It is very common for people to use drugs as some point in life. Prescribed drugs can be used with some level of safety if you take them as prescribed, but the danger of abuse always exists. If you self-medicate or use illegal drugs, then, the risk of addiction is even higher.
There are several reasons why people start using. Drugs are often used as a problem solver. Sometimes people use stimulants to stay awake when they are tired. During other times, they just want to sleep better or believe that using drugs will enhance their party experiences.
This attitude can have several negative effects on your health. When you use drugs without any support from a professional, you may be harming your health without knowing it. If you are using more than one drug, you can even suffer from dual addiction. It is hard to be addicted to a single substance, so being addicted to two is considerably worse.
The Dual Addiction of Meth and Heroin: Kim’s Story
If it is hard to live with one addiction and it is even worse when you have dual addiction to substances. Kim, 47, started out just like many people who abuse drugs. She used to try to fix a problem.
According to her, it all started around 25 years ago. After her parents got divorced, she started to suffer emotionally. She turned to methamphetamine as a safe haven from the pain. She affirmed that, by using it, she could finally “feel normal” again. The drug was used as a tool that helped her to cope with all the pain.
This situation is not uncommon as many people start abusing substances after a trauma occurs. Their personal stories might be different, but their pain is generally similar. Just as Kim did, people experiment with drugs at first to feel better for the moment and eventually a pattern develops.
The more the drug is used, the more you need to use it in order to keep feeling relief. This makes the situation spiral out of control pretty quickly in most cases.
The Start of Kim’s Dual Addiction
In some cases, the addiction can be the cause for a second addiction. At first, Kim only used meth for around nine years, but then she looked for treatment. Everything was alright at first, but her body really missed the feeling she got from the drugs.
Heroin, her second addiction, appeared as a new solution. It calmed her down instead of invigorating her because heroin is an opiate. At first, she thought, “heroin’s great. I don’t do speed anymore”. She was glad to get rid of the paranoia and agitation.
Methamphetamine can cause psychosis, as affirmed by the Suzette Glasner-Edwards and Larissa J. Mooney. Roughly 40% of all meth users can suffer from symptoms such as agitation or delusions. Also, the absence of methamphetamine on a person’s body can trigger depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, the situation ended up getting out of control pretty quickly for Kim and she became a victim of dual addiction.
Kim was not fully aware at first, though. She described this phase of her life as being “the chemist with your own body”. According to her, she was “balancing, trying to figure out your own prescription” to simply feel better. Now, she has finished her treatment for both drugs and is in recovery. After suffering for over two decades with the problem, she enrolled in a residential treatment program for women based in San Francisco.
She was very lucky, though. The Journal of the American Medical Association has recently published a new study which affirms that amphetamine-related hospitalizations were up by 245% from the eight-year period that ranges from 2008 to 2015. Many people were not as lucky as she was.
Kim has been sober for a year now and is finally trying to find her own balance without the need for other substances. This is never easy, but it is an important step in order to regain your health and control of your own life.
The Theory of Self-Medicating with Drugs and Alcohol
Self-medication is often a harmful practice. While the act of self-medicating may not seem logical to outsiders, the truth is that they often have strong reasons for it. As can be seen from Kim’s story, the reason why so many people self-medicate is that they are in pain.
Another popular reason people self-medicate is that they believe they have undiagnosed mental problems. Unfortunately, the internet is often not very helpful as it makes it easy to self-diagnose yourself incorrectly. The best option is to always look for a doctor whenever you feel that there is something wrong with you. Bipolar disorder, post-traumatic syndrome (PTSD) and similar issues should be treated by actual professionals.
Being a Chemist with Your Body: Dangers of Illegal Drugs and Your Health
There is no easy fix for life and all the pain that comes with it. Being your own doctor might sound like a good idea, but the truth is that by using illegal drugs in order to “fix” your emotional issues and your pain, you may be risking your life.
Drugs such as amphetamines and heroin are not legal nor regulated, therefore they often have serious impurities. Uncontrolled usage of these substances can even cause overdoses in some cases and most people do not recover from them.
Even legal substances such as alcohol can be easy to abuse if you are not careful, especially when you mix them with other types of drugs. If you want to really solve your problems, you have to take a deep breath and acknowledge them. The first step is to look for help.
If you are ready to finally get off drugs for good, the road to recovery you choose can make the battle for sobriety even more difficult. You can choose to detox in a professional facility or try to go cold turkey to gain freedom from your addiction. Let’s take a closer look at how these two different methods affect your brain, body and recovery.
Addicted Brain: The Need to Stay in Active Addiction
Many people wonder how people can make the conscious choice to take a drug even though they are aware of the dangers involved. The answer is simple: your brain. Your body is made up of chemicals and so are drugs. When you ingest drugs into your system, you begin altering the way that your brain is functioning. Drugs will alter the way your cells send and receive information. Different types of drugs affect the brain in different ways such as:
- By imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers
- Over stimulating the brain’s ‘reward circuit’
- Binding to the receptors in the brain
- Overflooding the brain with excess chemicals
The severity of the effect of the drug on the brain (and subsequent addiction) will vary depending on your drug of choice. Marijuana, for example, will produce similar chemicals to your brain’s natural neurotransmitters and will send abnormal messages. This will result in the user feeling ‘high’.
Other drugs, which are considered much more addictive, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, will cause your brain’s nerve cells to release an abnormally large amount of natural neurotransmitters. It may also prevent the brain’s natural process of recycling the transmitters between neurons. This change will result in a much different high that can be much more addictive because of the overstimulation in the brain’s reward system which can produce feelings of euphoria.
How Does the Brain Become Addicted?
As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain starts to adapt to producing large amounts of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter. The brain has several dopamine pathways, one of which is critical to the motivational component of the reward motivated behavior.
As the brain begins to adapt to these surges, it naturally produces less dopamine or reduces the number of dopamine circuits in the brain’s reward system. This change will make the user enjoy the drugs they useless, but also enjoy many everyday activities less, as well.
The brain is now forming a tolerance for the drug as well as a dependency. The decrease in dopamine production causes the addict to use drugs in order to bring up the dopamine production to normal levels.
Comfort and Care: Nurses vs Housemates
When the choice is made to stop using drugs or alcohol, there are two different approaches one could take: detox or stopping cold turkey. When a user decides to quit drugs immediately and without any medical supplement, it is referred to as going ‘cold turkey’. Without proper medical supervision the consequences of this choice can be severe.
According to Dr. Richard Honaker, those who choose to stop using their substance of choice cold turkey run the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Heart palpitations
- Heart rhythm problems
The risks of going cold turkey can even be fatal. There are three substances that withdrawing cold turkey can lead to death: alcohol, opiates and benzodiazepines. Many people who choose to go cold turkey may rely on friends or family for support. Unless your support system has a medical background, they may not know how to spot the signs that you are in medical trouble. While they may be able to offer emotional support, they do not likely have the skills to help to determine what caused the addiction in the first place.
Because of all of these dangers, many people seeking recovery from their addiction will choose to detox rather than go cold turkey. Detoxing is when the user is given a safe and controlled environment to rid their body of their substance of choice.
Users are often put under 24 hour supervision with medical professionals who are familiar with the symptoms they will be experiencing and trained to help make the process as easy as possible. In some cases, the patient may be given medicine to help ease their withdrawal symptoms. Although many of these medical aides also carry their own risk of addiction.
Medication vs. No Medication
Many rehab graduates have shared that the withdrawal process is the most intimidating on the recovery journey. The process can also be painful, traumatic and scary for those around you. By choosing to detox in a controlled setting rather than at home surrounded by family and friends you are opening yourself up to the possibility of medications that can make this process as easy as possible.
Our centers are able to utilize medications to block the effects of opioids and repress the thoughts of relapse. This combination can provide a much needed strength for your chance of sobriety. The delivery of these medications varies from a strip placed under your tongue to an implant placed in the arm.
The Support Needed: Detox to Rehab
Another benefit of beginning your treatment plan in a detox setting is an easier transition to a rehab center. These centers can often help stop the cycle of addiction by offering group therapy sessions that can not only determine the cause of the addiction, but equip the individual with the tools to fight the urge to relapse.
This is one of the big reasons that A Better Today felt it so important to add detox services to its rehabilitation centers. This seamless transition offers the support needed to complete the first year of sobriety and onto a sober lifestyle. Are you ready to take the first step toward your recovery? Check out our options for individual treatment.
Change is hard, period. If recovery were easy we would have done it a long time ago. We all know that recovery is hard, however, some people have harder experiences than others.
Addiction affects the mind, body and spirit. This all-encompassing disease gets us off track mentally and in life. How to function normally and healthfully has to be relearned and this is no easy task. It takes time, energy and patience, not to mention some guidance and support.
Combating addiction starts with treatment; either inpatient, outpatient or 12-step program. Treatment must address the whole person, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). This means that during any formal treatment program and after, you consider all aspects of your mental and physical health as well as spirituality. Mental health issues such as depression and PTSD need to be addressed in addition to the addiction problem in order for you to get on the right track.
Heal your Mind and Body
Addiction hijacks your brain, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). This means that not only do you need to get the drugs out of your system and recover your health, but also need to relearn healthy ways of thinking and acting.
Healing from addiction can take a long time. Even when you have gotten through the toughest parts, you still may not be back to normal. Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) can last for weeks, months, even a year.
Remember that you are a valuable human being and take what you need to recover in a healthy manner. Pushing or shaming yourself may backfire and lead to a relapse.
Meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and plenty of sleep are in order. Your needs are different than anyone else’s; maybe you need more exercise and sleep, while the next person needs to meditation and focus on regaining much needed nutrients. Whatever the case, listen to your body and do what it needs.
Patience – Rome wasn’t Built in a Day
You quit drugs and alcohol so why isn’t your life full of the promises of recovery yet? Well, it takes time. Be patient with yourself and your recovery. This may mean that you make plenty of mistakes in sobriety, however, as long as you stay sober you will continue to make progress.
The only thing that will set you back now is to go back out using your drug of choice. Even the mistakes you make are building blocks to the stronger foundation and better you that you’ve been working for.
You can’t expect yourself to spend years in addiction and then turn it around in recovery in a day. Be patient and trust the process. All with long-term sobriety know how difficult it is to endure early sobriety.
From people not trusting you, 100 roommates, PAWS, and feeling like you work hard all day every day and have nothing to show for it. You are not alone. Many in early sobriety remember watching the clock feeling as though time had stopped and all that existed was a constant sense of panic and negativity.
Breathe and realize that you are doing the work you need to become the better you. If you stick with sobriety, your life will become better than you can imagine.
In active addiction, sometimes, there is a sense of constant panic and anxiety over supply of drugs/alcohol and relationship meltdowns. By contrast, sobriety can seem down-right boring at times.
Change takes time, patience and hard work. No one likes change, but in times like this it is absolutely necessary. When you look back after obtaining some time sober, you will like where you are compared to where you have been.
One of the bigger contributors to relapse is boredom. Early sobriety requires that you learn ways of entertaining yourself, otherwise, you may reach a point where the monotony of everyday life becomes unbearable.
Find activities that you enjoy and throw yourself in them. Even great pastimes may pale in comparison to the extreme highs of drug and alcohol abuse, however, those roller coaster emotional and mental swings are not sustainable for long periods of time.
Practice, not Perfection
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. This age-old idiom is especially true when it comes to addiction. No matter how much time you have, perseverance is the name of the game. No one comes into life with an instruction manual. We learn as we go and pick ourselves off when we fall. There is no mistake so great that warrants you to give up trying to do better. Nothing.
One of the 12-step sayings “Practice, not perfection” is how you should view your life. You will probably not do everything right the first time, but keep coming back and you will get there. Life is not about being perfect, but doing the best we can with the tools and the time we have while we are here.
Some days you will be a difficult human being to be around. You may even destroy some friendships. Though this seems alarming, as long as you do what you think is right and taking advice from others, then you are doing your best.
When in doubt reach out to those in the sober community and ask for help. The first times you lean on another person, the situation is difficult. We are not accustomed to trusting others, let alone relying on them in active addiction. However, people who have been in the program a little while have been where you are and understand. Find a sponsor and cling to this person if you have less than a year in recovery. You may think you know what your sponsor will say before you call, but you don’t.
Telling yourself you can do it alone or you don’t need to bother your sponsor is simply not true. This is your disease saying that you don’t need the strong bonds and trust in another person when, in fact, you do.
Take the leap of faith and immerse yourself in the sober community and 12-step program around you. You will recover and your future will be beyond imagining if you remain open-minded and willing.
This year is a special year.
It is the ten year anniversary of saving lives, healing families.
Ten years of progress and not perfection.
TEN YEARS of embracing those who have found the courage to reach out for their addiction.
This article will be like nothing you have ever read. This article is about the 10 years of accomplishments, progress, struggles, and recovery for our patients and for our employees. This article is about a handful of people deciding to help those struggling with an addiction and actually doing something about it. This article is about the people that make saving lives and healing families a reality and not a slogan.
Hi, I am an employee at A Better Today Recovery Services (ABTRS).
It is true, I am employed at A Better Today Recovery Services and I have been given the opportunity to write their ten-year anniversary article. Not because it is my job, but because I am here, I am involved, and all the years I have worked here, I have had the opportunity to watch them develop. I have witnessed the best and the worst and through it all, I will be honest with you, I love this place. The best part is, I get to tell you about it and why.
Who is A Better Today Recovery Services? How Much Have We Grown in Ten Years?
In 2009, a group of people united for a cause. To save lives and heal families. I was not there, but I know a couple of them who were and are with the company today and the stories they’d recollect pull at my heartstrings.
They started with ten beds, a small office suite, and their personal phones. Ten opportunities to lend a hand at someone’s rock bottom, ten beds to offer the dope sick, 10 families to educate and offer hope. But that was all they needed to change a slogan of saving lives and healing families to a movement of change.
Given those ten chances to change lives, they decided on their core beliefs as a company:
- Patient-focused care that is comprehensive and effective.
- Medical professionals that are passionate and dedicated like themselves, but thorough and masters of their craft. They needed to focus on the whole person- mental, physical, social-not just the drug of choice.
- Treatment plans that are tailored to the individual and their needs. Trauma therapy if needed, anger management if needed, special diets if needed. They had to be able to help everyone, no matter their past or special needs. The founders believed that addiction can affect anyone of any social status. It was important that they did not turn any out reached hand away. It was important to help everyone.
- Lastly, the treatment that they wanted to offer to their patients had to be balanced with evidence-based treatment modalities and practices from group support methods like AA, Smart Recovery, and Faith-based Celebrate Recovery.
With the ambition, passion, and those core beliefs, those ten opportunities became 20 in 2011 and by 2018, ABTRS would have a total of over 170 beds.
It fills my heart with joy, it brings tears to my eyes, it fuels my passion to save lives and heal families to say that as of May 2019 we have treated over 4,000 people who were struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction.
I must say it again, over 4,000 people have walked through our doors and received treatment that changed their lives, opened their minds to a life more than their next fix, told them that their life had more potential than being chained to their active addiction lifestyle.
4,000 people with families, children, and now futures.
Patient-focused Care and Passionate Therapists
When it comes to drug and alcohol treatment, knowledge and experience is so important.
Not only do you have to have the college courses, the licensure, and the credentials, you must have the experience with those who struggle with addiction, the patience to respect progress on an individual level, and the heart to hold someone up when they feel down.
Our therapists have all of that. The dedication and passion that our therapists have tends to come from their own experience with addiction and the journey of recovery. Their own journey empowered them to go back to school and find a career in substance abuse treatment to help others live fulfilling lives like themselves.
Many believe it becomes a calling and find such satisfaction watching people recover and rediscover their passion for life after their active addiction. ABTRS supports their journey and their ambition. ABTRS offers our therapists to make videos of their knowledge, educate their patients about Substance Use Disorder (SUD), and let their voice be heard about what makes them passionate about working in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Running Effectiveness Studies on ABTRS Treatment in 2015
Even though I was not there when ABTRS was established, I was present for the 2015 effectiveness of treatment study. I worked closely with the research and development department to properly display the data on the website. The purpose of this research was to determine if our approach to substance abuse treatment was effective and where we could improve.
AT ABTRS, our R&D Department maintains the highest professional and academic standards when gathering, analyzing, and reporting treatment outcomes for our patients. Throughout 2015 the ABTRS R&D Department gathered and analyzed post-treatment outcomes for our 2014 patients and compared them against an off-cited and highly esteemed medical study analyzing treatment efficacy and outcomes in opiate addicts. Substance abuse treatment success rates at ABTRS easily surpass that bar:
- Based on a sample of 128 ABT patients, 30 days after treatment ABTRS patients were 52% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
- 60 days after treatment – a period wherein the techniques and strategies developed during treatment have begun to be put to the real test – ABTRS patients were 138% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants than the opiate addicts.
- In other words, in a similar size sample, the number of ABTRS patients completely abstinent from intoxicants was more than twice the number of opiate addicts abstinent from opiates-alone 60-days post-treatment.
- 90 days after treatment ABTRS patients were 129% more likely to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
- At 6 months after treatment – the interval conventionally and professionally considered most important in assessing treatment episode outcomes – ABTRS patients were 100% more likely (i.e. twice as likely) to be entirely abstinent from intoxicants.
We were so proud to know that of those 4,000 people that opened their minds to our approach to treatment, a majority of them would and are maintaining their sobriety. If our treatment was as effective as the data was reported, then we must continue to improve. We must help our patients in their first year of sobriety find confidence, stability, and a community that would accept them without judgement and support them through thick and thin. ABTRS had work to do if we were going to take patient-focused care to the next level.
A Better Today Recovery Services Expansion & Development
Detox Center Certification
ABTRS has always wanted to offer comprehensive care from A to Z. From the moment they call us, we wanted to provide detox to aftercare. As of 2019, ABTRS has gotten our detox center certified as a Behavioral Health Inpatient Facility – Subacute – and are currently providing comprehensive care for all our patients. Our addictionologist Dr. Carlton, M.D. can now be with our patients from the beginning to the end and that is important to a patient who needs the best care from the moment they decide to put down the bottle or dump their stash of drugs. But the detox certification was just the start.
Independent Living for ABTRS Patient
When I toured the apartment complex for ABTRS new Independent Living Program, I felt empowered to tell the world, I wanted this to change drug and alcohol abuse aftercare from the moment I stepped into the community center. It broke my heart to hear how hard it was for people in recovery to be qualified for an apartment without paying outlandish amounts of money. Because of their criminal backgrounds, or drug history, apartment complexes will refuse to house them. They are forced to find residency in establishments that are surrounded by drug abuse and criminal activity and charge people in recovery an arm and a leg to get back on their feet.
So, I ask, how in the world are you supposed to start a new life free from triggers and drug abuse activities if you can’t find a place to live?
How are you supposed to maintain sobriety if you are constantly asked by the drug dealer sitting outside your place if you wanted to get high?
So ABTRS invested in a small apartment complex for housing and began to develop a community that would focus on maintaining sobriety with you. We didn’t just stop at judgment-free applications, we wanted to offer services that would help develop life skills and give people confidence in their future in recovery, so we offered all these services:
- Living Arrangement: Fully furnished apartments for $165.00 a week, including food, transportation, and moving forward resources with promissory note opportunity.
- Transportation: Provided by staff or bus pass arrangements for medical, meetings, job searching, and MAT medication routine.
- Developing Life Skills: Cooking classes, academic resources, career exploration, and social activities.
- Sober Social Event Calendar: ABTRS Alumni hosts Pizza Karaoke every other Friday, learn to cook with Chef Jesse on Sundays, Youfit Gym Pass, and Alumni events.
- Recreation, Games, & Entertainment: Ping-pong table, billiard table, barbecue patio, TV in every apartment, theater style movie lounge, & outdoor fireplace.
- Career & Education Resources: Aptitude tests, 200 trade programs with Maricopa Community College, resume workshops, and GED training & testing.
Industry changing, patient-focused, a place where second, third and even fifth chances are possible. But then again drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation should be this way.
It should be about the patient’s stability in life.
It should be about developing a community that supports their new lifestyle in recovery.
It should be about saving lives and healing families and with A Better Today Recovery Services, it is.
Employing Those in Recovery: Making Money Without Slinging Dope
This one is close to my heart. I know I will tear up talking about it. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with the people that are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. I get to listen to their stories and watch them grow and become productive members of society. So many times have I watched people who would have been refused employment because of their active addiction history find a job at ABTRS and become what they always wanted to be.
Nurses, therapists, students, scientists, mothers and even business owners because someone believed in them first. I’ve done flashcards off the clock with them, I have reviewed science homework, discussed philosophy topics for school, and developed resumes with them. With ABTRS it is about unselfish support for a better future.
The Non-profit Alumni Program
One of ABTRS goals was to establish an alumni program that felt like family. During active addiction, some people lose their family members along the way due to drug seeking behaviors and relationship neglect. It was important for ABTRS to let every patient know that there was a family out there that they could belong to if they needed one. A sober community family that was free of judgement and led by example.
Thus, ABTRS alumni was born.
A nonprofit organization that had fun, stayed sober, offered support, and provided solutions in moments of crisis. Developing alumni events and building a community that knew what you were going through was the main goal. An alumni program that was developed by alumni and ran by alumni. The birth of this nonprofit is history, the progression of the alumni program is what legends are made of:
- Hiking & Camping Trips at Lake Havasu
- Feeding the Homeless Community Service Events
- Breakfast Buffet’s for Inpatients
- Saturday Bowling Leagues
- Ice Cream Social Fundraisers
- Paintball Alumni vs Staff Events
- Alumni Pizza Karaoke at the Recovery Community
Just to name a few.
True Story One: Unity Over Tragedy the Opioid Crisis
I have to tell you a story.
I have to tell you about a mother’s phone call. This one was not a patient or a loved one of our patients, but that doesn’t matter, what matters was she called us.
She called us asking for printed material to display at her son’s funeral. I know because I handled the call personally. You could hear the sadness in her voice when she explained that her teenage son had overdosed on heroin.
So young and full of promise, the mother had found her son in his room lips blue with a needle next to him. My heart broke for her and hearing the pain in her voice compelled me to act.
She wanted to display several different treatment center brochures on a table at her son’s funeral. She wants to spread treatment awareness because her son never had the opportunity to get sober.
Not only did I send the printed material she asked for, on behalf of ABTRS I sent a beautiful flower arrangement for the funeral with a heartfelt note. Flowers will never replace the loss of a loved one to addiction, but it can help a loved one smile during their grieving and sometimes a smile is all that it takes to remember who was lost, not how they passed. After that moment, ABTRS not only wanted to save lives and heal families, but unite, collaborate with other treatment centers about treatment, overdose, and aftercare.
It wasn’t enough that we are doing something right, we wanted the whole industry to do right by those who need it the most.
Business to Business: Fighting the Opioid Crisis Together
Many things set ABTRS apart from other treatment centers. What sets us apart is becoming less of a focus. It is not that we don’t want to be the best and provide the best because we do. That is just who we are, but what is becoming more important than ourselves and our company is the opioid crisis.
There is no denying that the ongoing opioid crisis in America is a serious matter. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, figures of the opioid epidemic reached epic proportions as more than 47,000 Americans died due to opioid overdoses involving prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl, and/or synthetic opioids in 2017.
Unfortunately, opioids are some of the most addictive substances out there, and it doesn’t help that they are so commonly used in the healthcare industry. Although there are potential solutions to the opioid crisis, including but not limited to legislation and treatment options for those suffering from opioid addiction, there is always more to be done.
ABTRS began to reach out to other treatment facilities about how we could unite in providing a solution. We went to Tucson to learn from their weekend family programs, we talked to state funded treatment centers to find those who didn’t have insurance the treatment they need, we went to Art of Recovery Expos because other treatment center were going to be there talking about the opioid epidemic, we went to Human Resource conventions asking HR Directors to consider treatment over termination for employees, we reached out to teachers and nurses to offer free outpatient services because they deserved the help we had to offer, and of course, we talked to 10,000 beds non-profit organization to provide free treatment for those in need.
We realized we all had a common goal.
It was about saving lives, not about the number of blogs, web pages, phone calls, and insurance companies that we are affiliated with.
It wasn’t about state insurances verses private insurances.
It is about the people that were alone with their disease, being sick and tired of being sick and tired with their addiction. It was about finding struggling addicts a place to get their lives back.
To break the sigma associated with addiction and substance abuse treatment.
For once it was about the people. This leads me to my next true story.
True Story Two: Humility & Unconditional Support
This true story needs to be told. When you hire people in recovery you must look passed what they have done and always look at who they are now and what they are capable of now they are free from their addiction.
Some use ABTRS as a steppingstone to nursing, counselors, accountants, and business owners. Some give back to their community and become involved in sober community careers and drug and alcohol treatment.
Unfortunately, some journey’s in recovery involve relapse and when one of our own relapses, all heart’s ache for them. I have had the pleasure of witnessing staff bringing AA meetings to those who have relapsed, visiting hospitals to show support, support in finding a detox center or treatment again, and write letters on behalf of others for CPS custody battles and criminal record appeals. I have witnessed such wonderful acts of kindness, celebrations of sobriety, and support to friends and family of staff when they need it the most.
I have witnessed rock ceremonies for those who leave and move on to bigger better things and company potluck’s to unite departments that do not normally collaborate. Sometimes it is the little things that matter, but more importantly there is spirit, spirit behind a motto that define’s A Better Today to it’s core.
Saving lives, healing families.
Overall Message: Saving Lives and Healing Families Because it is About the Patients
I’m not going to fool you, there are treatment centers out there that are all about the money. With every business industry there will always be a company out there that is just not as good as they need to be because they are worried about making a quick buck. That is why it is so important to do research on finding the right treatment center. But when you do, when you find that place that suits the needs of the patient and empowers them in their sobriety. It is where true recovery begins, it is where people get second, thirds, fifth chances at a life worth being proud of.
Even though ABTRS may have struggled along the way, the heart and the spirit of this company will forever and always be saving lives and healing families. Right now, as you read this article, someone’s son or daughter is overdosing on opiates. We know because we are currently in an opioid epidemic, but that is not the only thing worth mentioning.
Right here at ABTRS, someone is getting out of detox with high hopes that they will never touch their drug of choice again.
Right here at ABTRS, someone is graduating from inpatient treatment and moving to an independent living condo because they know we will help them find a job and help them maintain their sobriety.
Right here at ABTRS, there is someone reaching out to us for help because they are tired of being sick and tired.
Yes, there is a substance abuse problem in the world today, but at ABTRS there are solutions, guides, and mentors that will welcome those who want to change their life by freeing them from their addiction.
The best part is, I got to witness a slogan turn into a movement, to witness people from all walks of life transform into the person they wanted to be, and to witness a community demonstrate humility and kindness free of judgement or compensation.
Happy 10 year anniversary ABTRS!
Congratulations on saving 4,000 lives and healing 4,000 families!
It’s fair to say that most people know that heroin is not only a drug, but a dangerous- highly addictive drug. When the news and social media platforms begin to alert the public with announcements warning people of a deadly strand of heroin, most begin to wonder what it is, where is comes from, and what to avoid on the streets.
Over the past year, purple heroin, also known as PURP, has made headlines warning communities of the highly toxic drug and it’s contributions to the rise of overdoses. But, what exactly is PURP and what makes it so deadly?
What is Purple Heroin?
Purple heroin, also known as PURP is a deadly mixture of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil. It is essentially the mixture of one deadly drug with another. Carfentanil is a tranquilizer used to put elephants and other large mammals in a state of anesthesia for surgery. A dose as small as a grain of sand (20 micrograms) of carfentanil can kill you.
According to Corey Peterson, Director of Admissions at Better Today, purple heroin is 100 times more potent that fentanyl, 5,000 times more potent than heroin, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine because it is cut with deadly amounts of carfentanil.
In an article posted on CBC News in March 2018, Hamilton Ontario, Canada’s public health unit issued a warning about purple heroin stating it was laced with highly toxic amounts of fentanyl and likely contributed to multiple overdoses during recent weeks. Since then, multiple arrests have been made in the trafficking of purple heroin but it’s not enough to slow down the overdose epidemic.
Purple heroin is not a regulated substance and the concentrations of fentanyl can vary. Small amounts of fentanyl can cause great harm and it is highly suggested that it shouldn’t be taken when alone.
Local addiction experts say it is only a matter of time before this deadly drug makes its way to smaller cities. Parents are encouraged to pay close attention to their children so that PURP does not claim another life. Peterson states in his interview that an immediate indicator of opioid use, is pinpointed pupils in the dark.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. This means it is made in a laboratory. Fentanyl and carfentanil are labeled as cousin drugs. Like morphine, fentanyl is used to treat people who suffer from severe pain especially after surgery or breakthrough cancer pain. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. In fact, fentanyl is also stronger than oxycodin and heroin.
More recently, fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs and sold on the streets but with deception. Someone who uses what they think is heroin may actually be using a mixture or pure fentanyl. Currently, pills are made to look like oxycodone or Xanax but are actually fentanyl. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), this is because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option. This deception is proving to be fatal.
Street dealers are selling drugs cut with fentanyl and/or carfentanil with the intention of offering their buyers a hard hitting, longer lasting high. Like fentanyl, carfentanil has no smell or taste; so detection is nearly impossible. The benefit to dealers is more profit.
Synthetic opioids, are the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. The NIH reports, in 2017, 59.8 percent of opioid related deaths involved fentanyl.
Opiate Overdose Awareness
Opioid overdose is life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Recognizing the signs of an opioid overdose can save lives. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), states that 911 should be called immediately if a person exhibits any of these signs:
- Person’s face is extremely pale and/or feels clammy to the touch
- Their body goes limp
- They are unable to speak and cannot be awakened
- Their fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
- They start vomiting or making gurgling noises
- Their breathing or heartbeat slows or stops
It is imperative for patients and caregivers to know that unintentional overdose (also known as accidental overdose) can occur with prescription opioid pain relievers. This especially includes fentanyl. If a doctor’s instructions are unclear, ask a pharmacist for clarity. SAMHSA offers tips on how to avoid an unintentional overdose:
- Take medication as prescribed by the doctor; do not take more than prescribed or more frequently.
- Never mix your medication with alcohol, sleeping pills, or illicit substances. An overdose can be fatal when mixing an opioid and anxiety medications.
- Medication should be stored in a safe place where children or pets can not get it.
- Unused medication should be disposed of promptly.
Children are especially vulnerable to unintentional overdoses if they take medication not intended for them.
Overdose Prevention: Naloxone
Naloxone is a medication used in treating opioid overdose. It is designed to rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It is basically used to restore normal respiration. A person who overdoses on heroin or opioid pain medication will experience slow breathing or breathing will completely stop.
According to SAMHSA, Naloxone is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent overdose by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose.
Purple heroin is so potent that, Aisling Higgins, communications officer in the city of Hamilton, reported in an email, “Anecdotally, we have heard multiple reports of cases that are requiring more than one kit of Naloxone (>2 doses) for overdose reversal which is why it is so important to call 9-1-1 to seek medical care for overdose.” The Guardian Weekly reports that overdoses involving carfentanil can take up to six Naloxone shots or more to counteract the overdose.
Health officials and drug experts believe purple heroin first surfaced in Canada and has been spreading south ever since. It’s safe to say that drug users should avoid any street drug with a purplish tint to it.
There are many people who see addiction as something that is never under their control. They spend their lives with vices that break down their minds, bodies and personal relationships. Some don’t even think they have a problem, nor do they know where or how to seek help.
What is a 12-Step Program?
It was 1935, in Akron, Ohio. Bob Smith and Bill W., both sufferers of Alcoholism, had been in contact with the Oxford Group. This group showed values in living spiritual lives and avoided alcohol. After Bob Smith and Bill W. met, they came to realize that alcoholism was a disease. This is when they decided to start a group to help others clean up their lives. Alcoholics would meet regularly as a coalition to stop their destructive ways. This group was called Alcoholics Anonymous, or A.A.
After 4 years of success, in 1939, Bill W. wrote and released a book that explained the core values and methodology that was Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Step Programs. This caught the eye of many publications and Alcoholics. In, 1950 it was recorded that there were now more than 100,000 recovered Alcoholics world-wide. Alcoholics Anonymous continued to grow and expand.
Over 200 different addiction programs were sprouted by the A.A. seed; Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous were a few of them. All of which follow a similar twelve step program to aid in the recovery of those suffering from their addictions.
The addicts who join these anonymous groups follow the steps provided, and with the help of their Mentors, they call seek recovery. But it is not an easy process. As it is so difficult to recover from one’s addictions, there are times when addicts find themselves relapsing.
Finding Faith After Active Addiction
The main idea behind the Twelve Steps Programs is finding support in your journey in recovery. The first step suggests letting a Higher Power or God assist them in their recovery. Step 2 in the Alcoholic Anonymous recovery model is: Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This can be very difficult. Some addictions stem from personal loss, grief or as a coping mechanism. Many people often seek to self-medicate when they experience something traumatic. In addition to seeking their vices, these events have been known to cause some to lose their faith and to blame a higher power for their situation. This makes it hard for those people to allow themselves to be vulnerable to a higher power, or God, again.
In other situations, Atheists have a hard time with this because their beliefs cause them to dissociate with religion. A higher power can be hard to find when your core beliefs tell you otherwise. For those struggling to find a God, it can be difficult, but not impossible. The goal is not to find a God, but to seek something higher than themselves to aid them in recovery. During an interview with a man, who chose to remain anonymous, he explained how this was a step he could not follow.
“I’ve done rehab on 3 occasions. First time… was a 12-step program and I didn’t find that effective at all because I’m not religious… I do not like or use any 12-step programs so I can just say that I don’t find them appealing because their religion based and that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t agree with the method… As far as faith, I am completely non-religious, so I believe a lot of my strength has come from within. “- Anonymous Addict who attended Narcotics Anonymous.
Step 4 and 5: Moral Inventory and Admitting Wrongdoings
The 4th and 5th steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can be the hardest. After a higher power has been found, it’s time to do some soul searching. Step 4 of the A.A. model is as follows: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitting to oneself that they have a weakness can be the hardest thing. Although very difficult, it is crucial in recovery to do this. Taking inventory in one’s life is what will assist in recovery and help with relapse.
In addition to the 4th Step, Step 5 can be equally as hard. Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. This is difficult for most as it can be hard to confront the fact that they have wrongdoings. Coming to an understanding of who they are, were and will be after addiction is difficult. This has the potential to cause a relapse. The reason is that the memories and feelings of wrongdoing can cause one to want to escape again. The easiest way to escape reality is through their addictions.
Step 9: Making Direct Amends
The 9th step of Alcoholics Anonymous is: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Sometimes confronting one’s past can be seriously difficult. Addictions have been known to hurt not only the user, but those around them. Owning up to past mistakes is hard. Apologizing and making up with them is even harder.
There can be feelings of guilt or shame when addressing those that have been affected by the mending process. People aren’t always going to forgive, and this can lead to relapse. Knowing that they caused permanent unforgivable damage if a very hard realization. The addicts have also known to be shamed or attacked during recovery by those who’ve experienced the hurt. This is a very good time for to reach on the ones sponsor for guidance.
Advice and Guidance: You are No Longer Alone in Your Journey in Recovery
Once the addict has decided to go to a meeting or seek recovery they are not alone. Sponsors and recovery addicts alike are there for support. It can be a difficult thing to grasp that everyone at these meetings are there to support one another. In order to have a steady recovery it is vital to surround oneself with a strong support system. It is important to keep people around that have your recovery in mind and look to aid in recovery.
If 12 steps do not work for the addict, there are different ways to seek recovery.
The suicide rates for the youth of today have skyrocketed in America over the past few years. More than 6000 teens died in the United States in 2017 due to suicide. This shocking statistic has opened many people’s eyes to the seriousness of suicide. Teens face challenges today that have never been faced in this country before and that’s what is contributing to these numbers. Learn more about what the factors that are causing so many suicides to take place among teens in the U.S. each year in the guide that follows.
Abuse at Home Can Lead to Suicide
Teens who are abused at home often feel like they have no way out. They feel like they have to deal with the abuse that they are being given or take their own lives in order for the abuse to stop. It’s important to take the time to notice if a teen has obvious signs of abuse. Bruises, cuts or other injuries that seem to be consistently on a teen can be a sign of abuse.
It’s also important to remember that abuse can come in other forms than just physically. A teen may be verbally or mentally abused when they are home. They may seem very depressed or overly happy when they are away from their family. It’s important to pay attention to the way that a parent talks to their child. If you think that there is any chance that a teen is being abused at home, reach out to your local Child Protective Services to get them the help that they need.
Anxiety and Stress
The pressure to get into college is stronger now than it was in the past. Teens go through a lot of anxiety and stress to get good grades, take part in extracurricular activities, volunteer and do anything else that they can to better their chances of getting into college.
If you notice that your child is starting to become overwhelmed with their schedule, consider calming things down a bit for them. Narrow down their activities to things that will be the most impactful to their future. If they don’t have a true interest in something or have an activity that takes up way too much of their time, it’s okay to stop doing it so that they can have their sanity and times to relax throughout the week.
Substance abuse can cause teens to commit suicide simply because they aren’t thinking clearly. Some teens take their own life while they are high, while others take their life as the drugs are leaving their system. Their body will start to crave the drugs and as they withdraw. Drugs often affect different areas of the brain, including the areas that sense pleasure and joy. When these areas are depleted by drug use, teens can fall into deep depression and look at life as being far worse than it really is. Drug treatment programs are available for teens as well as adults. They can help a teen get the care that they need in a safe, discreet way.
Some teens battle body dysmorphia that causes them to be unhappy with their body. Someone suffering from body dysmorphia doesn’t see themselves the way others see them. They often feel like they are much larger or smaller than they truly are. This can lead to them binging and purging, exercising obsessively or using appetite suppressants to decrease their desire to eat. If teens set unattainable standards for themselves, they can become depressed and take their life because they feel hopeless and like life isn’t worth living. They strive for perfection that they may never reach.
There is therapy available to treat body dysmorphia. It is a condition typically doesn’t go away by itself. It’s important to seek professional help for your child if you notice that they have started fixating on their appearance and never seem happy with the way that they look.
Many teens find that they are attracted to the same sex as they get older. This can be a very scary situation for some teens because they feel as though people will judge them or won’t accept them. Some teens choose to hide their preferences from the world as long as they can, but this can take a huge emotional toll on them. They become depressed because they feel that they aren’t good enough and may commit suicide because they feel they can never live the way they want to live.
It’s important to talk to your teen about the fact that you love them no matter what. Do not pressure them to tell you what their sexual preferences are. You want to be sure that they feel comfortable enough to talk to you about them in their own time. Knowing that they have the support of their family can make the process easier.
Some kids don’t blend in with their peers as much as they would like to. They may have different interests, have a unique look or simply be more socially awkward than others. This can often lead to bullying and name-calling. Being bullied takes a huge toll on someone’s psyche.
Pay attention to the things that your child says when they are around them. You need to be able to pick up on key statements that they make that could be indicating that someone is bullying them. If you find out that they are being bullied, you need to allow them to talk openly and honestly but handle it on their own if they can. Do not take over the situation until you feel that you truly have to. Taking things into your own hands right away can make your child look weak to others and cause the bullying to get even worse later on down the road. If they can’t handle it themselves, step in and talk to the school, the other children’s’ parents and anyone else you need to talk to in order to get it to stop.
Being a parent of a teenager is hard. Taking the time to protect your child is crucial during this challenging period in a child’s life. You need to be kind and caring while also being observant and firm when you need to be.
Going to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is a big decision that can change the rest of a person’s life. When you get help, you put your life in the hands of an addiction based professional. Before you can start treatment, you need to choose a treatment center that will work best for your situation. Use the following tips to learn how to choose the right treatment center for you.
Help with Detox and Withdrawal
Drug detox occurs when your body rids itself of alcohol or drugs. Detox enables the digestive system to remove the residual substances. Patients encounter both mental and physical repairs during this recovery period as well as possibly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Detox is an essential part of your drug addiction rehabilitation.
Medication Assisted Treatment
Medication assisted treatment or MAT is a part of most substance abuse rehabs. MAT is a method that uses a combination of medications alongside behavioral-based therapy methods with the goal to treat drug and alcohol addiction. These assisted treatment programs can be personalized to meet any patient’s needs. Having quality and tailored addiction treatment is important. This type of treatment is especially useful for individuals who have physical dependence as well as addiction to substances like alcohol or opiates like heroin or prescription painkillers.
An important part of medication assisted treatment is counseling. The types of counseling that are used with addiction are individual and group counseling. With counseling patients can start to dig deeper and uncover reasons for their addiction. This helps them to start a new life in recovery while easing the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and drug and alcohol cravings that come with recovery. Group based counseling is very important as it helps addicts meet people who are also in recovery. A good component of group counseling is 12-step meetings which help people get involved within a community of recovery and peers that are sober. Treatment that has medication assistance works in all areas of a person’s life and decreases the risk of drug or alcohol relapse and helps a patient focus on healing him or herself.
Another important thing to look for in a treatment center is inpatient care. Inpatient care can also be known as residential treatment. Inpatient treatment gives patients many more benefits than most other programs. Inpatient treatment centers also address mental health problems in addition to drug or alcohol addiction. Having both problems is called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. Some mental health disorders that are common among people with addiction are depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and even eating disorders. Inpatient treatment offers a type of care that is of greater intensity and helps meet all the needs of a patient. Inpatient treatment usually takes place immediately after going through withdrawals at a medical detox facility.
Outpatient treatment programs help patients to get the therapy and care they need while they can live at home. Outpatient treatment often occurs during the day, but sometimes this program is offered at nighttime, as well. Outpatient treatment gives people more freedom such as keeping their job, taking care of children and paying their bills. When starting outpatient treatment, patients need clinical assessment to determine what is best for them in terms of groups and placement by a counselor will be needed.
Generally, outpatient treatment programs are one through three months in duration. Between the first month of abstinence to the end of the third month is when a person is most at risk for relapse to substance abuse. The degree that a person shows progress in recovery from addiction will determine the length of time he or she spends in outpatient treatment.
Effective Therapy Methods
Therapy for addiction typically takes place in an individual session, group or family sessions. The way that therapy takes place depends on what the patient’s needs are. The number of therapies that take place are often greater during the initial stages of a person’s treatment. As treatment continues over time therapy sessions decrease. The sessions decrease as a result of a lessening of symptoms. There are a lot of different therapy methods in substance abuse treatment, but the one that is most important is cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of therapy that works on an individual’s perception of situations and why they have that specific perception in the first place. It also helps people to pay attention to the types of thoughts they are having and the reason for them. This type of therapy helps patients change the way that they see the outer world, the way they respond to situations that they encounter.
While in treatment and after treatment the family involvement is very important. Family counseling helps bring families back together. Therapy for families in marriages generally starts while the person is in treatment. It is important when looking for a treatment center that the center encourages the continuation of counseling for the family after the addiction rehabilitation ends. An important part of family counseling is information provided on addiction and education about the disease. Many treatment centers provide educational literature or sessions for family members like spouse’s children, parents or partners of a patient. Another thing that is encouraged is individual counseling that is done with a professional licensed marriage or family therapist.
Aftercare Plan Assistance
Aftercare is important for when a patient is discharged from an addiction treatment center. A good treatment center will work alongside a patient to develop a realistic and attainable plan of aftercare. Having a proper aftercare plan sets a person up for success in recovery rather than failure from having zero direction.
There are many people who are in recovery and living happy successful lives. Recovery takes time and going to addiction recovery treatment is often the key to success.
Congratulations on completing your treatment! Reaching the finish line in your rehab program is an immensely important part of your recovery. But what is most important and the hardest to get through, is incorporating the coping mechanisms and skills that you learned in rehab into your daily life. Dealing with the ins and outs of real life is a never-ending struggle filled with highs and lows. But there are healthy habits you can implement into your daily life in order to make sure that you have the best chance at success after your treatment. Below, are five tips that you need to practice in order to live a sober lifestyle after completing treatment.
Have a Plan
Many people who have gone through treatment have experienced bumps in the road throughout their recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that anywhere from 40-60% of people who suffer from substance use disorders relapse. In order to combat those statistics, make an aftercare plan to ensure that you stay on task during your recovery. Whether you start creating your plan while you are still in treatment or once you have made it out, it can be a truly essential part of your journey. In this plan, you can include phone numbers of therapists and physicians that you can call if you are feeling down, coping methods that you are planning to try, and sober activities that you are interested in utilizing. Transitioning from a treatment center in the real world can be very difficult and jarring at times. Having an aftercare plan gives you a foundation of information to go back to as you move through your sober journey.
Find a New Support System
Dealing with addiction is one of the hardest things that you can face. But, one of the most important things that you have to understand is that you can’t do it alone, even after completing treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls a drug addiction a “complex disease” that takes a lot “more than good intentions or a strong will.” Having a great support system is key.
As you look back on your past, you may realize that the only people that you associated with were people who directly correlated with your addiction. For example, it could be people that you bought the substance from, did the substance with, or talked about the substance with. In order to break those bad habits, you must get rid of those old relationships. Make the effort to look for new relationships with people who are going to support you as you live your sober lifestyle.
Finding a new support system can come in a variety of different ways around your local community. Research any support groups in your area to find individuals who are going through the same experiences that you are. You may want to enlist the help of your previous treatment center, or physician, to help you find local groups that they recommend will provide the support that you need. Also, consider one-on-one counseling as well. Going through counseling after treatment allows you to explore the new feelings and emotions that you are going through during this brand-new journey, as well as gaining some much-needed advice and support. If your family and friends are supportive of your new journey, reach out to them as well.
Try New Hobbies
Now that you are living a sober lifestyle, you probably have a lot more free time than you did before. It is important to replace your old habits with new ones and get rid of any boredom that you may be feeling. One of the best ways to do that is to try out some new hobbies. Living a sober life does not have to be boring! What hobbies you choose to try, completely depend on your interests. Some hobbies that you may want to try out include arts and crafts, reading, writing, volunteering in your community, exercising, playing sports, and learning a new instrument. If you are looking to learn a new skill, look into community centers or libraries in your area. These opportunities often have free or low-cost classes that you can take on to learn new things. You might even meet a new friend in the process.
Set Some Goals
As you go through your journey to recovery, it is important to constantly remember why you’re choosing to be sober. Be sure to write these goals down on a piece of paper and put them up where you can see it constantly throughout the day. Also, along with reasons why you’re choosing to be sober, write down any life goals that you have as well. This could be anything from buying a house to going back to school. If you are going through a hard time, you can look at these goals and remember that you are making the right decision about your life.
Deal with Past Mistakes
As you move into a brand-new lifestyle, you may find yourself wanting to push those old emotions, feelings, and events away. But the truth is that the shame and guilt from these events may eat you up inside and get in the way of your recovery. The only way to get over these emotions is to go through them. Take on these emotions head on and apologize to the people in your life that you have negatively affected through your addiction. Also, another way to deal with these emotions is to explore them in counseling. As you work through your emotions, you will have a clearer mind and have a better chance of succeeding in your recovery.
The transition after rehab can be difficult. But sober living is just within your grasp if you are willing to avoid triggers as much as possible and adopt new activities into your everyday life. With your new support system, you can get the advice that you need to thrive and have a new perspective on life. Now is the best time to start your sober journey and become the best “you” that you can be.