Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Will for Recovery

Have you known someone with the disease of addiction that appears to desperately want sobriety and recovery, yet cannot seem to stay sober? Perhaps this person has been through excellent treatment programs, has stayed in sober living, has even been seeing a therapist on occasion, but they still cannot stay sober. They have been afforded every opportunity to find the recovery that they so desperately want, and they cannot seem to get out of their own way to find it.
Working in a transitional sober living environment, I witness these characteristics often. I have given much thought as to why it is that someone who, I believe genuinely does want recovery, cannot stay sober more than a couple of months. Based on this experience, I wish to pass along some of my impressions and opinions as to what I believe is a major contributing factor to the relapsing behaviors of the person described above.
Let me be clear, these opinions pertain only to the individual who genuinely wants a lifestyle of sobriety and recovery. So often the addict will tell people they want sobriety, but they really only want to avoid the negative consequences of addiction. I am not referring to the negative consequence avoidant individual in this article. I am referring to the individual who knows they must be sober and in recovery in order to live a quality of life that will provide them with joy and serenity; they just do not know how to get there yet.
There are so many variables from individual to individual that it is difficult to point out one factor that has the most significant impact on everyone. However, there is one factor that seems to have a significant impact on the success of the recovering individual most of the time: the individual's will.
There seems to be two types of will that manifest themselves within an individual with the disease of addiction: one that is willful, and one that is willing. The difference between the two is staggering.
Willful:
- "I need to do things my way"
- "I refuse to be forced into anything"
- "I don't need to do what I don't want to do"
- "You don't know what I know about myself"
- "I do things when I want to"
- "I choose my own destiny"
- "I am in control until I am not"
Willing:
- "I can try"
- "Give me guidance"
- "Help me through the hard parts"
- "I don't know what's good for me anymore"
- "I will stick to my plan"
- "I live one day at a time"
- "I cannot control much of what happens"
It seems clear that the willful individual is inflexible and remains narcissistic in the belief that they are in control of their actions, when it is obvious that there actions continue to lead them back to active addiction. The willful individual has a deep sense of denial and avoidance that stems from a fear of letting go. Sometimes the willful individual can be persuaded to allow the willing individual to emerge. The willing individual allows for the opportunity of new experiences. New experiences can mean progress and growth.
It may seem as if I am referring to two different people, however I am not. Both the willful and the willing individual live within the person that desperately wants sobriety and recovery and cannot seem to find it.
When the willing person sets out to try something new, whether it be under the direction of a clinician or an idea that they learned about from a peer, they encounter a process called change management. The change process carries with it stress and anxiety that must be coped with if the change management process is to be effective. For the willing person in recovery, the stress is a major challenge. Stress is the very thing they have been using drugs, alcohol and acting out behaviors to avoid. When they encounter significant stressors in the change management process, the willing individual can quickly become the willful individual and may derail.
The Transtheoretical Model of behavior change, as developed by James O. Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island, describes the stages of change as a "process involving progress through a series of stages." (Prochaska, JO; Velicer, WF. The transtheoretical model of health behavior change. Am J Health Promot 1997)
Precontemplation- "people are not intending to take action in the foreseeable future, and are most likely unaware that their behavior is problematic"
Contemplation- "people are beginning to recognize that their behavior is problematic, and start to look at the pros and cons of their continued actions"
Preparation- "people are intending to take action in the immediate future, and may begin taking small steps towards change"
Action- "people have made specific overt modifications in their life style, and positive change has occurred"
Maintenance- "people are working to prevent relapse, a stage which can last indefinitely"
Termination- "individuals have zero temptation and 100% self-efficacy... they are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping"
At any point in the stages of change, the individual may "return from action or maintenance to an earlier stage" which is referred to as a relapse.
As is indicated in this model, if the recovering person makes an effort to progress with change because he/she is willing and then encounters substantial stressors which result in willfulness and relapse, it is possible that he/she does not revert all the way back to the beginning of the change process. From a cognitive behavior perspective, this type of relapse can be a positive step for the individual attempting the change because he/she may learn that the failure was not catastrophic and may be more willing to attempt the change again. With the help of a clinician and/or a peer support group, the individual will be more likely to become willing again.
Make no mistake; it is very difficult for an individual to shift from a state of willfulness to a state of willingness. Conversely, it is very easy to switch from willingness to willfulness. Then how does one engage an individual who is consumed by willfulness and attempt to guide them to willingness?
The answer here is simple and complex: the appropriate questions asked in a productive way will help the individual find willingness from a willful state. I understand that this is not the answer most are looking for. It is not possible to provide a generalized answer that will work for most people because everyone is unique in their thinking, reception, and experience. However, in general, it is helpful to positively reinforce the type of thinking that is willing. Eventually most people will seek the positive reinforcement and this will slowly move their thinking to that of willingness.
Those who are successful at building a long-term recovery lifestyle often make statements indicating their lives are better than they ever imagined. In my experience, many of those who are in long-term recovery from addiction often have more serenity and purpose in life than people that have never been afflicted by the disease. I think one of the primary reasons this occurs is because people learn to be willing.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

How Does Drug Addiction Happen?

Unless you've experienced it yourself, it's difficult to understand how addiction to drugs or alcohol can happen. Many people promote the misconception that all an addict or alcoholic needs to do is stop drinking or using drugs. However, it's never this simple and even the strongest people with incredible reserves of will power have been unable to stop using even when their lives were crumbling around them. Drug addiction can and does happen to anyone from any walk of life. The first part of helping to get someone you love treatment for addiction is to create an environment of understanding.

People use drugs or drink for many different reasons. Some might be self-medicating feelings of insecurity, social anxiety, stress, or even physical pain. Others might use recreationally or as a result of peer pressure from friends or family. Whatever the reasons may be, anyone who uses any drug can easily become addicted under the right (or wrong) circumstances. This is because addiction is both a physical and mental disease that occurs from one thing only: repeated drug use or drinking.

The first stage in drug addiction is tolerance. As a substance is introduced consistently into the body, the central nervous system will make changes in order to mitigate the effects of the drug. This develops a tolerance where the user needs more of the drug to achieve the same effect, i.e. to get high. This tolerance only exacerbates the problem because now more of the drug is being put into the system.

Tolerance invariably leads to physical dependence. Physical dependence occurs after a substance has been in the body consistently for so long that the changes made by the CNS become semi-permanent. This means that body then only operates normally when the drug is in the system. When the drug is suddenly reduced or withheld from the body, the central nervous system must make drastic changes in order to adapt. This is known as Withdrawal Syndrome or Detox, and in some cases stopping using a drug or alcohol can actually be fatal. For this reason, detox should always occur in a medically equipped facility once a person has progressed past tolerance to physical dependence and addiction.

True addiction features physical dependence coupled with a full set of physical, emotional and mental problems and conditions that can be extremely debilitating. In general, once physical dependence has set in, true addiction is differentiated by the appearance of three behaviors;

Control loss. People who are addicted show a loss of control over their drug use or drinking.

Obsession. Addicts obsess, think, plan and talk about drugs and using drugs constantly.

Continuation despite consequences. Even with the loss of loved ones, careers, financial difficulty and trouble with the law, an addict will often continue using despite these severe consequences.

No matter what the situation is or how addiction came to be, there is help available for anyone who needs it. Drug rehab centers and alcohol recovery programs are dedicated to providing a secure environment where people can get help and take back control of their lives again. In order to learn how you can help yourself or someone you care about who has a drug addiction or alcoholism problem, all you need to do is make one confidential phone call right now.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Alcohol Classes Online Help Our Culture With The Silent Killer

Alcohol has several negative effects not he human body, most of which won't harm the individual who has a drink on occasion, as long as that occasion isn't every night. Alcohol is a silent killer because it works inside with no apparent harm until it's too late.

Alcohol education classes can help inform the young and old of the multiple effects of alcohol on the body, how it causes breakdowns in the body and can eventually cause death. Alcohol is the second common cause of death in the U.S. next to tobacco related deaths. Alcohol has severe effects not only on the physical body, but also on the mental state of the consumer.

As far as our bodies can understand, the alcohol we ingest is actually a poison. Alcohol awareness classes will help the student understand that over consumption can result in brain damage, liver damage, pancreatic shutdown, and even nerve damage. Have you ever seen an alcoholic with the shakes? That's the nervous system reacting to the individual's lack of alcohol.

Alcohol classes will inform the student of how alcohol cuts oxygen to the brain, making the brain react poorly to your surroundings and possibly causing permanent brain damage. The effects of heavy drinking can be obvious, but few realize that heavy consumption can shorten a person's life by nearly 20 years or more.

Alcohol courses for the young give them an added advantage when facing their future. Young drinkers that have taken an alcohol awareness class can change their behavior before the long-term effects set in. As parents, ignoring that opportunity for your child can be detrimental to even the strongest of teens.

For older drinkers, it's a sad fact that the more often you drink, the higher your tolerance becomes. This can quickly lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol awareness classes will teach students about the anxiety, cold sweats, loss of income, and even vomiting that a lack of alcohol can cause when completely dependent.

Alcohol awareness classes can help the public better understand a silent killer named alcohol, and help those in need to change before the silent killers takes them, or worse, causes the drinker to take the life of another.

As you can see, there are several ways that alcohol awareness classes can help teach an individual of any age how to overcome dependency, and the effects on the body that it can cause. After years of abuse, no matter how old you are, the body's organs will begin to shut down. Public classes on California alcohol awareness will raise the chances that people have, especially the young, of avoiding and/or overcoming alcohol dependence.

If you feel that you may have a drinking problem, then classes are a great first step to overcoming your addiction. AA groups are also a handy step in helping the young and old drinkers overcome their problem. An 8 hour alcohol awareness class is another viable option.

There may never be a law requiring alcohol awareness classes for the public, but if you find yourself or a friend in need of a class, then there are online options to consider. They are affordable and can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Addiction Treatment Is Not a Cure for Addiction: Why Relapse Is So Common

Every time I hear that another celebrity has died from addiction to drugs or alcohol, my first thought is -- why didn't anybody care enough to help? It's instinctual and I am often humbled later when I discover that people did actually try to help...sometimes more than once. Yet, the next time somebody dies I find myself asking the same question again and, inevitably, run into the same troubling answer. The fact is, many people who die from substance abuse, whether from an overdose or long-term systemic toxic damage, usually have entered rehab (sometimes more than once) and gotten clean for at least some period of time. Yet, they still end up dying from their disease.
 
As I see it, the problem is three-fold. First, current best practices in addiction medicine advocate a period of treatment that is far too short to effectuate long-term recovery for many patients (actually, the recommended treatment is based on what insurance carriers are willing to cover). Second, once a patient has recovered we assume they are cured and fail to adequately plan for inevitable relapse. Finally, there may be people in the addict's life who benefit more from the person's active addiction than recovery.
 
Treatment Periods Are Inadequate
 
Although the standard "28-day" rehab has, over the years, steadily climbed to the emerging "90-day" program, it is still too short for many patients. Unfortunately, these "recovery" periods are often dictated by finances or insurers and have little to do with what the patient actually needs. In the case of celebrities who can afford longer treatment, it is hard to convince them they need more than what insurance-dependent addicts typically get. They often fear they will harm their career if they stay out of the spotlight for too long.
 
Addiction treatment entails much more than just getting the patient to stop using drugs or alcohol. For most patients, the abuse will re-occur unless they can understand both why they became addicted in the first place and how they can prevent it from happening again. And, even then, relapse is still likely. Given this reality, it is bizarre to think that years and even decades of substance abuse could be adequately addressed in a month or two of treatment.
 
Instead of viewing addiction as a chronic, life-long disorder (like diabetes or heart disease) that needs long-term follow-up treatment, the current model equates the initial treatment as the "cure" and leaves the patient to figure it out for themselves after that. However, without long-term monitoring, the support of ongoing therapy, and peer-support found in SMART Recovery or 12-step meetings, the chances of resuming bad habits when back in the "real" world seem inevitable, especially when we consider that addiction is marked by nearly insurmountable physical cravings. It is no wonder that the success rate of "treatment" is so abysmally low: we have made treatment a discrete period of time rather than an ongoing process. We don't have regular "check-ups" like we do for other diseases and we certainly don't have any consensus on long-term maintenance like we do for heart disease and other life-long ailments.
 
The Need for Ongoing Support & Treatment
 
Even with an adequate length of treatment and the availability of follow-up support, ongoing recovery requires co-operation from family, friends, and sometimes even employees or employers. If everybody is not onboard with lasting sobriety, even the most motivated person can relapse. Due to the level of media interest, we see this phenomenon most often with celebrities. In some cases, people want to keep an addict using because it benefits them. In other cases they are too afraid of angering the addict to intervene in ongoing substance abuse. The allure of being part of the celebrity's inner circle can create quite a moral hazard.
 
When a celebrity or wealthy person is battling addiction, we see both opportunists and yes-men. The opportunist benefits from active addiction either because the person is easier to get along with or easier to manipulate. This is especially true when a person close to the addict is getting away with something (such as embezzlement) or controlling a situation that would not be possible if the celebrity were clear-headed and sober. The yes-man does not want to do anything that would make them fall out of favor with the celebrity and cause them to lose their position, be it a family member, friend or employee. While yes-men often see that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, their own short-sighted self-interest will prevent them from doing anything about it.
 
Unfortunately, many celebrities become quite comfortable with an entourage of yes-men or sycophants who protect them from the realities of their behavior. If they are insecure they crave attention from people who would do anything to be in their presence. If they are addicted they are drawn to people who will look the other way or make their addiction easier by obtaining drugs for them. While most people would soon find themselves friendless or out of funds, celebrities can behave very badly for much longer.
 
Is Relapse Inevitable?
 
The truth is, relapse is part of recovery for many with addiction. The attitude has thus-far been "treatment failed." The truth is drug rehab treatment was probably too short and follow-up care is largely nonexistent in the addiction medicine field. As a society we have long bemoaned the costs of addiction, yet we have done little to change attitudes. The medical community has pushed addiction treatment into a sub-sub-specialty that is so "specialized" most doctors get zero training in identifying or intervening when a patient develops an addiction. We have mainly paid lip service to the disease model of addiction and still consider it "willful negligence" or some sort of moral failing. This approach has clearly failed. Until we truly change our attitudes, relapse will indeed, for most, be inevitable.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

This Drug Is Not the "Spice" of Life

"Variety is the very spice of life," was originally said by English poet William Cowper in the 1700's. In the early 20th century another British author said, "Variety is not the spice of life. It is the very stuff of it." Then for some comic relief to this phrase, comedian and host of the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson, "If variety is the spice of life, marriage is the big can of left over Spam." The drug Spice is not life at all. If you haven't heard of Spice before, here's a crash course:

It is a new synthetic drug in the family of cannabinoids on the market since 2006.
The generic name is K 2.
This drug acts similar to THC except that it is anywhere between 3x - 800x the potency of THC.
It can be purchased on the internet or at convenience stores, head shops, or truck stops.
Its cost is relatively cheap, about $20-60 for 1-3 grams.
It is hard to test this synthetic. This is appealing to anyone needing a clean UA-people in prison, rehab, military and on probation.
The variability of substances present in each batch makes it virtually impossible to test for use.
Other names: Yucatan Fire, Sence, Chill X, Dragon, Spice Gold, Spice Silver or Spice Diamond.
Take 1/10 gram and put it into a bong, take 3-6 hits and the synthetic drug effect starts immediately and produces up to an 8 hour high. Some feel the effect for 24 hours.
Users report the high feels like marijuana but with hallucinations possible.

From the outline above, no wonder its growing popularity, especially the part about undetected UA's when using Spice. It's cheap and relatively easy to get. The effects are quicker and greater than other similar substances.

The evolution of Spice's presence on the market is interesting. In 1995, Dr. John Hoffman, professor of Organic Chemistry at Clemson University (SC) conducted research on effects of cannabinoids on the brain. In order to do this, he developed a synthetic cannabinoid (JWH-018) for use in the study. A paper was published including the formula for the chemicals used to create the synthetic and the rest is history, as they say. Enterprising individuals used the formula to replicate the compound JWH-018. Then it was sprayed on dried leaves, flower, herbs and tobacco.

In keeping with the saying, "Variety is the Spice of Life"; the drug Spice has a lot of variety that actually are spices and herbs. It may contain none, some, most, or all of the listed ingredients: Baybean, Blue Lotus, Lion's Tail, Lousewort, Mugwort, Indian Warrior, Dwarf Skullcap, Maconha Brava, Sassafrass, Pink Lotus, Marshmallow, Red Clover, Nutmeg, Rose, Siberian Motherwort, Damiana, Canavalia Maritime, Leonotis Leonurus, Leonurus Sibiricus, Passion Flower, Vanilla Planifolia, Zorinia Latifolia, Magnolia Officinalis, Sage, Rosa Gallica, or Trifolium. The drug Spice will also contain a synthetic or combination of synthetics sprayed onto the mixture but with little to no chemical smell; it would be more like a potpourri smell.

The drug Spice binds to the same receptor sites as cannabis and creates a similar effect in the user. However, the potential for longer than normal psychoactive effects is due to longer half-lives of chemicals and full binding at receptor sites versus partial binding of THC. Spice also causes seizures, anxiety, agitation, and dangerously increased blood pressure and heart rates, but there is little known regarding detailed pharmacology and toxicology.

There are numerous reports of addiction to Spice. Withdrawal symptoms are common to other drug withdrawal and include: night sweats, internal unrest, tremors, palpitations, insomnia, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Not enough is known in places where treatment takes place because of its newness.

The DEA and states are scrambling to make it a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance for legal reason. The US military has banned possession and use and it is also banned in Chile, France, Germany, S. Korea, Sweden and Switzerland. Unfortunately, those of us in the substance abuse, rehabilitation and legal systems know from experience that within weeks of state bans, new varieties of Spice which skirt the legal issues will be marketed. Being aware of new developments and sharing developments helps all of us combat drug abuse and addiction.

Olive E. Hinnant is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. In her 22 years of ministry she has served in urban, suburban and rural churches; in hospitals, hospice and retirement communities; as well as teaching in higher education. She holds degrees from Trinity University, BA, Princeton Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Iliff School of Theology, Doctor of Ministry. In 2011 she began working as a Chaplain at Parker Valley Hope, in Parker Colorado, just outside of Denver. This is one of 9 rehabilitation centers in the Valley Hope Association, a nationally-recognized, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing quality chemical dependency treatment services at an affordable price. Other Valley Hope facilities are in Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. She and her partner reside in Aurora CO with their very joyful and active 5 year-old son.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Learn to Reduce DUI Risks With Alcohol and Drug Classes Online

Do you know what DUI means? Have you ever witnessed a scene of motor accident caused by DUI? Keeping you in no suspense, DUI simply means Driving Under Influence. You may ask; influence of what? Driving under the influence of anything that affects the mental faculty i.e. things that have deleterious effects on the brain. You would have heard about the high rate of accidents caused by DUI. I once stumbled on a huge statistics of accidents from DUI; it is overwhelming. Have a look at part of the statistics:

- Above 200,000 people died from DUI over the last 10 years.
- Above 20,000 people are killed yearly in alcohol and drug related accidents.
- Various scenarios of auto crashes claim at least a life of an American in every 20 minutes from DUI.
- Above 50% of all reported fatal highway accidents involve two or more cars driven under influence.
- Above 65% of fatal single car accidents are related to driving under influence.

With this saddening statistics, the awareness about the causes of this life-threatening act is obvious and necessary.

Firstly, it is important to differentiate between DUI and DWI. DUI is an acronym for Driving Under the Influence as earlier stated, whereas DWI is Driving While Intoxicated. Basically, DUI is due to intoxication from drugs or alcohol, while DWI is mainly intoxication from alcohol only. However, this article will only focus on DUI.

It is important to create the awareness of this dreadful syndrome in the society. Since the causative agent of this is majorly alcohol and drugs, awareness about the harmful effect of the duo intoxicants will be helpful in arresting this societal menace. Although the introduction of drug and alcohol classes to help reduce the risk for DUI's is new to many people, research has shown that it is very effective in curbing the disastrous effects of DUI. Awareness classes could prevent accidents from DUI and save both the society and the family from its gory aftermath.

In practice, alcohol and drug awareness classes are designed to enlighten people more on the effect of drugs and alcohol on human cranial activities i.e. its effect on the brain. Also, the program will direct people to ways in which they can prevent the occurrence of DUI. In the first assessment, people would be made to know how drugs and alcohol affect the reasoning. It is the result of its action on the brain that brings about dizziness. It weakens the whole body metabolic activities and reduces the sensitivity of the spinal integration of body's actions; as a result, the one under its influence may lose total control of himself or herself. A simple 10 hour alcohol class is often the first recommendation for education.

In the same line, the alcohol drug awareness classes will enumerate various ways through which people could prevent themselves from the consequences. This is necessary especially for those who are addicted to it.

And lastly, various scenes of accidents caused by DUI should be shown to them. This, hopefully, might scare them as they would not want to experience such bloody scenes. This awareness program to reduce DUI may also be done as online program. Since most people that use the internet are majorly people who are liable to DUI, taking an online approach will be highly appreciated.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

How Long Does A Drug and Alcohol Program Take?

When people have a problem with drugs and alcohol, there are several different options to choose. They may be interested in a residential program, which involves going to a special facility for help. This is often helpful for people who need time away from their present surroundings to focus on their problems associated with drugs and alcohol. One method is a 28-day program. This is usually offered by a drug and alcohol rehab facility. Another option is the six-week program offered by a social education retreat center. The philosophies and methods used are very different.

28 Days

Programs that last 28 days typically follow a 12-step process. The patients enroll in treatment for a disease called addiction. They may attend by choice, although some patients are forced or persuaded through an intervention process against their will. During this time, the individual will be told that they have a disease and are powerless to control their urges to use drugs or alcohol. At the end of this time in a drug and alcohol treatment facility, the person will be sent on their way with a plan to attend regular meetings for the rest of their lives to possibly keep them on the road to sobriety.

Six Weeks

Another option for those seeking help with drug and alcohol problems is the social education program. While it, too is offered in a residential and non-residential platform, many people choose to attend a six-week retreat away from home. Only those who wish to be there and address their problems associated with drugs and alcohol are accepted into the programs. During this time, the participants will learn how to gain control of their lives through the different choices they make regarding drugs and alcohol. It is a personalized retreat with social education classes that teaches people that they do not have a disease, but must take responsibility for their actions to improve their lifestyle and relationships. They also set goals and make future plans for themselves so that they can successfully live without the problematic lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.

At the end of the six weeks, social education program participants will likely be ready to return home. They do not attend additional meetings or life-long classes once they leave the retreat facility. Some participants may choose to stay for an additional two to four weeks. They may enroll in extended classes that help them to make additional preparations for the future. Some extended learning options include making plans for college education, finding employment and learning how to successfully prepare resumes and conduct job searches. Other options include a further focus on self-confidence and emotional issues associated with returning home. A special segment for seniors helps them to discover new interests and hobbies and how to cope with medical conditions often associated with their age group.