10 Questions To Ask Rehab

Addiction care is expensive, and you want the very best care at the best value for your loved one. You also want a good fit and the best possibility for a good outcome. Treatment centers are not all alike, nor do they have the same services or philosophy. Personality matters, too.

Continue reading “10 Questions To Ask Rehab”

3 Warning Signs Veterans Shouldn’t Ignore

In return for their dedication and service, veterans are at risk for: chronic pain disorder, PTSD, and addiction. Because of their military service, veterans are particularly vulnerable to a traumatic brain injury. Even worse, veterans who suffer from one of these three risks often succumb to another one of the big three. Here are three warning signs veterans shouldn’t ignore:

  1. Night sweats
  2. Pain from battle injuries
  3. Uncharacteristically violent outbursts

These warning signs are not a parting gift for military service.  They’re not a by-product of service that must be tolerated. Instead, they’re a flashing neon sign urging veterans to seek medical care.

What’s The Good News

Veterans don’t have to live with these conditions. With the right treatment, they can be improved. Being affected by chronic pain, PTSD, or an addiction doesn’t have to be a tragedy or a sad story. In fact, there’s terrific reason for optimism. Veterans treatment programs are the best in the US because they’ve had a lot of expertise with addictions. Additionally, their substance use and mental health treatment programs are integrated with other medical care. Because of this coordinated medical care, veterans can have:

  • Improved general health
  • Improved general function
  • Reduced symptoms that are problematic

Where To Find Help

First, veterans who qualify for VA benefits should take advantage of all available treatments, and they should get a full assessment. The best approach treats the veteran as a whole: mind, body and soul. Good physical health depends on good mental health. Veterans who make too much money to qualify for benefits should seek providers who are sensitive to veterans needs.

One Final Order


You served honorably. You can continue to serve your families and communities by getting the help you need. Not only do you deserve the best medical attention, but also you need it to keep doing your best. On this veterans day, it’s appropriate to honor yourself by fighting for your physical and mental health. You have a right to the best care possible.

Recovery Guidance makes it easy to find veterans services near you. These providers understand how addiction can impact your entire physical health, click here to see VA providers in your area. If you’re not sure where to start, click here to take our our self-assessment guide.


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.

Want help, but not sure where to start? Click here try our self-assessment guide.


This Week In Recovery News 11-3

Here’s your don’t want to miss recovery news for the week ending November 3, 2017. Our news stories are often overlooked. Please share to get our voices heard.

Dollar General Heroin Mom Is Back

One year ago, Erika Hurt rose to fame, in a horrific fashion. Cops found Erika in her car, passed out from using heroin. Her 10-month-old baby boy was in the backseat of the car. Erika still had the needle in her hand, and police administered several doses of Narcan to save her. Once revived, she was charged on several counts.

This week, she’s back and better than ever! The photos of her in the Dollar General parking lot went viral, but more importantly, they forced her to see her addiction. Erika writes:

Recovery News 11-3I’ve decided to repost the picture simply because it displays exactly what heroin addiction is.

Also because I do not want to ever forget where the road of addiction has taken me. Little did I know that day, my life was about to change, drastically.

Today, I am able to focus on the good that came from that picture.

Today, I am able to be grateful to actually have solid proof where addiction will only lead you, and today I am able to say that I am ONE YEAR SOBER!

I have thousands of shout outs, too many to list.

Just know that I DO NOT tackle recovery alone, I have a very large group of supporters standing behind me each and every day to help make sobriety possible for me!

A Hot Cocoa Read:

Way to go Erika! Thank you for being brave and bold enough to share how your “Mess became a message.” Hug that sweet baby boy and do everything to fight for your sobriety. So glad to see you back in recovery news as a success!

91 Americans Were Killed Yesterday…

…Is not in any recovery news headlines today. In any other mass killing, CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews would have a scrolling news feed and live coverage. Reporters would interview bystanders. The FBI would launch an exhaustive man hunt. Yet, none of those things are happening, and the death toll is rising. Ninety-one Americans were also killed on Wednesday. And 91 more on Tuesday. So far today, we can safely assume 30 more victims will die before most Americans get to the office. Why is no one reporting about this?

Because we don’t want to be honest about the cause. Unlike most other mass killings, many blame the victims. Extremists say their death is a glorified suicide because they did after all chose to take the first hit of Heroin. No one forced them to take the first pain pill after all. Yet, scientific evidence says addiction is a chronic and relapsing illness. Officials arrested a Big Pharma CEO for bribing doctors and misleading insurance companies.

A One Cup Read:

This is read is smooth, yet bold and flavorful. Authors David Blumenthal and Shanoor Seervai present a clear overview of how we got where we are. Their statistics are refreshingly different from the CDC and NIDA stats.

Recovery Costs More Than Addiction

Word on the street is, heroin is cheep, but getting off of heroin isn’t. Last week, Recovery Guidance’s article, What Is Methadone explained how it is used to help wean people off of heroin and other opioids. Methadone is one example of a Medical Assisted Treatment program, and buprenorphine is another.

More than 2 million Americans are addicted to some type of opioid, yet only 1 out of 10 are likely to find treatment. Only 350,000 Americans are in a Methadone treatment program. Another 75,000 are in buprenorphine treatment. Too many people live in areas without licensed treatment providers, and too many people with access to the treatment can’t afford it.

Elizabeth Brico reports, “Methadone ranged from $350 per month to $200 per week. Buprenorphine patients reported clinic costs between $100 and $300 per month, with medication costs broaching the thousands for those without insurance.”

A Two Cup Read:

This article is a tough recovery news read unless you’ve had enough coffee. First, it’s full of stats. Second, it’s heartbreaking to realize that recovery comes with a price tag.

Want help, but not sure where to start? Click here try our self-assessment guide.

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

Want help, but not sure where to start? Take our our self-assessment guide.


Is Sugar Sabotaging Your Sobriety

You’re trying to quit pain meds., but the chronic pain is relentless. And the pain makes you depressed. Perhaps you muddle through, doing the best you can. Since you didn’t give up and take a pill you treat yourself to some ice cream. The pain, cravings, depression, and fear of relapse come in cycles. How can you cope? Here’s one way sugar might be sabotaging your sobriety.

Sugar, Heroin, and Cocaine, Oh My

Researchers at NIDA and Princeton University found in brain scans that sugar, heroin and cocaine all light up the same areas of the brain. Gambling and alcohol also follow the same path. Scientists have found another common connection between sugar, heroin, and cocaine; many people come into treatment with low levels of dopamine. Dopamine is also known as the happiness molecule. When the brain notices dopamine levels are low, it wants more. Thus, strong cravings begin. The cravings can be directed at drugs, if the person is addicted, or at food. So, we give in. The brain is happy for a short while. Then dopamine gets low. The brain remembers what worked before, but this time, it will need even more.  In Dopamine for Dinner, Dr. Laura LaPiana, PsyD, explains, “The number one transfer addiction is sugar and that complicates issues of the brain healing, depression, and mood.”

Sugar Causes Pain

We’ve all felt the emotional pain of jeans that no longer fit, or a killer sweater that’s become a casualty of the ice cream war. Sugar can also cause physical pain. How? Some foods cause our bodies to have an adverse reaction. When we eat those foods, our body attacks the food as if it were intruder. It attacks by sending extra blood to the injured area. The increased blood flow creates redness, warmth, swelling and pain. We also call this inflammation. Sugar is a highly inflammatory food.

Sugar harms in another way too. While your body is busy fighting off the effects of sugar, it doesn’t have the extra resources to fight other injuries and illnesses. As a result, some people experience chronic low-grade pain.  The more you eat, the more your body reacts to attack the sugar. You have more pain.

Pain Triggers The Need For Pain Meds

In 2007, counselors and yoga teachers at Malibu Beach Recovery Center connected the dots between eating sugar and drug cravings. They found that “addicts of all sorts (illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and/or alcohol) can recover more easily by following a version of the Montignac diet.”  Their “diet,” also known as the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet, is based on these principles:

  1. Protein increases the number of dopamine receptors in your brain.
  2. Omega 3 fatty acids help the dopamine receptors function better.
  3. Fresh fruit helps your body make its own serotonin, which also helps the function of dopamine.
  4. Processed sugars including corn syrup, molasses, and honey are avoided. Instead, use Stevia, agave syrup, and small amounts of Splenda.


Cutting sugar from your diet won’t eliminate all of your cravings for highly addictive substances, but it is one way you can take control of your sobriety.

Want help, but not sure where to start? Click here try our self-assessment guide.

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.

Want help, but not sure where to start? Click here try our self-assessment guide.

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.

Need help but not sure where to start? Click here to take our self-assessment


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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What Is Methadone

Some people say methadone’s a life saver while others say its just another drug. Who is right? Methadone has been used for over 50 years here and in Europe to treat heroin and other opioid addictions. When used correctly, it helps many patients.

Is Methadone Dangerous?

The FDA schedules drugs to classify their risks vs. benefits. Risky drugs without redeeming benefits are banned from medical practice; these are schedule one drugs. Methadone is a FDA schedule two drug, and it’s in the same class as:

  • Dilaudid
  • Percocet
  • Oxycontin
  • Oxycodone
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Codeine.

Drugs like codeine cough syrup, a schedule five drug, are less risky.

What Does It Treat?

First, it’s a narcotic pain reliever that lasts longer than heroin and short-acting narcotics like Percocet and Oxycodone. Second, it’s also used in Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) because it is an opioid replacement medication. In clinics, a person addicted to heroin or other narcotics takes methadone instead of the drug that gives them a “high.” Doctors then gradually lower dose the dose.

Why Is There So Much Controversy?

The Pros: Methadone reduces the drug cravings and harsh withdrawal symptoms. It helps lower the risk of relapse. About 4,000 inmates at Rikers Island in New York have taken it and shown promising results. Dr. Lipi Roy is the former chief of addiction medicine for New York City jails. He explains,

“People who are on this medication, when it is prescribed and used appropriately, and people are monitored, they not only live, they can thrive.”

The Cons: Federal laws dictate the med must be dispensed from a clinic. Some of these clinics are run as pill mills, and prescribing patterns vary from clinic to clinic. It’s a long-acting opioid, so patients who take too much risk an overdose. In fact, in 2014 Methadone was on the list of ten most deadliest drugs. Further, some traditional 12-step programs are critical of methadone use because they feel people are substituting one addiction for another.

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A Recovery Guidance Exclusive By: Dr. Gail Dudley

Gail Dudley, DO, MHA, FACOFP, is board certified in four areas of medicine. For more than twenty years Gail Dudley had a busy family practice with a hospital and nursing home component. Dr. Gail now works full time for a company that has contracts with Medicare and Medicaid to evaluate fraud, waste and abuse in the medical world.