Referred to a Treatment Center? Do This First!

Treatment referrals can be problematic. If you have been referred to a substance abuse treatment center, there are things you need to do to ensure your safety or the safety of your loved one. First, consider any referrals from friends, your physician, an online website, or an ad as a starting point for research, only. It doesn’t matter who refers you to a center, you have to research the facility and make sure it’s a good fit for your needs.

Steps to Stay Safe Even if You Have a Referral

Before choosing a facility or giving any person or center your information be sure:

  1. The facility is upfront about costs (including urine screenings and other tests), insurance deductibles, copays, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
  2. The facility has a policy about patient referrals and does not engage in patient brokering by paying for patients.
  3. The facility is accredited. Most facilities want to brag about accreditation and will have a certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities (CARF) or the Joint Commission Accreditation for Addiction Treatment Gold Seal for Behavioral Health on their website and marketing material.
  4. The facility has full time credentialed addiction counselors on staff, not just staff that is trained in recovery or related field. And the facility website has photographs of the staff with bios and contact information.
  5. The facility is equipped to handle any co-occurring disorders and treatment for these disorders are integrated into the program curriculum or tracks, and staff can assess, identify interventions, and prescribe medications.
  6. The facility practices evidence-based treatments and life-coping skills such as through:
  • Acceptance-commitment therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Community Reinforcement and Family Training
  • Community reinforcement approach
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Medicated Assisted Treatment
  • Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy
  1. The facility is proud of their daily schedule and is eager to share it with you. You should see structured and supervised activities such as weekday programs, weekend programs, group counseling, individual counseling, support group, chores, and recreational activities.
  2. The facility offers options for family involvement such as education abuse and support.
  3. The facility has dedicated discharge planners and continuing care programs or mentors.
  4. The facility is dedicated to patient safety and have programs in place to deal with patient relapses that includes support even if it means transferring them to a detox facility or another program.

12 Warning Signs That Someone Is Using

Something’s not right, but you can’t pin point what’s wrong. Your feelings run from disbelief, fear and betrayal to anger, concern and back again.  Addiction doesn’t go away on it’s own. Here are 12 warning signs that need immediate attention.

In an intimate and caring relationship, accepting your loved one is a substance abuser is the hardest thing in the world. Someone you love is caught up in something dangerous and beyond your control. What you do and how you handle it is important. Taking care of yourself and being able to understand and accept the situation improves your quality of life. Accordingly, your example might lead your loved one to change.

First Be Observant

Do some detective work. Watch what’s going on, and make notes about how your loved one is acting toward you and everything else. Learn about addiction and the changes that occur in personality and behavior.

Know The 12 Warning Signs

Not all of these will apply to your loved one, but these are the most common warning signs of substance and alcohol abuse and addiction:

  1. Mood swings
  2. Anger, impatience, irritable behavior, especially when confronted
  3. Sudden appearance of new friends
  4. Secrecy about activities and whereabouts
  5. You found items that you suspect might be drug paraphernalia
  6. Pupils are often either enlarged or constricted. Methamphetamine and cocaine enlarge the pupil while heroin and other opiates will constrict the pupils.
  7. Smells different. Alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can change body odor.
  8. Loss of appetite
  9. Money and other items are disappearing.
  10. Neglecting things that used to be important—family, church, relationships, activities
  11. Neglecting personal hygiene and personal appearance
  12. Sudden secret phone calls and texting

Educate Yourself About Substances

Learn about the different classes and types of drugs. Most drugs have fairly precise symptoms if you know what to look for. Treating marijuana is a little different than treating heroin. Some medications can help with alcohol and opiate addictions. Researching is scary, but not knowing is dangerous. 

Get Help

Yes, trying drugs or alcohol for the first time is a choice, but becoming addicted is not.

Addiction is now medically described as an chronic relapsing brain disease. Don’t try to change anyone on your own, it won’t work. Seek professional help from a therapist, addiction professional, or a doctor. Recovery Guidance lists help for families and those who are addicted. Click here to search for family resources


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7 Keys To Successful Recovery

Nay-Sayers say, “Recovery doesn’t work,” because they know someone who relapsed just a few weeks or months after rehab.  Recovery is possible, but it takes more than a 30-day fix. In fact, millions of people have found successful recovery and rebuilt their lives using these 7 keys.

1. The Patient Wants A Successful Recovery

Can you force the patient into treatment? People ask us this question daily. Ultimately, yes, in some cases patients can be forced into treatment. But a better case scenario is when the patient is ready to get help. We understand how hard it is to watch another person’s addiction. You feel helpless and beyond scared. While you wait, you can set boundaries and research treatment options. Once the patient is ready, you’ll be able to present lots of information.

2. The Patient Gets A Complete Physical

Every day people have a beer or take a pain pill without getting addicted, so why did this patient get addicted? Genetics, past abuse, trauma, and mental health issues can all contribute to addiction. When the patient sees a physician for an honest and complete physical exam, all of those factors can be addressed. Each patient deserves a personalized, comprehensive evaluation prior to treatment. Patients who have the most success talk to their doctor about:

  • Any prior diagnoses of substance use
  • Mental and general health problems
  • Family, social and environmental problems that could affect the course of care and potential for relapse

3. The Patient Has A Long-Term Treatment Plan

Like most other chronic health illnesses, substance use disorders require ongoing treatment. When a patient is first diagnosed, care is often intensive. The first phase is detox. Once their condition and cravings are stabilized, patients upgraded to either inpatient or outpatient treatment. Sometimes outpatient treatment lasts 12-36 months. Depending on the severity of their disorder, some patients have more months of outpatient care than others. In all cases, on-going treatment solidifies successful recovery.

4. The Patient Sees A Doctor During Treatment

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 8 million Americans with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Common mental health problems include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD

Likewise, substance use and long-term alcohol consumption lead to many physical health problems like:

  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Infectious illnesses (e.g. HIV, HCV, TB)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

Your physician is a key team player. Doctors can recommend alternative medicines that won’t compromise your recovery. Likewise, doctors can help get your physical health back on track.

 5. The Patient Gets Counseling

Behaviors play a big part in addiction, but therapy can help. Patients need to learn new coping skills, and they need to learn about boundaries. Additionally, they need guidance in navigating relationship conflicts. All of these types of therapies help the patient learn healthy new behaviors:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Individual Supportive Psychotherapy
  • Families and Couples Therapy
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy

6. The Patient Takes Meds

Some patients use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate chronic pain while others are escaping a painful past trauma. According to SAMSHA, two out of three people in treatment were victims of child abuse. Others might be suffering from a co-occuring mental health problem. Anti-depressants and other meds can help. Also know as MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment), doctors can prescribe meds that help reduce cravings. Some of these medications even create an adverse reaction if the patient relapses.

7. The Patient Has On-going Recovery Support

The first 30 days of treatment intensely focus on saving a patients life and changing a gripping habit. Unfortunately, the patient still needs help tackling these three issues:

  • Where to live
  • Where to work
  • Who to live with

For a successful recovery, the patient needs help transitioning back into life. Group meetings like NA and AA have helped many. Other patients may want to stay in a half-way house or have ongoing outpatient treatment. Most importantly, patients need a strong support system. Recovery doesn’t happen all alone.

* This Recovery Guidance Exclusive was adapted from 2016 Surgeon General’s Report.


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How To Protect Your Finances From Addiction

It’s crucial to be safe when your loved one has a substance use disorder. Protect your finances and possessions so that you don’t have serious problems down the road.

Families With Drug Abusers Always Have Financial Difficulties

Drug abusers (and some people with behavior addictions) need money all the time to support their drug of choice. They use their families to get it by:

  • Going from one family member to another asking for money
  • Taking money from wallets and purses that are left unattended
  • Stealing valuables from their relatives’ home to sell
  • Scaring family members into providing money for them
  • Coercing or blackmailing family members who fear homelessness or worse behaviors if they don’t give money

The families that protect themselves against financial wreckage due to a substance abuser are the families that fare the best. Here are some tips to follow.

Protect Valuables In The Home

Know what and where your possessions are and monitor them. What to do:

  • Make a list of your assets and valuables
  • Know where everything is
  • Make sure your valuables all have your name on it
  • Engrave your name on jewelry when you can
  • Lock valuables away whenever possible
  • Alert everyone in the family that possessions are watched and monitored

Guard Your Wallet

Does the abuser have access to your wallet, cash, credit and debit cards? Does cash mysteriously disappear? Cash charged on a credit card costs more, and the credit card holder may be held responsible for the charges. Have you seen charges you don’t recognize on your cards? What to do:

  • Make sure your wallet or purse is always in a safe place not accessible to abuser
  • Keep your cash hidden
  • Keep your credit cards locked up
  • Check you balances frequently

Protect Bank Accounts And Investments

Who is in charge of the family money? Abuse occurs when the abuser is in charge of finances. Be aware of your family finances. What kind of bank and investment accounts do you have and where are they? You should have access to bank accounts and safety deposit accounts as well as investment accounts. What to do:

  • Be sure to have access to all bank accounts
  • Watch the balance to see if cash is going out
  • Start keeping some money separate for emergencies
  • Change passwords often for online banking accounts that you own
  • Check your safety deposit box if you keep valuables there
  • If you have an investment advisor alert him/her to potential problems

Grandma And Grandpa’s Finances

Abusers will go from family member to family member with sad stories and sometimes threats. The most vulnerable may well be grandma and grandpa. Is the abuser stealing from the grandparents or getting them to hand over social security checks? What to do:

  • Take an inventory of grandparents’ valuables in the home
  • Monitor what drugs they taking and make sure they are not kept in the open
  • Ask about investment accounts, bank accounts, debit cards, and other potential sources of cash
  • Keep in touch with them and other vulnerable family members
  • Pay special attention to jewelry, guns and other weapons, and tools

Legal Options

Check with your lawyer about your rights and liabilities as a spouse or parent.


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Ten Things To Know Before You Seek Addiction Treatment

Searching for effective addiction treatment can be overwhelming. There’s many, many options, and each option offers many, many choices.  Since almost all of them promise a full recovery, it’s hard to know which service you need or where to even begin. Here’s ten simple facts to put your mind at ease before you start searching.

1. Addiction Can Happen To Anyone

And anyone can be addicted to any number of substances such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Stimulants (amphetamine, Ritalin, methamphetamine)
  • Cocaine
  • Sedatives (tranquilizers, sleep medications, anti-anxiety medications)
  • Opioids (heroin, fentanyl, carfentanyl, and prescribed pain relievers, such as oxycontin, vicodin and lortab)
  • Marijuana

You can become addicted if you just drink beer.  You can become addicted if you just use marijuana.  Because some of these substances are more powerful or potent than others, addiction can be faster with them.  All of the above substances can produce an addiction.

2. Virtually All Addiction Begins During Adolescence – Over 90%

Many wise, older people think young kids get addicted because because adolescence is a period of experimentation and rebellion.  On the contrary, addiction so often begins in adolescence because drugs affect the brain. Developing adolescent brains are more vulnerable.

The adolescent brain (12 – 25) is more susceptible to drug effects than the adult brain.

3. Addiction Is Not Related To Intelligence Or Social Standing

Many intelligent individuals from “good families” become addicted.

4. Addiction Is Partially Hereditary

Like most other chronic illnesses, addiction is more likely among those who have an addicted family member.  Addiction is also more likely among those with a psychiatric illness like depression, anxiety, or thought disorder. This is why smoking marijuana every week may be harmless to some individuals, but it’s seriously addicting to others.

5. Addiction Is A Chronic Illnesses That Affects the Brain

Addiction is a chronic illness or disease. This disease affects the motivational, stress and inhibitory circuits of the brain. As a result, the new brain functions sometimes lead to disturbing behaviors like:

  • Lying
  • Inability to fulfill promises
  • Impulsivity
  • Mood changes

Addiction does NOT happen all at once, and sometimes it takes years of substance misuse to produce these brain changes.  These changes last for many months, even after the substance use stops. Some people may never return to their “normal” pre-addictive functioning.

6. Most People Who Become Addicted Ultimately Recover

People who struggle with addiction are not a lost cause. Recovery rates for most addictions are similar to the recovery rates for other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Recovery really means three things:

  1. Eliminating or significantly reducing all substance use. Uncontrolled substance use is the cardinal symptom of addiction.
  2. Improving overall health and function. Stopping substance use will be hollow unless it is accompanied by improved quality of life.
  3. Learning to recognize and self-manage threats to relapse. Returning to normal life involves cravings and relapse threats, but these can be managed.

Over 4 million formerly addicted individuals are now in stable recovery.  Many people recover without treatment, but good treatment accelerates the process.

7. An Addicted Person Doesn’t Have To “Hit Bottom

Some people say, “there is nothing you can do until a person is ready to stop,”  but this simply isn’t true.  Families and society in general can help people find recovery in two ways:

  1. By applying constructive but steady pressure
  2. By assisting in the treatment process

 

Many people seek recovery because someone gave them an ultimatum.  Yet others get into recovery after trying many options.  To be successful, people need continuing support from a boss, spouse, or family member.

8. There Are No Short-term Treatments

Have you heard about ultra-rapid detoxes, one-week detoxes and 30-day programs?  All of these can be helpful, but they are just the beginning phase of treatment. None are effective by themselves.  Like all other chronic illnesses, recovery is more likely with continuing care and monitoring.

9. Medications Can Help Gain And Maintain Recovery

The FDA has approved medications help people recovery from cigarette, opioid and alcohol addictions. At this point, not all treatment providers offer these medications. These medications aren’t appropriate for all cases, but many people find medications to be an important piece of their treatment plan.

10. Family Participation Improves Their Recovery

What can you do to help?

  1. Support your loved ones. Your constructive support and encouragement is invaluable.
  2. Learn about their treatment and respect their choices.
  3. Be willing to un-learn some destructive attitudes and behaviors. (All families have them.)
  4. Share responsibilities for developing new, constructive attitudes and behaviors.

 

Good treatment involves the whole family. Now that you are armed with the truth about addiction and treatment, click here to take our our self-assessment guide.

What Happens After Rehab?

Recovery Doesn’t Stop After Rehab

In fact, it’s an ongoing process that involves:

  1. Committing to a new lifestyle
  2. Finding new ways to cope with struggles
  3. Using the tools and skills learned in rehab to support you going forward

Addiction Aftercare Improves Rehab Success

Aftercare programs help you transition from the safety of rehab to everyday life. They also continue to support your and your family members. Finding a program after rehab helps you reach recovery benchmarks. Additionally, Aftercare can reduce your risk of relapse.

Some people want aftercare support for their rest of their lives. Others only need short-term support, and some only seek aftercare if they start to struggle. Typically, aftercare is provided in an outpatient setting and focuses on:

  1. Preventing relapse
  2. Dealing with stress
  3. Helping  you build or rebuild relationships
  4. Dealing with your personal triggers

Likewise, Aftercare helps you learn to manage anger and overcome anxiety. It provides tools to help you understand and deal with family dynamics. Aftercare teaches you to balance the pressures and strain of work or school.

Where Aftercare Happens

Some aftercare programs are held in sober living facilities. Also known as half-way houses, people in these facilities shares responsibilities. They learn to balance the freedoms and pressures they faced before rehab.  Some facilities offer therapy or group sessions, but other aftercare programs do not.

Aftercare treatment options are sometimes overlooked because big dollars are spent targeting patients for inpatient treatment. Little publicity is given to treatment after rehab. The right aftercare program offers a bridge between what was and what can be. This span of treatment is a vital part of successful recovery.

Recovery Guidance has an extensive list of aftercare treatment programs. To find them, click on the Recovery Centers tab. From there, you can use the filters to search by specialization for aftercare programs.

Search for aftercare


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6 Things To Know About Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

The term Alcohol Use Disorder (a.k.a. AUD) may be new, but it describes one of man’s first addictions.

Alcohol overuse has been around since man first started brewing beer some 10,000 years ago.  Severe drinking used to be called alcoholism. Medically speaking, AUD is a chronic, relapsing brain disease. AUD merges the previous definitions of alcohol dependence and abuse to one broad diagnosis.

Alcohol Use Disorder Can Be Mild, Moderate Or Severe

No matter what we call it, alcohol is still the king of addictions. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, alcohol misuse causes more than 88,000 deaths in America each year.

This name reflects a kinder, more politically correct term. It’s based on people first language. For example, Sue is a person who has an alcohol use disorder (AUD). First and foremost, Sue is a person.

Today, we are changing the language to say people suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 16 million Americans suffer from alcohol use disorder.

No matter what we call it, it’s most important to remember a few key facts:

  1. This is a disease.
  2. Individuals with this disease have a compulsive need to drink.
  3. People with this disease may not be able to control their alcohol intake.
  4. When people with this disease are not drinking, they are often in a negative emotional state.
  5. It is dangerous for those who are severely affected by alcohol use disorder to quit drinking “cold turkey.”
  6. However severe the problem may seem, most people can benefit from treatment. They can overcome their alcohol use disorder.

Recovery Guidance lists several hospitals and centers capable of helping you detox. You can find them by clicking on the image below.

Search for Alcohol Detox


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