Sunday, 30 April 2017

The face of opioid painkiller addiction treatment: Who seeks help? (INFOGRAPHIC)

The opioid epidemic in the U.S.

In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills. Although chronic pain needs managing, the use of opioid pain medication in such large numbers presents serious risks, including deadly opioid overdose and drug use disorder (thus the name opioid crisis)…so available treatment options are needed more than ever.

Who needs treatment for opioid pill addiction?

In 2013, on the basis of DSM-IV diagnosis criteria, an estimated 1.9 million American citizens abused or were dependent on prescription opioid pain medication.

Q: What are these diagnostic criteria?
A: Well, they’ve varied over time…

Opioid use disorder is viewed as a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress. This disorder is manifested by specific criteria, such as:

  1. Unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control use.
  2. Use resulting in social problems.
  3. Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.

In addition, having a history of a prescription for an opioid pain medication increases the risk for overdose and opioid addiction, highlighting the value of guidance on safer prescribing practices for clinicians. Opioids were involved in 28,648 deaths in 2014, according to the CDC. This number further amplifies the need for opioid addiction and abuse treatment.

Who gets opioid addiction treatment?

The proportion of admissions for primary opiates other than heroin increased from 3% to 8% of admissions aged 12+ from the year 2004 to 2014, respectively.

  • Opiates represented 27% of all primary opiate admissions in 2014.
  • 53% of treatment admissions were male.
  • The average age at admission was 33 years.
  • Approximately 84% of opiate admissions were non-Hispanic White.
  • More than one-half or 60% of treatment admissions reported oral as the usual route of administration. While 17% of those entering treatment reported inhaling or injecting opioids.

How is opioid pill addiction treated?

The two main categories of drug addiction treatment are:

1. Behavioral treatments (such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy) help you stop your opioid use or abuse by changing unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior, teach you strategies to help you manage cravings and avoid cues and situations that could lead to relapse, and/or providing incentives for abstinence. Behavioral treatments, may take the form of:

  • individual therapy
  • family therapy
  • group counseling

2. Medications are used to counter the effects of opioids on the brain or relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and help you avoid relapse. Medication therapy are used along with psychosocial supports or behavioral treatments, and includes:

  • buprenorphine
  • methadone
  • naltrexone

Opioid addiction treatment questions

You can learn more about the opioid addiction treatment process and programs or get help by calling our free and confidential hotline on 1-877-721-6695 NOW. Recovery advisors are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offer information about opioid treatment programs.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to post them in the designated section at the bottom of the page. We value your feedback and try to provide personal and prompt answers to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources: CDC: Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016
TEDS: Treatment Episode Data Set 2004 – 2014: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services
SAMHSA: Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions by Primary Substance of Abuse

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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Addiction Treatment Barriers in the LGBT Community

Long Term Care Shows Best Outcomes

It’s commonly understood that the best chance most people have of recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is through receiving professional treatment. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse or NIDA (run by the National Institutes of Health – NIH) supports the claim that people who suffer from addiction generally require long-term, extended professional care to adequately treat their substance use disorder (SUD). The same is true of members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. However, specific factors can get in the way of helping LBGT people.

What are the main addiction treatment barriers that affect the LGBT community? How can these barriers be addressed and overcome? We review here, and invite your questions and feedback in the designated section at the end of the page.

Insufficient Treatment in the General Population and in the LGBT Community

Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting the care they need to deal with their drug and alcohol addiction. According to the Surgeon General of the United States, only 1 out of 10 of the people who need treatment actually get it. This problem is even worse in traditionally marginalized groups who already don’t have access to sufficient resources, such as the LGBT community.

In this population, addiction rates are higher than average. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), drug and alcohol addiction rates in this population are as high as 20 to 30%, or 2 to 3 times the average for the general population. Clearly, addiction treatment is necessary for members of this community. But there are some unique barriers to treatment that affect the LGBT community that must be addressed in order to make adequate treatment for the population a reality.

General barriers to addiction treatment access

The barriers to treatment that generally prevent people from getting the care they need are varied, but they are mostly related to:

1. Shortages of Facilities – Treatment is in high demand in many communities, and in some places there just aren’t enough available beds. For example, the wait for a spot in treatment can be as long as a year in places like Maine, where the opioid addiction epidemic has hit especially hard. People who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction can’t wait that long- many die before getting treatment.

2. Lack of Insurance – Many insurance companies don’t cover treatment or can legally deny care for people.

3. Lack of Finances – People without insurance (or subpar insurance) may never be able to afford care out of pocket.

LGBT Specific Barriers to Treatment

These same issues affect the LGBT community, but they are compounded by cultural and social factors. In addition to grappling with shortage of care and preventative costs, members of this community also face the following barriers to getting treatment for drug and alcohol addiction:

Lack of Insurance: According to a recent Gallup poll, LGBT people are less likely to be insured than non-LGBT identifying individuals, making it impossible for many of them to afford routine medical care, much less highly specialized addiction treatment.

Financial Disparities: The Williams Institute, of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, found that on average, LGBT individuals make less in the workplace than their heteresexual, cisgender counterparts. Unemployment and poverty rates are particularly high among transgender people. With less financial resources, many members of the LGBT community can’t afford things like drug and alcohol addiction treatment, or may only have access to sub-par, underfunded public programs.

Social Isolation and Rejection: Part of successful recovery comes from having a strong support network of friends and family. Unfortunately, members of the LGBT community are:

1. More likely to be estranged from or rejected by their family members and friends.
2. More likely to experience abuse from those close to them.
3. More likely to be homeless (especially at a young age.)

Without these support networks, seeking treatment in the midst of active addiction is even more difficult…In addition to these logistical concerns, some of the barriers to treatment for the LGBT community are cultural and social. Most significantly, this community faces a lack of access to quality treatment and poor medical care as the result of a lack of knowledge regarding their specific needs.

Lack of Access to Quality Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that effective treatment should follow several principles. Included in these guidelines are the stipulations that:

  • Treatment should address clients’ social, medical, psychological, vocational and legal problems
  • Behavioral therapy is a part of treatment, and this includes family counseling, peer support, and group therapy.

The problem with all of these important parts of addiction treatment for the LGBT community is that this population often faces inadequate care and medical professionals that don’t understand their needs or properly meet them.

“Treatment should address clients’ social, medical, psychological, vocational and legal problems”

Clinical staff may be well-trained in dealing with the legal and vocational needs of clients. But what about gay or lesbian clients who face workplace discrimination? Oftentimes there is no network of care equipped to help these clients seek gainful employment in a safe work environment. Without knowledge of the needs of LGBT clients, how can a case manager direct them toward an LGBT-friendly workplace, for example?

And what about transgender clients, who often have changed their legal name or wish to be referred to by a name other than their given name? These issues are deeply personal and affect the psychological health of people in this population. Without adequate education about how to avoid misgendering clients, or how to help them navigate the legal quagmire of dealing with court appearances after legally changing their gender, clinical staff will fall short of providing comprehensive treatment.

In order to help LGBT clients form social support and relationships, therapists and treatment staff need to have a thorough understanding of the impact of rejection, homophobia, and fear on someone’s social and emotional health. Truly being able to treat these concerns requires training and experience in dealing with them, which clinical staff does not always have at every facility.

“Behavioral therapy is a part of treatment, and this includes family counseling, peer support, and group therapy.”

Family therapy and group therapy may also be tough. Given the levels of estrangement and homelessness in the LGBT community, having family counseling sessions may not even be an option. Peer support may also be inadequate at facilities where LGBT people may feel that their fellow patients can’t relate to their life experience or struggles.

Facing These Barriers

Ultimately, drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disease of physical, psychological, and social elements. For a community that experiences higher levels of isolation, less access to financial resources, and a greater risk of social problems as the result of rejection from interpersonal networks, addiction can become even more complex to treat. And these same factors make accessing that treatment even more difficult.

In order to offer the LGBT community effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, as every person who suffers from substance abuse deserves, we have to recognize these unique factors and take steps to address them.

About the Author: Molly is a content writer for All About Recovery, located in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. All About Recovery offers age- and gender-specific outpatient and IOP addiction treatment as well as sober living facilities in South Florida. For information about All About Recovery’s treatment options, call 888 712-8480.

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Friday, 28 April 2017

Rehab Ambien addiction: When to choose inpatient vs. outpatient

Ambien (zolpidem) is only recommended for short-term use and should not be used longer than two (2) consecutive weeks. However, many quickly start to find it difficult to sleep without it and may continue use for months and even years. With prolonged and chronic use, it may become difficult to quit Ambien without the help of medical professionals in a structured rehab treatment program.

But, what is the right approach to treating Ambien addiction? Should you check into an inpatient rehab, or will outpatient treatment do? In this article we outline the main differences between residential and outpatient Ambien rehabilitation. So, continue reading before you make a final decision. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the designated section below and we will respond as quickly as we can.

Why do you need Ambien addiction rehab?

Repetitive Ambien use leads to:

  • Increased tolerance, which means you need more and more of Ambien to be able to get the wanted effects.
    Physical dependence, which means your body has adapted to the presence of Ambien in the system and cannot function normally without it. When you are physically dependent on this medication you experience withdrawal symptoms if you lower the dosage or stop taking it abruptly.
  • Psychological dependence, which means you have started to believe that without Ambien you cannot sleep. In fact, psychological dependence on Ambien is frequently caused by insomnia.
  • Addiction, which means you obsess over Ambien use and seek it compulsively. You may be aware of the harm it causes to your live and health, but cannot stop even though you want to.

Ambien rehab can help you attend to and manage all these conditions. Medical teams are specialized at lowering your tolerance by tapering Ambien doses slowly and gradually, minimizing withdrawal discomfort, and providing psychological therapies and support. In fact, the decision to seek help for Ambien addiction can be one of the best decision you make in your life.

Inpatient vs. outpatient Ambien rehabilitation

What can you expect from Ambien rehab program? When you are considering whether to attend an inpatient or an outpatient rehab program for Ambien, you should have a general idea about what each type of treatment can offer. It is also important to be aware of the differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab, in order to assess which one fits your needs best.

So, what are the main differences you should have in mind?

1. Duration of inpatient and outpatient Ambien rehab

Inpatient Ambien rehab treatment can last from 30 days minimum, to 60 or 90 days, or more if needed. The 30 day stay usually allows enough time to safely remove all traces of Ambien from your body. But, during this time you can also start working on the psychological issues related to addiction.

If your addiction condition is more severe and requires further stay in rehab, you may need to prolong your therapeutic stay. Inpatient rehab programs for Ambien addiction usually include aftercare services through counseling and psychotherapy.

Outpatient Ambien rehab treatment provides counseling and therapy sessions daily or several days a week. Sessions last for anywhere from 2-4 hours each. The average duration of outpatient Ambien programs is 12 to 16 weeks, but they can last for months or even years depending on individual needs.

2. Cost of inpatient and outpatient Ambien rehab

Inpatient Ambien rehab is generally more expensive, since it includes extra fees for:

  • room and boarding
  • intensive daily treatment
  • regular meals
  • other in-house services

The average cost of inpatient Ambien rehab ranges between $10-19K per treatment episode. High quality residential rehabs usually cost anywhere from $18K up to $35K a month.

Outpatient Ambien rehab is cheaper because it doesn’t feature any residential costs. On average, traditional outpatient Ambien rehab will cost you around $2K per treatment episode, while Intensive Outpatient or IOP rehab costs about $4K per treatment episode.

3. Residence in inpatient and outpatient Ambien rehab

In inpatient Ambien rehab you are expected to live within the facility for the duration of your stay and to completely devote yourself to your addiction recovery. Getting out of your living area may be useful, as every-day stressors, people you know, familiar places may distract you form the new recovery course you are setting for yourself.

Outpatient Ambien rehabs will require you to live home, and allow you continue your regular work, school, and family duties. This is a positive opportunity for people who cannot find the time to drop all responsibilities in life, but need treatment. In outpatient settings, you are granted more freedom while also working on your addiction issues.

4. Detox in inpatient and outpatient Ambien rehab

Ambien detox is a required process regardless of whether you will continue your rehabilitation in an inpatient or an outpatient facility. However, inpatient rehabs will provide you with detoxification care and services within the same facility where you will continue your treatment.

Outpatient rehabs usually send you to a detox clinic outside of the treatment place. After you detox from Ambien, you will be required to return to the outpatient facility for regular treatment meetings.

How can I decide between inpatient and outpatient Ambien rehab?

When you want to stop using Ambien, your first point of contact should be a medical professional. Doctors are specialized at assessing your health state and can refer you to a nearby inpatient or outpatient treatment clinic based on the severity of your condition and your individual needs.

You should never attempt to quit Ambien cold turkey and on your own. The decision about choosing inpatient or outpatient rehab for Ambuen addiction should be made along with addiction professionals. Here is a list medical experts you can trust:

  • A doctor specialized in addiction issues
  • Licensed addiction counselor
  • Psychiatrist or psychologist
  • Your medical physician

What should Ambien rehab programs offer?

Despite their differences, there are several similarities and general conditions that any good rehab facility should provide. Here is what all inpatient and outpatient rehabs should offer:

  • Assessment and evaluation – Both, inpatient and outpatient Ambien rehabs should include an intake process. You can expect the assessment and evaluation to last 1-3 hours. This is usually enough time for the treatment provider to learn more about you, your mental and emotional state, and your patterns of Ambien use.
  • Progress reports – Your personal case file should be tracked throughout the rehab process. It is important to track your progress in case any adjustments and changes need to be made in your treatment plan.
  • Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy – Also called ‘The Meat’ of any addiction treatment, psychotherapy and behavioral therapy sessions are a must for people attending outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation. You will be encouraged to adopt a new, positive lifestyle, and learn better coping skills, which don’t include Ambien use.
  • Medications – Inpatient and outpatient rehabs should be able to provide medical referrals for medications. If necessary, prescribed medications and alternative sleep aids can assist your recovery and help you increase chances of success.

Inpatient and outpatient Ambien rehab questions

Are you still indecisive about choosing inpatient vs, outpatient rehab for Ambien addiction? Please post your questions in the comments section below. We try to respond to all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly. In case we don’t know the answer to your question, we will gladly refer you to someone who can help.

Reference Sources: FDA: Ambien Safety Guide
NIDA Prescription Drug Abuse Congressional Testimony
National Institute of Drug Abuse: Prescription Drug Facts: Depressants
DrugAbuse: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment
NCBI: Inpatient vs outpatient treatment for substance dependence revisited

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

How to Identify and Treat Exercise Addiction

By Louise Stanger Ed.D, LCSW, CIP, CDWF-Candidate and Roger Porter

Can Exercise Become Unhealthy?

In a word: Yes.

Physical exercise is great for our minds and bodies. The rush of endorphins one feels when they are on the treadmill, swooping into a downward dog yoga pose, sweat pouring from their eyes at a Soul Cycle ride, or clocking the ten thousandth FitBit step is enough to bring one back for more. But for some, the ‘high’ of exercise can transform into an addiction that is just as debilitating as substance abuse dependency.

Some may joke,

“I wish I had that addiction – I’d be at the gym all the time and look great.”

However, research shows exercise addiction is a serious issue that affects 3 to 5 percent of the population. According to Science Daily, too much exercise in some cases can be linked to eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia, and orthorexia Nervosa.

An Intro to the Adonis Complex

Muscle dysmorphia (or the “Adonis Complex”) falls under the grouping of eating disorders and is defined as the obsessive belief, delusional or exaggerated, that one’s body is too small or skinny and insufficiently muscular. Even though the individual’s build is normal, or in some cases exceptionally muscular, the person becomes fixated on gaining body mass and turns to:

  • obsessive workout routines
  • dietary regimens
  • supplements
  • even steroids

This disorder largely affects males. As it is likened to anorexia in females, The Adonis Complex speaks to the larger concerns of male body image. Although the physical symptoms are clear, there isn’t a physical disorder at play, making it difficult for researchers and others to recognize, especially when males experiencing the disorder often appear normal and healthy to observers. In fact, some estimates pinpoint 10% of gym-going men experience muscle dysmorphia.

The Power of Steroids

And it’s not just the bulging muscles and underlying body image issues that pose a risk to one’s health. In many cases, men who experience muscle dysmorphia use steroids to enhance their physical size. Steroid use leads to addiction, as users often turn to stimulant drugs such as cocaine to boost energy and curb appetite. According to the Addiction Center, mixing steroids with other illegal drugs can create a dangerous cocktail that heightens aggression and puts stress on the heart. Furthermore, steroid use can cause:

  • hormonal imbalances
  • hyperactivity
  • rapid muscle gain
  • insomnia
  • paranoia

When steroids are taken, it causes the body to overproduce the hormone testosterone in men, which leads to increased muscle growth. However, the hormonal imbalance steroids can create may lead to violent mood swings and depression, even when the abuser quits taking the steroids.

On some occasions, men will self-medicate with heroin to fight the effects of aggression and insomnia which steroids cause, further compounding the problem.

The Manifestation of Exercise Addiction in Athletes

In other cases, particularly athletes such as swimmers, wrestlers and cross country runners, exercise addiction and eating disorders mix because of the pressures of being a successful athlete. These athletes are required to “cut weight” – meaning hit a certain weight target to compete in their category. As such, athletes will over-exercise and put restrictions on their diet under the guise of healthy athleticism, which may cause further harm.

Research has further shown that professional swimmers will abuse cocaine to curb appetite in order to cut weight. This unhealthy regimen then leads to bulimia, another type of eating disorder, which is again linked to exercise addiction.

More on Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia Nervosa is another potential by-product of over-exercising to the point of dependency. This condition is marked by an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Like exercise addiction, Orthorexia Nervosa can consume your life to the point where you’re:

  1. Missing social engagements.
  2. Pinning your mood on what you ate that day.
  3. Pinning your mood on the exercise routine you completed.
  4. Exercising when you’re sick or injured.

This preoccupation gives one a feeling of control and false power based on diet and workout regimen. One can become overwhelmed when a diet or exercise goal is not met. This disorder – given the media’s preoccupation with looking good and eating healthy – is substantially growing by women and gentleman who want “to be healthy.”

How to Identify Exercise Addiction

Since many of us commit to a continuous workout plan, what does fitness addiction look like? Exercise psychologist Heather Hausenblas explains it best:

“It’s when exercise becomes all consuming – when you start losing friends, foregoing social activities or reneging work opportunities – that your workout schedule becomes cause for concern.”

Here are some of the signs of exercise addiction that can signal you may be taking it too far:

Tolerance. Your body adapts to the challenge of fitness you exert on it. If you get to a point where strenuous physical activity – 15 minutes on a stairmaster or a five mile jog on a treadmill – is too easy, this may be a sign of addiction. An increase in intensity is okay but when your body no longer feels and reacts to an increase then it becomes over-exercise.

Withdrawal. Much the way a caffeine drinker feels the effects of withdrawal when they give it up, a person with a fitness addiction may feel anxious or restless when they miss their workout routine. However, this isn’t the norm for regular physical activity.

Lack of control. Taking a break, resting up, and meeting up with friends instead of hitting the gym shouldn’t be a problem. If you feel an overwhelming need to never miss a workout, it may be a sign you’re losing control over your routine.

Intention. If you come up with a workout plan, stick to it. One 50-minute yoga class for the day is all the physical activity you need. However, if you’re adding on an extra bar method class or another hour of strength training, you’re diverging from your original intention.

Time. Everyone has a busy schedule and may show up late from time to time because of traffic, etc. However, running late to a business meeting or missing, class, work, dinner plans, etc. because your workout repeatedly runs long is a red flag that exercise is taking up too much of your time.

Continuance. If you experience an injury or feel emotional distress yet continue to push yourself through workouts you may want to reconsider the role exercise plays in your life.
Use of steroids. Steroids are a prescription drug used for specific medical treatments. Although athletes commonly use them, steroids are illegal outside of prescription and can cause serious health problems.

How is Exercise Addiction Treated?

Although there is limited research and literature on exercise addiction, researchers in the behavioral health field suggest the best way to approach this disorder is to slowly ease up on the routine and mix it up. For instance, rather than the same yoga and strength training each day, mix in a session of swimming or biking, or try an assortment of group exercise classes at the local gym.

In addition, talking with professionals who can help you modify emotional states associated with the behaviors, thoughts and feelings one experiences is important. Learning to keep exercise within the range that health experts suggest will keep you healthy and strong – 150 minutes each week of aerobics and strength training.

Reference Sources: For more on your exercise routine being a passion or a problem, check out this blog here.
For a look at how fitness trackers may turn from motivation to distress, check out Live Happy here.
For a look at the latest research news on exercise addiction, check out Science Daily here.
For more information about anabolic steroids, check out the Addiction Center here.
For a great resource on eating disorders and exercise addiction, take a look at Eating Disorder Hope here.
For more on exercise addiction and ways to get help, visit CRC Health here.
For questionnaires to determine if you are experiencing body dysmorphia or appearance anxiety, visit the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation here.
For a look at how eating disorders affect athletes, visit the Eating Disorder Hope website here.
For an inspirational story of one man’s struggle with eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia and his path to recovery, visit Brian Cuban’s website here.
For more information about steroids, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse here.


ABOUT LOUISE STANGER Speaker-Writer Clinician
Dr. Louise Stanger – speaker, educator, clinician, and interventionist – uses an invitational approach with complicated mental health, substance abuse, chronic pain and process addiction clients.
Louise Stanger received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, her Masters in Social Work from San Diego State College and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of San Diego. Her book Falling Up: A Memoir of Renewal is available on Amazon and Learn to Thrive-An Intervention Guidebook is available is on her website
Louise publishes in the Huffington Post, Journal of Alcohol Studies, The Sober World, Recovery Campus and other media. The San Diego Business Journal listed her as one of the “Top 10 Women Who Mean Business” and is considered by Quit Alcohol as one of the Top 10 Interventionists in the country. She is the recipient of the 2016 Joseph L. Galletta Spirit of Recovery Award. Her book Falling Up: A Memoir of Renewal is available on Amazon and Learn to Thrive: An Intervention Handbook on her website at
Dr. Stanger has over thirty years’ experience as a college professor, researcher with over 5 million dollars of grants, and licensed clinician working with families and individuals who experience substance abuse and mental health disorders. Louise is grateful and loves the energy and collaborative spirit shown by the professional community in their goals to reduce the harm associated with substance abuse. With tireless energy she continues to contribute to the field through clinical interventions, public speaking, family recovery coaching, training and research.
Roger Porter has two bachelor degrees, film and marketing, from the University of Texas at Austin. He works in the entertainment industry, writes screenplays and coverage, and when he’s not doing that he tutors middle and high school students.

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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

How to help a Percocet addict?

When you or a friend have recognized an early addiction to Percocet, the best way to approach it is by asking for help from a medical professional. The process of successfully overcoming an addition requires medical care and support from friends and loved ones.

What are the challenges and triggers on the road of Percocet addiction treatment? How can you help yourself or a close Percocet addict friend? We answer in this article and welcome you to join the discussion at the end. So, feel free to post your questions.

Help a Percocet addict quit

The first good news when facing Percocet addiction is that it is a treatable disease. Generally, the path to overcoming a Percocet addiction is different for every individual. However, the will and determination to ask for help for Percocet addiction and do something about the problem is the first step in the process of recovery.

Percocet addiction treatment is intended to help you stop compulsively seeking and using the drug. Addiction rehabilitation can take place in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. Given the fact that addiction is a chronic disorder accompanied by occasional relapses, a short-term or one-time treatment is not enough to help the addict achieve long term sobriety. This is why doctors recommend treatment programs that include a long-term plan with multiple interventions and regular monitoring.

The Percocet addiction treatment process usually consists of the following common elements, especially when it comes to inpatient residential treatment programs:

  • Intake session
  • Detoxification and withdrawal treatment
  • Individual counseling
  • 12- step programs
  • Medication therapies
  • Doctor consultations

When you need to make a decision and choose a treatment facility, it is suggested that you consider the following recommendations:

  • Ask if the facility offers family-based interventions.
  • Find out the success rates of the treatment center.
  • Get information about the kind of treatment programs they offer.
  • Inform yourself about aftercare plans the facility offers for their patients.

Help a Percocet addict friend

When someone close to you has become addicted to Percocet, there are ways to motivate and support them in treatment. These are the steps family members can take to help loved ones accept help and enrol into treatment:

1. First, you need to educate yourself about the addiction your loved one is facing. You can speak to a counselor, read books, research online, or find an addiction therapist that can help you understand what your loved one is going through.
2. Then, you need to develop an action plan. You can decide what approach is best in your individual case with the help of a counselor, psychologist, or a licensed interventionist. Talk about the consequences the addict will need to face if s/he refuses to seek help.
3. Finally, you should stay supportive and encouraging. The significance of the role family and friends play in a person’s recovery should never be underestimated.

Self help Percocet addiction

Percocet addiction is not something that can be self managed and tackled without the aid from a medical expert.

Self help for Percocet addiction takes the form of regular face-to-face support groups. However, these self-help groups are usually a part of a professional treatment. The most prominent self-help groups are those affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and others based on the 12-step model.

Get help Percocet addiction

Are you ready to face your Percocet addiction and regain control over your life. We suggest you consider the following available resources when dealing with Percocet addiction:

  • Talk to your loved ones and ask for their help and support through your recovery journey.
  • Inform yourself about Percocet addiction.
  • Talk to a psychologist or a psychiatrist about the psychological and emotional elements of your drug addiction.
  • Search for an addiction treatment center where you will be provided with all the medical help you need.

Here is a list of helplines that might be useful in cases of emergency:

  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Samhsa’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990
  • American Association of Poison Control Centers – (800) 222-1222
  • National Help Line for Substance Abuse – (800) 262-2463
  • Alcohol and Drug Helpline – (800) 821-4357
  • Alcohol & Drug Abuse Hotline – (800) 729-6686
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hopeline – (800) 622-2255

When facing a crisis or an immediate danger it is always best to call 911.

Helping a Percocet addict questions

Would you like to know more about ways you can help a Percocet addict? Feel free to post your questions in the designated section below. We do our best to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries, or refer you to someone who can help.

Reference sources: NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
SAMHSA: Find Help & Treatment
Addenbrooke, M. (2011) Survivors of Addiction: Narraties of recovery. London: Routhledge.

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

What is Harm Reduction? How is it Different from Traditional Addiction Treatment?

Journey to Harm Reduction: Facilitator and Member

Harm Reduction is an alternative treatment approach, and often thought of as radical. Harm Reduction does make some assumptions and operates on a belief system. What are these? In general, Harm Reduction assumes that clinicians can work with clients who are actively using substances, and that those clients can make positive changes in their lives regardless of their current relationship with substances. In fact, there is a spectrum of use in Harm Reduction, which covers anything from abstinence to chaotic use. In Harm Reduction, we believe that any client can improve their life no matter where they fall in the spectrum of use.

Why is Harm Reduction important? This belief is seen as radical because it goes against many of the principles of the dominant “Disease Model” of A.A.ddiction that is taught in the majority of substance use treatment centers. In the Disease Model, substance use must stop completely before any therapeutic benefit can be reached. In the Disease Model, it is assumed that all of the client’s problems stem from their substance use. Therefore, if the client stops using substances, their life will improve. Harm Reduction acknowledges that life’s problems and substance use can be independent. Since they are independent,it is possible to work on goals without necessarily changing the relationship with substances.

In this article, I will discuss the implementation of Harm Reduction in a group setting. I will write about how I became a true believer in Harm Reduction and started a Harm Reduction group in a supportive housing building in San Francisco.

My First Abstinence Based Group

After I left residential treatment in 2007 I was back to active drug use within a month. It was a huge disappointment for myself and my family, especially considering that my family paid over $10,000 to send me to residential treatment. My mother was considering selling her car to send me back to residential treatment, so I thought that I should try outpatient treatment first.

The outpatient program was at a major hospital in the city that I lived. It was three nights a week for a few hours at a time. It was made clear, in the beginning, that the program was abstinence based; meaning that they expected me to abstain from all mind altering substances (except for nicotine and caffeine, of course). Not only was I expected to abstain from substances, but if I did use a substance I couldn’t come to group within 24 hours of the last time I used.

I found not using drugs to be extremely difficult to accomplish. It’s ironic to require people who are seeking substance treatment, presumably because they can’t stop using substances, to abstain from substances before entering a therapy group. I continued to use substances during my short time in that program. With the consequences of being asked to leave the group, or being sentenced to more intensive treatment, I kept my relapses a secret and lied about my sobriety date. Obviously lying my way through treatment did little good for my immediate mental health.

Do I Really Have to Stop Using?

Again, with my mother considering selling her car, to pay for the exact same residential treatment that had just previously failed., I thought that I had one last option––12-Step meetings. I availed myself a sponsor before the meeting even started. After the meeting, he gave me very clear instructions. He told me that, if I didn’t use drugs that night or the next morning, I was to call him and he would take me to a 12-Step meeting. What he said next was unfamiliar; he said that if I DID use that night or the next morning, I was to call him and he would take me to a 12-Step meeting.


You mean to tell me that I don’t even have to stop using drugs to be a member of a 12-Step Group? This system was so much easier than the clinical treatment that I was used to. In 12-Step programs the only consequence to using drugs is getting loaded; a punishment that is far greater than any sanction given by a counselor.

Are 12-Step Programs Harm Reduction?

So, are 12-Step programs Harm Reduction? – Unfortunately not, technically.

There is only one reason, although it’s a significant one, that 12-Step programs are not Harm Reduction; which is because of something that we call the third tradition. This tradition states that the only requirement for 12-Step membership is a desire to STOP using drugs. It is that one word, stop, that makes the 12-Steps rooted in abstinence based ideology, and not Harm Reduction. To be a member of a 12-Step group, according to the third tradition, there is the assumption that the person’s ultimate goal is to be abstinent, as opposed to a desire to change, cutback, maintain, or reduce harm.

Other than that one substantial obstacle, I believe that everything else in the 12-Steps is very much in the spirit of Harm Reduction; at least it was meant to be in its conception. Alcoholics Anonymous was the original 12-Step group and its founders were the ones who wrote the 12-Steps. In A.A. literature, its authors advise drinkers to try some controlled drinking before attempting the drastic program of abstinence. Also, A.A.’s founders advised its members, throughout their writings, to treat the alcoholic with tolerance and respect which are foundational principles in Harm Reduction.

Although the founding principles of A.A. were in the spirit of Harm Reduction, there is scant evidence of a Harm Reduction foundation still visible in the culture of A.A. today. Abstinence of all substances, not just alcohol, is the “way or the highway” as far as many A.A. members are concerned. The definition of sobriety now includes all mind altering substances. This was definitely not the same concept of sobriety that A.A.’s founders believed, especially since Bill Wilson, A.A.’s cofounder, took LSD in the 1950s and didn’t change his sobriety date.

I believe that the disappearance of Harm Reduction in A.A. has followed the degeneration of their primary purpose and the integration of clinical treatment in A.A. meetings. The primary purpose of A.A., the fifth tradition, states that alcohol is the only substance that the program deals with. Far from being all substance inclusive, early A.A. only concerned itself with alcohol; defining sobriety as abstinence from alcohol only. This is ostensibly still true in theory but not in practice. This is because the ideology of “a drug is a drug, is a drug,” that clinical treatment centers propagate, has flooded into A.A.; washing away any hope of ever having a modified Harm Reduction paradigm.

My Introduction to Harm Reduction

After working in an abstinence based treatment program for seven years, I became disenchanted with The Disease Model of addiction. I left the field of addiction treatment to pursue a master’s degree in social work. Ironically, I went back to school to get out of substance use treatment, but in my first year of graduate school I was introduced to Harm Reduction and this has rekindled my passion for working within Substance Use Treatment.

Before graduate school I had only thought of Harm Reduction as methadone treatment and needle exchanges. The idea that substance users could be worked with clinically while they still used substances was a completely new concept to me. In that first year of my MSW program I had the privilege to intern at a supportive housing building in San Francisco. Supportive housing operates on a housing first paradigm, where basically people are housed as the first stage of their treatment. Once housed, social services attempt to use interventions on other aspects of life such as substance use.

During the time that I spent working in supportive housing, I saw things that directly contradicted every truth that I had come to believe about drug use. In supportive housing I was working with people who met the criteria for Substance Use Disorder, but they were still able to maintain their lives. In The Disease Model, I learned that addiction is chronic and progressive; meaning that it only get worse, never better. What I saw directly contradicted this theory.

Here I observed people who had been maintaining stagnant relationships with substances for many years and even decades. Their patterns of use did not always get worse over time; instead they went through cycles and even decreased over time. The cyclical nature of substance use usually negatively correlated with other positive life achievements. For example, when an individual was employed or maintained good mental health, their substance use went down or they used the same but the use didn’t carry as severe consequences.

The Harm Reduction Group Begins

The most rewarding experience of my time in supportive housing was starting and facilitating a Harm Reduction group. My supervisor at the building wanted to have some type of recovery group and gave me the project to get it started. Originally, I was going to co-facilitate a recovery group with another case manager, but she quit; leaving me and my project back to square one. At this point, I had been learning about Harm Reduction and had read several pieces of literature on the subject. Now it was time to put some of this theory into practice.

I decided that I wanted to have two components to the group. The first being an open support group for the residents of the building to come and talk about drug use in a nonjudgmental environment. The second component would be an educational piece where I would share some techniques and ideas about how to reduce harm while engaging in inherently dangerous activities.

Supporting the Member Where They are at

Creating and holding a safe place for substance users to come talk about their use was the most important piece to starting the Harm Reduction group. To do this, I had to recognize and acknowledge that all substance users are in different stages with their relationship to drugs; and they are also all in different stages of their motivation to change that relationship. Both addiction and recovery operate on a spectrum.

In my group I had people from all over that continuum of use and motivation to change. I had one member in an abstinence based outpatient program, a member on methadone maintenance, a member who had no desire to change their relationship with substances, and other members who were ambivalent. I could have one group member who was blackout drunk, sitting next to someone else who was shaking in their second day of detox. Group members came as they were, and came and went as they pleased.

The goal was not only for myself to become accepting of the variety of substance users, but also to have the members of the group acknowledge an individual’s right to choose their own relationship with substances, so that the group would have an nonjudgmental culture of support. Surprisingly, this happened organically with little effort from myself. I simply laid out some basic rules, so that people felt safe and respected, and the members of the group took the discussion in any direction they wanted.

Psychoeducation: Drug, Set, and Setting

I led the group in an education of “drug, set, and setting,” which means that how the drug itself (drug), the individual’s physical and mental being (set), and their environment (setting) play an interchanging role in how drug use affects a substance user’s life. The idea was to show the members that they could change any aspect of their drug, set, or setting to reduce the harm they get from drug use. For example, a drug user can reduce harm by making sure they eat before using (set), or only use in the company of others (setting) to be safer when they use.

Drug, set, and setting was the foundation of the Harm Reduction group. As members shared their experience with drug use, I pointed out how drug, set, and setting had played a role in their experience. For example, a member may have shared that they use less drugs when they are employed. I would have pointed out that the member is using less (drug) because they feel better about themselves (set) when they are spending more productive time at work (setting). As the group progressed through the weeks, members became more familiar with the terminology and were able to put words to the changes happening in their lives through this framework.

Final Thoughts

I have no empirical evidence that my Harm Reduction group had any positive effect on the member’s relationship with substances or mental health. What I do know is that the members said that they enjoyed coming to the group and the attendance and participation exceeded all expectations from myself and my colleagues. Most members voiced their appreciation to have had a nonjudgmental space to talk freely about substance use. The concept of being able to seek addiction treatment on their terms, without any expectations, was a new and refreshing paradigm for them.

Harm Reduction is NOT only a refreshing concept for clients but equally nice for clinicians. With no rules or negative consequences for using, Harm Reduction creates an environment that has the potential to be truly honest. I know that for me I became tired, working in abstinence treatment, constantly treating people like they were liars; policing their behavior and bodies through drug testing. By releasing ourselves from the bondage of dogmatic thinking, will free us to to the actual work that we are meant to do.

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