The Impact Of Drugs And Alcohol On Your Family

Impact of Drugs and Alcohol on Family

It’s no secret that addiction tears into people’s lives, leaving them physically and mentally ill, and at times fighting for their lives in an emergency room. Yet beyond the impact of drugs  on the individual struggling with the addiction, every case of addiction is bound to affect other people, including friends, strangers, and most significantly: family.

Anyone who knows an addict or has personally battled with addiction understands that a chemical or emotional dependency on a drug changes a person and brings them into a state of mind they would normally never reach. They begin to think and do things most people would never do due to the impact of drugs – including hurt those they love, lie to those they care about, and break the trust and friendship of those whom they have given years of their life to.

Beyond the household and the inner circle, impact of drugs affects society in general. Addiction and drug use plays a role in a great number of tragedies, from traffic accidents to domestic violence. While impact of drugs itself does not cause someone to get violent, they may take greater risks and cross certain legal boundaries to get to the next high. In other cases, addiction may amplify other mental health problems, or make an already violent person more prone to lashing out against others. Regardless of how addiction manifests itself, it causes problems not only for the addict, but for everyone around them.

Yet those who bear the greatest brunt of the trouble from the impact of drugs are those closest to the person:  their family. If you’re in a family struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone. Help is out there, and there are better days ahead.


How A Child With Addiction Affects The Family

Acknowledging your own child’s addiction can be a difficult thing – as can be convincing them that their problem is one that needs to be addressed, for their own good. In families with multiple children, it can create an upset in the balance of things. A previously neglected child might turn to drugs due to outside factors, including perhaps peer pressure or emotional pain, and the family’s attention is focused on supporting them through recovery, or convincing them to get help.

Parents must divide their attention between all their children in such a way that each child grows up healthy and emotionally stable. With addiction in the picture, this becomes a near-impossible challenge. Aside from feelings of worry and blame – such as one child blaming the family for their sibling’s problems, or blaming their sibling for their bad choices, out of frustration – parents will often feel like failures, either placing blame upon themselves or looking desperately for other factors.

Negatively focused thinking from the impact of drugs will tear a family apart. When a teen reveals an addiction, it’s important to pull together and think as a family unit – not as individuals undermining one another.

If you recognize that the impact of drugs is clouding your loved one’s ability to think straight – regardless of whether you’re a parent, sibling, uncle or aunt – consider seeking a councilor or therapist.


How The Impact Of Drugs On A Parent Affects The Family

When the impact of drugs affects a parent, children are often left to fend for themselves, or have to rely upon a single parent, who may be overwhelmed with supporting their partner on top of supporting a family. Sometimes, children will seek to distance themselves from their family unit and “grow up faster”, quickly taking on certain characteristics to isolate themselves from others or create as many bonds as possible to avoid a feeling of loneliness and run away from inner insecurities and anxieties.

It is important, again, to pull together as a family. The impact of drugs will force each member to go their individual path – only by pulling together and supporting one another can the family stay whole and provide support in their parent’s recovery.


The Impact Of Drugs Across Generations

Addiction in the family is a risk factor for more addiction, but the exact reason why is debatable. In some cases, it might be the fact that being exposed to addiction at a young age can leave some people susceptible to it later in life. For others, the emotional trauma of an addicted family member might contribute to their troubled coping mechanism.

For others, it might be a little bit of column A, and a little bit of column B. In any case, solving the impact of drugs is more than just helping one loved one – it’s about helping an entire family, and generations to come.


Getting Help

When families think of getting their loved one some help, the first thing that springs to mind is an intervention. While these can be useful to help someone in denial understand the extent of their disease and have them sign into rehab, it’s best to first just talk things out, and present rehab as an option (or a necessity, if the situation is dire).

If your loved one has become completely unresponsive and irrational, there are legal tools to help you get them some help for the safety of the family. But ultimately, recovery only works if the addict wants to get clean – and acknowledges that they have a problem. Sober living after recovery is a great option in those cases.

When talking alone doesn’t do the trick, interventions can help.


Support Systems And Family Therapy

Regardless of what treatment plan you or your loved one chooses, addiction is a long-term fight. Temptations exist in every recovering addict’s head, triggered by memories, sounds, smells, sights. Over time, they fade – but for a while, they can be powerful, and difficult to resist in times of stress and negativity.

It’s important to come together and form a strong support system. Families make for ideal support systems, because that is their natural function. Parents support one another, they support their children, and their children help them live on. Through trust, love and commitment, a family can stay together and continue to beat addiction together.

But if secrecy, anger, and pettiness seep into the cracks between families and destroy their relationships, then the support disappears, and loneliness grows – even in cohabitation. Keep your bonds strong, nourish the family, and resolve conflict with rational conversation and compromise – not through anger, fear, and fighting.

Family therapy may be the ideal way to rebuild trust and relearn crucial communication skills while in recovery. If you find that your family cannot stop fighting, and that the negative atmosphere is tearing you all apart, then it’s important to consult a professional and see if there’s any way to come together.

Some families communicate uniquely – if that involves friendly banter and teasing, then a little “fighting” or “bad language” is nothing to worry about. What truly matters is what’s between the lines – the feelings, worries and bonds between parents and their children, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands.

A family is a complicated thing, and addiction can be like an acid-coated wrench thrown indelicately into the mechanism. Working out the kinks afterwards can take months and years, but it’s critical to do so for both the survival of the family, and the continued sobriety of your loved one.

Dealing With The Mental Effects Of Prolonged Addiction

Mental Effects Of Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s much more than a choice. Addiction can best be described as a mental illness or a brain disease, a powerful compulsion that pushes patients to seek out drugs even if they know it’s detrimental and carries heavy mental effects and consequences. Drug users will go out of their way for the next high, to the point of risking something like prison again – repeat offenders prove that even a correctional system as harsh as America’s isn’t an effective deterrent for many.

What does help, however, is treatment. But to understand why treatment helps, it’s important to understand what addiction does to you – and how mental illness and the mental effects of long-term addiction play into why it’s so hard to stay clean for many.

There’s more to addiction than the fact that you feel the urge to get high. Prolonged drug use can physically harm you and cause mental damage, and the financial consequences of addiction can be ruinous.


What Mental Effects Drugs Have On The Brain

Drugs interact with the brain in many ways, but most of them work on the same basic principle. The best way to simplify how drugs work is to think of them as impostors of existing crucial neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals. They hijack the receptors in your brain’s cells and act as certain neurotransmitters, transmitting specific signals throughout the brain to elicit feelings of joy and happiness, but also other reactions, such as weakened coordination and slowed movement, as with alcohol, or a numbing effect that reduces the body’s ability to feel pain, like opioids. Whichever one is used, the mental effects are always negative.

All drugs have something in common, and that is their addictiveness. From nicotine to heroin, drugs elicit a response in the brain that is unnatural – this effect causes the brain to adjust. Most drugs invoke mental effects that condition the brain towards further usage, to the point where you begin to crave a drug. But as you take it more often, its effects are also severely diminished, causing you to need to take more. The two effects go hand in hand, making addiction particularly dangerous as the risk of overdosing is built into the nature of the disease.

Over time, it becomes harder to quit. Not only do most drugs cause physical damage to the brain and other organs, making it harder to think rationally and fight against the addiction, but as the brain normalizes drug use, it becomes reliant on it. Suddenly quitting can elicit painful withdrawal symptoms – sometimes, these mental effects can be fatal.

Aside from these complications, perhaps the biggest deterrent to recovery is the fact that drug use actively diminishes a person’s ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, and be critical. Drug use is also seen as a very effective short-term coping mechanism, drawing in people with high levels of stress caused by work or mental illness. At other times, due to its very poor performance as a long-term coping mechanism, and the fact that it can be mentally and socially ruinous to get addicted, addiction also leads to mental health problems including depression due to the consequences of getting addicted. A person who experienced years of loss due to their alcoholism may find it harder to quit because of the emotional (and physical) pain they endure while sober because of their drinking.

The only way out is through. One of the harder truths about recovery is that the mental effects and emotional pain are something everyone must process and overcome if they want to stay sober and successfully abstain for the rest of their lives.


Addiction, Anxiety, And Depression

Research shows that people with mental health issues – particularly forms of anxiety and mood disorders like depression – struggle with addiction more often than the general population. This is because people with mental health issues often try to self-medicate to deal with their issues without seeking out help or treatment, either to avoid stigma or for other reasons.

In other cases, excessive drug use may lead to the development of depressive symptoms and a diagnosis of major depression, because of the mental effects of addiction and the events that followed.


Seeking Comprehensive Treatment

Addiction treatment and mental healthcare have come a long way. Even though we’re not the best in the world at tending to our mental health, we do have a great understanding of the detrimental effects of stress and emotional pain, and the correlation between addiction and mental illness.

That is why many addiction treatment facilities utilize the knowledge of in-house experts to recognize the mental effects of addiction and formulate a comprehensive treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all in addiction treatment or in mental healthcare. But a treatment plan that addresses both issues as one – and even tackles physical issues through proper diet and exercise – can achieve wonders.


The Importance Of Strong Support

Ultimately, a person’s sobriety is as strong as they are – but when your strength falters, it’s important to have people in your corner backing you up, ready to help you get back on your feet and back into the ring. Some wrestle with addiction much longer and much harder than others, but regardless of your story or your circumstances, having people who love you and want you to stay clean and healthy can make a world of difference. A solid support system will give you a shoulder to lean on, an ear to speak to, and a fresh perspective whenever you feel the negativity catching up with you.

It’s one thing to have people around you ready to help you stay clean, but it’s another to be willing to ask them for help at the right moment. It’s important to recognize when you’re slipping and get the help you need to stay on the straight and narrow.

Beyond your support system and immediate circle of friends and family, consider sanitizing your relationships and removing yourself from relationships that you feel hurt you, or pull you down. Sometimes we retain friendships from the old days before the treatment, hoping to help them as well, but some people won’t accept help and have to find their own way to recovery. Knowing when it’s time to move on is important both for staying sane, and for staying clean.

In the end, it is possible that you will be struggling with the aftermath of addiction for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t have to impede on your ability to lead a colorful, exciting, and awe-inspiring life. Once you’re clean and the reigns are in your hands, it’s all up to you.


How Addiction Affects Your Mental State

Mental State Changes From Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction is not something a person chooses. It is an illness that affects nearly 21 million Americans and causes over 64,600 deaths a year. While it afflicts some people more than others, it can affect anyone from any background, and take many shapes and forms. Some people struggle with behavioral addictions, unable to stop a certain addictive behavior like illicit sexual activity or video gaming, despite severe negative consequences to both physical and mental health. Others get addicted to substances, from illicit drugs like heroin to prescription medication and alcohol, suffering changes to their mental state in the process.

Yet what all addicts have in common is the inability to regulate and control their behavior, sometimes despite a deep and intimate understanding of the consequences. We have tried the violent way – millions of Americans are put behind bars every year, and many of them for drug offenses. Yet far too often, they simply become repeat offenders, relapsing after rehab, or ending up in jail again.

The only way forward is addiction treatment – and that involves understanding what addiction does to the brain and mental state and knowing what it takes to reverse that damage.


What Drugs Do To The Mental State Of The Brain

Addiction is a neurological issue – it affects the mental state and a network of functions in the brain related to pleasure and addiction. Many everyday activities trigger these reward pathways, like exercise, comfort food, sex, and social interaction. Anything that naturally makes us happy stimulates these pathways, triggering the release of neurotransmitters that make us feel a certain joy.

These pathways can be flawed. In some individuals with clinical depression, for example, they fail to properly distribute and reuptake serotonin, an important neurotransmitter for happiness. This makes it difficult for some people with clinical depression to feel joy at all and causes them to feel deep sadness for no apparent reason, without a distinct trigger.

In people who struggle with addiction, certain behavior and addictive drugs have overstimulated the neurons in the brain, through an excessive release of happiness neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine. This abundance in dopamine releases changes the mental state of the person and causes a desensitization to the natural effect of the neurotransmitter – making drugs less effective, and making old hobbies seem less fun.


The Addiction Loop

Eventually, the drug becomes a necessity due to the altered mental state. The body develops a psychological need for more drugs, to maintain a state of normalcy. Often enough, trying to quit ends up in drastic and painful withdrawal symptoms, and extreme cravings for the drug, akin to a severe thirst for water in the middle of a hot desert.

Addiction completely corrupts the mental state of the brain and way it is wired for motivation and happiness, making the acquiring, and using of a drug or the repeating of a certain behavior more important than almost anything else.

The cycle of tolerance, withdrawal and relapse is a constant one in many people with addiction. While tolerance and withdrawal can be exclusive and are not necessary for the definition of an addiction – you can be addicted without having issues with tolerance – they are often correlated. This loop makes it even harder to quit, as people not only have to cope with living in sobriety, readjusting to life without drugs, fighting terrible cravings and being confronted with guilt and societal stigma over their addiction, but they must fight against terrible physical symptoms for days every time they try to quit.


Long Term Effects Of Drug Use

Drug use does more than temporarily change the way the mental state of the brain. Often enough, it can have long-lasting effects. Substance abuse carries the risk of long-term brain damage, often in the form of cognitive deficiencies, and issues with critical thinking and problem solving. People who have been addicted will continue to have issues with risk-assessment for some time, and it can take a while to fully regain your ability to think critically and assess certain situations.

This is often due to how long-term substance use damages brain tissue, specifically areas of the brain pertinent to making choices, and memory. Most drugs, especially alcohol, stimulants, and opiates, can have severe consequences with long-term misuse, such as organ failure and strokes.


Why So Few People Seek Treatment

The mental state of someone aware of their addiction yet unable to fight it alone can be very negative. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are common among people with addiction versus the public due to how the addiction loop promotes and breeds negative thinking and makes it difficult to hope for a healthy and safe future. This is compounded by the fact that people with addiction are not treated compassionately in public.

Many people see addicts as morally corrupt and physically soiled, and instead of helping addicts and seeing them as people struggling with an illness, few people have the empathy to treat them fairly. The criminalization of addiction and stigmatization of addiction in the workplace means the chances of getting back into society’s good graces are slim for many addicts, making a happy sobriety seem almost impossible on the surface.

We have come a long way, and many programs exist to help addicts – but it is still a dreary outlook, making recovery very difficult, and providing one of many explanations for why so few people decide to take up treatment for their addiction. However, that does not mean treatment is not always the best option. It is. No matter how far you have come or what you have been through, getting help is necessary for everyone still struggling with addiction, and it gives them the best shot at a better life.


How Treatment Can Reverse Drug Damage

Recovery can reverse a lot of the damage done by drugs, especially through years of healthy living. A clean, balanced diet and exercise can improve a person’s cognitive abilities and help keep you healthy and living for a long while. Many of the negative health effects attributed to addiction are tied to poor diet and malnourishment – focusing on healthy eating habits as a part of sobriety can improve your quality of life tremendously.

Life after addiction can be much better – but getting to that point is not easy. Treatments exist for all people, varying in length and treatment type depending on a person’s circumstances and preferences. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, but addiction treatment today is varied enough that anyone can seek help, and often get the help they need to achieve lasting sobriety and return to a better, drug-free life.


Why Should You Get Clean For The Holidays?

get clean for the holidays | Transcend Recovery

The holidays are a time to celebrate family, love, or whatever religious holiday exists then. For different people the holidays mean different things, and the traditions and schedules change with religions and regions. For some people, it’s an opportunity to live life differently over the next 12 months – and get clean for the holidays, for example.

Traditionally, the winter solstice has always been a celebration for the approaching end of winter and the lengthening of daylight.

But since we don’t really have as much to fear of winter as we might have centuries ago, other traditions have come around to take that place, such as celebrating the end of a good year and looking forward to the beginning of a new, and potentially better year.

For many Americans, the holidays are also a time for reflection. They’re a time to look back over the past 12 months – and beyond – and make a note of what’s been done and left undone. Many people carry a great burden in their lives, and some carry more than one. Shedding that burden, or turning it into a source of strength is the only way to keep on walking – otherwise, we all fold under it sometime sooner or later. And through the reflection that the holidays offer, there’s no better time to deal with your addiction than right now and get clean for the holidays.


Get Clean For The Holidays: A Time For Family

Family matters – even if it’s not your own family, but a family you’ve created through friends and loved ones. And no matter what you believe in or what the holidays represent to you, it’s important to be with the people you love when celebrating the holidays – and when fighting against addiction to get clean for the holidays.

Combine the two together, and the holidays aren’t just a wonderful time to experience the love and togetherness of family – but also to combat addiction, and make a pledge to staying sober while surrounded by those who matter most to you, for whom you can get clean for the holidays and stay sober.


A Good Time For Good Food

Christmas and the holidays in general are almost always a time of major indulgence and subsequent food comas. But maybe, this year could be a little different. If you’ve already stuffed yourself for Thanksgiving, you could put a twist on this year’s solstice by going the other way – a healthier way.

This isn’t just meant to be a cruel joke on the family. Instead, it can further help you cement the holidays as your time to get clean for the holidays.

People vastly underestimate the role nutrition must play in successful drug recovery, especially early on when the food tastes of most people struggling with addiction generally tend to lie on the extremely sweet side of things. Early recovery sort of regresses our tastes to juvenile levels, and we crave fat and sugar as ways to refuel rather than real food. Why isn’t exactly certain, although some suspect that it has to do with the damage that drugs wreak on the brain’s reward center.

Alcohol, cocaine, prescription medication, black tar heroin – it all works on the brain differently, but affects the reward center in much the same way. These substances mess with the way you perceive pleasure, to the point that it cuts you off from truly being happy in conventional ways for quite a while.

This means your idea of what’s yummy doesn’t correlate with what’s healthy anymore. Most people can appreciate a delicious pasta meal, or a well-seasoned lean steak. Instead, your tastes are skewed heavily towards what most affects your reward center – and nothing affects your reward center like fat, salt and especially sugar.

This is because as kids, these are our primary cravings to ensure that the young human body gets as many calories as possible (because before civilization, agriculture and industry, we evolved over millions of years to crave high-calorie foods for survival). The instinct to rely on what satisfies our reward center returns after that part of the brain has been heavily assaulted by drug use.

Reversing that takes time – and the best way to start is by starting on a healthy diet.

Beyond your lust for sugar, there’s another aspect to using nutrition as a tool to fight the cravings of early recovery – and that’s to help your body heal, and to fight off the dangerous effects of binge eating, both physically and mentally. Highly nutritious food is also important to reverse the damage done to the human body by drugs, including organ damage, gut damage, and even brain damage.

Just taking vitamins won’t cut it, either. Refined vitamins might get partially absorbed into the body, but we rely on a complex variety of foods to truly be healthy. Vegetables include phytochemicals that increase the bioavailability of minerals and vitamins from other vegetables and fruits. Think salads, baked vegetables, casseroles, soups, stir fries. Steamed fish, seared steaks, organ meats and glazed chicken. There are countless ways to prepare a mix of vegetables and meats and enjoy a complex, harmonic and delicious symphony of tastes and aromas, all on a budget and all while adhering to the holiday spirit.

It just takes a little research, and you’ll have half a dozen recipes in twenty minutes.


The Holiday Spirit Of Gratitude

The holidays are a time for reflection – but that doesn’t just have to mean reflecting on past tragedies and burdens. There’s also a time to reflect on all the good things that have happened – and in all honestly, focusing on them can be much more beneficial to your conviction to get clean for the holidays.

There’s enough misery in addiction, and enough shame and burden in early recovery. Most people feel depressed soon after going sober, and it doesn’t help that life is extremely difficult to adjust to right out the gate. You may even want the help of a Los Angeles sober living community to help your recovery.

But in a time for gratitude, happiness and togetherness, sobriety can truly flourish. If ever there’s a time to soak up positivity and fight against your addiction with everything you have to get clean for the holidays, it’s while the holiday spirit is alive and well.


A Time For New Commitments

The holidays aren’t just the end of the year – they’re the prelude to new beginnings, and new commitments. Now is the time to prepare for a new year, and the chance to make things right – to start a second life, and appreciate every second you get to breathe in this world’s air and put your own two hands to use doing things you love and care about, leaving the life of addiction far behind for a life spent well.


Why Has Prescription Drug Abuse Grown So Big?

prescription drug abuse | Transcend Recovery Community

The United States is a great country. But it’s also a country with flaws, and problems. Imperfections and embarrassments. It was built on certain values, values that at the time made way for a novel nation. Yet even then, it was undermined by societal problems, problems that took centuries to fix. Improving our country is a job that no one person can undertake, and it’ll take us generations. It all starts at home, with family. We protect our own, watch out for our neighbors, and strive to create safer, better communities. And part and parcel with that dream is fighting against the things that tear apart our families and destroy our lives.

For decades, this country has been struggling with an invisible problem – over medication and prescription drug abuse. At the root of that problem is a little plant. A pretty little flowering plant, called the poppy. Opium poppy is the world’s source of opiates, a family of drugs that affect the mind by binding to our opioid receptors, numbing pain and creating a sense of euphoria and happiness.

At first, a good thing. But it’s also highly addictive – and that addiction can lead to months and years of suffering, and finally, death. Opioids like heroin, morphine, and illegally-distributed fentanyl have been problems for decades – but it’s the more recent wave of prescription opioids that triggered today’s opioid epidemic, which currently is claiming more lives under the age of 50 than any other known cause of death.

To understand the prescription drug abuse problem, we must know where it came from. And from there, we must find a way to safeguard our families from its influence, and help those around us struggling with addiction begin a new life without drugs.


America’s Fight Against Pain

It all began with pain. Pain is unavoidable. Every now and again, you’re bound to trip and fall. But most of us can learn to fall a little less, and hurt a little less.

Then there are those among us that always hurt, regardless of whether they fell or not. Chronic pain has always existed, but it’s only with our growing life expectancy and that it’s become more and more common. From rare diseases like fibromyalgia, work-related injuries, nerve problems like sciatica, aging pains and pain resulting from obesity and lifestyle-related diseases, chronic pain has been on a rise for a while.

Then, in the 90s, American doctors decided it was time for an official policy to declare a war on pain. It was specifically in the late 90s, when a panel issued guidelines for more prescription painkillers to help sufferers of chronic pain.

From there, “compassionate care” grew. Doctors were prescribing more medication, and state policy for various parts of the country became increasingly positive towards drug-related pain management. Over the course of a decade from ’97 to 2007, the consumption of opioids like methadone and oxycodone grew 13-fold and 9-fold respectively. This meant many were being prescribed far too much, which meant having a lot of unused medication – a problem to this day.

As sales of opioids skyrocketed, so did non-medical use and prescription drug abuse. While it wasn’t overwhelmingly common, those who suffered from chronic pain and took opioids were also most at risk for developing an addiction. And many did.

This lead to a massive jump in accidental overdoses. And ever since, the death toll has grown.


A Big Misunderstanding

Heroin, opium and oxycodone are all essentially the same thing, with varying degrees of potency. We’re talking about a drug that triggers a numbing effect, and makes you feel better – all while carrying an immense risk for addiction.

However, because the latter drug is prescribed by a doctor and not peddled by a drug dealer, it’s more trustworthy – and therein was the misunderstanding. Prescription drugs are still very dangerous, and not to be treated lightly. Drugs like morphine and oxycodone have their role to play in emergency rooms, and for end-of-life care – but overprescribing these medications to chronic pain patients is putting them in harm’s way – especially considering the potential ineffectiveness of opioids in treating chronic pain and potential for prescription drug abuse.


It’s Not Just Prescription Drug Abuse

Major steps have been taken to cut down on prescription drug abuse, particularly by restricting the pace at which doctors can distribute them. However, that has since given way to a new problem. With a dwindling legal supply of prescription opioids and growing grassroots movements and community efforts to reduce the number of pills in American families and households, those who already struggled with painkillers found a new, illegal means to satisfy their urge: heroin.

Heroin is an illegal substance, which means its production isn’t regulated or monitored for quality. This means it’s often cut with other substances to increase bulk, and infused with a more potent, cheaper synthetic drug to maintain street value. The result can often be an accidental overdose, and death – or lifelong disability.

Since heroin has become popular again, it’s been flooding into the United States at an elevated pace. States where drug use has been historically high – such as Vermont – and counties and towns along known drug routes are now seeing an influx of heroin use, as well.

Many first-time opioid addicts today are no longer getting hooked by prescription drug abuse, but heroin itself. Whether this is because of the increased demand for the drug following prescription drug regulations or some other reason hasn’t been conclusively studied – but the fact is that this is an even bigger danger than opioid medication, which has some assurance of safety if prescribed and supplied by a real doctor.

There is no easy factor to blame, or reason to pin. It’s a complicated mess of things, ranging from the slow death of industrial America and our recent financial crisis and depression, new wars with returning veterans struggling with the trauma and physical pain of combat, to the rising cost of living and stagnating wages, and the growing gap between rich and poor.


Dealing with Our Opioid Crisis

As individuals, we can’t fix our country overnight. But we can help each other stay alive, and live a better life: A life without prescription drug abuse. Whether it means showing compassion to a neighbor, helping your spouse stay sober, or signing into a sober living community yourself, there’s always something you can do.


What Are The Warning Signs Of Opioid Abuse?

Opioid Abuse Signs | Transcend Recovery Community

We’re living in a time when opioid abuse is at an all-time high in the US. Not only is the United States the world’s biggest consumer of opioids, but it’s struggling with one of the worst heroin epidemics in recent memory.

The only comparison that doesn’t pale completely is 18th century China, when roughly a third of the country was addicted to opium. At the time, it took several reforms, international intervention, major changes in trade, a war and a cultural revolution before the opium epidemic began to lessen in severity. That alone should hint at how much of a scourge addiction is.

Opioids are also not just any addiction. Opioids, in all their forms, are among the most powerful and addictive drugs on the planet. Derived from the poppy plant, opioids describe any non-synthetic and synthetic derivatives of a special alkaloid compound that attaches to receptors in the human brain, causing an analgesic and euphoric effect.

In other words, we’re talking about a family of substances that act as powerful painkillers, and cause feelings of pure joy. While that sounds great on the surface, these substances also come with a side-effect: an often-lethal addiction. Here are a few common opioids, as well as more information on how the addiction develops, and can be identified.


Here’s What Classifies As An Opioid

Opioids are both natural and synthetic derivatives of opium (either chemically derived from the poppy plant, or designed with opium’s function in mind), including:

  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Carfentanyl

These are the generic names for most well-known opioids, but they have separate brand names as well. Commonly known brand names for opioids include:

  • OxyContin®
  • Percocet®
  • Vicodin®
  • Percodan®
  • Tylox®
  • Demerol®

Beyond that, an opioid may also refer to any substance that exhibits very similar symptoms or functions to natural or synthetic opiates. An opiate, on the other hand, refers to any derivative of opium. Opium itself is addictive and effective as a painkiller, but is nowhere near as powerful as its later derivatives, most famously codeine, morphine and heroin.


Physical Symptoms Of Opioid Abuse

Opioids in and of itself have great medical applications, particularly as painkillers for post-surgery or emergency room situations. They’re also often used in end-of-life care, particularly with terminal cancer patients. However, when subject to misuse, they can cause significant physical side-effects including:

  • Constipation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Respiratory difficulty/respiratory arrest
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness

As an addictive drug, opioid abuse can lead to withdrawal symptoms, which are mostly flu-like. Although opioid withdrawals are not as fatal as alcohol withdrawals, they can be quite painful and uncomfortable.


Behavioral Changes

Beyond the physical symptoms of opioid abuse, there are a few other ways in which an opioid addiction will change someone – specifically behaviorally. Opioid abuse can lead to:

  • Dramatic mood shifts
  • Unexpected and noticeable euphoria
  • Social isolation
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Recklessness

Most forms of addiction will lead to behavioral changes, as people typically try and cover up their drug use. They may go out of their way to create an illusion that everything is fine, which inadvertently can cause suspicion.

Other common changes from opioid abuse include financial trouble, excessive amounts of stress, and erratic behavior at work or at home. Finding drug paraphernalia is an obvious sign of use as well.


Long-Term Effects

Heroin and other opioid abuse can cause long-term changes in the body, some of which may be irreversible. For example: there may be evidence to suggest that heroin use leads to the deterioration of white matter in the brain. This affects learning and can slow cognition.

Other long-term behavioral changes include difficulty in decision-making and a difficulty with mood regulation and behavioral control. In short, heroin use can lead to long-term deficiency in brain function, thus impairing your thinking, reasoning and memory. This can also affect your ability to plan, solve problems, and multitask.

The brain is a remarkable organ, but it takes time to recover from abuse. Any damage to the brain can take decades to resolve, or even be permanent. The only way to know for sure is to keep working on improving your brain health after an addiction, through exercising, a healthy diet, and regular mental challenges such as tackling math, literature, or certain strategy games.


Treating Opioid Abuse

As dangerous and powerful as opioid abuse is, it can be “defeated” – or in more apt words, an addiction to opioids can be overcome. But it isn’t easy. Heroin and other opioids continue to be one of the harder addictions to beat, because of their inherent addictiveness, and availability. If it isn’t through prescription medication on the black market, then it’s through the heroin on the streets.

Overcoming addiction is difficult no matter what you’re addicted to, but some vices give you a longer period to cut yourself off from them. With heroin, your chances are a bit slimmer – but they’re there, and you’re by no means hopeless.

It’s not as easy as just checking into a treatment facility or Los Angeles Sober Living, though. Recovery is a life-changing process, and you’ll need all the help you can get. But with the help of your loved ones, your friends, and a little bit of luck, you can reclaim your life and live drug-free again.

Sexual Addiction Can Accompany Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Sexual Addiction Can Accompany Drug or Alcohol Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

When you are in a sober living program or living at a halfway house, you might uncover other addictions you didn’t know you had. In a way, becoming sober is a form of thawing out and doing so leaves you open and vulnerable to the other forms of addiction present in your life.

It might be difficult at first, especially because you’re residing at a sober living home to stay sober, not necessarily to uncover the other things to heal. Yet, this is precisely what recovering is all about. As you stay sober, you’ll find other ways in which your life needs to recover.

You should know that addiction doesn’t only mean having a physical and psychological dependence on a substance. You can experience addiction with a behavior, such as sexual activity. According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it is the activation of the brain’s reward system which is the key to drug abuse problems. In other words, it’s possible to develop an addiction to behaviors and any activity that triggers pleasure in the brain, to the point that that activity becomes the sole focus of one’s life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities. Certainly, sexual activity can become this. There is evidence that points to behaviors, such as gambling, having the same high, or rush in the brain, which is similar to the use of drugs. In that way, addictions can resemble the physiological symptoms that the use of drugs and alcohol might create.

According to Steve Sussman of the University of Southern California at Alhambra, sexual addiction is a pattern of sexual behavior that is initially pleasurable but becomes unfulfilling, self-destructive, and that a person is unable to stop. Along with this is the experience of sexual compulsivity, which is the repetitive sexual behavior attempted to achieve a desired psychological state that results in negative consequences for the sexually addict.

An addiction can easily develop when sex is regarded as shameful or secretive, especially if it was this way in an individual’s upbringing. An addiction with sex includes compulsive behavior, as described above, and a person might spend large amounts of time engaging in sexual-related activity to the point where he or she is neglecting social, academic, or familial responsibilities. As with the case of all addictions, there is a loss of control over one’s behavior. You might find that a sexual addiction is present for you if you see the following behavior:

  • Obsessive thoughts about sex that disrupt functioning at work or home life.
  • Inability to refrain from viewing pornography or engaging in sexual behavior.
  • Avoiding time with friends or family to instead spend time watching porn or engaging in other sexual activity.

Some adults admit that a problem with sex actually began earlier in life. In some cases, this is due to child sexual abuse where sexual fantasy and obsession is a symptom of unresolved trauma. As a child moves into adolescence often any unresolved trauma becomes exacerbated and an obsession with sexuality might grow. Research indicates that individuals addicted to sex often come from families in which there was abuse. Specifically, one study indicated that 82% of sexually addicted adults were sexually abused as children.

Seeking professional mental health treatment is important if the above signs are evident. Just as in alcohol or drug addiction, the 12-step method could be a good form of treatment. Similar to Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings, there are also Sexaholic Anonymous meetings. They are run just like an AA meeting, only with sexual activity as the focus of addiction.

Furthermore, there are also residential treatment centers that focus on sexual addiction. If you feel that you might be struggling with a sexual addiction and you’re already residing at a sober living home, then perhaps choices of treatment could include attending a Sexaholic Anonymous meeting or participating in therapy. Many mental health professionals are specifically trained to treat sexual addiction and sex-related disorders.

As you “thaw out” from a drug or alcohol addiction, you might also uncover a sexual addiction. Yet, there is treatment and support available to help you recover a healthy sexuality.


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For the Best Sober Living Experience, Try Using a WRAP

For the Best Sober Living Experience, Try Using a WRAP | Transcend Recovery Community

Some recovering addicts like to have a plan for reaching their sobriety. Although many people use the 12-step model, there are many people who don’t. The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) was developed by Mary Ellen Copeland and is now widely used around the world. In fact, WRAP is used for not only those with addictions, but also by those who have serious mental illnesses, lifestyle challenges, and experiences of war and other traumas.

WRAP is a recovery plan that an individual creates on his or her own. In fact, research has shown that the best sober living plans are those that are self-created, or at least have a measure of one’s own input when creating treatment plans. WRAP is a means for feeling better when one is not feeling well in their lives. It invites accountability and improves the quality of one’s life.

There are six parts to WRAP with some pre-planning that helps one set up a system of support. WRAP refers to it as a Wellness Toolbox, which includes improving the areas of life that need improving such that a person has all the support he or she needs. For instance, having a Wellness Toolbox means contacting friends and other who will be supportive, participating in drug counseling, engaging in exercises that help one focus on the recovery plan, regularly using relaxation and stress reduction exercises, journaling, making sure to have fun and do creative and life affirming activities, exercising, dieting if needed, and getting a good night’s sleep. Having significant support has also been proven to be necessary to create the best sober living program and prevent relapse.

In fact, one of the 14 principles of effective drug addiction treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is to engage families, employers, friends, and significant others for the best sober living treatment plan. NIDA is a United States research institution whose mission is to bring together science and drug abuse and addiction. They have completed several studies and work together with various organizations to bring the latest information to the table regarding addiction and recovery. NIDA recently published a guide based on research that provides the 14 principles of drug addiction treatment.

After someone has developed their pre-planning Wellness Toolkit, he or she is ready to move to the six major components of WRAP. They are:

  1. Create a Daily Maintenance Plan. This part of one’s sober living plan includes a clear description of yourself when you are well, a list of Wellness Tools needed on a daily basis in order to maintain wellness and sobriety, and a list of activities to participate in and/or things you might need to do on any given day.
  2. Identify Triggers. The second part of one’s sober living plan is to identify the triggers that jeopardize sobriety or your sense of well being if they occurred. Triggers might include an argument with a friend or not having the money to pay a large expense. When triggers occur, the next part of WRAP is learning to use Wellness Tools to manage this difficult time.
  3. Identify Early Warning Signs. Warning signs for relapse are those subtle experiences that let you know you are beginning to feel worse and that you might relapse. For the best sober living and recovery experience it’s important to know yourself well enough to know when you might be a risk for relapse.
  4. Know What to Do When Things Break Down. This part of WRAP is identify those signs that let you know you are feeling much worse. For instance, you might feel very sad much of the time or you might be hearing voices or you might have strong cravings to drink or use drugs.
  5. Use Your Crisis Plan. In this part of WRAP you identify those instances when others might need to take over responsibility for your care and decision making. You would identify who that person is in your life, and provide him or her with necessary health care information.
  6. Post Crisis Plan. After a crisis, this plan invites you to think about what you will need to recover from a major event. This could include taking time off work, spending time with friends or family who care, and resting more.

WRAP was initially designed for those with mental illness. However, today, there are a number of others who use the wellness plan. As mentioned earlier, research indicates that many of the components in this plan can contribute to the best sober living experience.


If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community
or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
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John: ‘Why I Chose Sober Living for Men Only’

John: 'Why I Chose Sober Living for Men Only' |

John has an obsession with women. He loves them. He wants to buy them things, adore them and show them the utmost respect. His obsession isn’t anything weird or strange; it’s just that he likes to spend time with women. To him, they’re nicer, prettier, and more interesting than men!

But when his drinking got out of control yesterday, he knew he needed to spend time in a facility of sober living for men only. And more importantly, he knew that he couldn’t be around women. They were going to be a huge distraction and keep him away from what he needed to do there: get sober! Continue reading “John: ‘Why I Chose Sober Living for Men Only’”

The Character Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics (Part One)

The Character Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics (Part One) |

In 1983, Dr. Janet Woititz wrote a groundbreaking book titled, Adult Children of Alcoholics. The book outlines the characteristics of adults who were raised in homes in which there was at least one form of compulsive behavior. This could be an addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or eating. Continue reading “The Character Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics (Part One)”