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10 Things I Wish I Knew About Recovery 10 Years Ago
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

After almost 10 full years of continuous clean time in recovery, I have learned a great deal.

If I could turn back time and start over again fresh at day one in recovery, here are the critical lessons I would most hope to take with me.

This is the juicy stuff I have learned on my journey:

1. That there is no secret to recovery. Only hard work, action, and commitment produces real results.

So many people in recovery believe that they have found the one and only secret that will allow them to stay clean and sober successfully. For the vast majority of addicts and alcoholics, this is the 12 step program.

Many people believe that the 12 steps have mystical power, that they were the ultimate secret to beating addiction that we were just lucky enough to uncover thanks to Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. This is a ridiculous way to think, even though I can see why many people cling to this mindset out of fear.

I am not knocking 12 step recovery. It is valuable for some people. But, you must realize that it is not a magic recovery method. There is no magic in it. There is no secret power in the 12 steps that produces great success rates. In fact, the success rate is quite poor. But aside from that, the program can work for some people. It is just not the magic bullet that they believe it to be.

Now, given that, what is the secret to recovery? Only hard work. If you want great results in recovery, you have to put in massive effort. What you do only matters a little, so long as it is positive action and you keep pushing yourself to learn and to grow. The rest is just details.

2. The drama in your life is your own. Nobody cares. Find a way to deal with it, or relapse.

From what I saw in early recovery, everyone who is trying to get clean and sober is, in some way, a bit of a drama queen. They all have some degree of self centeredness, they are all either wrapped up in anger, self pity, or resentment of some sort. And in traditional recovery circles, everyone is going to meetings and basically unloading all of their crap like it is group therapy.

You have to find a way to deal with this stuff. You have to find a way to make recovery work for you. It is your responsibility to do so. No one else can step in and figure out how to manage your recovery for you.

For example, I noticed in early recovery that I was addicted to self pity. I took resentment and turned it inward. This was what I loved to do, and it was also how I used to justify my drug use. Self pity was sort of like the big character flaw that kept me sick.

So I had to realize this, and then I had to decide to overcome it. It took serious effort. I had to learn about gratitude and how to practice it. I had to realize that some other principles were not as important to my recovery, but that getting over this particular hurdle (for me) would be crucial.

We all have our own personal Mt. Everest in recovery. Maybe you suffered abuse as a child, and still resent it. Whatever it is, you need to pin it down, and destroy it. It takes what it takes. You may need to seek help, therapy, professional help, etc. Do whatever it takes, because the responsibility is entirely on your shoulders.

3. That the most powerful spiritual principle in recovery is gratitude.

Gratitude is so powerful that it can overcome almost anything, it can prevent any form of relapse. How does it do this?

Because someone who is truly grateful will not have a need to self medicate. They will not have a need to alter their state of mind with drugs or alcohol. They will appreciate their whole life, their whole existence, and they will appreciate that very moment that they are experiencing….and this is enough. They do not need more than this. They do not need to add anything to their life, they do not need to change their experience with a buzz.

Every single addict and alcoholic who has relapsed had a moment that was like the flipping of a switch in their brain. At that moment, they said to themselves: “Screw it.” That is the point of no return. That is the point when the relapse has been decided. They will drink or use drugs. It is over. No more clean time. No more recovery. That moment comes when they say “screw it.”

Gratitude is the opposite of saying “screw it.” Gratitude is about hope, about being grateful for existence itself, and grateful for what the future may hold for you.

And it takes practice. You don’t just choose to be grateful one day. Instead, you have to practice cultivating gratitude in your life. You have to remind yourself, train yourself how to appreciate things. You have to work at it.

But of course, the payoff is definitely worth it. People who are truly grateful do not relapse.

4. That the cockiest people at the AA meetings were going to relapse anyway.

When I first got clean and sober, I was going to 12 step meetings every day, because I was living in a long term treatment center. I continued to go to 12 step meetings for about the first 18 months of my recovery. After that I largely quit going to them, and found other ways to actively engage with recovery.

I noticed right away that there were some cocky people in the meetings. I went to various meetings too, there are several in my town, both AA and NA, and I noticed that there was always certain people in the meetings that just rubbed me the wrong way. Some of them were cocky. But it was not quite that really. It was more that they were fear mongering. They would threaten the whole meeting with the idea of relapse, and how most of us would not make it to a year sober, and blah blah blah. They preached fear as a means of convincing themselves that they would stick to the program.

I am so glad that I did not buy into this fear, and that I left “the program” and found my own path in recovery. Almost 10 years later and I am still using my own brain to seek positive action in recovery.

And over the years, I noticed something about the fear mongers in 12 step meetings: they all relapsed. I have to admit that I felt a twinge of pride at that because those people are damaging, in my opinion. They used to preach at me that I would relapse and die if I ever quit going to 12 step meetings. So I am glad that I had the strength to walk away from that negative, fear-based message.

5. That self pity really is a big waste of time and mental energy.

I noticed in very early recovery that I was holding myself back, in a way. I was creating my own problems, through the use of self pity. Why was I doing this?

Looking back at my years of addiction and alcohol abuse, I saw that I had a clear pattern of using self pity as a way to justify my drinking. I secretly enjoyed when bad things would happen in my life, because it gave me the excuse that I need to really get hammered.

Self pity was how I fueled my addiction.

Now, other people with addiction do not necessarily have this problem. Some of them might be more prone to resentment (towards others). If this is the case, then they need to find their own path in overcoming that particular problem.

But for me, it was self pity. That was how I justified my using. And I noticed that when I got clean and sober, I was still using self pity as an automatic defense mechanism.

Of course, I could quickly see that it was not going to keep working for me (unless I relapsed). Having the self pity around was not doing me any good, because I was no longer using drugs and alcohol. So I had to get rid of it, and stop letting myself “go there.”

How did I do that? Basically I shut it down in the same way that I had stopped using drugs, and gave myself a zero tolerance policy for it. I became more aware of when my brain was engaging in self pity, and I shut it down immediately. Then, I forced myself to practice gratitude in order to compensate for this tendency.

Gratitude is the cure for self pity. They cannot coexist. So if you have problems with self pity, shut it down, and then practice gratitude.

6. That self esteem is something you create; something you build….not something you wish for.

Some people out there might disagree with this idea. But it was important, for me at least, to come to terms with the fact that I could not make magical wishes and somehow feel better about my life and my situation. I had to put in real work, real effort, real action….and only then did my self esteem start to improve.

I think every person who is successful in recovery can look back at their journey and agree that, “yes, I had to fight like a dog to build up my own self esteem.” We each have to claw our way to victory. In terms of overcoming an addiction, that means a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears in learning how to live without self medicating every day.

You can’t just wish that things where different in recovery, and magically see the changes occur. You have to put in the work. Taking action is the real key to this. If you want to feel better about yourself, then it all starts with what you are going to do today. Do. As in, verb. As in, you, taking action.

Sitting around and thinking does not cut it. And even though there is some great recovery literature out there, sitting around reading about recovery is not necessarily going to change your life, either. You have to dive in with both feet and get busy. Maybe that means you will need to go to 12 step meetings every day. Maybe that means you will start working with other addicts and alcoholics. All just details. What is key is that you take consistent, positive action.

Recovery is about doing. Recovery is about living. It all comes back to action. Those who do not take positive action in recovery end up relapsing.

7. That exercise would turn out to be a huge breakthrough for me.

Never would have foreseen this during my first two years of recovery. In fact, I had a therapist during my first year who tried to get me into exercise and working out. I sort of half tried it for a while but none of it really clicked for me. I am not sure why it did not click at the time, but it just didn’t. I said, “this is nice, and I am sure fitness helps some people in recovery, but it is clearly not for me.” Boy was I wrong.

So fast forward to a few years into my recovery, and suddenly I decide to take up running, on a whim.

It is not easy and is actually quite miserable for a few months, then suddenly, everything clicks like magic. Running is easy, enjoyable, and spiritual. It is a moving meditation and I could never dream of going without it. Five years later and I am still going strong.

Apparently I just had to get over that hump. But now that I am in shape, I would say that exercise is one of the main pillars of my recovery. Really, it is that strong.

Those who dismiss physical exercise as being unimportant to their recovery are just missing out. Their life could be so much easier, if they could get past this hump, and commit to doing regular, vigorous exercise.

8. That it is pointless to invest time and energy into someone who is not ready to quit yet.

I have worked in the treatment industry for about 5 years now, trying to help sick addicts and alcoholics to get clean and sober and turn their life around.

In addition to that, I am in recovery myself, and most of my friends are in recovery as well. Some of them have, on occasion, “slipped back over to the dark side.”

So I have had some experience with trying to help others to get clean and sober. And here is what I have learned:

Recovery is hard, no matter what program is being used, and no matter what the circumstances are. Period. Recovery is tough, and the odds are not great.

But here is the thing: after working in a drug and alcohol rehab for 5 years, I have watched thousands of people try to get clean and sober, and we can divide all of those addicts into 2 groups:

* People who genuinely want to get clean and sober.
* People who only sort of want to be there, and might be doing it for a friend, family member, to try to save a marriage, or a job, and so on.

So you have 2 groups of people. Those who really want it for themselves, and those who do not. And here is the thing: most of these people don’t make it in recovery. Period!

That includes all of both groups. Even those who really want to get sober, a large percentage of those people will relapse.

So can you imagine how pointless it is to try and help someone from the other group, the folks who really don’t care much to begin with?

If someone wants to get clean and sober–then by all means, help them. But if they do not even want sobriety for themselves yet, then you are wasting your energy.

This idea may seem obvious right now, but the whole game changes when it is our friend, family member, or loved one that is out of control. But these ideas still apply all the same, unfortunately…

9. That success in recovery breeds more success. Take massive action and break through to a better life.

An addict who is just getting clean and sober is not someone on a winning streak. They say that all the time in 12 step meetings: “You did not come into this program because you were on a winning streak.” Of course that is true. No one gets clean and sober when everything is going real good in their life. It would be stupid to do so, actually. Why change when things are going well? It would not make sense.

In early recovery, you might be depressed. You may feel like getting sober is just another low point in your life after being “on a losing streak” for so long. So it can be hard to turn that around and make it into something positive.

But this is exactly what you must do. And then, once you convince yourself that being clean and sober is a win, you have to follow it up with another win. What will that be? It might vary from person to person.  You overcome addiction when you start to pursue real growth in your life.

For me, I moved into long term rehab, and felt like I was at a low point for doing so. But then good things started to happen. I took some suggestions and went back to college. Soon I had my degree. I took another suggestion and started running. Now I run about 30 miles per week and get huge benefits from doing so. I also took some of this discipline that I learned and applied it to starting a business, which is now thriving.

And so on. If you do it right, then you will build on your successes in recovery. Each “win” in your life should motivate you to achieve the next goal. You should develop a bit of momentum. Life should keep getting better and better.

If you’re not quite there yet, then don’t worry. Just relax, and focus on one thing. At first, it is enough to get through one day sober. But you have to push yourself at some point, to learn and to grow in some way.

Don’t try to take on the whole world at once. Like I said, focus on one goal at a time. For example, I spent several months where my only goal was to quit smoking cigarettes. It was time well spent and I eventually succeeded. Then I moved on to work on my fitness goals. And so on.

10. That even though it can be tough, recovery is SO worth it.

Recovery can start out hard. It is difficult at first, no doubt about it. But of course, the rewards are SO worth it in the end.

If you are actually learning and growing in your recovery, and building on each success that you have, then live just keeps getting better and better as you go along. Really what you are doing is refining what it means to be an effective person in your life. You learn new things, try different stuff, and stick with whatever works for you. In meetings they say “take what you need and leave the rest.” Do this on a broad scale and apply it to your entire life. Recovery is personal growth. Push yourself to learn, to grow as a person, and to love others.

At that point, your sobriety will take care of itself.

What to do for Meth Addiction Recovery
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What are some strategies for meth addiction recovery?  What is the best way to get clean from meth?

There are a number of things that a meth addict might do in order to try to straighten their life out.  One thing they might try first is to go to some NA meetings.  This is not necessarily the best solution for everyone, but it is helpful for most, and it is also free (unless you donate to the meeting.  They are supported only by donations).

Just going to an NA meeting might be of help for a variety of reasons.  One, you might get clean and sober and stay that way forever.  This is the ideal outcome, of course.  But even if that does not happen, you still might get some benefit by being exposed to NA.  One thing you might do is to learn if you are really an addict or not.  Some people just like to abuse drugs, but can easily walk away from the and leave them alone when they really want to.

Jump


 photo credit: Barnaby K

However, most drug addicts stay stuck in denial for many years, telling themselves that they could quit, only if they really wanted to, and that they just don’t want to.  This is denial if:

1) The meth addict continues to run into more and more problems due to their drug use.

2) All of the friends and family member of the addict think that there is a real problem.

3) The addict keeps dealing with real consequences due to their drug use but continues to justify them and rationalize them away.  (The police just have it in for me, etc.)

Denial is simply failing to see the truth of the matter, which is that drugs are just no good for some people.  If you are constantly getting into trouble due to your drug use, then you probably have a serious problem.  If you cannot, or will not put the drugs down, even in the face of heavy consequences, then you are probably an addict.

If you find yourself in this position and you have tried to go to an NA meeting, you might also consider going to rehab.  Now keep in mind that most rehabs are just going to expose you to more 12 step meetings, but they also offer a lot more than just that.  You have to use what works for you in recovery and ditch the rest.  If 12 step meetings are not your thing, you can still get a lot of value out of going to drug rehab.

Recovery from meth addiction can start when you are in residential treatment, and you start learning about how to deal with life without self medicating all the time.  You can also learn how to have fun again without drugs or alcohol, though  this may take some time for you to really start living it.  You will also meet a support system in rehab that can help you to stay clean when you leave on the outside.  Maybe you will also meet up with a good therapist who you really connect with, and this could become a form of ongoing support.

Really the best thing is to simply keep an open mind when going in to treatment, and try to take everything in and just soak it all up.  You may be against certain ideas, but just watch them, observe them, let them wash over you and then form your own opinions.  No one has to become a 12 step meeting freak in recovery in order to stay clean necessarily.  You can find your own unique path in recovery, even if all the 12 step folks say that meetings are the only way.  They are not.  Your recovery can take many forms.

The Facts About Drug Addicted Children
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

While talking about children who are drug addicted is a very sensitive issue it is one that really does need to be discussed. This article will focus on drug addicted children and what can be done about it. This is a very serious issue and an issue that cannot be just swept under the rug. Children are supposed to have a carefree, happy and safe life, but what happens when that child becomes addicted to drugs. This article will cover both children being born with drug addictions and also children who develop a drug addiction during their childhood years.

A serious epidemic that has always seem to be present is children being born already addicted to drugs. This is a sad and harsh way for a child to enter the world. This can happen if the mother is taking illegal drugs or consuming alcohol during her pregnancy. A mother addicted to drugs will pretty much lead to a child being born fighting a drug addiction. Not only will the child have to face the withdrawal from the mother’s drug of choice, they may also be born with birth defects. Some of these birth defects can include developmental issues, behavioral issues, being born without fully developed arms and legs, or sometimes the can be born with clubfoot. Cleft palate and very low birth weight are also possible side effects. Fetal Alcohol syndrome is another scary possibility for babies being born to mothers who consume alcohol during their pregnancy. Babies who are born with a drug addiction will go through the same withdrawal process that anyone would. Really seems unfair to bring a child into this world, who has to struggle to stay alive. The key to preventing this from happening is education. There is so much documented literature available that no baby should be born this way. Seeking medical and professional help is crucial. Another key to preventing this is simple, do not use any illegal substance or consume alcohol while you are pregnant. All pregnant women should be receiving prenatal care.

Let’s look at the situation where children become addicted to drugs on their own. Statics do show that children who are raised in home where drug and alcohol use are present are much more likely to develop a drug or alcohol addiction. If you are raising children in a home where you or someone in your family is suffering from addiction, it is vital to seek professional help. Not only for your child, but for your own health as well. Children need to be educated and taught the dangers of drugs. As your child grows older and starts attending school, it is inevitable that your child will be faced with peer pressure. You are the tools that your child needs to stay away from drugs.

What if you suspect that your child is under the influence of drugs or alcohol? The first step is to talk to your child, confront them about this. You will probably need to seek professional help as well. Ignoring the situation will not make it go away, it will probably only escalate and get worse. Your child’s doctor should be able to help you understand treatments and things you can do to help get your child off drugs. It is very sad to see and hear about all the death of children that can be linked to the use of drugs. Children are very impressionable, so keep this in mind in all activities you do. Spend time talking with your kids and make sure they know the risks of using drugs. Seek out help soon, the sooner the better. Do not delay when it comes to a drug addicted child.

Information About Nasal Spray Addiction
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Included in the long list of possible addictions is a nasal spray addiction. When you get a cold or suffer from allergies, it is easy to purchase one of the over-the-counter nasal sprays that promise to give you instant relief from congestion. These sprays really work. They usually last for at least 12 hours. Unfortunately, when the allergies are disappearing and the cold is gone, you will still use the nasal spray because you think that you still need it. The instructions on the sprays say that you shouldn’t use it for more than 3 days. The problem is that you may still be suffering from total congestion for more than 3 days. So, you will still continue to use the spray. It all seems very harmless. However, the more you use the nasal spray, the less chance your congestion will clear up on its own. This is when the addiction comes into play. Some people will continue to use the spray for weeks and even months before they decide that they should stop.

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 photo credit: B Rosen

If you stop using the spray, eventually the nasal passages will go back to normal, and you won’t depend on the spray anymore. If you really give your willpower a chance, you will start to ignore minor congestion and let it go away by itself or by taking an over-the-counter decongestant or a prescription from your doctor. Many times the congestion may actually get worse after stopping the use of the nasal spray. This is called the rebound effect.

Becoming addicted to nasal spray is a very innocent substance abuse. However, it is still an abuse. No one uses nasal sprays for the purpose of getting high or increasing energy. They use it to simply clear the nose. It’s uncomfortable to be so stuffed up that you can’t breathe. If you feel that you will only depend on the spray for just a few days, it is a wonderful product for quick relief. But there are other ways to help clear the congestion without becoming dependent on the nasal spray.

One way to break away from this addiction is to try some of those paper strips that can adhere to the bridge of your nose. This involves no drugs, no side effects, no fuss and no mess. Many people seem to be satisfied with the results of these strips. If this method is not good enough, you can try using a saline nasal spray. These are not habit-forming and can be very effective. If you have a humidifier, use it in the bedroom while you sleep. Nasal congestion seems to be worse at night when you are in a horizontal position. Dry air will only worsen the congestion. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can always boil water and breathe in the steam. Since you’re boiling the water anyway, you might as well make a cup of decaffeinated tea or soup. Just by drinking these beverages you can still get the steam effect to help clear the nasal passages.

Another simple solution is to use a warm washcloth and apply it around the nose. The heat and moisture can loosen the mucus that causes the congestion. You can also use a vapor rub on your chest. By breathing in these vapors you will feel some relief all the way up through the nasal passages.

Before trying any of these other solutions, you need to throw away the nasal sprays that you may still have hidden in your home. By not having these sprays around you are forced to try one or more of the other ways to control your congestion without becoming addicted again.

Meth Addiction Signs to Watch For
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a highly-addictive stimulant that triggers the release of dopamine and norepinephrine from the brain. Made from readily-available substances such as battery acid, paint thinner, and over-the-counter cold medicines, meth releases twelve times the amount of these pleasurable neurotransmitters than sex. Luckily for those with observant loved ones, the meth addiction signs are all too clear when put together. Be vigilant for the following signs if you suspect meth abuse.

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 photo credit: b_ronphoto

Users may commit spur-of-the-moment crimes. The drug impairs judgment and increases agitation, so the user may be involved in altercations with strangers and loved ones alike. Burglaries and petty thefts could be signs an addict has run out of the drug and needs more money. Male and female users alike may also pay in sexual favors, turning to prostitution. 

Meth often robs the user of normal pleasure. Be aware of sudden disinterest in sex, fun hobbies, or spending time with friends. As the user slips further into the clutches of the drug, the brain’s supply of dopamine depletes, robbing these activities of all pleasure. Sexual partners of users may also notice that, while the user is able to perform, the encounter lasts for hours with no climax. The ability to orgasm can be lost completely with meth, as the brain’s neurotransmitters are too depleted to trigger a climax.

Obsessive behavior is also noted in individuals battling meth addiction. Compulsive hand-washing, cleaning, or over-grooming may occur. Sometimes, the user will repeat the same task over and over, or re-check their work many more times than necessary. This can also stray into self-harm as the user may pick or scratch at their skin until open sores develop. Meth users frequently report the sensation of bugs crawling under the skin, exacerbating this obsession.

Tooth decay, otherwise known as meth mouth, is caused by the poor hygiene of users, as well as a decrease in saliva production and nervous grinding of the teeth. On the same note, extreme body odor, lack of grooming, and a cavalier ignorance of their body’s condition also afflict users. Since meth also causes copious sweating, the smell quickly becomes overpowering if the user abandons hygiene.

Also be cognizant of the user’s mental state. They will often talk at length in rambling, disjointed rants. They may become easily confused or argumentative. Hallucinations of bugs, persecution, and being judged have all been reported with regularity. During withdrawal periods, an addict may sleep for long periods and become withdrawn. If help is not sought, depression can result. Withdrawal also leads the user to feel less intelligent and slow. They may think others are patronizing them, and lash out at those attempting to aid the addict in their recovery, leading the addict to relapse.

While pure meth has no odor, impurities may lead to a strong odor ranging from sickeningly-sweet to rotten eggs. Sometimes, what one would believe is the scent of meth may be the attempts of a paranoid smoker to mask the smell using air fresheners or burning hair or plastic. Not wishing to be caught smoking, addicts may also be fond of incense, scented candles, or heavy perfumes.

It is also important to note that meth is not always smoked. It can also be inserted into the anus or vagina for absorbtion, crushed and snorted, swallowed, or dissolved and injected. Be alert for needle tracks or frequent nosebleeds. 

If you believe your loved one may be using meth, please seek help right away through a drug counseling service or rehabilitation facility. Meth addiction is usually fatal within it’s first five to seven years. Don’t wait.

Ritalin Addiction is as Serious as Cocaine Addiction
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Ritalin addiction occurs when high doses of this drug are taken to lose weight by decreasing one’s appetite, improve concentration for schoolwork, or experience feelings of getting “high”. Also called methylphenidate, this drug is first prescribed in small doses that are gradually increased over time to slowly increase dopamine levels in the brain for specific health reasons. Dependency of this drug is similar to an addiction to cocaine and amphetamines.

The drug Ritalin is available in 5, 10, and 20 mg tablets or 10, 20, 30, or 40 mg capsules. It is used to treat a variety of illnesses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also known as ADHD or ADD. This disorder affects a person’s ability to solve problems, plan, understand, focus, and act on impulse. Those who experience dizziness and increased heart rate after sitting up from lying down on their back are also prescribed this medication. Those who suffer from narcolepsy also benefit from this drug. It keeps them awake and alert instead of feeling so extremely tired that they fall asleep at various times during their usual waking hours. It is also used to combat depression, obesity, and obsessive compulsive disorder also known as OCD.

This medication increases the amount of dopamine to the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects brain activities such as movement, emotions, joy, and pain. Increased levels of dopamine improve focus, attention, concentration, and alertness. Many students use it to excess to stay awake and improve their concentration in order to do better academically.

It is just as easy to become addicted to this drug as cocaine and amphetamines and actually causes the same effects if snorted, injected, or taken in large doses. Side effects include nervousness, sweating, dizziness, and headaches. Loss of appetite, stomach pain, and nausea can result in weight loss. Some patients also experience insomnia, loss of hair, skin rashes or dry skin, dilated pupils, and dry mouth. Some users even suffer heart problems such as angina, arrhythmia, and changes in their blood pressure and heart rate. Symptoms of withdrawal are generally the same as the side effects but felt at a higher level. Addicts also experience confusion, aggression, and changes in their mood and behavior. Other signs include becoming feverish and delirious, uncontrollable twitching and other involuntary movements, and a craving for another dose.

Professional treatment to overcome this addiction may be required if the addict cannot manage to break the habit on his or her own. This treatment includes detoxification in a facility to monitor the patient’s health during the process. Counseling through individual and group therapy discovers the reason for the addiction, provides other methods of coping with the dependency, and alternatives to living without this medication. 

Addiction to this drug affects family and friends just like other addictions. Upon discovery of a family member’s addiction, surprised family members feel disappointment, fear, and panic. Parents and siblings experience anxiety from not knowing what to do to help and can only stand by helplessly if their loved one does not seek professional help. Arguments and disagreements arise from resentful family members feeling neglected due to the additional attention showered on the addicted family member. Once close relationships between the addicted person and other family members or friends become strained or deteriorate.

It is vital that those who become addicted to Ritalin realize that they have an addiction and take the necessary steps to regain control of their life. Failure to do so could result in major health concerns as well as death. There are many resources available such as hospital and rehabilitation programs, private and public counseling, and support groups to help those who are in need.

Drug Addiction Movies Have a Long History
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Drug addiction has been a topic of movies for many years. It was a staple of 80s movies and has continued to be a valid story element in movies today.

The first notable drug addiction movie was “Reefer Madness,” a 1938 exploitation film centered around tragic events that follow after high school students are lured by drug pushers to try marijuana. The events include a hit and run car accident, manslaughter, attempted rape and suicide followed by a slow descent into madness. The movie was intended to be a warning about the dangers of drugs, but when it was rediscovered in the 1970s it became more famous as dark comedy.

Hunter S. Thompson Courtney Love


 photo credit: ste.muzz

In the 1950s movies tended to be on a grand scale, but there was the rare movie that bucked the trends of the day. One such movie was “Blonde In Bondage,” a 1957 movie about the underground drug world in Sweden and those who became addicted to it and hence created a market for it.

In the 1970s movies took on a more gritty edge, openly dealing with the subject of drug addiction. One such movie was “Go Ask Alice” which told the story of young girl’s experiences with drug to a fatal end. The Foxy Brown movie “Black Mama” didn’t do much to offer solutions to the problem, but it did highlight the effects of drug addiction. 1971′s “A Clockwork Orange,” based on Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel, uses drug addiction as the backdrop of its story.

The 1978 horror movie “Killer Nun” suggested the reason for the killer’s action was drug addiction. This was at a time when movies were exploring ways to incorporate elements of drug addiction into plots. “Annie Hall” offered a famous humorous drug scene involving cocaine and a sneeze.

As the 1980s came around drug addiction was becoming a hot button social issue and became further incorporated into movies. In “Scarface” drug addiction was simply a part of Tony Montana’s gritty, on the edge lifestyle. Michael J. Fox attempted to ditch his family friendly style in the movie adaptation of the Jay McInerney book “Bright Lights, Big City” about a disillusioned writer in New York City who turns to drugs when his life spins out of control.

“Drugstore Cowboy” (1989) with Matt Dillon is a rare gem that gave a realistic account of a drug addict and his adapted “family” as they travel across the country. Several movies in the 80s would use drugs as a part of the plot, even though the basic premise of the movie had nothing to do with it. Examples include “Three Men and a Baby” (1987) and “Adventures In Babysitting” (1987). “Tour of Duty” (1987) provided a realistic view of Vietnam, which included portrayal of drug addiction among the young men serving. Although there was an arguably valid attempt to justify it because of the nature of what they were doing.

As we rolled into the 90s drug addiction remained a theme in several movies such as Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” (1995) was a harder edged “Good Fellas” that incorporated drug addiction and activities that go with it into the plot. “Trainspotting” (1995) provided a disturbing insight into the heroine subculture while “The Basketball Diaries” (1995) starred Leonardo DiCaprio as a street kid who had a promising future undermined by his drug addiction.

Movies such as “Human Traffic,” “54,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “Thirteen,” “Crank,” and “Crash” continue to use the powerful topic of drug addiction in there plots with varying degrees of success. Drug addiction has plagued society for decades and will continue to provide story lines for movies.

3 Warning Signs of Meth Addiction to Watch Out For
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Here are 3 warning signs of meth addiction that you should watch out for:

1) Physical appearance – this is the big one that you should watch out for.  The person will obviously lose weight, but they might also do other things to tip you off, such as to be unkempt, unshaven, and so on.  They will stop taking care of themselves and the big warning sign is deterioration in the teeth.  You might also watch out for any burn marks on the skin or even on the clothing.  Burnt lips are particularly common too for those who are smoking meth (or crack cocaine possibly).

Essence of Creativity


 photo credit: Antanith

2) Personality change – the meth addict may become hyperactive, or they might do the opposite and withdrawal from people entirely.  Watch for sudden mood swings that cannot really be explained by anything else.  They might become loud and obnoxious due to the meth use, and they also might lose all motivation for achieving anything decent in life.  So watch out for these possibilities.

3) Relationship changes – if they just started using drugs then they will likely be doing this with other people, friends that they have not known for very long.  They might also suddenly discard old friends or family relationships that they once found to be important to them, but are not anymore.  If they are suddenly hanging out with an entirely new crowd of people, then you know something must be going on.

These are the 3 basic warning signs, but of course there are some other things you might watch out for as well.  For example, one is money.  If the person is suddenly broke all the time, or asking to borrow money over and over again, then you know something might be wrong.  Another big one is school or education…if they are suddenly quitting school, dropping out, missing classes, and so on.  Same goes for work, etc.

So what can you do if you see these warning signs of addiction?  The obvious thing to do right off the bat is to confront the person and tell them that you are gravely concerned about them and you cannot even sleep at night because you worry so much for their welfare and that you think something is wrong.  If you cannot get them to confess their drug use then you might tell them flat out that you think they are on drugs, and you want to see them get help.

One thing you might do if you already have it pretty much confirmed that they are on some sort of drugs is to call a drug rehab center in advance and see what the options are.   You might be able to find out at least what it would take to get the person into treatment, what it would cost, if insurance would cover it, and so on.  You might also get an idea of when you can bring someone in or if they need to schedule in advance and so on.  You may not get all the answers you are looking for but you can probably at least get some guidance and direction by talking with some local drug rehab centers.

You can also declare that you will not be a part of their addiction and that you will only support them if they choose to get help.  Tell them that if they want to get help, you will do whatever you can to assist them.  But if they want to keep using, then you would rather just keep your distance from them.  This is knowns as setting healthy boundaries, and will help the addict to see that they are isolating themselves due to their drug use.

Help for Meth Addiction – Treatment Options for Recovery
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What is the best way to get help for meth addiction?  What are the best treatment options for recovery in this case?

Well like with any drug, your best bet is going to start out with going to inpatient rehab.  This is almost always the best choice for nearly any addict who is trying to get clean and sober.  The reason for this is because an inpatient drug rehab has the most resources available to help you with your drug addiction.  For example, they usually have 12 step meetings, but also counseling, therapists, group therapy, and so on.  They might also be able to refer you to outpatient treatment or to long term rehab if that is deemed necessary.  So going to an inpatient treatment center can be much more than just having a few weeks locked up without any drugs.  You can have real opportunities there to make real progress with your recovery and set yourself up for success when you leave.

Not Even Once


 photo credit: Nathan Jongewaard

Meth addiction in particular can be a bit tricky because you do not necessarily have to detox someone for meth.  Most rehab centers will actually not put you in the detox ward when you get to rehab, but instead just have you start attending groups right away.  Why is  this?  Because there are only very minimal physical withdrawal symptoms from a meth user, whereas other drugs can have much more intense withdrawal symptoms.  In fact, many drugs can actually be dangerous to come off of but Meth is one that is completely safe to stop using cold turkey, even with no medical supervision.

Why does this make it tricky?  Well in part, quitting meth is extremely easy, because there is no withdrawal from it.  So any meth user can just put it down with no major problems.  This is a good thing, right?

Wrong.  The fact that meth is easy to put down makes it that much easier to pick it back up again.  Meth addicts know that there is no real penalty when they quit cold turkey, so it is much easier to justify a relapse than it is with other drugs.

For example, take a heroin addict who is on the brink of relapse.  They know that if they shoot up again, that eventually, they will have to go through the withdrawal process from heroin, and they know how incredibly uncomfortable that will make them feel.  So the heroin addict has real incentive to stay clean and sober, because they know how miserable the detox process is.

The meth user has no such incentive.  Even alcoholics have a bit of built in insurance when it comes to this, because alcohol withdrawal is no walk in the park either, and can be quite miserable.  In fact, alcohol withdrawal is generally one of the most dangerous detoxes out there, and can be fatal if it is not properly supervised.

So give meth the proper respect it deserves in being a very difficult drug addiction to overcome.  Just because the withdrawal is quite minimal does not mean that you should not take the treatment for this drug seriously.  Residential treatment is still probably the best idea in most cases and some meth addicts will even opt for long term rehab.  Long term treatment makes a lot of sense actually, because meth is more of a lifestyle drug, and it can take quite a bit of structure and disruption to overcome those old habits.  Many meth addicts are more addicted to the lifestyle that meth use brings along with it than they are to the drug itself.  The late nights, the week long binges, the partying….it is all part of the total package that the drug addict tends to glorify in their minds.  Overcoming this lifestyle element is best done with long term rehab.

Addiction Treatment for a Crack Cocaine Addict
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What is the best type of treatment for a crack cocaine addict who continues to struggle with addiction?  What is the best treatment available for struggling addicts in general?  Are certain recovery strategies more effective than others?

Well there are actually a whole bunch of different addiction treatment services that are available to struggling drug addicts.  For example, they might start an addict out with some basic addiction counseling, where the addict would meet with a therapist a few times per month.  Or they might refer an addict to outpatient treatment, where the person would attend groups all day and then go home each night.

'Clochard' Rue Victor Hugo Lyon


 photo credit: FaceMePLS

Then you move up to the more intense treatment methods, such as inpatient drug rehab and detox.  This is where the addict would actually check in and stay for a while at a rehab setting.  There they would get the benefit of counseling, therapy, and peer interaction, as well as medical staff support.

It gets even more intense if you move up to long term rehab, where the addict would actually live in  sober recovery house environment.  There they would have random drug screens, meetings, group therapy, and so on.

Ideally, if an addict has tried one type of treatment and failed at it, they should consider moving up to more intense forms of treatment.  This is a general rule but it makes a lot of sense for people who are struggling and nothing has worked for them yet.

My own personal experience was that I was drinking every day, using marijuana every day, and I was starting to experiment more and more with crack cocaine and smoking the stuff.  I had gone to counseling in the past and at some point the counselor told me that he did not think we should see each other any more.  This is because I had no intention of stopping my drug use at the time and the therapist knew it.  So it was just a big waste of time for both of us.

After many more years of trying to use drugs (and being largely unsuccessful at it, because I am an addict), I finally came to a point where I was willing to go to rehab.  I checked into a place and stated there for about two weeks or so.  When I left, I had decided that alcohol was my problem and that I was going to quit drinking but continue to use marijuana.  As you can guess, this did not work so well, and I ended up going back to my drinking within only a few short weeks.

The next time when I really was willing to get clean, I was more willing to do whatever it takes.  So when they suggested long term rehab, I was willing to go.  In the past, I had never been willing to attend rehab, but now I was more than willing.  So I lived in a long term rehab for 20 months and this was the big turning point for me.

Long term rehab did for me what other treatment strategies could not.  It gave me the structure that I needed in order to stay clean and sober for good.  But it also did something else that was really important: it gave me a new set of friends.  All of my old friends were people who used drugs and alcohol.  So without this new set of clean and sober friends, I am not sure that I could have found a way to stay clean and sober at all.

So the bottom line is that you should seek professional help fro your addiction.  If it fails, then seek more intensive help the next time.  Repeat this process until you stay clean and sober for good.

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