remaining sober this holiday season.

Keep Your Distance from Negative Locations or People

Bumping into people you once spent time with while you were engaging in destructive patterns of drinking could potentially set off emotions that can create temptations to drink again. If you know the areas that these people tend to gather, it is best to avoid them altogether. It is even better if you can arrange to spend time with new friends that help you fight the temptations to drink.

Create New and Healthy Traditions

Replacing old patterns of destructive behavior with new and healthy holiday traditions can help you overcome memories and fight off temptations to engage in these actions again. Starting new traditions will give you something exciting to look forward to each holiday season as you create new memories with your loved ones.

Attend Support Meetings or Groups

Support groups can be a huge blessing during the holiday season. It can be very helpful to associate with others who have overcome their addictions just like you. These individuals know firsthand how hard it can be to fight off temptations during the holidays. Their empathy and understanding can go far towards helping you feel a level of support that will prove encouraging all season long.

Create a Network of Support

Creating a strong network of individuals who understand the temptations this season can create will be beneficial for you as well. Knowing their support is just a phone call away can offer the strength and peace of mind you need to have confidence in your ability to remain sober.

Get Adequate Sleep

Adequate sleep, along with the support provided by nutritious foods and moderate exercise, can go a long way toward strengthening your resolve to stay sober. Sleep deprivation, while common during this time of the year, can weaken your resolve to decline tempting activities, events, or invitations. Taking care of the physical needs of your body and mind is an important part of remaining emotionally strong.

Start the New Year in Continued Recovery

You fought long and hard to break free from the chains of alcohol addiction. You probably attended a treatment program, completely changed many aspects of your life, and endured the difficult time of detoxing your body from the effects of alcohol abuse. Remember the things that you have gone through and how hard you have fought to achieve sobriety. Keeping this journey fresh in your mind can help you fight temptations and remain strong this holiday season and all the ones still to come.

Elderly Being Targeted for Financial Abuse by Addicted Relatives, Friends

Financial Abuse by Addicted RelativesThe heroin crisis affects more than just the addicts using the drug. The elderly are also becoming victimized by this illegal drug in increasing numbers. Officials say that this segment of the population is being neglected by addicted family members and friends on whom they are dependent for care. The abuse is often financial, meaning that they are being drained of their assets by those they trust.

Number of Cases Involving Adult Protective Services Growing

The situation is particularly acute in Ohio. Sara Junk, the chairperson of the State’s Coalition of Adult Protective Services (APS), told the House finance committee recently that she had never seen the number of referrals to APS reach current levels in all the years she had been in this field. Ms. Junk also said that there was a “dire need” for more workers to investigate and respond to protect situations involving the elderly.

She referred directly to the opioid crisis when speaking about seniors who were trusting their addicted loved ones, “sometimes to their downfall or death.”

While that particular state has provided $10 million in one-time funding to improve protection for the elderly over the last few years, Ms. Junk said that level is not adequate to deal with the number of cases APS is seeing. The State has also provided new training for caseworkers and set consistent standards. It also introduced a helpline reporting number to report instances of abuse.

Financial Abuse Cases Common

The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that one in 10 seniors in the US is abused or neglected annually. The number of seniors who have been financially abused has increased in recent years, mostly due to addicted children and relatives taking advantage of them.

Actual numbers may be higher than reported. Victims may be reluctant to tell police or social workers because they are afraid of reprisals from their relatives. The senior may also fear the loss of their only caregiver if they report the abuse.

Adult children and grandchildren are moving in with elderly parents in order to care for them. If they have good intentions, then this arrangement can work out well.

Drug-dependent adults can use this opportunity to take advantage of the senior by gaining access to the older person’s bank account or having them sign a power of attorney. The addict may even get the senior to sign over assets or change their will to the addict’s advantage.

All of these examples are often overlooked in the larger picture of the impact of substance abuse on society. This is just one of many more reasons why we have to continue to provide evidence-based treatment, intervention and prevention services to help as many people as possible.

If you have a loved one who is addicted, contact us today to find out how we can help.

Research Shows Child Abuse, Domestic Violence Increase Risk of Addiction

child abuse can lead to addictionAlthough it has been understood for a long time that various forms of abuse at an early age can be significant factors in developing a substance abuse problem, a recent study examined some of these statistics more closely. Researchers found the increased likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse both from child abuse as well as in children who witness domestic violence growing up.

These types of traumatic events can be very difficult for anyone to deal with, especially young people. This recent study examined information from over 21,500 people from the Canadian Community Health Survey and was published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.

According to lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson of the University of Toronto, “We found that both direct (physical and sexual abuse) and indirect (witnessing parental domestic violence) forms of childhood victimization are associated with substance abuse. We were surprised that chronic parental domestic violence exposure remained significantly associated with both drug and alcohol dependence, even when we adjusted for childhood maltreatment, depression and most of the known risk factors for substance dependency.”

Study co-author Jessica Roane added, “Our findings underline the importance of preventing childhood abuse and domestic violence. In addition, social workers and other health professionals must continue to support survivors of these childhood adversities across the lifespan, with particular attention to substance abuse and dependence issues.”

Additional factors identified for increasing risk of substance abuse included lower income and lower levels of education, as well as being male and having other behavioral health problems. What all this information means is that we can do a better job as a society in breaking the chains of abuse – physical, mental, substance, etc. through more effective prevention programs as well as social and community support systems.

If you have a loved one with a drug or alcohol problem, contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

List of States Banning Kratom Continues to Grow

stop kratomThere are now six states in the U.S. that have banned a drug called Kratom, as Alabama recently joined Tennessee, Vermont, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Indiana in naming it as a Schedule I controlled substance. This is the highest classification of drugs and includes other substances such as heroin, LSD and MDMA.

The popularity of Kratom has grown in the U.S. in recent years, as it has gone largely unregulated. It comes from the kratom plant in Southeast Asia and often sold as an “herbal supplement” intended to abuse. It is a psychoactive stimulant that can have very severe side effects, as evidenced by rising numbers of hospital emergency room visits attributed to the drug.

The drug’s popularity is part of a booming trend of substance abuse that includes other herbal supplements and synthetic drugs. They start out being sold legally over the counter at head shops and even gas stations and then, after enough people have been harmed, they eventually become illegal.

In addition to use of drugs like Kratom, there is a higher percentage of poly-drug users these days, as these drugs can act as gateways to additional substances. It is particularly disturbing because packaging for these kinds of drugs usually targets young people.

It is vital for prevention efforts now to include all forms of substances, not just the more well-known illicit drugs. Messages should be focused on searching for other ways to satisfy their curiosity or fill the voids and upsets they’re seeking relief for.

As for those who become dependent on this drug and others, effective treatment can help them regain control of their lives. Desert Cove Recovery has helped hundreds of people do just that.

Study: Marriage Can Help Prevent Alcohol Abuse

amjournpsychNew research appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry has shown that first marriages to people without a history of alcohol use disorder can help prevent spouses from developing drinking problems as well.

Led by Dr. Kenneth Kendler of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, the study examined 3 million people in Sweden, of which over 70,000 had drinking problems. Although there wasn’t a direct cause found, it was discovered that the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder among married men was 60 percent less and 71 percent less for married women compared to single people.

In a release from the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Kendler said that the results, “strongly suggest that marriage does indeed directly and substantially reduce risk for onset of alcohol use disorder. It is also especially intriguing that this effect is largest in those at highest risk.”

Despite the many insensitive jokes of spouses being driven to drink by their marriage, this information indicates that they are actually more likely to help reinforce healthier drinking habits, including abstinence.

In the conclusion statements for the study, the authors wrote, “these results are consistent with the hypothesis that the psychological and social aspects of marriage, and in particular health-monitoring spousal interactions, strongly protect against the development of alcohol use disorder. The protective effects of marriage on risk for alcohol use disorder are increased in those at high familial risk for alcoholism.”

In a time where more research seems to look for genetic causes or brain functions relating to substance abuse, it is nice to also see studies about the social influences. All of the information combined together helps us be able to prevent alcohol and drug use disorders better as well as treat people more effectively who develop them.

If you have a loved one struggling with an alcohol problem, contact Desert Cove Recovery today to see how we can help.

Drug Overdoses Causing Death Rates to Surge Among Caucasians

credit: New York Times & CDC

credit: New York Times & CDC

A recent article in the New York Times examined the death certificates of some 60 million Americans between 1999 and 2014, gathering the information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The article notes that death rates for Caucasians of all ages groups rose in each of the last five years, particularly among people who are less educated and lower income.

However, the most shocking statistic may be that the rate of deaths from drug overdoses tripled among whites aged 35-44 and was five times higher for those aged 25-34. The figures included fatalities caused by both prescription drugs as well as illegal substances.

“That is startling. Those are tremendous increases,” said Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

What does this say about the current drug problem in America, and who is to blame? With all of the billions of dollars spent to combat this, yet the death rates from drugs are higher than ever, where does the solution come to reversing this trend?

For starters, we know that there are many effective treatment methods for people who become addicted, so that their chances of escaping the trap are greatly increased if they can be diverted into a rehabilitation program through some form of intervention. The efforts must go well beyond that, though, to include better education and prevention programs for people of all ages, tighter controls over prescription drugs and a change in the thinking that people must take something to feel better. A new set of social norms has to be created, which is no small task, but certainly possible.

Majority of High School Heroin Users Started with Prescription Opioids

Drug and Alcohol DependenceResearchers at New York University reported that about 75% of high school heroin users started off using prescription painkillers first. The fact that so many children have access to prescription opioids illustrates the need for more effective policies regarding the availability of these drugs, as over prescribing continues to be a problem.

While there have been some changes over the years when it comes to prescribing practices of opiates, the drugs are still easy for people of all ages to obtain. This is likely due to the fact that many doctors are still in the dark when it comes to being able to spot signs of addiction and many people are able to sell their prescriptions for much more on the street. It is also known that students often get prescription drugs by taking them from another family member or getting them from a classmate who has done so.

Just like heroin, prescription painkillers are extremely addictive. For some people, it may only take one week of continued use of opiates to become dependent on them. They start to experience withdrawal effects if they stop taking them, and eventually their tolerance builds, requiring them to take more just to achieve the same effect.

Abstaining from prescription pills is equally as hard as it is to quit heroin. Withdrawal symptoms from both types of drugs are intense and long lasting. When the pills become too hard to find or afford, addicts often move to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain.

The University sent out a release regarding the study, which appeared in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. “As frequency of lifetime opioid use increased, so too did the odds for reporting heroin use, with over three-quarters of heroin users reporting lifetime nonmedical opioid use. More frequent and more recent nonmedical opioid use was associated with increased odds for reporting heroin use,” explained Dr. Joseph J. Palamar, an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center.

To emphasize the danger of heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, the public was also warned that heroin overdose deaths had almost tripled since 2010. Deaths from prescription painkillers have also quadrupled since 1999. In addition to getting a wrangle on the prescribing practices of these drugs, it is also clear that much more effort be placed behind providing effective education and prevention programs.

Conflicting Information Over Marijuana Use Statistics

smoking marijuanaRecently, there have been several stories printed in various media outlets regarding marijuana use trends, especially concerning teenagers. While one study showed that use has slightly declined on a broader scale, other reports have indicated a serious jump in adolescent use in places where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use by adults.

So who should we believe? While survey samples can potentially taint information or estimates, it is certainly possible to have differing results. Something that cannot be changed, though, are the statistics regarding treatment admissions for people abusing or addicted to pot.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report, primary treatment admissions for marijuana have been increasing. The latest statistic showed that they accounted for 17 percent of all treatment admissions, which outnumbered all other illicit substances.

So, while attitude tracking surveys and early use research are definitely important, there are other sources to help verify the scope of the problem as well. Regardless of what someone believes about marijuana, there are real people who need real help to stop using it, just like there are people needing help to quit other substances as well.

For many in the addiction treatment and prevention field, the advent of marijuana legalization in some states is a warning sound for an influx of people needing assistance in the very near future. Hopefully the novelty of it will wear off and the over-promotion of it by zealous supporters will quiet down if they realize they are causing harm to young people who think it’s safe for them to keep getting high.

Addiction Prevention and Intervention Starts at Home

Drug abuse and the temptations surrounding drugs is often a difficult topic of discussion for many families. Parents hope and pray that their child does not grow up to become an addict or an alcoholic. However, preventing these dangerous behaviors takes more than just hoping.

It is not only important to discuss the temptation, danger and potential deadly effects of drugs, it is vital in order to help keep children safe and sober. In the past, some issues surrounding drug and alcohol have been so taboo that many people would choose not to acknowledge that the problem even existed, or that it was only “over there.” However, as more young people fall into a life that includes drug use, parents all over the country are realizing that in order to protect their children the uncomfortable conversations need to occur early and often.

In order to avoid discussing potential drug and alcohol abuse problems, many parents and family members sit back and hope that the problem will go away on its own. Sometimes they think that a simple change in circumstances will solve it, such as finding a new love, getting a new job or letting some time pass. However, it typically it takes much more than hoping to get rid of a substance abuse problem. It usually requires taking a proactive approach in discussing the problem and solutions, such as getting into treatment.

If a person is exhibiting strange changes in personality or behavior, these are often signs of drug or alcohol abuse: a sudden decrease in performance at school or work, excessive talking or silence, odd sleeping patterns, abrupt change of friends or associates, sudden financial problems or rapid fluctuations in weight. There are others, but these cover a wide range of noticeable behavior shifts.

Being aware of drug use symptoms is equally important for adults as well as teens. If you suspect your loved one has a drug or alcohol problem, contact Desert Cove Recovery to speak with a counselor who can help.