By Tian Dayton, Ph.D., TEP
there is a much larger story here. It’s the story of all of those mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins who care about and are concerned about this person who is abusing alcohol. And even closer to the bone it is about the partners and children of alcoholics and the day-to-day suffering that becomes their life.
So what happens to them?
Nelsan Ellis, who portrayed Lafayette Reynolds in all seven seasons of HBO’s hit series True Blood, recently died from heart failure due to alcohol withdrawal complications. The fan-favorite was only 39-years old. The circumstances of Ellis’ death were shared by his manager, who confirmed that his heart failure was a result of attempting to quit drinking on his own.
Steve attended five different treatment centers in an effort to overcome his alcoholism. The Meadows is the program that finally worked for him.
He credits his recovery to the individualized care and treatment he received from the outstanding staff, and the courage and strength the gained along with his peers during group therapy.
If you’re struggling with alcoholism and multiple relapses, maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at what’s fueling your self-destructive behaviors. The Meadows programs start with a thorough clinical assessment by a team of professionals to uncover your underlying emotional trauma and any co-occurring conditions that may be complicating your recovery. We then develop an individualized treatment plan, just for you.
Call us today at 800-244-4949.
Drug overdose is now the leading cause of deaths from injury in the United States.
According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention deaths caused by drug overdose are on the rise. Deaths of women who overdosed on benzodiazepines have risen a staggering 640 percent over the last 12 years, while deaths for both men and women from prescription drug overdose have risen 340 percent.
International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year. It aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.
You can pay tribute to friends and loved ones who have been affected by a fatal overdose on the IOAD’s Tribute page. And, you can help prevent overdose deaths by sharing the warning signs with friends and family.
Signs of a drug overdose can vary from person to person. But, here are a few common symptoms:
If you suspect someone is experiencing a drug overdose, call 911 immediately. If you can, gather any prescription bottles and/or chemical containers that you suspect the person may have taken and bring them to the emergency room doctor.
Overdose tragedies are preventable. Many addicts have experienced at least one non-fatal overdose in the course of their addiction; sometimes it is the event that leads them into recovery. But, if you or a loved one has been experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol, we urge you not to wait for a catastrophic, and possibly fatal, overdose to occur. The Meadows has Intake counselors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give us a call and let us help you find a recovery program that’s right for you.
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of heroin-related deaths has quadrupled in the past 10 years. Of people surveyed between 2011 and 2013, nearly 663,000 said they had used heroin in the past year; 379,000 said they had between 2002 and 2004.
Scott Davis, Clinical Director at The Meadows, says that the path that leads to heroin addiction is often different than that of other drug addictions. In many cases, it begins with a prescription for an opioid painkiller, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone. (In others, it begins with prescriptions for Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Ativan.)
“A lot of the people who are coming to us with opiate addictions don’t necessarily fit the mold for most addiction. They don’t typically have the family history of addiction or the long-term dependence on the drug that you see with many other addicts.” “That doesn’t mean that they don’t have trauma, or that their family doesn’t have issues—in fact, they may have issues which exacerbated their dependence on the drug and made the addiction more likely—but, they might not have otherwise found themselves addicted had they not been prescribed an opiate as a pain killer.”
Once the pills become difficult to obtain, it can be easy for a person to slip into heroin abuse. Heroin’s chemical structure is very similar to that of prescription pain medications and works in the same group of receptors in the brain. It’s also cheaper.
For heroin and opiate addicts, there are typically three levels of pain that they must overcome in order to reach sobriety: the physical pain that led them to drug, the pain of detoxing from the drug, and emotional pain that led to their addiction.
For many opioid addicts, their drug problems start with chronic physical pain. That pain is real and needs to be taken into account when developing a treatment program for the patients.
At The Meadows, we have a full-time medical doctor on our staff to help patients address the pain and the medical issues that are causing it. Patients cannot thoroughly address any underlying psychological aspects of their addiction if they are suffering too much from the physical pain that lead them to abuse drugs in the first place.
Heroin disrupts the brain’s natural opiate production process, which helps reduce pain and calm the nervous system. So, when a person stops taking the drug, he or she feels pain and anxiety more intensely than before. This makes detoxing from heroin especially painful. The Meadows highly-trained medical team, which includes a 24-hour nursing staff, can help patients safely and comfortably detox from heroin and opiates onsite. They develop a detox plan for each person that helps them to stabilize more quickly, experience less pain, and avoid some of the withdrawal symptoms they would have if they went off the drug cold turkey. Easing patients through detox makes it a whole lot easier for people to stay in treatment and stay off of the drug.
In many treatment systems, patients detox in a hospital or other setting and then go to the treatment program. Because we have the ability to help patients detox in-house at The Meadows, they don’t have to wait to begin treatment. As long as the patient is feeling well enough, they can begin attending classes and therapy sessions within the first two to three days after their arrival on campus. This makes the transition into treatment easier for them and allows them to start developing coping strategies for living without the drug right away.
While the path that led to heroin use may have begun with a need to address physical pain, the user probably soon found that it also minimized their emotional and psychological pain as well. Whatever coping mechanisms the addict had used before to manage their stress and anxiety may have fallen by the wayside, as the drug was able to do the trick much more quickly and effectively.
That’s why a key component of the treatment program at The Meadows focuses on addressing trauma, family issues, and emotion regulation. Our staff works with patients to help them identify and address any buried psychological pain and repressed feelings that may have played a role in triggering their addiction.
Many people who become addicted to heroin found their way to the drug unintentionally. Many of them may also be the only people in their families with an addiction problem, which can contribute to feelings of isolation and shame. Scott Davis says that one thing that makes The Meadows program especially well-suited for them is that there is no shame attached.
“We’re not going to tell them that they are bad people. We’re not going to tell them that it’s all their fault and that they should have known better. Because drug addiction is a disease. We’re going to look at the chemical addiction, and we’re also going to deal with the underlying issues that make this drug particularly potent for them in a non-judgmental way.”
If you think you or someone you love may have a problem with heroin or prescription medications, The Meadows can help. Give us a call at 800-244-4949 today or contact us online here.
Sober life can be filled with fun in the sun, so take advantage of all life has to offer this summer. Here are ten ideas to help you put some spice into sober life.
1. Take a Joke: LOL! There’s nothing like humor to soothe the soul. Grab a bunch of your sober friends and check out a recovery comedian. Or, have a movie fest in your living room by playing your all-time favorite funny flicks on a Friday night. Whip up a batch of popcorn and let the good times roll!
2. Hola: You may have thought about learning another language, but never had the time to see it through. Now’s a good a time as any. Learn Italian and head to Italy to show off your new vocabulary. How about a trip to France after your French is simply fabulous? Learning a language allows you to expand your social network and will keep your mind sharp. What’s more, you can learn via DVDs, online courses, or the old-fashioned way in classroom settings.
3. Team Effort: There’s a healthy supply of leagues to choose from –softball, football, soccer, baseball, basketball and even bowling – so jump right in. Get in some hearty exercise while joining forces with like-minded individuals. You’ll be compelled to show up for every game because the team is counting on you. You have to be in it to win it – so sign on.
4. Lend a Hand: There’s an abundance of organizations that would welcome your help. Volunteering is a win-win. Both parties reap rich rewards. The first question is where do you want to focus your energy? Would you like to tutor children? Feed the homeless? Comfort the elderly? Help preserve your local park? You can test out several options to figure out which one most warms your heart.
5. Hot Stuff: Eat and greet. Check out local cooking classes and dine in style with your co-chefs after your meal is elegantly served. Take recipe notes and recreate your meal for you and your fab friends in the comfort of your own home. You can even learn to create and decorate your next birthday cake at the abundance of baking classes springing up! Cooking classes are all the rage, so be sure to bring your appetite.
6. Get Crafty: Join the artsy crowd and get crafty. Take up beading, pottery or knit your favorite aunt a sweater. You’ll enjoy the process and feel a sense of accomplishment after showing off your creations. Or, try your hand at painting. You never know what talents lie within!
7. Take a Hike: Summer is a great time to embrace the great outdoors. Take a scenic hike through your favorite park or go camping with your best buddies. Be daring and have a karaoke competition with your fellow campers. Kayaking is another fun way to spend a leisurely afternoon. There’s nothing like a little fresh air to rejuvenate your soul!
8. Listen to This: Do you love the sound of guitars? Or, do you prefer the melody of a piano? Learning how to play an instrument does wonders for your self-esteem. Pick up some sheet music and take an online course to get you started. Gather your family and friends and play to a standing-room-only crowd.
9. Of Course: Do you have a craving to learn American History at midnight? Do you want to figure out how to amass money in the stock market? Are you eager to learn how to help your family eat better? Online courses cover the gamut from banking to baking, so choose a course and power on your computer.
10. Move On: Gyms now offer everything from dancing to dashing. You can opt for a Zumba class or make a dash for the treadmill. Opt for a few sessions with a personal trainer to secure an appropriate regimen for your fitness level. You’ll surely find something to get you going and you’ll feel better for it.
To learn more about The Meadows, visit us here or call (800) 244-4949.
New Bill Aims to Secure Addiction Treatment and Recovery
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Americans between ages 25 and 64. Approximately 100 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses, and about 75 percent of opioid addiction disease patients switch to heroin as a cheaper opioid source, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s 2014 Facts and Figures.
Opioids and heroin use are fueling the addiction landscape, and the problem is accelerating at lightning speed. Although heroin users were once associated with young men from low-income neighborhoods, this is no longer the case. Such users now come in all shapes and sizes with far-reaching demographics.
The problem has reached such epidemic proportions that senators are introducing legislation to combat the problem. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014 is aimed to address this epidemic by helping to secure treatment for individuals – especially young adults – in the throes of addiction.
It has become clear that ignoring the problem or wishing it away isn’t the answer. Educating the medical community is another part of the solution. Many doctors just don’t have the necessary education when it comes to opioid addiction – or even addiction in general. The majority of doctors intend to be of service to their patients, but many of them don’t have sufficient knowledge about opioid addiction. Opioids should not be the first resort in dealing with pain management. This is especially important because people who become dependent on opioids often turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative.
Here at The Meadows we have physicians sit in on our lectures all the time and when we speak about opioid addiction, we’ll hear some of them say, “I do that all the time. I’ve been handing out prescriptions much too readily.”
Fortunately, addiction is a treatable disease, but studies reveal that only a small fraction of those who need treatment receive it. The most successful outcomes are realized through in-patient residential programs such as The Meadows who also offer patients solid after-care strategies.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014 – introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Senator Rob Portman (D-Ohio) – would make up to $80 million available to states and local governments to expand drug treatment, prevention, and recovery. More specifically, the Act would:
According to Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island who himself suffered from drug and alcohol addiction. “The bill represents a significant step forward in how we understand and address addiction. The bottom line is that addiction and other mental illnesses are treatable, and recovery is real.”
If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids or heroin – or anything else – The Meadows is here to help. We’re the most trusted name in addiction and trauma treatment, so feel free to call The Meadows Intake Team at 800.244.4949 or visit us here.
Evidence is mounting that regular marijuana use increases the chance that a teenager will develop psychosis, schizophrenia or a pattern of unusual thoughts or perceptions, earlier than they might have had they not used cannabis. Heavy marijuana use between the ages of 15 and 17, a critical period for brain development, could result in the onset of psychosis in those prone to the disorder, new research suggests (1).
“With several states easing marijuana laws or even legalizing the drug altogether, both adolescents and parents might pay heed to this warning about the potential for the earlier onset of psychotic illness in regular marijuana users,” says Dr. Stephen Brockway, The Meadows Psychiatrist.
It’s important to keep in mind that this research does not mean marijuana can cause psychosis. It only shows a relation between smoking pot and developing psychosis or schizophrenia earlier than one otherwise might have. Data from the Allied Cohort on the Early course of Schizophrenia (ACES) II project, a secondary analysis of ACES, showed those who regularly smoked marijuana (at least more than twice a week) aged 15-17 years experienced first episode psychosis an average of almost 4 years earlier than their counterparts with first episode psychosis who did not use cannabis (1).
Predictors that cannot be modified regarding the age of onset for development of psychosis are male sex and family history of psychosis. Young adults with a parent or sibling affected by psychosis have a roughly one in 10 chance of developing the condition, whether or not they smoke marijuana (2).
The study included 247 hospitalized patients who had experienced first episode psychosis. Most study participants were single, male and African American. Nearly half of the patients had not graduated from high school, and almost 60% had been incarcerated. It was discovered that the average age of prodromal symptoms was 19 years, age at onset of psychotic symptoms was 21 and age of hospitalization was 23 (1).
Researchers asked the patients’ detailed questions about their individual marijuana use and just fewer than 80% reported having used the drug. The average age of psychosis onset was 21 years in those who used cannabis between the ages of 15 and 17, compared to those with no cannabis use during that time period, which were roughly 23 to 24 years of age. The amount of marijuana smoked was also a predictor of age of onset for those under 18 years old.
Teen use of marijuana may be particularly harmful because the teenage brain is still a work in progress. Areas of the brain responsible for judgment and problem solving are still making connections with the emotional centers of the brain. It is possible that smoking marijuana could derail the natural process of brain growth, which in turn could increase a young person’s vulnerability to psychotic thinking.
Delay in psychosis onset is important because it improves outcomes in the severity of symptoms and disability level. The later in life psychosis symptoms arise, the more one has been able to accomplish, such as graduate from high school. This in and of itself is associated with better physical health, better mental health and better social outcomes over the course of a life span (1). Despite the growing evidence of the relationship between marijuana and psychosis, further research is needed to determine causality.
Many doctors explain how the link between marijuana and psychotic disorders is important to be aware of for patients with a family history of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, but there is no evidence in regards to marijuana being a cause for these disorders. It is most plausible to conclude that cannabis use precipitates schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders in individuals who are already vulnerable because of family history (3).
By Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
Family Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows
After news of the sudden death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, I was amazed by the impact this incident was having on people. I read post after post from my friends on Facebook about their sadness from the loss of such an incredible talent and the shock that his life came to a tragic end from suicide. The media has been full of reports about Mr. Williams’ battles with alcoholism and depression over the years. How could this happen? How do we make sense of this talented, funny man being so depressed that his only choice was to end his life? This unfortunate event moved me to reflect on my personal story in hope that it might resonate with at least one reader and encourage that individual to seek help.
According to Oltmanns and Emery (2007), alcoholism and depression are related phenomena and approximately 40 percent of people who suffer from alcoholism have experienced major depression at some point during their lives. The authors additionally state that anxiety and alcoholism are likewise associated and “people who have an anxiety disorder are about three times more likely to have an alcohol use disorder than are people without an anxiety disorder” (Oltmanns & Emery, 2007, p. 188).
I can see these statistics ringing true within my family dynamic. Depression and anxiety run alongside the alcoholism for my siblings and parents. For those family members who choose to drink alcohol, their depression and anxiety becomes glossed over and ignored because the fallout from their drinking overshadows other mental health issues. However, the presence of depression and anxiety became very known to me after I made the decision to quit drinking. Once I was no longer numbing the pain with alcohol, I was left to deal with the depression and anxiety.
During the past twenty-five years in sobriety, I have had times in my life when I have been functional, where depression and anxiety have not interfered with my being. However that hasn’t always been the case. I have struggled with either depression or anxiety during times of major life stressors. For example, when going through a divorce at the age of 23, I experienced severe depression to the point that I could not eat or sleep. I also experienced other somatic symptoms such as aches and pains in my body, headaches and eye aches. Concentrating was very difficult, which made it impossible for me work. At that point, it was necessary for me to take a couple of months off from my job to, as I put it, “clear my head.”
After the depression had subsided, my grandmother shared that during my depressed period it was difficult to have a conversation with me. She told me that if I was asked a question, either I wouldn’t answer it at all or I would answer something else. Obviously, my head was not clear!
I turned my attention inward, practicing a ruminative style of dealing with this life stressor (Oltmanns & Emery, 2007) by asking myself questions over and over, such as “Why did he leave?;” What did I do wrong?;” and “How could he have done this?” I had no job, no husband, and was humiliated by his affair. I felt hopeless—a classic symptom of depression.
I again found myself in a similar experience twelve years later with my second husband after learning about his sex addiction. I experienced many of the same somatic and psychological symptoms of depression; however, this time anxiety also created havoc in my life. I was unable to sleep, consumed with worry about every aspect of my life and contemplated over thoughts of him with other women. The more I tried to repress my thoughts, the worse they would become. It felt as if my mind was racing all of the time, and I couldn’t focus on what I needed to do. I knew these thoughts were not rational, and it made me feel stressed and crazy.
The situation once again affected my job performance. Somehow, this time I managed to go to work every day, but nearly lost my job when the irritability reached a high threshold and I exploded at my boss. Luckily for me, I had a long work relationship with her, and she knew “I wasn’t myself.” This was the wake-up call that got me into therapy.
When I started therapy, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. I was started on an SSRI and received interpersonal therapy that focused on current relationships. I came to realize that since I had stopped drinking at the age of 23, I had been vulnerable to anxiety and depression every time a major life stressor occurred.
So, why did I have these vulnerabilities? Oltmanns and Emery (2007) refer to a twin study that has shown “environmental factors influence the expression of a genetically determined vulnerability to depression” (2007, p. 151). In my case, depression and anxiety, as well as alcoholism, are generational. It is very likely that I have a genetic vulnerability to these mood disorders. When life stressors occur, I experience depression and anxiety because of this genetic vulnerability. Without the life stressors, perhaps I wouldn’t have experienced the anxiety and depression.
Like many people in recovery, getting sober did not resolve my life’s difficulties. It stopped the drinking, but not the pain and suffering that depression and anxiety create. I believe that many people in AA who suffer from depression and anxiety continue to do so because it goes untreated. Unfortunately, there are many people in AA who believe it’s inappropriate to go to therapy or take medication. This idea is not supported in AA literature, but has taken hold in some parts of AA, which inhibits many people who need help with depression and anxiety from getting the help they need.
The answer to this question can be found in the AA pamphlet called, “Questions and Answers on Sponsorship.” This pamphlet can be found here.
Below is a quote taken from page 14 of this conference approved pamphlet:
“An A.A. sponsor does not offer professional services such as those provided by counselors, the legal, medical or social work communities, but may sometimes help the newcomer to access professional help if assistance outside the scope of A.A. is needed.”
AA addresses this issue in their pamphlet called, “"The A.A. Member: Medications and Other Drugs" which can be read online here.
This quote was taken from page 6 of this conference approved pamphlet:
“A.A. members and many of their physicians have described situations in which depressed patients have been told by A.A.s to throw away the pills, only to have depression return with all its difficulties, sometimes resulting in suicide. We have heard, too, from members with other conditions, including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, epilepsy and others requiring medication that well-meaning A.A. friends discourage them from taking any prescribed medication. Unfortunately, by following a layperson’s advice, the sufferers find that their conditions can return with all their previous intensity. On top of that, they feel guilty because they are convinced ‘A.A. is against pills.’ It becomes clear that just as it is wrong to enable or support any alcoholic to become re-addicted to any drug, it’s equally wrong to deprive any alcoholic of medication, which can alleviate or control other disabling physical and/or emotional problems.”
In 12-step meetings I do talk about my battles with depression and anxiety because I feel it’s important to let other alcoholics know that they too can receive help and live happier, more productive lives. Just because alcoholism, depression and anxiety are often co-morbid, does not mean that a person has to live a life of sobriety battling depression and anxiety. I know from firsthand experience that with the proper treatment, a productive, happy life is possible.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, there is help, regardless if you are already sober from addictions. Sometimes when people are sober from addictions, they think they “should” be able to handle life’s ups and downs. There is no shame in asking for help. For more information, please call 800-244-4949 or contact us here.
My name is Patty Evans, and I am Chief Marketing Officer for The Meadows. Today I am in need of using this blog forum to express my thoughts, grief and personal actions to motivate us all to do something today.
Yesterday, I heard of the loss of actor, comedian, humanitarian, and father, Robin Williams— it saddened me greatly. I lived in Los Angeles during the rise of his career and watched a superstar evolve from the Comedy Store. I was moved significantly by his work in the movie Patch Adams. In a weird, round-about way, I was able to connect professionally with the real Patch Adams. As it turned out, I arranged for him to speak at an event for a group of highly regarded clinical professionals. The intention of this perhaps unconventional speaker to this group of mental health providers was to help everyone experience his life’s work related to the healing power of joy and laughter. In writing this, I do want to pay my respect to Mr. Williams’s family; however, that is not my full intention.
I am concerned about the impact of loss throughout our nation created by driving accidents related to alcoholism and addiction. Near my home town, on a Saturday night, a 22-year-old female decided to go for a drive to “clear her head” after a fight with her boyfriend. Her decision came after consuming three shots of tequila and three shots of rum along with beer. A very tragic decision. This young adult veered across the lane and struck another vehicle, killing two people and critically injuring a third. A 28-year-old mother of four was pronounced dead at the scene along with her father; her mother survived but was in critical condition. Their last moments were spent bowling together and talking about the new start their daughter would have with a new job starting that week. She, unfortunately, leaves behind four young children now.
So why am I writing this now? I want us all to get really concerned about these losses. I hope that we can keep this story alive for more than 48-hours on the local news. We all have young adults in our lives—please, let’s join together, be bold, and keep our conversations alive daily about the hazards of drinking and driving.
We all have a voice of influence, and my hope is that we will stand together and use our influence. It is not just about a couple beers or partying or that everyone is doing it. Unfortunately, this is the message most frequently heard by our young adults. Join me in spreading the message to every young adult we can reach today that driving and drinking is unacceptable—today, tomorrow and daily. Our efforts may just make a difference.