What Is Rehab

Rehab used to mean professional healthcare therapies to improve, maintain, or restore physical strength, cognition, and mobility. Usually after illness, injury or surgery.

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Is Recovery High School Right For An Addicted Teen?

Is it safe to send a teen back to school with his or her dealer? No! Recovering from addiction almost always requires a change in how we deal with people, places, and things. That’s why the McShin Foundation partnered with St. Joseph’s Villa to open the McShin Academy, Virginia’s first recovery high school.  Continue reading “Is Recovery High School Right For An Addicted Teen?”

Families, Ask “Is This Rehab Safe?”

Kevin Drouin set out to protect his family from drugs, but he soon found himself searching a local rehab center. He gives us the inside scoop of what goes on in rehab and the one question every family should ask.

Kevin Drouin and his family live 20 minutes north of Boston, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. More drugs flow through Lawrence than Boston; it’s the center of the Northeast drug trade. With drugs come overdoses, and no one is safe. Day after day, young people from good families in very affluent neighborhoods are dying. Two years ago, amidst this growing epidemic, Kevin asked himself a tough question, “What if it were my own child?” His answer, “Get a dog that finds drugs.” Thus, Kevin’s business, Tough Love Intervention, was born.

When Kevin Met Moxie

Formerly trained for police work, Kevin was able to purchase Moxie after her original assignment fell through. Labrador Retrievers are very social, and they are eager to please, making them highly trainable. They also have soft mouths, so they won’t bite. Above all, Labs have an excellent sense of smell. Moxie’s sense of smell is more than 100 times greater than Kevin’s.

After completing her initial training, Moxie learned how to detect various drugs. Moxie is trained and certified to detect:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Crack Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Marijuana
  • Hashish

When Moxie Goes To The Rehab Center

Moxie searching rehab centerEven though Tough Love Intervention is not affiliated with any law enforcement agency, their presence sends a ripple of fear throughout the rehab center. Why? Because not all treatment centers are secure. In the past two years of searching with K-9s, Kevin has uncovered this inherent truth,

“If you force someone into treatment, that isn’t ready, they will pollute everyone in the facility.”

Moxie and Kevin have found drugs in a patient’s nightstand under a Bible. At another location, Moxie found drugs stashed inside a porta-potty. Recently, the pair was searching a young girl’s room. She was only 25 years old. It was her fourth relapse and fifth treatment center.

People go to rehabs to get clean, so the idea of drugs at the center is shocking at best. In the worst cases, it’s deadly. “Treatment centers have new addicts coming in every day,” Drouin explains. Jails are secure because they continually conduct strict searches. Rehab centers don’t have that luxury. One rehab Kevin worked with knew their food wasn’t so good.  When they let patients order pizzas and subs, drugs came in too.

Ask The Expert

Parents often ask Kevin, “Where should I send my son?” His answer is simple,

“Every treatment center will look you in the eye and tell you they have a zero tolerance policy. Ask them, ‘How do you maintain that policy?’ Make sure sober means sober. Treatment means treatment. Detox means detox.”


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Tough Love Intervention for Rehab CenterTough Love Intervention is one of Recovery Guidance’s founding professionals. Click here to find out more about the services Kevin and Moxie provide.

3 Ways To Control Addiction

Control is a hot button issue for many, especially in addiction. Those new to recovery often have to define what they can control and how they’re going to do it. Those living with someone who’s addicted may go to extremes: trying to control everything and actually having control over nothing. Here are three ways to start gaining some control over addiction.

1. Define Then Control Your Territory

Put some serious thought into what you want to claim as yours. Maybe you’re willing to fight for your fridge by declaring an ultimatum, “No alcohol in here.” The key here is to start small. Protecting your entire town from drug use is too big of a perimeter to maintain. Protecting something smaller like your bedroom or apartment sets you up for success.

When we’re new to claiming territory, our talk is usually much braver than our actions. Choose something you know you can defend. You must be willing and able to enforce your boundary.

Many times, we, the new empowered boundary setter, can’t see our own weak spots, but our loved ones can. They look for weaknesses in the boundary and then attack there. This has nothing to do with your love for each other or respect. It has to do with old habits and patterns of behavior. Be prepared for several attacks to the same weak spot. Boundary busters don’t give up easily.

2. Define Unacceptable Behavior

Accepting unacceptable behavior is common for people who struggle with addiction and for those who love them. Many of us bring other hurts and traumas to the situation. In many families, addiction is a way to self-medicate the pain from abuse or mental illness. Adult children of alcoholics, for example, struggle to define what’s “normal.”

Again, it’s important to start small. Pick one or two behaviors that are hurting you the most. Then get ready for battle. Strategically plan what you will do when the behavior happens. This is not an “if” situation. Like boundaries, our friends, loved ones, and drug dealers won’t welcome any change. They are probably quite comfortable with the relationship’s existing dynamics.

Often, when we are ready to make this change, we’re beyond frustrated. We want ALL of the behaviors to change yesterday. This is because we’ve accepted the unacceptable behavior for years. Making a small change isn’t for their benefit. We benefit. Success breeds success. After we tackle the first behavior, we’ll be stronger. Then we move on to the next offending behavior.

3. Define Your Support Team

Abuse and addiction survive by keeping their victims trapped in silent fear. Tell someone you trust about what’s really going on in your house or with your family. The first step is to admit there is a problem.

Recovery isn’t only for the addicted. Many groups like AA and NA have parallel support groups for family members. Al-Anon and Al-Ateen follow the same 12 Steps as AA. Nar-Anon is the corresponding family support group for NA. The best news is, you can attend these groups before your loved one starts treatment. Other groups like CoDA (Co-dependents Anonymous) and ACoA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) also offer support.

These groups cost very little. Members are encouraged to chip in a buck or two share the costs of meeting space. They teach about boundaries and healthy living. Often, they have “old timers” who’ve dramatically changed their lives and are willing to tell you what worked for them.

To sum it up, we all have the power to change ONE person, ourselves. We can only control ourselves. Focusing on these three areas lets us start small and gain momentum. When we start to change, the other people in our relationships then change by default. We just don’t get to control how they change.


Do you need help getting control over addiction? From rehabs to support groups, Recovery Guidance lists hundreds of choices. Take our self-assessment test to find out where to start..

What Is Narcan, Who Needs It, How To Get It

When someone you love is using opioids, the constant fear of an overdose is debilitating. However, there is a way to keep a sliver of hope at home in your medicine cabinet and it’s called Narcan.

Continue reading “What Is Narcan, Who Needs It, How To Get It”

What To Know About Raising Someone Else’s Kid

We know about the dangers of second-hand smoke, but with the opioid epidemic comes a new second-hand danger. Children are being shuffled around. Friends and families are stepping forward to help, but the children are hurting. Here’s what you need to know if you’re raising someone else’s kid.

1. Addiction Is A Family Disease That Affects Generations

According to Generations United, more than 1 out of 3 kids are placed in foster care because of their parents alcohol or drug use. Even if the parent has quit using or drinking, or even if the substance abuse was two generations removed, this generation is still impacted. In recovery, we talk about the generational sins of substance and alcohol abuse. One of the most common side effects is fear, and often the fear is constant. The children you are raising are terrified, and their fear shows up as:

  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Hoarding
  • Controlling
  • Lying

Some kids are afraid they’ll never see their parents again. Others are afraid they will. Loud noises, smells, places, and foods can all trigger flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares.

2. You Don’t Have To Accept Unacceptable Behavior

Almost all kids test boundaries. Most kids are master manipulators, and many were born with the ability to make puppy dog eyes at will. They sense weaknesses and pounce. Like most marriages, raising someone else’s kid will have a honeymoon stage. Be advised, the honeymoon ends. Reading up on boundaries during the honeymoon will help you prepare for the upcoming drama. When correcting behaviors, you can say, “That doesn’t work for me.”

3. Don’t Fuel The Fire

When you must enforce boundaries, it’s often scary and uncomfortable. Further, enforcing boundaries initiates conflict, and sometimes arguments break out. Keeping these two things in mind helps you keep the peace:

  1. Just because she’s mad doesn’t mean you’re bad. Your feelings aren’t connected to the child’s like a yo-yo. Let her feel her feelings independently from you.
  2. “You might be right,” almost always ends arguments. Your foster son or daughter might be right. You might be right, and in an alternate universe, you might both be right.

4. What Happened In The Womb Doesn’t Stay In The Womb

If the child’s biological Mom drank or used any number of drugs (including legally prescribed meds) during pregnancy, the child may have lasting birth defects. These defects often go undiagnosed. These children may present with ADHD like symptoms, and they may act too young for their age.  Often, these kids need extra help in school. Frequently, alcohol-exposed children struggle with Math. You might have to meet with the child’s teachers to discuss accommodations and interventions.

Sometimes, raising someone else’s kid requires professional help. Recovery Guidance provides an exhaustive list of counselors and therapists.


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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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Keeping Kids And Pets Safe From Drug Waste

Three month old lab puppy, Zoey got more than she bargained for yesterday. She was curious about a discarded cigarette case, but the puppy accidentally found some hazardous drug waste instead.  Only minutes after her owner, Peter, took the carton away, little Zoey passed out. When they got home, she got progressively worse. Zoey’s eyes rolled back in her head and her tongue hung out. Peter rushed her to the vet. Fortunately, the vet gave her several doses of Narcan.

Drug Waste In Parks Puts Pets And Kids At Risk

Zoey lives in Andover, Massachusetts, just down the street from Moxie and Kevin, the dynamic duo that forms Tough Love Intervention. Kevin and Moxie know about these hidden dangers all to well. By day, they search area treatment centers and schools for narcotics. On the weekends, they voluntarily search neighborhood parks. Moxie regularly finds buckets of used needles and other drug waste in public parks.

Of all the potential dangers drug waste poses, fentanyl is especially dangerous because it can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. A small dose, about the size of three sugar grains, is lethal to an adult. Zoey’s vet suspects she ingested Fentanyl.

What Parents Need To Know

Parents today need to keep a closer eye on their kids. Be especially watchful of their touching or chewing on foreign objects. While needles are obvious dangers, fentanyl patches can also be cast aside. Finally, remember S-B-S-B-S; these are the five most common signs of opioid poisoning:

S – Severe sleepiness

B – Breathing slowly

S – Small pinpoint pupils

B – Blue fingernails & lips

S – Slow heartbeat

If your child shows any of the above signs without reason, seek help.  Most importantly, if you suspect an overdose, do not force the person or pet to vomit. Also, be prepared to do rescue breathing. Opioids slow the respiratory system. You might have to keep it going until the professionals arrive.


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5 Steps To Take When Your Child Is Using

Realizing that your child is using drugs is very difficult to process. Your gut reaction is often to panic and plan for a major catastrophe. Your fear shows up as anger and rage; it tells you to control, condemn, and yell. Unfortunately, those tactics almost never work. (We know this because we’ve been in your shoes.) So let’s explore five steps that can help your child recover his or her sobriety and the relationship with you.

1. Do Not Panic And Catastrophize

Fear drives parents to:

  • Blame
  • Panic
  • Think the worst

In recovery, we call this reacting. Reacting takes away your power because the situation defines you and your responses. If you react, you will offer no healthy solutions to the situation.  Likewise, your child will then react to your reaction. This almost always escalates into an argument.  For example, when you see your child stoned, you may start yelling things like:

  • “How stupid are you?”
  • “You’re grounded for life.”
  • “How could you do this to me/us?”

Yelling and screaming triggers the same type of response from your child.  He or she will defend by saying something like:

  • “It’s my life and I can do what I want.”
  • “I hate you.”
  • “Everyone else is doing it and it’s no big deal.”

2. Take Action, Not Reaction

Instead of reacting, parents can take action. Taking action empowers you to find solutions and lets you respond from strength; you have choices. In this step, you separate your feeling from your options. For example, a parent who takes action first begins by calmly taking to the child about the substance use. When parents offer a listening ear, two things can happen:

  1. The child may actually open up, but even if this doesn’t happen, the strength position is modeled for the child.
  2. If the overreacting child doesn’t get the hoped-for reaction from the parent(s), the drama starves. It’s no fun to act out, argue, or throw a fit if the other person doesn’t play along.

Parents can also take action by finding support for themselves. Seeing a counselor or attending a support group is a very empowering process in its own right.

3. Explore Solutions And Consequences

By exploring healthy choices, the child learns the parent is on his or her side. This creates an open dialogue regarding what needs to happen in a positive choice manner. Parents and children can brainstorm healthy solutions such as:

  1. Not hanging out with using friends
  2. Being home by an earlier curfew
  3. Limiting the use of the car
  4. Going to family counseling
  5.  Attending AA/NA meetings (and young people’s meetings if available)
  6. Or if needed, seeking inpatient or residential treatment.

After some solutions are discussed, hopefully, the child will be willing to comply. If not, then the parents may need to set some boundaries. Parents and children must also discuss the consequences of future use.  Creating consequences with the child, not for the child, gives the child a voice.  This step may be repeated as necessary for recovery is not a linear process. There will probably be relapses so know in advance how you’ll deal with a relapse.

4. If Your Child Is Using Again Enforce The Consequences

Parents must follow-up and enforce the agreed upon consequences. Too often, parents ignore signs that the child is using again, but this is the worst thing a parent can do.  Some parents walk on eggshells to not trigger relapse. Other parents see their child as helpless or fragile. This is also called enabling the child.

Parents, remember step 2, take action. Giving in is a type of reaction, not action. The parent gives away the power in this situation. Interestingly enough, as a therapist, I’ve found that children and teens often give themselves more severe consequences than are necessary. Just like in step3, this step may be repeated as often as needed.

5. Be Supportive Of Positive Steps

We all need positive reinforcement in our lives. When your child is using, he or she needs even more support for the positive steps they take. Give them kudos for staying sober, for following up with their action steps, and for how their behavior has changed for the positive. Catch your child doing something right. If the child relapses, be supportive of the steps he/she/they can take to get back on track.  Honor the time they stayed clean and their behavior improved. Relapses are sometimes an important part of recovery. They can remind the child of how much havoc using created for them. Relapsing doesn’t have to send your child back to the old habits, nor should it send you back to panicking.


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