risk factors for addiction

10 Risk Factors for Addiction

Addiction does not care what your beliefs are or how you were raised. Because it can affect anyone, answering is addiction genetic or environmental is not cut and dry. There are both biological aspects of addiction and environmental risk factors of addiction. 

In this article, we will answer common questions about addiction such as:

  • What are the risk factors for addiction?
  • Does addiction run in families?
  • Are the risk factors of addiction genetic or environmental?

But, first, let’s explain what risk factors are.

What are Risk Factors?

Risk factors are anything that leads you to develop a behavior, condition, or trait. For example, risk factors for addiction lead you to use drugs or alcohol or develop an addiction later. 

When you understand the risk factors of addiction, you can manage and prevent developing a substance use disorder. However, just because you have one or more of these risk factors of addiction, it’s not definite that you will struggle with addiction. 

People deal with life’s stressors differently. So, a risk factor for you may not be a risk factor for another person. However, knowing the biological aspects of addiction and the environmental influences of addiction can help you avoid addiction altogether. 

Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors of Addiction

While there are many risk factors of addiction, we will look at the most common risk factors. If you are already using drugs or alcohol and any of the following apply to you, Discovery Institute can help you achieve recovery and live a life free of drugs and alcohol.

1. Addiction runs in my family. Will I struggle with addiction?

Risk Factors

Does addiction run in families?  Yes, addiction is hereditary. This means that specific genes have been passed down to you that increase your risk of addiction. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, genetics are almost half of the risk of addiction. For instance, if your family members struggle with addiction, you are likely to also struggle with addiction. 

However, it does not mean that you will have this overwhelming urge to drink or use drugs. But, it does mean that if you begin using drugs or alcohol, you have an increased risk of addiction. While you may not drink or use drugs by choice, you may become addicted to gambling or cigarettes. 

2. I first drank alcohol when I was 14. Will I struggle with alcohol use disorder as an adult?

Using drugs and drinking alcohol as a teen has been going on for decades. But, is it one of the risk factors of addiction? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, besides the risk of brain damage, teens who drink alcohol will likely struggle with addiction as adults. 

Furthermore, they report teens age 15 and younger who begin using alcohol are four times more likely to develop substance use disorder than those who first drank at age 20 or older. Teens who have easy access to alcohol can further increase the risk of drinking at a young age.

3. I can’t afford to live in the best neighborhoods. Does that mean my children will struggle with addiction?

As much as every parent wants to give their child the best, it isn’t always financially easy. Some parents have to work two jobs just to put food on the table. As a result, many families live in low-income neighborhoods. 

But, does living in low-income housing increase the risk of addiction? Not exactly. However, the stress caused by financial struggles often leads to using drugs or alcohol. As a result, what money the family did have is spent on drugs. 

In addition, children growing up in low-income housing are often exposed to drugs and alcohol in the neighborhood. Watching drug dealers driving around in nice cars makes using drugs cool. As a result, teens may use drugs also to be cool.

4. I have PTSD from childhood trauma. Am I at risk for addiction?

Childhood trauma is one of the most significant risk factors of addiction. Furthermore, unresolved childhood trauma can lead to mental health disorders. As a result, of these mental health issues, people often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. 

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), over a third of adolescents with childhood neglect or abuse struggle with addiction before age 18. Additionally, up to 60 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferers develop a substance dependency. 

5. Are males or females more likely to struggle with substance abuse?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men are more likely to use illicit drugs. While men of all ages have a higher risk of addiction than women, they are just as likely to struggle with substance use disorder. Additionally, women are more likely to have cravings and experience relapse, which are characteristics of addiction.

Environmental Risk Factors of Addiction

6. My parents are never home. What are my risk factors for addiction?

When parents take an active role in their children’s lives, it dramatically reduces their chance of using drugs or alcohol. Children and teens need clear rules and consequences and regular monitoring of their activities. 

When parents are always working or away from home, the only influence kids have is the tv and their friends. As a result, they are 50 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol than teens whose parents talked to them about drug and alcohol use. 

7. My parents leave their prescriptions out. Am I at risk of drug addiction?

Whether you as parents are present in your kid’s lives or you are away from home a lot, leaving your prescription drugs out can be tempting for your teens. Prescription drug misuse in teens is growing at alarming rates. 

In fact, prescription drugs have become more of a problem than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines. Data from SAMHSA shows 1.3 million adolescents 12 to 17 years old misused prescription drugs in 2016. Furthermore, almost 900,000 of them misused pain relievers such as opiates.

8. I take Xanax to cope with my divorce. Is this a risk factor for addiction?

If you are going through highly stressful times such as a divorce, a death in the family, or job loss, it can be easy to turn to alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. You may even get a prescription antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. 

However, if you don’t treat the reasons for the stress, the medication will only be a temporary fix. Furthermore, these medications can be highly addictive, and people often misuse their drugs as an escape from their problems. 

9. My friends want me to do drugs with them. Will I become addicted?

Peer pressure is as common in teenagers as a bad attitude is. Peer pressure is often defined as causing someone to do something they typically wouldn’t do to fit in. While peer pressure can be positive, it is more often a risk factor for addiction. 

Negative peer pressure may include:

  • Being handed alcohol or cigarettes
  • Pressured into having unwanted sex
  • Being asked to shoplift
  • Being made fun of for not smoking marijuana

10. I have all A’s in school. Will I develop a substance use disorder as an adult?

Addiction

The 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows adolescents with higher grades in school are less likely to use drugs such as marijuana, prescription drugs without a prescription, or use heroin. 

Data from the survey also shows:

  • 24% of U.S. high schoolers mainly making A’s used marijuana at least once. This compared to 66% of students mainly receiving D’s and F’s.
  • 3% of high school students with mostly A’s tried marijuana before age 13. This is compared to 25% of those with mostly D’s and F’s. 
  • 11% of high school students with mostly A’s took prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Adderall, Xanax, and Vicodin at least once without a prescription. This is compared to 34% of students with mostly D’s and F’s.
  • 1% of high school students with mostly A’s used heroin at least once. This is compared to 10% of those with mostly D’s and F’s.

Risk Factors of Addiction Are Reduced with Treatment

Substance use disorder is a complex mixture of risk factors. From the biological aspects of addiction to the environmental factors, you may feel like you are destined to struggle with addiction. 

However, if you relate to any of the risk factors for addiction, comprehensive treatment can help. Even if you haven’t used drugs or alcohol but meet many of the risk factors of addiction, therapy can reduce the risk. Substance use disorder treatment helps you understand your addiction, prevent relapse, and manages co-occurring mental health issues.

Discovery Institute Helps Manage Risk Factors of Addiction

If you are struggling with addiction, you may feel there is no way out. Maybe you can answer yes to does addiction run in families. Or, maybe your parents let you start drinking as a teenager, and you’re worried you have alcohol use disorder.

Discovery Institute offers a comprehensive treatment of addiction. Our programs help you build a positive self-image, heal past trauma, and prevent a recurrence of use. Contact us today and find out how we can help you. 

References:

https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/does-addiction-run-families

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/genetics-epigenetics-addiction

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/substance-use/index.htm

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa59.htm#:~:text=Adolescents%20also%20are%20vulnerable%20to,or%20dependence%20later%20in%20life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743691/

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/DASHFactSheetDrugUse.pdf

Addiction Recovery

What are the 5 Stages of Addiction Recovery?

The 5 stages of addiction recovery are related to the 5 stages of change. 

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Almost no one can doubt the challenge of recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. A difficult and often a long hard road, the process requires courage and grit. However, knowing what lies ahead can help prepare you for 5 stages of addiction recovery. 

From experience, you already know that your situation cannot improve on its own. With guidance from skilled counselors, you can find a path through the stages of addiction recovery.

How do I prepare for the change process?

Action State

Research has shown five steps will help you in this process. 

While it may seem unfamiliar, the stages of recovery they suggest start with the Precontemplation Stage and the Contemplation Stage. Then they find that the next three stages of addiction recovery include Preparation, Action and Maintenance. 

These stages of change can also assist with other aspects of your life as well. 

What happens in the Precontemplation Stage?

In Stage One before you enter treatment, you do not agree that you have a problem. You may even defend your use of drugs or alcohol. Everything remains the same as usual when you have not started to think about changing your behavior. 

Everyday wisdom states that you cannot solve a problem until you admit that you have one. In the Precontemplation Stage, you think everyone else makes a mistake if they think you have an issue with alcohol or drugs.

As you defend against suggestions by your friends and family to get help, you may choose to ignore their concerns. When you do not focus your attention on quitting, you do not want to discuss it. Some people may say that your denial prevents you from seeing the situation as they do. If you try to help someone deal with a substance use disorder, you can see the difficulty of making a point. If you have suffered from addiction, your friends may feel that way too.

How does the Contemplation Stage work?

In Stage Two, you start to get a hint of what people mean when they express concerns for your welfare. You may begin to think about the effects on your body and the relationships that your substance use disorder can create.

Even though you do not want to do anything about it just yet, you may start thinking about it. Far from feeling the same way every day, you like the idea on some days and not others.

Stage Two gives you time to compare the pros of quitting to the cons. While you may think your bad habits need changing, you do not think the result justifies the effort. In the in-between that separates the pros from the cons, the thought of quitting does not appeal to you. Even the possibility of reducing use does not seem right on some days. It may take a couple of weeks to move through Stage Two. 

However, every time you learn something about your habit, it opens your mind to considering the stages of addiction recovery.

What benefits do I get from the Preparation Stage?

As you may imagine, Stage Three lets you move out of the undecided stages where you spent some time. When you figure out that the burden you carry does not deserve your time or attention, you accept the facts before you. 

Some ways of saying that you want to change may occur in conversations with your friends. If you say that you know you must do something, it shows a positive attitude about the stages of addiction recovery. 

You may even say it to yourself when no one else can hear you.

The small confessions that you make silently or aloud show signs of doubt about your habit. It proves that you have thoughts about stopping. A new urge to learn more about the stages of addiction recovery may lead you to call an addiction treatment center or look online for information. 

Stage Three can provide a more important step than you know. For sure, do not bypass it as many people do. A major change to your lifestyle requires careful decisions. When you do the research, it helps you accept what it takes to make a healthy change to the way you live.

What do I get out of the Action State?

Preparation Stage

In Stage Four, you begin to believe you can make a change that benefits you. As a huge step that moves you forward in a big way, you can enjoy making a great decision. You deserve the pride that comes with believing in yourself. It can boost your spirit and make you want to do more. During this stage, you may spend several months making efforts to depend on your willpower to pull you through.

However, other people can run through it quickly. As you make true attempts to quit or change things, you run the risk of relapse more than ever.

Different ways to handle behavior during the Action State depend on the influences that affect you. As you prepare to deal with the challenges you face, slips may occur no matter how hard you try.

The pressures that weigh on you make it hard to stay on your path. At this point in recovery, many people choose to get help from someone who knows how to do it.

What can I expect from the Maintenance Stage?

You reach Stage Five in the stages of addiction recovery when you succeed in avoiding temptations that put you back into your old habit. After achieving so much and working very hard, you deserve to enjoy your new status. It may help to think about the progress you made and what it took to get you here. Some people think of safeguards that can help prevent a relapse. When you can anticipate situations that make you want to return to your habit, you can plan a way around them.

Patience can help you know that your decision to quit gave you a better life. Letting go of old habits takes time, and it may take even more to form new ones. You can benefit from sticking with them until they suit you perfectly. Stage Five has challenges of its own, and you may not make it through the first time.

How do these stages relate to addiction recovery?

The stages track perfectly with the feelings that come with addiction recovery. As you review the defense of your habit as nothing to worry about, you may see that it makes no sense. However, you must go through it to get to the next stage. A complete denial turns into signs of acceptance that a problem may damage your health and hinder relationships.

As you slowly move from one stage to the next in the stages of addiction recovery, it moves you closer to achieving your goal. That does not mean that you can stop defending yourself against temptation. Everyone has an ebb and flow in achieving progress, and normal behavior produces it. However, you can find satisfaction in putting decisions into action. After that, you can maintain your newfound freedom.

How does the Transtheoretical Model help me?

As a path to achieving sobriety, the Model guides you through changes in behavior that can help you. Before you start, it can measure your willingness to find a different way to conduct your life.

When you find something that can predict success in anything, it probably deserves at least a try. Research shows that the Transtheoretical Model works for at-risk populations. The basis of the Model claims that stages of change that occur in a sequence help people make the transition.

With the time required to move through the 5 stages of addiction recovery, you get to avoid any harsh effects. Everyone knows that change takes time, and it requires prep work. Slowly, you become ready to make the progress that helps you recover.

What sort of treatment options give me the best chance to recover?

Contemplation

Treatment options that respect the hard task of recovering from addiction can make your life a lot easier. No longer do you face a struggle alone.

Residential Recovery Program

In a home-like atmosphere, you get to live in a residence with others who have issues like yours. The support you receive from them and your counselors can ease the burden you carry.

When you choose residential rehab, you can get 24/7 help with learning to live without drugs or alcohol. All of your treatment focuses on your safety, security and support around the clock. In a setting that you share with peers, you find that you do not stand alone.

A burden that someone else helps you carry can make it weigh half as much. However, inpatient care may take you out of a comfortable situation. When you do things differently, you may gain benefits greater than you expect.

Inpatient Care

You can receive many of the same options as an inpatient as in residential recovery. Still, it provides some important differences. In a hospital-like setting, the structure of inpatient care provides the support you may prefer. If you have faced the pain of relapse, you may benefit from inpatient care. Later, you can move to a drug treatment program as another option.

Outpatient Care

An option that may not work as well as residential or inpatient, outpatient care provides benefits too. It lets you stay at home with your family or go to work and meet the duties that you must.

Finding Help

At Discovery Institute, our specialists can help you achieve your stages of recovery goals. We understand the challenges you face, and we can help you through them. Contact us to get started on achieving a better life.

boundaries in recovery

Setting Boundaries with Friends in Recovery

According to research from 2018, 26% of people globally experience stress at least once a week. Just like a substance use disorder, stress is a health condition. Boundaries help everyone set a pace for self-care. 

Setting boundaries in recovery is one of the most essential actions a person with a substance use disorder can take. Facilities that specialize in substance use recovery put this as one of the first things to do on the agenda because of its importance. 

What Are Boundaries In Recovery? 

In short, boundaries are a set of personal rules that one establishes with other people. When those rules are broken, boundaries allow one to take action with good reason. So, boundaries in recovery mean how a person with a substance use disorder needs to be treated during this period of time. 

This could mean not pressuring them to drink. For another, it could be not inviting them to places where there will be drugs and alcohol. These personal rules can change depending on a person. They might even change as a person recovers fully (and that’s okay). Boundaries in recovery promote a healthy relationship with others and with oneself. 

Importance of Setting Boundaries With Friends and Family In Recovery

To begin, every person has friends and family that care about them. Of course, even when someone has a substance use disorder, they care about their loved ones. Yet, sometimes the desire to keep loved ones happy interferes with recovery. Setting boundaries with friends and family during recovery is important for multiple reasons: 

  • It preserves everyone’s sanity on both ends 
  • Boundaries in recovery allow for important self-care time 
  • Friends and family can’t know what hurts a person in recovery if left unsaid 
  • It weeds out toxic people from those who truly care about them 
  • Boundaries in recovery let a member of a treatment facility put their physical and mental health before everything 
  • It’s a good practice of self-discipline 
  • Boundaries in recovery strengthen relationships 
  • It lets a person be content in what they already have 

Further, let’s go into detail about these points. It’s hard to say no to plans. Fear of missing out (also known as FOMO) plays on people’s sense of self-security. They feel that what they are doing in life at that present moment isn’t good enough. However, setting boundaries during recovery puts mental health first in terms of someone suffering from a substance use disorder and the people that care about them.

Setting Boundaries with Friends in Recovery

For instance, it’s frustrating and self-destructive to agree to plans that will ultimately hurt in the end. This deprecates a person’s mental health. In turn, they are likely to lash out at the person who invited them out or is contacting them. It’s a vicious cycle that hurts the psyche of both parties involved. Especially because they don’t understand the sentiment behind the reaction. 

Yes, it’s difficult to put that into words. Generally, the more a person practices this form of self-discipline, the easier it becomes. It benefits everyone in the end. 

Why Setting Boundaries With Friends Who Still Use Is Essential to Recovery

To continue, it’s already hard to set boundaries in the first place. What happens when the ultimate temptation is thrown into the mix? Setting boundaries with friends during recovery is different when it comes to those who still actively use drugs and alcohol. At the end of the day, it positively serves a person recovering from a substance use disorder and their friend who uses. 

In other words, cutting ties with a person who uses will sever the temptation of relapse. With this, studies show that the majority of people with a substance use disorder will relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The thought won’t cross their mind as much because they won’t be reminded of the times where they used substances. On the other hand, the friend who still uses will be encouraged to get help for their substance use disorder.

Here are a few helpful examples of what to say to a friend who still uses:

  • “I care about you, and that’s why I can’t see you while I recover.”
  • “At the end of the day, recovery is my priority. Yours should be too.”
  • “I think you should check out this treatment center before we try to hang out again.”
  • “I would love to hang out with you once you get help.”
  • “Substance use disorder is a medical illness, so it requires me to put recovery first.”

Continuing, clearly, it’s not a fun conversation to have. But, friends who still use are the people who need personal boundaries the most. A person who suffers from a substance use disorder might throw away all their hard work hanging out once. When someone sets boundaries, they put themself first and their friends too. Even if their friend doesn’t realize it.

How To Start Setting Boundaries In Recovery 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI), boundaries are a form of self-care. When someone practices self-care they take the necessary steps to preserve their health. This is particularly applicable to those who wish to recover from a substance use disorder. Though, there is an opposing side. That side is the monkey brain that tells a person with a substance use disorder that they can hang out with whoever they want and do whatever they want. If not, they will miss out on relationships and important events.

In reality, this is an irrational thought. They won’t be able to enjoy hanging out with loved ones or at social gatherings where relapse is a temptation. This is because they will either be worried about finding themselves back at square one.

Another scenario is they won’t worry about it at all and will end up back in the tendrils of drugs and alcohol. In part, this is because drugs and alcohol are socially acceptable. In 2012, NIDA found that 9.2% of the American population used an illicit drug. It’s so prevalent that individuals with a substance use disorder need to follow these steps to start setting boundaries in recovery.

5 Basic Steps To Start Setting Boundaries in Recovery

  1. Figure out stressors. People can’t set boundaries if they don’t understand what stresses them out in the first place. Individuals recovering from a substance use disorder should tally situations where it might stress them out. Additionally, they should write down situations where they feel vulnerable to relapse.
  2. Establish what boundaries should be set up. So, they have figured out what scenarios where they need to put their foot down. Now what? It’s essential to have a game plan on what to do when a boundary needs to be set. What will they say? How will they react when a personal rule is broken? Figuring these out beforehand will save a headache and possibly much worse.
  3. Practice saying no. In addition, practice saying no with no further explanation. Setting boundaries in recovery is healthy and perfectly normal. When an individual with a substance use disorder needs to enforce a boundary there needn’t be an extra explanation. Everyone is entitled to what makes them uncomfortable.
  4. Set boundaries on how loved ones speak to you. Everyone with a mouth has an opinion. When a boundary is set sometimes people may act in a way that adds stress to the situation. For example, they may offer advice on something they have never experienced. It might be along the lines of how to avoid a relapse in a social setting, to coax someone in recovery into going to a bar. Those with a substance use disorder need to kindly remind them that they know themself better than their friend.
  5. Schedule self-care into the day. Set time aside to preserve mental and physical health. When a friend or family member tries to convince them otherwise, a person in recovery needs to explain that this is more important.

Resources On Setting Boundaries in Recovery

There is a wealth of information on how to set boundaries. While they may not say they are for setting boundaries in recovery, they can still provide insight. However, there are plenty of resources online and for free specifically about personal rules for recovery. 

These are some places to find them: 

  • The library 
  • YouTube 
  • Book stores 
  • Resources online (NAMI and NIDA)

The only thing to keep in mind is to make sure the source is credible. A random person on the Internet can put up a page about setting boundaries in recovery. So can a doctor who specializes in recovery. Just make sure you’re looking at resources from governmental agencies and specialists. 

Other Healthy Habits To Practice Along With Setting Boundaries in Recovery 

Setting boundaries during recovery is only one portion of permanently kicking a substance use disorder. NAMI recommends improving physical wellbeing in order to enforce boundaries. The mind is a part of the body. If the body isn’t in the right shape to recover, then the brain won’t be able to either.

Make sure to combine healthy boundaries with these healthy habits to ensure success.

Exercise Frequently

Physical activity has multiple benefits. For one, it can boost someone’s confidence because they will look and feel better. Scientifically, they will feel better because exercise cuts hormones that involve stress. Also, it boosts ones that have to do with happiness and serenity. Come up with an exercise routine and say no to plans that interfere with it.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Good nutrition is packed with vitamins and minerals that naturally help with withdrawal symptoms. In addition, like exercise, a good diet can make a person look and feel better. This could be another boundary to set. If a friend asks to eat out at a restaurant, politely decline. Health in recovery is necessary.

Get Enough Sleep Every Night

Sleep is crucial to cognitive function and to sustain an elevated mood. Recovery is extremely difficult, especially during the early stages. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

Engage in Mind-Body Activities

Yoga and tai chi are mind-body exercises, otherwise known as moving meditation. Strengthen your mind and body at the same time with one of these. Set time aside every day to practice, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Don’t let FOMO take away from healing activities like these.

A part of setting boundaries in recovery is understanding what is important. Healthy habits should be one of them. Then, one can be in the right shape to recover. Take the time to figure out what healthy habits are feasible every day. After, set boundaries to ensure that they happen. Without a plan of action, it just won’t happen.

Discovery Institute Teaches How To Start Setting Boundaries in Recovery 

Ultimately, a substance treatment center is the best way to figure out what boundaries to put down. A person recovering from a substance use disorder might need a little extra help setting boundaries in recovery. Having an unbiased, clinical view can help establish them and stick with them, too.

At Discovery Institute, we provide programs to help members establish healthy habits, like setting boundaries in recovery. We know setting boundaries with friends and family can be difficult. Contact us now to learn how to adapt healthy behaviors to erase a drug dependency. 

making amends

Making Amends: How to Rebuild Relationships after Battling Addiction

If you’ve struggled with addiction, you’re not alone. Millions of people are fighting that battle alongside you, and you’re the last person who needs to be told what a hard battle it is. The good news is that addiction is a treatable condition. With proper care, attention, determination, and resilience, you can overcome addiction. If you’ve managed to do this, congratulations are in order.

Unfortunately, there’s also a harsh truth awaiting on the other side of that journey. It’s entirely possible that some people were hurt by your struggle with addiction. As important as your recovery is, it’s not enough to mend those wounds all on its own.

At the Discovery Institute, we want you to know everything about addiction. Below, we will be talking about making amends. First, we will cover the importance of making amends and setting boundaries, then we will talk about the steps this process will normally take.

For that, you’re going to have to make an active effort, but that’s easier said than done. In order to help guide you in the process, we’ve put together this guide on how to make amends and rebuild your relationships.

The Importance of Making Amends

If you struggle with addiction and are seeking to make amends with family members or friends, sometimes it seems like a crazy thing to do. You may be asking why you would want to see these people again; it is not only hurtful for them, it is also a difficult place for you. In the following piece, we will be looking at the whole process of making amends, how to do it, and what to do afterward. However, it is important before this to understand why making amends is so important.

One of the hardest aspects of addiction is that, since it is a disease, your brain is literally rewired to chase the high. Substances change a person’s memory, motivation, and pleasure centers, so that they may no longer feel normal without the substance. Amends come in here. It can be difficult because although you “were not yourself” when you did the harmful things throughout your addiction, it’s important to accept that your actions affected others in a negative way.

An important aspect of the recovery journey is engaging the paradox that you were suffering from a disease and, at the same time, you played a part in the issues that came as a bi-product of an addictive lifestyle. Acknowledging your agency in this while accepting that you cannot control these actions because of the substances, is the first step in many programs for recovery.

The Benefits of Making Amends After Addiction

Beyond this, there are many benefits when it comes to making amends. Making amends is somewhat of a threshold; it shows that you are trying to leave behind the life you used to live and move into a new way of life. It is easy to say that you are moving on. However, if you have not helped people to heal from what happened during your struggle with addiction, then that part of you still exists to that person.

Feelings of guilt, depression, stress, or past memories of trauma are all triggers for addiction. This is why making amends is so important in the recovery process. It allows you to feel a sense of relief. But, it also allows you to help others feel a sense of relief. This will help you to build a community and establish healthy relationships with those around you. Having people by your side who have forgiven you will also give a great sense of accountability. They will be there to remind you that you are not the same person. Doing this provides a great break with your past self, helps to facilitate a sense of relief, and can give you a great group to rally around.

Lastly, making amends leads to understanding. There is a ton of stigma around addiction. This is due to a misunderstanding. When you make amends, when you apologize, it usually will lead to understanding. The person may ask why you hurt them, which will lead to an educating discussion on addiction. Making amends is part of ending the stigma.

The Importance of Boundaries

A huge part of making amends is setting boundaries. It is important to ask the question “will this bring hurt to the person or to me?” Sometimes, it is just too painful for the other person to have you back in their life. Even if you have the best intentions, it may be too hard to see you. Having you back in their lives, at least for right now, may be too painful for their well-being. On the other hand, you may not be able to handle seeing this person. These memories could be traumatic, or they could be a toxic person in your life. In these situations, you need to set boundaries. Make amends with the person in your own way, but keep your needs and theirs in mind.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) use the twelve steps formula. They have been proven to be extremely successful and helpful for alcoholics and narcotic addicts. They center around the idea that what is discussed in the meetings stays in the meetings. It may not surprise you to know that an integral part of the twelve steps involves making amends. Steps 8 and 9 focus on making amends.

Step 8 states: “We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all”. Step  9 says: “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

These steps are incredible ways to recover, and their integration of making amends should reveal the importance. Consider seeking out a meeting. They are very open and welcoming places. A crucial part of AA and NA is being a judgment-free area. Do not worry about feeling judged there, because everyone is united around recovery.

Confronting Reality

Now that you’ve beaten your addiction, it’s understandable that you’d want to move forward and never look back. The problem with that is that it’s impossible to correct your mistakes if you don’t confront them.

Usually, your family and friends are the first to suffer when addiction reaches its full force. While you may have moved on, it’s very possible the echoes of that pain are still affecting them. So, as difficult as it is, you need to have a firm understanding of how your addiction affected the people around you. This doesn’t mean you need to dwell on the past and feel guilty. But it does mean that you’re going to have to look your wrongdoings head-on. By facing the reality of your past, you better equip yourself to deal with your present and future. 

Lead With an Apology

If you’ve ever received a heartfelt apology, you know there are few things more healing than that. This is why it should be the very first step you take when you reach out to your loved ones.

Even if you feel like a totally different person than you were while suffering from addiction, people need proof that you’ve changed. What better way to start than by letting them know you have genuine remorse for your actions?

With all that in mind, you should prepare yourself for the very real possibility that they’re not ready to hear your apology yet. Sometimes, you’ll be met with resentment and anger even upon saying sorry. Other times, they won’t be ready to talk with you at all. The only thing you can do is honor and respect those wishes. It can be hard to hear, but it’s likely that they’re working through some very complex emotions, just like you are. Give them the time they need to process everything.

It’s also important that you take the lead on this. Don’t wait to be called out for your past behaviors before apologizing for them. Complete honesty is crucial during every step of this process.

Furthermore, be detailed in your apology. Explain exactly what it is you’re apologizing for. The purpose of this step is to make sure you understand what you’ve done wrong.

Step two is confronting those things out loud. An apology won’t mean much if it’s vague and general. By being specific, you show the person that you have a clear understanding of how you hurt them. Sometimes, the apology comes with a more material aspect. If you’ve stolen money or goods from someone, it’s only right that you pay them back. This shows that your apology is more than empty words.

Demonstrate Your Change through Actions

Remember that time thing we talked about? Well, it also applies here. One of the biggest aspects of rebuilding your relationships is establishing trust through your actions, and that is going to take some time. The simple fact is that your loved ones may not trust you due to the effects of addiction on your life. Your duty now is to show them that your change is genuine and lasting. 

Staying sober isn’t easy for everyone. Post-recovery life comes with its share of hurdles and bumps in the road. But don’t let them throw you off course. Your family and friends need to be shown that this new you is here to stay. 

This ties back into making tangible reparations for your mistakes wherever applicable. Your actions need to be well-intentioned and consistent in order to be meaningful. Again, this process is going to take time. Rebuilding trust isn’t easy but by staying strong and unwavering, you’ll strengthen those bonds again.

Communication is Key

Addiction aside, the truth is that almost everyone could do learn to communicate better. For you, it’s going to be doubly important. As much as this process is about your loved ones, it’s also about you. Healing is a two-way street. That’s why you have to keep the channels of communication open at all times.

Explain what you’re going through. That doesn’t mean you should make it all about you, but strive to be honest about how you’re feeling. Suppressing your feelings does no one any favors. Learning to communicate healthily about those feelings will go a long way to righting old wrongs. This also means that you need to check in on others. Make sure to stay involved and interested in what they’re experiencing. None of this works without communication. Keep the conversation going.

Recovery is a Continual Journey

The main thing to remember here is that recovery is an ongoing process that you’re going to be pursuing for the rest of your life. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be this hard. It just means that the work on yourself and maintaining your relationships shouldn’t cease. Keep striving for more and never stop trying to better yourself.

If you haven’t made it to this stage yet but are still ready to beat your addiction, you deserve a fresh start. Don’t hesitate to look into this excellent rehab program to provide that extra assistance you need.

Allow Us to Help

It is not too late. Whether you are ready to make amends, or you are thinking about taking your first steps toward recovery, getting professionally treated is the most important part of your journey. We want you to know that you have options. At the Discovery Institute, we are always ready to hear from you. Whether you have questions, need help immediately, or just want to talk about something going on, consider reaching out today. We are always here for you. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and the recovery community. Get help today by contacting us here at Discovery! 

References

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

Court-Ordered Drug Assessment

A Guide to Getting Your Court-Ordered Substance Abuse Evaluation

A substance abuse evaluation helps to measure the level of addiction in an individual. It also assists professionals in creating an effective treatment plan that can meet the specific needs of each person. This helps to ensure that these individuals have the best chance at a successful recovery.

Battling a substance abuse problem or addiction can have severe, even fatal, consequences. It can cause damage to the mind, body, mind, and relationships. When an addict suffers from uncontrollable substance use, they often get into dangerous situations and put their health at risk. When someone reaches this point and needs help, they will usually go through a substance abuse evaluation. This may be either by choice or court-ordered.

Once a person is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), they will most likely be court-ordered by their state to complete a substance abuse evaluation. Some states require this evaluation as a prerequisite to participating in programs, such as diversion or deferred sentencing, that allow the offender to avoid a DUI conviction.

Usually, a certified state agency administers substance abuse evaluations. The overall purpose, process, and types of assessments and treatments tend to be uniform. But each state has its own requirements. 

Here are some other examples of circumstances or convictions in which a court-ordered substance abuse evaluation may be required:

  • Minor in Possession (MIP)
  • Arrested for possession of drugs or alcohol
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Public intoxication
  • Using a false ID

Purpose

The substance abuse evaluation identifies the possible presence and the extent of the offender’s drug or alcohol problem. It also allows for the development of a treatment plan that addresses the individual’s specific problem and circumstances.

Some essential points of the purpose of a substance abuse evaluation are:

  • To determine if the individual has a drug or alcohol addiction
  • To assess the level of severity of the substance use or addiction
  • Discover if there are any co-occurring conditions, including physical or mental health concerns, or other drug use
  • To measure the extent to which the individual’s substance use affects their life
  • To provide an overview of the person and their particular circumstances so that the treatment can best suit their needs for recovery

After a person is arrested for a DUI, the court might require the individual to go through a substance abuse evaluation during the criminal proceedings. Criminal proceedings will differ by state. Some require the completion of a theft evaluation before sentencing. In these cases, the substance abuse evaluation will impact how a judge sentences an offender. It can often result in a reduction, elimination, or increase of penalties that would otherwise be imposed. On the other hand, other states require the evaluation to take place within a specified period post-sentencing as a condition of probation, or part of a diversion, deferred sentencing, or similar program.

Process

Generally speaking, the process of substance abuse evaluations includes two separate sections. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that the parts of this process are screening and assessment.

A court-ordered substance abuse evaluation will generally consist of a detailed interview with a treatment provider. The provider will then review the offender’s history, regarding the substance, criminal history, driving record, and arrest report. The offender may also need to provide a drug and alcohol urinalysis screening.

Screening

A screening tool is not the same as an assessment. Screening for substance use is one of several tools that can help to identify if further evaluation is necessary. Only a qualified professional should analyze the results of all screenings and assessments.

Before intake, treatment providers will perform a detailed screening to determine the presence, scope, and severity of a person’s substance abuse issues. Several trained professionals administer the screenings. (This may include social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals.) The screening process will often consist of direct, yes-or-no questions. In some cases, patients will start this process online. The purpose of the screening process is to look for:

  • The specific type of substance
  • The existence or threat of substance use disorder (SUD)
  • If preliminary interventions would be helpful to prevent the onset of addiction
  • The length of time the prospective patient has used drugs or alcohol

Screening Methods

Some commonly used resources in the substance abuse screening process include the Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI), Substance Abuse Subtle Screening (SASSI), CAGE questionnaire, Brief Screener for Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs (BSTAD), and Tobacco, Alcohol, and other Drugs (TAPS).

AUI – This is a screening tool intended for supposed alcohol abuse only. The questions take feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyle into consideration. Despite the questioning in this method, AUI’s potentially fatal flaw is the need for transparency.

SASSI – This is a self-reporting tool that is easy to take, administer, and score. This type of screening looks deeper into the psychological side of substance use. It assesses the responses as well as how the answers are given. It screens for openness, defensiveness, and aggressiveness. This helps to determine if an individual has a substance abuse problem. It has scientific evidence to show that it has 93 percent accuracy when diagnosing substance dependence.

CAGE –  This tests for alcohol misuse using four simple questions. It is brief and non-invasive. For accuracy, it is vital for the person answering the questions to be truthful.

BSTAD – This screening method is for teens and adolescents. It is a self-assessment that individuals can take online with or without a clinician present. A professional should interpret the results from this assessment.

TAPS – This a versatile screening tool that provides a more in-depth screen.  It can be taken online or done face-to-face. It explores recent and past substance abuse habits.  A professional reviews the results.

Assessment

The assessment part of the substance abuse evaluation process is more detailed and is mainly based on the screening results. Individuals will answer questions to identify the exact nature of their substance use what specific factors caused its development and continuation of usage. 

The assessment is complete once a substance use disorder has been identified, and any other co-occurring associated mental health conditions, lifestyle factors, and medical issues. An experienced professional should conduct the assessment. This is because professionals have the skill to be more in-depth and can make direct, informed decisions about treatment.

Some of the common resources used in modern substance abuse evaluations include the Diagnostic Interview Schedule-IV (DIS-IV) and the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). In some circumstances, substance abuse assessments can use input from family or loved ones for accurate results.

DIS-IV –  This type of interview administers a structured set of questions developed by knowledge acquired from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

ASI – This is a semi-structured interview that showcases recent and lifetime use habits. Itis extensive and used as a standardized tool to test individuals entering rehabilitation. During this interview process, the administrator will consider medical history, substance use, any time in custody. The administrator will also consider the person’s employment status, their relationship and familial statuses, and mental health.

Recommendation for Treatment

Depending on the interview, supporting documentation, and screening results, after a patient has completed their court-ordered evaluation, the treatment provider will usually recommend a customized care plan. The plan they recommend will address the individual’s specific needs. This includes things such as whether a patient will benefit from inpatient or outpatient care. They can also determine if they need or are eligible to receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and more.

A range of people trained in addiction may process the components of this procedure. A social worker, counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor or nurse, will evaluate the tests and interviews. The medical professional will ask questions about the person’s health history, any past and present drug and/or alcohol use, the manner and behaviors in which substance use affected their life, and any history of past treatments for these concerns. A physical may be necessary if a physician administers the evaluation.

Typically, the individual has to pay for the costs of the evaluation and the treatment program. The evaluation fees will vary by each state, but the price is usually around $100 to $150. Individuals make this payment directly to the agency that did the evaluation.

You should not be afraid to find out if you or someone close to you needs help with a drug or alcohol addiction. If a substance abuse disorder has affected your life, consider taking a substance abuse evaluation as soon as possible. This action can determine the right treatment for you. Identifying substance use disorder is a crucial first step in overcoming the disorder and having success in long-term recovery.


If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery from substance abuse, please contact us here at Discovery Institute. We will work to help you leave addiction in your past and move forward in your life.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Therapy

Relapse prevention therapy is treatment designed to identify the reasons, behaviors, and outcomes of relapse in a person during the aftercare stage of addiction treatment. Being able to understand and prepare for relapse is imperative to addiction recovery. Relapse prevention therapy armors newly sober individuals with the self-confidence and knowledge they need to live out their normal lives without fear of relapse.

We at the Discovery Institute want you to know that it is not too late. We are always here for you, and want you to be as educated as possible. Below, we will be discussing relapse prevention therapy. This kind of treatment is especially important because recovery is never a “one and done” ordeal. Recovery is a lifelong journey that we want to be a part of with you.

The Dangers of Relapse

Many people who are in recovery and some professionals in the industry look at relapse as an unavoidable part of addiction recovery. The rate of relapse is high, so being prepared and informed about relapse is of growing importance. Many overdose deaths happen right after relapse.

Tolerance is when an addict can use a high dose of a drug or alcohol because their body has grown accustomed to it. After detoxification and elimination of the drug circulation throughout the body, tolerance decreases. When a relapsing addict takes the amount of drug or alcohol they were used to before sobriety, their bodies no longer are able to handle it. High overdose rates occurring post-relapse give an addict a responsibility to know what to do in relapse situations.

Identifying Commonalities in Relapse

Since relapse rates are so high, there have been studies on the process of relapse. Behaviors seen before relapse are usually similar. Because of these similarities, they are also avoidable through relapse prevention therapy. Three situations most commonly seen directly before relapse are social pressure, self-conflict, and a decreased emotional state.

Effective coping responses and behaviors are a necessary defense against these high-risk relapse situations. Relapse prevention therapy gives individuals the tools they need in order to cope with these high-risk situations. We will now discuss the four stages of relapse. It is important to know if a relapse is coming so that you can identify it and consciously avoid it.

Stage 1: Emotional Relapse

The first stage of relapse is the emotional stage. Some refer to this as the internal stage of relapse. Characterized in this stage are events, whether external or internal, that will affect the person’s life. One aspect of this is change. When a person’s life has a drastic change (break-up, loss of a loved one, getting fired, etc.,) they may feel internal pressure and stress. Stress is another large part of the internal stage.

Also, what begins to happen internally is the individual will realize they crave the substance. Relapse prevention therapy must take into account the idea of denial. Denial is a common defense mechanism for addicts. Usually, when an individual begins recovery, they must learn to accept that they have lost control of their lives. Denial can often be a large inhibitor in place of acceptance. However, when stage 1 of relapse occurs, denial often reactivates.

Lastly, one of the most detrimental aspects of stage 1 is P.A.W, or Post-Acute Withdrawal. Post-acute withdrawal is when the individual begins to feel withdrawal effects even when they have not taken the substance in a long time.

Stage 2: Mental Relapse

In the second step of relapse, an individual’s behavior will change. A social breakdown may occur and the person will experience a loss of structure in his or her life. This is where the internal problems from step 1 begin to manifest outwardly. 

During the mental stage of relapse, individuals tend to begin thinking about their previous substance abuse. They may start to dwell on the times when they used to drink or use drugs. Individuals may begin to consider or even follow through with spending time with people who used to abuse substances with them. 

While thinking about their past lives, individuals in mental relapse may not consider the negative effects of their substance use. Instead, they may romanticize and fantasize about alcohol or drug abuse. They might simply think about the “positive” effects of substance use (i.e. euphoria, etc.) But, the unhealthy and harmful results of substance abuse may not come up in their minds.

First, a change in behavior is characteristic of stage 2. A normally calm and reserved person will appear more stressed. Another common sign is a studious individual will begin to skip classes, or a good worker will begin to miss many days on the job. Then, there is a social breakdown, in which the person may isolate themselves from their group of friends, or their behavior change becomes so detrimental that they are no longer able to participate in group activities. 

Next, there is a loss of structure. The normal routine that kept a person safe will begin to break down. This leads into step 3.

Stage 3: Loss of Control

When a person is in this stage, they lose control of their life through a loss of judgment. They experience a behavioral loss of control. A loss of judgment is when the individual begins to consider actions that are clearly detrimental to themselves or others. A behavioral loss of control is doing those things that were thought of in loss of judgment: acting irrationally without considering the consequences.

Finally, individuals in this stage of relapse may think there are no options for them. Maybe they begin to feel that their only social outlets are through parties with alcohol or drugs. This leads the individual to feel as though they have nowhere to go but relapse.

Stage 4: Physical Relapse

At the final stage is when the physical use of drugs or alcohol actually occurs. Individuals commonly think fo this stage as the definition of relapse. But, as we have discussed, relapse occurs in stages. This final stage is the only one that involves the physical use of alcohol or drugs. But, relapse prevention therapy works to help people identify the signs and stages leading to this phase. 

If you are experiencing any of these stages or you are worried you may be on track: stop and reach out to us. Below we will be discussing a few practical ways to engage in relapse prevention therapy.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

There are a number of different approaches to relapse prevention therapy. The three most commonly utilized are:

  • Coping Skills- sessions that identify high-risk situations and how to cope with them without relapse.
  • Clinical Therapy- sessions that focus on understanding the process and consequences of relapse.
  • Lifestyle Change- sessions that encourage treatment prior to relapse and a moderated lifestyle.

Coping Skills

A huge part of relapse prevention therapy is coping skills. In these times of relapse prevention therapy, it is helpful to identify your triggers. These are the thoughts, feelings, places, people, or memories that all play a part in triggering a relapse.

Part of relapse prevention therapy is identifying these triggers and asking the individual how to cope. The practice of managing triggers is an integral part of relapse prevention therapy. This is because when we are triggered, we are not ourselves. Oftentimes we cognitively know we should not relapse, but our mind is working against us. This is why it is so important to identify these scenarios and put up safeguards to prevent them.

Clinical Therapy

Therapy is one of the best ways to improve relapse prevention. It is also an incredible way to encourage growth as a person. Even if you do not struggle with addiction, consider seeing a licensed professional. Therapy is all about exposing the underlying motivations for our actions. Sometimes, events that occurred in the past affect an individual’s present-day behaviors. Part of relapse prevention therapy is identifying those emotions or thought processes that inhibit our growth. Good clinical practice helps us to identify what we need out of life to grow.

Lifestyle Change

Finally, lifestyle change involves changing one’s habits, work environments, or other surroundings so that you can prevent relapse. This could involve changing your hobbies from things that lead us to boredom or isolation, to healthy beneficial activities. For some people, lifestyle change may include relocation. It might be necessary to move to a new neighborhood, city, or even state in order to continue recovery from addiction.

For others, the biggest lifestyle change might be a change in friends. Perhaps, individuals in recovery may need to develop a new friend group full of individuals who support them and hold them accountable. It may be hard to get rid of toxic people because they were at one point your friends. However, regardless of how they are toxic, you need the influence of people who build you up, as opposed to tearing you down.

Seeking Relapse Prevention Therapy

At the Discovery Institute of New Jersey, we offer relapse prevention programs for all of our clients. We understand the need for knowledge and preparation of relapse. Whether you are seeking a detox program for the first time or you have relapsed, we can help! Our relapse prevention therapy programs can aid in your recovery journey. If you have any questions about our relapse prevention therapy or any of our other programs, our team is here to help. Just call us today for more information about our services and resources.

References:

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-2/151-160.pdf

http://dhhr.wv.gov/bhhf/Documents/MAT%202017/M114%20Relapse%20Prevention%20Plan.pdf 

Who can help me with Sober Living in New Jersey?

Alcohol Relapse Prevention and the Three Stages of Relapse

Alcohol Relapse Prevention

A common misconception about relapse is that relapse captured in a single moment of weakness. However, this isn’t true at all. Relapse isn’t an event you can pinpoint; it’s a process, and you have to fully understand it to understand relapse prevention. Specific alcohol relapse prevention techniques have been developed over time to combat each of the three stages of relapse: emotional, mental and physical. We at the Discovery Institute want to help you navigate the three stages of relapse.

The Three Stages of Relapse

Below we will be discussing the three stages of relapse. However, before we begin there are a few important things we need to understand regarding addiction before we go into detail on the topic of addiction. Many people associate guilt, moral failure, and shame with relapse. This only serves to increase relapse and decrease the chances of recovery. Hopefully, the following discussion will educate you and help you understand addiction better.

The Disease Model of Addiction

Before we can properly understand relapse, we need to better understand how addiction works. The thing about addiction is that many assume it is a choice. “Just stop,” or “you can quit anytime you want to,” are common phrases. This leads to the assumption that recovery is a sheer amount of willpower. This, unfortunately, is uneducated and harmful for individuals who are struggling with addiction. It also prevents individuals from developing a proper understanding of how relapse works and how to avoid it.

Our brains are wired by evolution to crave things that make us happy. The sweetest fruit was probably also the healthiest for our ancestors. Now, with the rise of chemical modifications, that is not always the case. Yet, our brains still think that whatever produces the best sensation is best. Thus, when we indulge in these substances they produce so much chemicals our brains can hardly keep up, and then we crash. This leads the user to become dependent. Their brains are literally rewired and recircuited so that our memory, pleasure, and motivation centers do not function the same as they did before. 

The dependent person no longer feels normal without the substance, be it alcohol or narcotics. This is why many (like the surgeon general) have been led to believe addiction is not a choice but a disorder. Furthermore, since recovery is a lifelong process; addiction is a chronic disorder. This deeply changes the way we view relapse. 

Just because addiction is a chronic disease does not change our solution for it. If a person has cancer, you suggest they go to the hospital. If someone has diabetes, they should probably modify their diet. In the same way, one should not feel ashamed of their disease. Instead, they should get treatment.  Viewing addiction as a moral failure only puts another block in the way of treatment (since only 10% of addicts receive the treatment they need). It is also more effective to use this language to avoid triggers. Triggers are something that are inherently linked with the three stages of relapse, and will be discussed further in the following segment.

What are Triggers, and What Do They Have to Do With Relapse?

Triggers are the moods, emotions, thoughts, people, and situations that potentially cause us to relapse. As previously stated, they come in many forms. Different triggers fall into the different stages of relapse. However, continuing with our discussion of the disease model, it is important to understand triggers in this way. Seen through the mindset of the choice model of addiction; triggers are simply tests of willpower. While there is some truth in this, we must recognize that there is an inherent difference in the way the disease model sees triggers. The idea that addiction is a choice would assert that triggers should be overcome like the rest of addiction, just by pushing through. However, if we acknowledge that addiction is a chronic illness, then we have a more defined view of triggers. 

The three stages of relapse are usually started with our triggers. These triggers remind our brains of our dependency, thus triggering our illness to flare up. This is a radically different concept than simply pushing through. It also helps us to give a more dynamic understanding of how to manage our triggers. This will be discussed more after we talk about the three stages of relapse. 

Emotional Relapse

During an emotional relapse, you’re not necessarily considering drinking again. However, the thoughts and feelings you experience in this stage of relapse may escalate into risky behaviors that jeopardize your progress in alcohol abuse recovery. Emotional relapse can be characterized by:

  • anxiety
  • anger
  • depression
  • frustration
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • defensiveness
  • short-temperance
  • feelings of isolation
  • loneliness
  • fatigue
  • sleeplessness
  • changes in appetite

What to Do During an Emotional Relapse

Alcohol relapse prevention at the first stage requires acknowledging that your mood and behavior is changing. The best thing you can do is to take better care of yourself. By doing this, you can go on to practice successful methods of relapse prevention that might include:

  • eating a balanced, high-protein, low-sugar diet
  • getting regular exercise
  • getting a sufficient amount of sleep
  • attending support group meetings
  • surrounding yourself with supportive friends

This is a brief list, but it is possible to change our emotions using our thoughts. Since our thoughts precede our emotions, we need to rationally think the following: “I am being triggered by emotional stimulus, and I need to change my thoughts.” Perhaps you are recalling the good memories associated with addiction. It is also necessary at this part of the stages of relapse to remember the bad parts. In addition, if we are being triggered due to negative feelings of shame, depression, or anxiety; perhaps we should speak to a profession or loved one who can calm us down or comfort us in our time of need. This can be as simple as a friend from recovery, a spouse, or a family member you can trust. Failing to adjust your behavior in the event of emotional relapse will trigger the next stage: mental relapse.

Mental Relapse

A mental relapse, like an emotional relapse, does not mean that you’ve actually abandoned your sobriety. Rather, you’re thinking about it. Your mind is at war with itself at this stage. One part of you wants to pick up the bottle again, but the other part of you reminds you not to. Common indications of mental relapse include:

  • actively spending time with friends who still drink
  • constantly thinking about the people you drank with
  • constantly thinking about the places where you used to drink
  • fantasizing about drinking
  • romanticizing your past alcohol abuse
  • considering a purposeful relapse

What to Do During a Mental Relapse

If you’re putting serious thought into drinking again, you might be thinking, “just one drink won’t hurt.” But one drink usually leads to two, or three, or more.

If you find yourself having a mental relapse, tell someone about it. You can call a parent, a sibling, a friend, or someone from your support group or support system. Additionally, you can:

  • practice ways to quiet the mind, like meditation
  • pick up a new hobby, like writing, painting or music
  • find healthy ways to distract yourself, like reading a book
  • attend alcohol relapse prevention counseling sessions for advice
  • consult with your doctor to manage any potential disorders that may be influencing your recovery

One recommendation we have at the Discovery Institute for this stage of relapse is to engage in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The mental relapse is the stage of relapse mostly governed by thoughts; which is exactly what CBT specializes in. Alongside this, practices like Holistic Care are designed to give your mind peace, alongside your body. In this stage your mind is usually racing, and the thoughts are not your own. It is important to find a practice that centers you. You, the person, know that returning to alcohol will only cause problems. However, your brain is tricking you. That is why finding a practice that brings you back to your center of being will help you at this stage. Once you start considering drinking again, you could easily transition into a physical relapse if you don’t take any steps to address your urges.

Physical Relapse

The third and final stage of relapse is what most people think of; the conscious decision and act of drinking. Physical relapse is triggered when the early stages, emotional and mental relapse, go untreated. However, slipping up once or twice does not in any way invalidate your hard work to get sober. You can still get back on track in your personal alcohol relapse prevention plan.

What to Do After a Brief Physical Relapse

Pick up where you left off. Continue your plan and your self-care one day at a time. To avoid any future physical relapses, you should:

  • get regular exercise
  • find alternative or holistic means of managing stress, like yoga
  • cut ties with people who pressure you to drink
  • avoid places where you used to drink
  • never be afraid to ask for help

It is also important at this stage to reach out to a loved one. This person should be someone you trust who can support you in a way that helps, and does not hurt. If you have this person, they most likely are educated in how to handle an addiction. However, if you are a loved one, you may be at this page wondering what to do for someone who just relapsed. We at the Discovery Institute want to help you. We have an intervention guide that will equip you with what you need to get your loved one back on track.

How To Manage Your Triggers

Holistic Care

Holistic care focuses on treating the whole person, not only part of the illness. In regard to triggers, Holistic care can help with each of the stages of relapse. That is because (just like the stages) it focuses on the mind, the emotions, and the body. It uses alternative treatments like reiki and acupuncture and it suggests practices like meditation and yoga. Consider utilizing Holistic care in your stages of relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT focuses on our thoughts. It identifies our thought patterns and has a specialist work through the ways our life, emotions, and thought patterns may lead us to poor coping mechanisms. This can be extremely beneficial as a therapy that deals with the stages of relapse. In recovery, you will have to unlearn harmful coping mechanisms and relearn a lot of ideas regarding what to do in times of need. This is because we who struggle with addiction often use alcohol or other substances to cope. CBT wants to fix that.

Finding a Community

Recovery was never a road that was meant to be walked alone. If you are struggling with addiction, you need a community that knows you and can rally around you in times of need. This can be group therapy, AA, or any of the other programs we offer groups at the Discovery Institute. It is especially helpful to go on outings with these groups. If you are struggling with the stages of relapse, consider finding a community. 

Advice from Discovery Institute

Contrary to popular belief, relapsing is actually a normal part of addiction recovery and should not be considered a failure. It is merely a block on the road to recovery— not a dead end. Relapse should be read as an indication that your treatment needs to be adjusted. Again, the stages of relapse are simply part of dealing with a chronic disease. When an illness flares up, you do not beat yourself up; you see a doctor. It is very important that instead of wallowing you seek help immediately.

Contact Us

 It is never too late to start treatment. Whether this is your first relapse or your 100th, the road to recovery is waiting for you. We at the Discovery Institute want to help you with everything going on in your stages of relapse. We have specialists available all around the clock. If you or someone you know is currently struggling through the early stages of relapse, call Discovery Institute at (844) 433-1101.

References:

https://www.healthyhkec.org/SCE14/presentations/seminar-2-talk-3.pdf 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4441185/ 

resources for the elderly

You’re Never Too Old to Get Sober: Resources for the Elderly Addict

Nearly half of Americans say someone close to them is addicted to drugs.

When most think of a drug addict, they picture a drug addict as a rebellious young person or someone who’s homeless. But would you picture your senior relatives as drug addicts?

Senior drug and alcohol abuse is under-diagnosed. Unlike younger people, seniors don’t indulge in drugs and alcohol recreationally. They use substances as a coping mechanism.

Without proper help, your loved one will never recover from their addiction. Fortunately, there are help options to ensure your loved one can live their golden years drug-free.

Want to help your loved one get sober? Here are addiction resources for the elderly.

About Senior Drug and Alcohol Addiction

There are increases in senior drug and alcohol use.

There’s a variety of reasons for that. Seniors go through a lot of uncertainty during the aging process.

They’re weaker, their health is failing, they may feel loss and grief over their youth, and are nervous about losing their independence and the thought of dying.

In addition, seniors are often socially isolated, may struggle financially, and may even be the target of family politics.

All of these factors give them an excuse to drink or do drugs.

Another reason why many seniors fall into drug abuse is their myriad of prescriptions. It’s not uncommon for seniors to start abusing their prescription drugs, even combining them with alcohol and street drugs.

Seniors also receive less help than younger addicts. That’s because they don’t want the help and their loved ones can’t recognize that they have a problem.

How to Identify a Senior Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Do you suspect a loved one needs help with their addiction? First, you have to be sure they have a problem. Look for these common signs of addiction.

  • Have bouts of low and high energy
  • Suffer from sleeping issues
  • Constantly falling
  • Suffering from delirium and memory loss
  • Crave their prescription medication
  • Exhibit compulsive behavior

You should also make it a point to catch warning signs before an addiction. Here are warning signs that your loved one may develop an addiction.

  • They’re isolated
  • Complain about loneliness
  • Complain about discomfort
  • Are in constant emotional distress
  • Show symptoms of depression
  • Attempted or contemplated suicide

Unfortunately, these symptoms are very vague. Many of these signs, such as isolation and memory loss, and are “common signs of aging.”

This is why you should also look for clues such as alcohol or drugs in their home and your loved one taking ample amounts of medicine.

What Is Rehab?

Your loved one shouldn’t suffer from drug and alcohol abuse during these years. That’s why you should look into a rehab facility. Rehab is an intensive therapy center that helps the patient physically and mentally end their addiction.

Rehabs help with various duties such as detox and therapy. This helps prevent withdrawal symptoms and also helps pinpoint any mental issues that caused them to develop an addiction.

What Is Senior Rehab?

Seniors experience rehab differently than younger people. Traditional drug and alcohol detoxing processes can affect their health.

In addition, some seniors need the prescription medications they’re abusing.

What We Do Know About Addiction Treatment for Seniors

Just because senior drug and alcohol addiction are under-diagnosed doesn’t mean you can’t help a loved one suffering from an addiction. There’s plenty we know to help your loved one.

Like younger addicts, they will have to detox from the substances.

This is to ensure they don’t suffer from withdrawal symptoms. It’s essential your loved one is monitored by professionals during this detox — failing to detox or detoxing DIY can result in severe consequences to their health.

While seniors recover from detox differently than younger people, a professional can identify your loved one’s health condition and possible ailments to develop a detox plan that works for them.

In addition to physical healing, they will also participate in therapy. Different therapy programs include one-on-one therapy sessions, group therapy, family therapy, and specific programs such as the 12-step plan.

Rehab Options: Resources for the Elderly

If you think your loved one needs to attend rehab, they have many options. Here are some of the most common rehab options.

Inpatient

Inpatient rehab is one of the most common and successful types of rehab.

Your loved one will live at the rehab facility for a temporary amount of time. At the facility, your loved one will participate in addiction treatment such as detox and therapy.

In addition, many inpatient rehabs offer a chance for your loved one to socialize with other guests and staff, pursue their hobbies, and even exercise.

This type of rehab has some of the most successful results.

Outpatient

Outpatient rehab patients receive the same care as inpatient rehab patients, such as detox and therapy.

However, the patient doesn’t live at the facility. They live in a separate place, such as a loved one’s house, but they still spend hours at the treatment facility every day.

This option is mainly recommended to those who have a minor addiction issue, but seniors may experience additional benefits from outpatient rehab. This will give them the opportunity to stay and reconnect with family members.

Some senior patients may have to choose outpatient rehab if they currently live in a nursing home. If this is the case, you must speak to the home about their policies and possible travel accommodations.

Luxury Rehab

Luxury or executive rehab is a favorite choice for those in high-ranking positions.

These rehab facilities are more expensive but offer a resort-like experience.

They offer all of the same rehab procedures, and in addition offer upscale accommodations including better activities, five-star meals, and even phone and internet access (patients in traditional rehab don’t receive either phone or internet access).

Does Your Loved One Need Rehab?

There are many addiction resources for the elderly. If your senior loved one is an addict and is based in New Jersey, we specialize in senior addiction treatment.

dating a recovering addict

5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Dating a Recovering Addict

Are you falling for a recovering addict? If so, it’s okay to feel hesitant about committing at first. Addiction has many negative stereotypes that our culture pushes on us at every turn.

But it’s important to educate yourself about the truth behind addiction and what it really means to be with a recovering addict. Although dating someone in recovery comes with its own set of challenges, there’s no reason that you can’t have a successful and beneficial relationship if you do things the right way.

Are you curious to know more? Keep reading to learn the truth about addiction and what questions to ask before you start dating a recovering addict.

Let’s dive in!

Life as a Recovering Addict

When you date someone who has had a different experience in life, it’s important to understand where they’re coming from. If you’re interested in dating a recovering addict, take the time to put yourself in their shoes.

Here’s some insight into what life is like in active addiction and recovery.

What Is Addiction Like?

Addiction is a disease. Suffering from it doesn’t mean that a person is weak or selfish. Most of the time, the will to get better is not enough for a person to enter into a state of recovery.

Addiction is lonely. Addicts may lose the support of family and friends. They may even lose faith in themselves.

What Is Recovery Like?

Once an addict successfully finishes a professional recovery program, that doesn’t mean their addiction is “cured.” Recovery is a lifelong process with tons of ups and downs.

For a recovering addict, some days will be harder than others. It’s important that they continue to attend meetings and surround themselves with supportive people.

The Truth About Dating a Recovering Addict

If you fall for an addict who’s in recovery, you’ll need to make some adjustments to promote their ongoing success. Although these changes may feel like a challenge at first, remember that dating anyone may call for changes in your lifestyle.

If you enjoy consuming alcohol or other drugs, dating a recovered addict may call for a huge change in that part of your life. Although some addicts are comfortable being around substances without using them, others may feel triggered by this experience.

Remember, everyone has different needs in relationships. Whether your partner is an addict or not, you’ll always have to make changes and compromises when you start dating someone. Don’t let the challenges of dating an addict deter you from following your heart.

Now that we understand a little more about those who suffer from addiction, let’s find out which questions you should ask before you start dating someone in recovery.

1. What’s Your Dating History?

Addicts can have many different substances of choice, and they’re not always just drugs or alcohol. People can also suffer from an addiction to love or sex.

To understand if your potential partner’s addiction has affected their past relationships in any way, it’s important to ask them about their dating history. But remember, if they’re in active recovery, you shouldn’t judge them based on their past. 

2. How Long Have You Been Sober?

Someone who has been in recovery for two months will have very different needs than someone who has been in recovery for 20 years.

If you’re considering entering into a relationship with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, it’s important to know where they are in their journey. 

3. Are You Enrolled in a Recovery Program?

As we know, professional recovery programs are the best way for addicts to heal and remain successful in recovery without relapsing. If your loved one isn’t actively enrolled in a program, they should be attending meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to continue their recovery journey.

Dating someone in AA can be a hugely beneficial experience for both parties. AA dating means that the addict will have the support of an understanding group of peers and that their partner will feel confident in their recovery process. Two addicts in a relationship can even visit meetings together.

4. What Will You Need from Me to Support Your Recovery?

Every addict has different triggers as well as different physical, emotional, and mental needs.

Some people in recovery may want their partner to have an active role in their recovery efforts, while others may want to keep that part of their life more private at first. Some people may share more about their past and others may take longer to open up.

Ask the addict in your life what they’ll need from you in a romantic relationship. Make sure you get a clear answer before you commit.

Ask yourself if you’re comfortable giving them what they need. If you doubt your ability to fully support them, be honest. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, it will only end up hurting both of you.

5. Are You Ready for a Committed Relationship?

Falling in love feels good. It gives the brain a rush of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

It’s easy to ignore our personal issues that may get in the way of a relationship in favor of these good feelings. That’s why this question is the most important one to ask not only to your potential partner but yourself as well.

If they need to focus on their recovery, they may not be ready to fully commit. And if you aren’t prepared to support them, you may not be ready either.

Before you decide to make things official, take a day or two to do some soul-searching. Once you’ve both had time to think things over, you can talk about your potential commitment.

Are You Ready?

We all have to make changes and compromises in relationships. But if you truly love someone, these adjustments should feel natural.

If you’re interested in dating a recovering addict, make sure that you’re ready to support them before you make a commitment. And ask them the five questions above to learn more about them and to make sure they’re ready, too.

Do you have questions about addiction or recovery? Or do you think your loved one may need help?

If so, contact us anytime. We’re here for you.

Comradery In Recovery

Many people who end up in substance use disorder treatment centers find themselves essentially alone. If they had relationships, their addictive behavior has severed them maybe even beyond repair. If they do have friends, it’s a high probability those friends are more like acquaintances that help find more substance to use. Sometimes, even family members will become estranged because the behaviors of an addict will more often than not break bonds of trust that typically hold a family together.

When a person enters substance use disorder treatment for their addiction, one strong aspect of a holistic approach to the recovery process involves group and family therapy. A person struggling with addiction often withdraws into themselves as a protective measure, reinforced by society’s ever-present view of drug abuse being a complete moral failure on the individual’s part. It certainly becomes more difficult to bond with other people, especially if they aren’t dealing with the same internal struggle and that struggle isn’t seen universally as an illness.

By participating in group therapy sessions, a person is in the company with others who at some level have experienced the similar feelings of isolation that comes with substance abuse, it can be very reaffirming to have understanding reflected from another person. This doesn’t necessarily mean everyone that a person might meet in group sessions will immediately become best friends for life, but it helps with being more honest about the condition. Going through the practice, so to speak, can be therapeutic itself, being honest with other people about the experiences of substance use disorder.

Even though it is not guaranteed you will make friends, a comradery of survival can develop between group members. It’s also encouraged, sometimes required, that a patient take on a sponsor, a person which will always be there for support who stays available long after the initial treatment period. In addition, sometimes the comradery that forms in a group through shared experiences can develop in a support network that exists long after the last day of treatment proper. The sponsor and other group members become one of many tools and methods for resisting relapse.

Discovery InstituteWhen participating in a group therapy session, it’s not always required to share and the amount of detail and personal experiences shared should be as comfortable as possible, but it’s definitely encouraged. The comfort of sharing can be non-existent in the beginning, but sharing and talking about feelings and experiences are often considered therapeutic, even if they’re with what might be complete strangers. Sometimes, just saying things out loud allows putting events into perspective; hearing events from a real life voice, even your own, is different from hearing that in your mind. And hearing people acknowledge that those things have happened in turn can help process these events which kicks off the real healing process.

Finding alcohol rehab and drug rehab in NJ can begin with calling the top rated drug rehab center, Discovery Institute, at 844-478-6563.

Why Moral Failings Don’t Explain Addictions

For thousands of years, humans used stories in order to explain the world around them, even those things they didn’t understand. It provided a framework with which to operate and make predictive judgments, even if it was completely inaccurate or outright false. Greek and Roman mythology attempted to explain why it rains, where mountains originated from and other aspects of the observable universe that are now, more or less, understood to not involve deities having affairs with other deities or becoming angry and reshaping the Earth in a fit of powerful rage.

Addiction is one of the parts of our world which still is largely shouldering a cultural story-based explanation, myths hinging on a narrative that people are addicts because of a moral failing on the part of the person’s parents or the individual themselves. With enough will power and a re-calibration of internalized ideals of what is important and what is not important, anyone can overcome addiction, easy as snapping your fingers and having a positive attitude. Just as the scientific method has brought us closer to understanding where mountains come from and how weather works to the point where every night a meteorologist on local television can, with a high degree of accuracy, predict what the weather will be like for the next week and even up to a months and years, addiction is understood today enough to know that morals play little to no part whatsoever.

The understanding of addiction as a moral failing of some sort lead to the spiritually focused Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group therapies which were one of the first attempts in modern history to deal with the disease nearly a hundred years ago. The methodology of AA centers around replacing the addiction with God (usually referred to as a ‘higher power’) in attempt to refocus a person’s moral compass, but over the years has shown to be far less effective than modern holistic addiction treatments in New Jersey that mix psychological behavioral therapies and with Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT) along with group and physical therapies.

Further developments in neurobiology and neuroscience have identified dopamine, a neurochemical (also referred to as a neurotransmitter), as a strong component that affects addictive behaviors regarding everything from alcohol and cocaine to social-media and gambling.

“Beginning in the 1980’s, we started doing brain imaging, and we developed cues that were associated with drug use,” says Charles O’Brien, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, who has been studying addiction since the 1960’s when drug addiction was treated as evidence of a person being a psychopath by the community. The brain imaging revealed that simply being shown objects or images of drug paraphernalia cause reactions in the brain as if the person had already used the drug.

Discovery InstituteSince then, the research has advanced far enough to identify at least one major component in the addiction illness, the aforementioned dopamine, which is also connected with other severe illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, the stigma of ‘moral failings’ continues to permeate throughout the public consciousness, giving addicts a false sense of empowerment of willing away their disease or makes them reluctant to get professional treatment in an NJ detox center. Considering the biological nature of addiction, medical science shows this can be just as far fetched approach as trying to will away cancer or think ‘positive thoughts’ to heal a broken leg. Addiction doesn’t work like that and never has despite our stories and beliefs.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, a call to one of the top rate drug rehab centers in New Jersey can be the first step toward recovery. Call Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563.

 

How Do Heavy Drug Addicts Recover?

Addiction is a horrible thing to be trapped in, especially as your addiction progresses and the consequences start to take a serious toll on your mental and physical health. Addiction may start out fun when it is a popularity contest lifestyle choice for many young users. However, the progression of chemical dependency and the destruction of socio-economic foundations can infect users with an attitude of pure apathy and a philosophy of nihilism. This is particularly true of mainline heroin addicts who may become so apathetic to the risks of injury that they will pick up dirty needles off the ground and engage in other criminal activity for a quick fix.

Sadly enough, our system for dealing with suffers of substance abuse disorders and dual diagnosis mental disorders is not very forgiving. Users can lose their licenses, the high school diplomas they need to enter college, and also find themselves trapped in a socio-economic class that copes by using drugs and alcohol. You can be happy living in a gutter when you are high on drugs or drunk because it doesn’t matter where you are, only how you feel inside. The longer that users stay addicted, the more difficult it is to recover and live fulfilling lives. Nevertheless, there is hope if you have faith and avoid the pitfalls that lead many to relapse.

 

The Escape for Heavy Drug Addiction

Discovery InstituteMost heavy users will tell you that they don’t even get high on drugs anymore. The great majority continue to use drugs dependently just to cope and get through life. For them, they are trapped in the lifestyle and do not have any guidance or respect for non-users to provide them with philosophies in the matter. For these users, having a wise mentor at the drug rehab centers who kicked the habit to advise them on the pitfalls and to help them figure out the way is a God-sent. We live in a very adversarial cut-throat rat race world where it is hard to find solutions because people are envious and happy to see others fail. The debt treadmill that the majority of people are on forces them to look for any opportunity to benefit themselves and to treat others coldly.

 

Many people substitute humanitarian love and cope through life by using drugs to ignore all their problems. Substance abuse can help people to make the most of the worst situations by viewing everything through a light and entertaining lens. In the end, the solution for drug addiction is for good people at a drug rehab in NJ to mentor and address every facet they faced in the transition. But, they can only win the trust of heavy users and bring them out of dire addictions by showing them humanitarian love and supporting them through every phase. Humanitarian love involves tolerance and forgiveness for the mistakes of others and treating them in every manner how you would want to be treated.

 

Call us today to schedule your evaluation. We have inpatient and outpatient rehab programs personalized to show you compassion and to build you a sturdy bridge to sober living based on the wisdom of former heavy drug addicts who quit.