How a Gratitude List Can Help Your Recovery

During active addiction, individuals experience adverse and profoundly harmful effects that occur as a direct result of their chemical dependencies. The effects of addiction manifest rather quickly with some of the earliest being physical in nature; individuals often experience changes in weight and personal hygiene while generally looking unkempt and disheveled. Many users pursue substance abuse under the misconception that they somehow can prevent their budding addictions from affecting any other aspects of their lives; meanwhile, everything begins to unravel.

Attendance at work or school takes a turn for the worst, culminating in the loss of employment and many other opportunities, financial hardships, and perhaps even homelessness. “Rock bottom” is a concept that has emerged to describe the cumulative destruction wrought on an individual’s life by his or her own addiction, being the point at which one’s chemical dependency couldn’t possibly dig them any deeper into the hole of misfortune and ruin.

While it can be tempting to give up altogether once a person has reached the proverbial rock bottom, there’s a bright side or silver lining to the situation: When you’ve reached the ultimate low point of your life, the only place to go is up. People who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, and even to behaviors like sex, gambling, and eating can find solace in the numerous recovery options that are available to help individuals overcome dependency to such harmful substances and behaviors.

The counseling and psychotherapy that form the basis of most addiction treatment programs help individuals to identify the altered patterns of thought that contributed to the development of addiction while learning healthier and more productive ways of thinking that will minimize the chance of relapsing back into destructive habits. Moreover, 12 Step recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous—and its many derivative groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and so on—help individuals to not only recover from addiction physically but also socially and spiritually.

The thought of recovery from addiction often conjures images of sterile rehabs and psychotherapy, but there are other equally important components to overcoming chemical dependency. As mentioned, there are many treatments and programs available that emphasize the path to emotional, social, and spiritual recovery after years spent in the throes of active addiction. Especially after a length of time of suffering from addiction, individuals often feel depressed, unfulfilled, lonely, unattractive, and even unhealthy.

Because of this sustained numbness, recovery can often be a very intense time. However, once individuals can process the flood of emotions that are realized during early recovery, they usually begin to feel very thankful for the opportunity to rehabilitate and right many of the wrongs in their lives.

What Is a Gratitude List?

Twelve-step recovery has become a prominent tool for people who have struggled with chemical dependency or behavioral addiction. Much of the 12-step method has individuals accepting powerlessness to the disease of addiction and turning themselves over to the higher power of their understanding to derive the strength for long-term abstinence from one’s spirituality. As one gets further into the 12 steps, amends are made with those who have been harmed and those who are finishing working through the steps themselves become ready to help others work through the steps.

A major theme of 12-step recovery involves aligning one’s mentality and spirit with the tenets of recovery. Through the course of recovery, individuals become increasingly aware of the things for which one can be thankful. For instance, non-addicted people tend to have better health than people who abuse substances. Additionally, those who have successfully overcome an addiction regain their independence by finding and maintaining employment and stabilizing one’s financial situation.

Recovery also allows individuals to repair relationships that might have been damaged when a person was in active addiction. On a daily basis, those in recovery will notice more and more things about which they can be thankful. As such, it’s not uncommon for one’s recovery treatments to incorporate what is called a gratitude list, which is a list that one writes, containing each of the things for which he or she is thankful.

Moreover, it’s often taught that an individual should write one gratitude list every day, or one list for every day of sobriety. As time goes on, those in recovery will notice that the list continues to grow as they find and gain more and more things for which they are grateful.

The Importance of Being Grateful in Recovery

When an individual begins his or her recovery, he or she will often have just reached the point of rock bottom or the lowest that they have yet been in life. This can take the form of having no employment or money, being homeless, contracting a deadly disease during one’s substance abuse, loss of important relationships, and so on.

As such, when an individual begins the journey of recovery, it can often feel like there’s nothing for which he or she can be thankful. However, with each passing day, he or she can add the previous day’s abstinence to the list, meanwhile accruing other things for which the newly sober individual can be thankful. As a gratitude list grows, individuals are further inspired by their progress in life.

Especially compared to the state of one’s life at rock bottom, a growing gratitude list can become to motivation to continue with one’s recovery; moreover, it can make individuals feel like they have a lot they could lose in a relapse. In short, gratitude lists help recovering users to focus on the progress made in life and sobriety, showing them the successes they’ve had and are continuing to have while maintaining abstinence from alcohol and drugs.

Get Addiction Help Today

If you or someone you love wants to overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs and would like to learn more about rehabilitation, Serenity of Summit can help. Our experienced recovery specialists help countless individuals find the addiction treatment programs that best address their individual recovery needs, allowing them to return to lives of sobriety, health, and fulfillment. Give us a call at (609) 473-6720 or connect with us online today to learn about our services and how they can help you start your journey to a new life.

Best Time to Go to Rehab: Some Signs to Know

Coming to terms with a substance abuse problem isn’t easy. There is still a great deal of stigma associated with addiction, and this fact alone often keeps people from reaching out to their families, friends, employers or doctors when they suspect they have a problem. But that’s not all that stands in the way.

The nature of addiction itself presents challenges. Denial is a huge factor and a powerful defense mechanism. Denial may have you believing you have things under control, that you’re not the one with the problem, or that you can quit any time—you just don’t want to.

Speaking of control, this is another issue that can keep people in the vicious cycle of substance abuse for far too long. Our society places a high value on control and independence. Admitting you have an issue with substance abuse, admitting you can’t stop, and admitting you need help is tough to do in a “do-it-yourself” world of people who don’t easily admit when they don’t have everything under control.

Deciding to Get Professional Help

You’ve been struggling for a while, and you’re tired. Oftentimes, it’s not one single, earth-shaking event that leads someone to want to quit using; it’s just the day-in-and-day-out chaos that becomes so exhausting, and you just want it to stop. Perhaps you’re tired of hiding your problem or tired of feeling trapped by your addiction. Whatever the case, you’re ready to get some help.

You may feel hesitant to take that step, though, and wonder if it’s really necessary. Do you really need to go to drug rehab? Maybe you should wait? You may have some fears around getting help or have some anxiety about committing to going to treatment.

It’s understandable that you may have some reluctance. A lot of it is simply fear of the unknown. You may not know what to expect from rehab, and you may have some misinformation.

How Do You Know Rehab Is What You Need?

Whether your problem is alcohol or other drugs, it isn’t always clear when it’s the best time to go to rehab. You may still feel that you can control the problem or quit on your own. It’s often when a person tries to quit and finds they can’t seem to do it that they realize they have a problem. Here are other signs that professional addiction treatment may be the way to go:

  • You’ve developed a tolerance or a physical dependence on a substance.
  • You have abandoned other activities that you used to enjoy because using substances is your primary interest.
  • You are experiencing problems at work or school, such as poor attendance or performance or job loss.
  • Friends and family have come to you with concerns about your drinking or using.
  • You are experiencing financial troubles related to your drinking or using. You find that you need to borrow money, you aren’t paying bills on time, etc.
  • You are engaging in unsafe or risky behavior.
  • You feel a need to keep your drinking or substance use a secret.
  • Substance abuse is interfering with your ability to spend time with your family or handle your responsibilities.
  • You are experiencing health problems as a result of substance abuse.
  • You’ve run into legal issues, such as a DUI or possession.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of red flags, but these are common signs that you have a problem that should be addressed immediately. Each person may experience the consequences of addiction differently. One common factor is guilt and shame. Most people find they feel badly about their substance abuse. If you find that you don’t feel good about your activities, if you find that you are behaving in ways that are out of character for you, that using is impacting your relationships, or that you are feeling depressed or anxious, it’s a good idea to talk to someone.

When Is It the Best Time to Go to Rehab?

The best time to go to rehab is right now. It’s an easy thing to put off. You can likely find plenty of reasons why you should go “later on.” You may have concerns about job or family responsibilities. You may be concerned about what other people think, or you might just be scared.

The reason right now is the best time to go to rehab is simple: It’s only going to get worse. Addiction is a progressive disease. However bad things may be right now, they can and will get a great deal worse.

If you’ve had an epiphany and realized you need some help,  you must seize that and pick up the phone. Denial may have you rethinking your decision. Talk to people. Talk to your doctor, your family, or trusted friends. Call a rehab, find out if you have insurance coverage that will pay for you to go to treatment. If you are employed, find out what their policies are on employee leave for rehab, many will allow you to take time off to get help without risking your job.

If you do have to leave your job to go to treatment, it’s important to realize that going to treatment can save your life and that eventually, addiction will take everything from you—including your job. And, if as things progress and the consequences pile up, you may find it difficult to find another job later on. It’s best to take the leap of faith and get help right now. Don’t let these drug rehab recovery myths deter you from your decision.

Considering Addiction Treatment?

Let us help you. If you, or a loved one, are fighting substance abuse or drug and/or alcohol addiction, call Serenity at Summit at (609) 473-6720 today. Our advisers are standing by 24-7, ready to help you find a treatment program that will suit your needs and put you on the path to a new recovery and a new life. Make today your new beginning.

Dealing with Cravings in Recovery

If you’ve ever suffered from any kind of addiction, then you know what it is like to have cravings. It’s an overwhelming feeling of need that feels like it can only be satisfied by going back to your addiction. If you do go back, you’ve relapsed. Becoming aware of cravings and learning how to manage them is one of the biggest elements in relapse prevention.

Having cravings in recovery is normal. You can expect to have fairly intense cravings for your drug of choice as you get started in your recovery process. Up until the point when you stop using, drugs or alcohol are your way of coping with anxiety, stress, and all of life’s demands. It’s only natural that you will feel the need to have a coping mechanism when you get clean. However, in order to avoid relapse, you have to learn how to deal with cravings without going back to using. The goal isn’t to eliminate the cravings, instead it is to recognize when the craving cycle begins and intervene before you pick up drugs or alcohol to cope.

The Craving Cycle

The types of cravings and how intense they are depend upon the person, but there are some common patterns that most people in recovery share. Typically, the craving cycle progresses in this manner:

Trigger response- Something – a thought, person, event or thing – triggers an emotion or thought that makes you want to cope in your old addictive way. It could be a sound, smell, music that you listened to while using, or something as simple as driving by a bar you used to frequent. This sets the cycle in motion.

Obsessive thinking- Once you have become in touch with your old pattern of addictive behavior, your thoughts will lock onto the familiar habits. It becomes exceedingly difficult to get away from those thoughts. You may start to rationalize using again in your head, or start weighing the pros and cons. The more you consider it, the stronger the urge to use becomes.

Intense craving- This is when the full-blown craving feeling occurs. It’s often both emotional and physical. You feel a compulsive need to use or drink and can’t think of anything else. In a physical sense, you may start feeling a stress response like a pounding heart, sweating, and shortness of breath. When you get to this point, the pull toward using is extremely strong and it’s very hard to resist using.

Though the craving cycle can be very powerful, it isn’t out of your control. While you can’t always control a craving from happening, you do have the power to not act on it. The important thing to learn is that you need to identify when you are in the trigger phase of the craving cycle. Once you learn to do that, you will be able to avoid progression in the cycle and prevent relapse. When you successfully intervene on cravings, you will feel more in control, and you will continue to grow and heal in your recovery.

Ways to Resist Cravings

The following are five suggestions that may help you resist cravings and avoid relapse:

  1. Use healthy distractions Distraction can be a negative coping mechanism when it’s used to avoid dealing with emotions or situations. However, when used right, distraction can help you redirect your attention to more positive thoughts and actions. Some healthy distractions that may help you let go of cravings are:
    • Change of scenery – Go outside for a walk, jog, bike ride, or car drive. The goal of this is to get you away from whatever was in your environment that triggered you.
    • Talk to someone supportive – Call a friend, family member, or sponsor who understands and supports your recovery. They will likely be able to help you feel more grounded and reassure you that you can make it in recovery.
    • Do something fun – Play a video game, watch your favorite television show, read a book, or start a project you have been putting off. The key is to do something that you enjoy and that will replace your craving feelings.
  2. Play the tape until the end- Once you are triggered, you are probably romanticizing or glamorizing using again, imaging how it will feel and how it will make things better. Now is the time to remember your last, dark days of using or drinking. Consider what the outcome of having a drink or using a drug will be, by remembering where it got you in the past. Perhaps you were arrested while using or fought with friends and family. Maybe you injured yourself or someone else. Wherever your addiction took you before, it will likely take you again – and worse. When you remember drinking or using honestly, it will help to alleviate the desire to act on it again.
  3. Get physically active- When you exercise or do a physical activity, your brain produces natural feel-good chemicals that improve your mood, reduce stress, and ward off depression. You don’t have to work out intensely, a brisk walk, pulling weeds or other gardening, or even putting on music and dancing can help.
  4. Meditate or pray- For some people in recovery, relaxation, meditation, or prayer work well in alleviating triggered responses. Taking deep breaths and relaxing, repeating a mantra or affirmation, or doing some gentle yoga, can calm you down and help you release the craving feelings. If you are religious, prayer can offer you the same type of comfort.
  5. Don’t believe your first thoughtsWhen you are triggered, you may automatically have thoughts that arise that may seem indisputable. For example, you may run into an old drinking buddy who suggest that you go get a drink. Without even thinking about it, your mind may start rehearsing scenarios where it would be fun to hang out with that friend again. You have to tell yourself the truth about what would happen and resist the urge to fall back into old behaviors.

Cravings can be intense, and they can pop up when you least expect them, but when you have the tools to deal with them, you can intervene and continue on the path of recovery. The good news is the intensity of craving does lessen over time. While it may never go away completely for some people in recovery, it does get better. At Serenity AtSummit, we can help you learn to cope with cravings effectively to help you avoid relapse. If you are struggling with addiction or chronic relapse, contact us today and get the help you need.

Are ADHD Medications Addictive?

There are many people – especially children – who are diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the U.S. every year. These patients are often prescribed medication to help them manage the symptoms of the disorder. While the medications can be very effective for the treatment of ADHD, they can also pose the risk of addiction when they are not used properly.

One way that ADHD medications are used improperly, which is considered abuse, is when people who do not have the disorder use the medications as a way to increase concentration or focus. More and more students are using ADHD medications to enhance their study time and to help give them an edge academically. Unfortunately, this can lead to addiction.

What are A://www.summitbehavioralhealth.comDHD Medications?

The medication that is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of ADHD is a stimulant, typically a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is used to increase attention, concentration, and focus, and to control behavior by balancing the neurotransmitters in the brain. It is considered effective for the treatment of ADHD and many people suffering from the disorder are helped greatly with this type of medication.  

However, ADHD medication is often abused. In fact, studies show that the number of people for whom it is prescribed for the treatment of ADHD is smaller than the number of people who take it for its effects. Abuse is highest amongst students who take the drug to focus and increase productivity while studying. It is also sometimes abused as a way to lose weight or as a party drug due to its stimulant effects – it allows an individual to drink more alcohol without becoming tired.

The medication can be habit-forming, and a person can become physically dependent on the drug. Physical dependence is a precursor to addiction, which is a difficult thing to overcome no matter what the addictive substance is.

What is Considered Abuse?

Anytime that a person takes prescription medication outside of the prescribed instructions it is considered abuse. Obtaining or administering ADHD medication (or any other medication) in any of the following ways is abuse:

  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Taking doses more frequently than prescribed
  • Taking medication in ways other than prescribed (crushing, chewing, or snorting)
  • Taking medication for reasons other than what it was prescribed or (to stay awake, to be more alert, to lose weight, etc.)
  • Taking medication that was not prescribed for you
  • Taking medication that you have bought from someone for recreational use

Many high school and college students don’t feel that experimenting with ADHD medication is abuse. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. When you use ADHD medication to enhance your performance, lose weight, or to get high, it is in fact, abuse. Additionally, when you obtain or take a controlled substance without a valid prescription (of your own), it is illegal, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and can lead to legal problems as well as addiction problems.

There truly is no safe way to abuse ADHD medication. While the medication may produce the feelings you are looking for, it can be at the risk of your physical and mental health.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD Medication Abuse and Addiction

If you or someone you know is using ADHD medication in ways other than prescribed, there are some signs and symptoms that you can look for to determine if the abuse has crossed the line to addiction.

Physical Signs of ADHD Medication Addiction
  • Vision problems
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Shaking of hands or feet
  • Fidgeting or being unable to stop moving
Psychological Signs of ADHD Medication Addiction
  • Angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Excessive talking
  • Nervousness or paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Being more secretive than usual
  • Problems sleeping
  • Hallucinations
  • Unusually excitable

If you identify some of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, don’t ignore them. It may mean that your ADHD medication use has become a problem. The sooner you get help, the better your odds are of getting clean and avoiding the long-term effects of medication abuse and addiction.

Effects of ADHD Medication Addiction

The continued use of ADHD medication in non-prescribed ways can lead to serious side effects – both physical and otherwise.

Physical Effects of ADHD Medication Addiction
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Fatigue
  • Anger or hostility
  • Sleep problems
  • Psychosis
  • Dangerous weight loss
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Injury to nasal cavity (if snorted)
Other Life-Changing Effects
  • Co-occurring abuse or addiction of other drugs or alcohol
  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Damaged interpersonal relationships with family and friends
  • Problems at school or work

Treatment for ADHD Medication Addiction

As with any drug addiction, there is good news – treatment for ADHD medication abuse and addiction is available. If you believe that you or a loved one is addicted to an ADHD medication, you may need the care that is provided in a drug addiction treatment facility. The first step is detoxification. While the detox from ADHD medication is not typically life-threatening, it is not pleasurable. Attending a medical detox facility can make it much less uncomfortable. You will be medically supervised, may receive medication to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, and receive the support you need to get clean.

It may be recommended that you attend further treatment after you have detoxed, in either an inpatient or outpatient program. The important thing to remember about ADHD medication use is that while it may seem like a harmless solution to issues with studying or weight loss, it can quickly turn into abuse or addiction. Not even beginning to abuse the drug is, of course, the best way to prevent addiction. But if you find yourself already there, you can find help and healing from ADHD medication addiction at Serenity at Summit addiction treatment center. We offer detox, outpatient, and inpatient treatment for teens and adults who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. Contact us today for help.  

How Substance Abuse Causes Risky Behavior

What are some of the risk behaviors caused by substance abuse, and why are they so dangerous?

One of the few good things about the opioid crisis is that it has shed much-needed light about substance abuse issues, and has triggered public debate about developing new ways of handling this challenge.

Lawmakers and healthcare officials throughout the U.S. have implemented programs aimed at curbing the number of fatal overdoses among their residents, and in some instances, those programs are radical and controversial in nature.

But the dangers of substance abuse are not just about the potential for fatal overdoses, they are also about what long-term drug use does to a person’s personality and character.

In fact, there is ample evidence that substance abuse can lead to a number of high-risk behaviors, which makes the challenge for lawmakers, healthcare workers and family members of addicts even more difficult.

Let’s take a look at how drug use can trigger risky behavior, beginning first with an understanding of how the brain is impacted by long-term drug abuse.

The Effects of Drug Abuse On the Brain

Many studies have shown that drugs interfere with the way the brain communicates, which means that drugs short-circuit how information is sent, received and processed.

We know that some of the effects of drug abuse on the brain involve the reward system by producing abnormal amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls emotion, motivation, movement and how we experience pleasure.

When dopamine is at normal levels, it controls natural actions that we take on a daily basis. For example, if we eat chocolate, dopamine is released that tells our body that we really enjoyed the taste of chocolate and sugar, and sends signals that we should continue that pleasurable action.

But when you take drugs, the surge of dopamine overwhelms the brain and leads to powerful cravings for more of those drugs.  

The reason is that some drugs can release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards such as eating and sex do. In some cases, this occurs almost immediately (as when drugs are smoked or injected), and the effects can last much longer than those produced by natural rewards. The resulting effects on the brain’s pleasure circuit dwarf those produced by naturally rewarding behaviors. (1)

This produces cravings in a drug user that are hard to ignore, and often makes them take more and more drugs to achieve the high that the brain finds so pleasurable.

But what’s just as dangerous is that drugs also have a negative effect on the parts of the brain that control decision-making and impulse control.

As a result, drug and alcohol abuse often lead to impaired judgment, which means that addicts are much more likely to take risky actions that they wouldn’t have if their brains weren’t compromised by drug and alcohol use.

The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Risky Sexual Behavior

Studies have found that teenagers are the group most vulnerable to problems related to substance abuse and risky sexual behavior.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a strong correlation between drug and high-risk sexual behavior among teens.

This high-risk behavior includes unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, and a higher likelihood of becoming pregnant before the age of 15.

In fact, as teenagers use more drugs, their chances of having multiple sex partners also increase, and teens that abuse cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs are more likely to engage in sexual risk-taking. (2)

A recent national youth risk behavior survey found that:

  • 41 percent of high school students admitted to having sex at least once in their life
  • 30 percent of high school students were sexually active
  • 21 percent of high school students who were sexually active also admitted to using alcohol and drugs before they had sex.

But risky behavior doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and some of the risk factors for teenagers include:

  • Lower Economic Status
  • Family History of Violence/Conflict
  • Absentee Parents
  • Prior Rebellious Behavior
  • Associating With Drug Using Peers
  • Lower Academic Performance

The CDC has recommended several prevention programs to help reduce the incidences of risky sexual behavior among teenagers, including:

  • School Programs – School should implement programs that help build up social interactions and emotional support among high-school students
  • Resistance Programs – Peer supervised drug and alcohol prevention programs
  • Parenting Skills Training
  • Increased Parental Involvement
  • Family Support Programs – This can include counseling for families struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and other issues that create conflict

Substance Abuse and Crime

In addition to high-risk sexual behavior among teen drug and alcohol abusers, studies have also found a correlation between substance abuse and crime, including: (3)

  • Prison Population – 80 percent of inmates abuse alcohol or drugs, and half of all inmates are clinically addicted
  • Arrest Figures – 60 percent of people who are arrested for a crime test positive for illegal narcotics, and 37 percent were drinking when they were arrested
  • Violent Crime – 40 percent of all violent crimes involve alcohol

Nearly 20 percent of state and federal inmates said that their high-risk criminal behavior was directly related to their desire to get money to buy drugs. That’s because people who struggle with drug or alcohol dependency are compelled to do whatever it takes to get their hands on these substances, and that may sometimes involve illegal crime.

Help For Substance Abuse

People who seek help for substance abuse often find that detox is the first step toward an effective plan of recovery. Detox helps to control cravings, and also gets rid of the alcohol and drugs that are poisoning an addict’s body.

If you live in New Jersey, Serenity at Summit New Jersey Addiction Centers in Union provides addiction treatment services for New Jersey residents, and we are only 40 minutes from New York City. Please call us today at 844-432-0416 for more information about how we can help you.



The Role of Behavioral Counselors In Addiction Treatment

According to statistics, many big cities are experiencing significant delays in getting drug addicts and alcohol abusers into treatment facilities. For example, in Boston, wait times for people to get into residential treatment facilities average about 23 days, and more than 90 percent of detox programs in the city are at full capacity. Boston also accounts for 24 percent of statewide outpatient counseling programs, and the two substances that people seek treatment for the most are alcohol and heroin. (1)

While it’s heartening to see that more people are seeking out treatment for their addiction, it is also important to understand what happens once a person decides to begin the process of recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.

That process usually begins with what is known as medically supervised detox that helps to get rid of the toxins produced by long-term drug and alcohol abuse, then proceeds to an actual rehab, which often includes counseling.

Let’s take a look at the type of counseling that occurs during rehab, and the key role of behavioral counselors.

Types of Therapy For Addiction

It is nearly impossible for anyone struggling with alcohol or drug abuse to learn how to make better decisions, and to gain the tools necessary to prevent a relapse without undergoing some type of therapy for addiction.

Drug and alcohol treatment facilities have different types of therapy methods that they provide to their patients, and in many instances, the method is customized to the individual needs of each person.

Behavioral therapies have become very popular for treating addiction, as they help people change their attitudes and behaviors so that they turn away from negative choices when it comes to substance abuse.

Behavioral therapies function on the theory that most types of destructive behaviors are learned, and that these behaviors can be changed.

Some of the most common types of behavioral therapies used to treat addiction include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Counselors use CBT to help patients learn to identify and correct problematic behaviors by applying a range of different skills that can be used to stop drug abuse and to address a range of other problems that can often co-occur with it. (2)CBT helps addicts learn how to anticipate challenges and to develop techniques to overcome those challenges without resorting to drinking or using drugs.
  • Aversion Therapy – When patients undergo aversion therapy, they learn to associate negative behavior such as drinking and drug use with an unpleasant memory or situation. This helps to condition them to avoid that type of behavior, because of the negative feelings and emotions that is elicited. In the old days, counselors used actual unpleasant stimuli such as electric shocks to help patients associate their negative behavior with that shock, but this type of stimulus is no longer acceptable.
  • Exposure Therapy – Exposure therapy is a treatment method in which patients are exposed to their fears so that they gradually develop the strength to confront and overcome those fears. As it relates to drug and alcohol abuse, exposure therapy is often used to help patients overcome cravings and temptations. For example, a behavioral counselor might use virtual reality headgear to allow an alcoholic to virtually enter a bar and remain in that bar where people are drinking in order to learn how to control and overcome a craving for a drink.

These are just a few behavioral therapy methods available at treatment facilities, but the important thing to remember is that you won’t be alone during this time because you will have a behavioral counselor helping you get through each step.

What are Behavioral Counselors?

Behavioral counselors are professionals who have been trained and educated in the field of psychology to provide different types of therapy methods to patients to help them change negative behaviors.

They work in a variety of settings, including private practice, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, community health centers, and even behind prison walls.

In addition to providing counseling services to people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, behavioral counselors also treat people who are suffering from issues that include:

  • Depression
  • Mental Health Disorders
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Parents Struggling With Raising Children
  • Anger Management
  • Eating Disorders

Behavioral counselors also work with addicts who have been in long-term recovery to help them from relapsing.

Most behavioral counselors have formal degrees in psychology, social work or counseling, and many also have advanced degrees in clinical psychology and other specialties, which allows them to obtain their certification in professional clinical counseling.

When you make the decision to seek treatment, you will often interact with a behavioral counselor who also works closely with primary care doctors and other healthcare professionals to design a program that matches your physical, psychological and emotional needs.

Counselors are often also the supervisors during group therapy sessions, and may also provide one-on-one counseling during your stay at a residential treatment facility, or when you attend counseling sessions in an outpatient program.

Recovery Through Rehab

After detox, the next step in addiction treatment is recovery through rehab, because the long-term prospects of a person suffering from alcohol or drug abuse are not good without a sustained treatment program that includes therapy.

If you live in the Boston area and are ready to take that next step, Serenity at Summit New England Addiction Treatment Centers in Haverhill, Massachusetts is only 45 minutes from Boston and offers a full-range of detox, rehab and counseling services. Please call us today at (609) 473-6720 to find out how we can help you get on the road to recovery.



The Risks of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone from anywhere with any type of background, family life, race, gender, or ethnicity – including pregnant women. When a woman who is addicted to drugs or alcohol becomes pregnant, it is usually not a time of joy and excitement as it is for other mothers-to-be. The dangers of addiction increase dramatically because the unborn baby is now affected as well. Serious complications and birth defects, up to and including death for baby and mother, can occur when pregnancy and addiction happen at the same time.

Dangers of Substance Abuse During Pregnancy

The risks of drug or alcohol use on the mother and baby during pregnancy can vary depending on the substance used. However, there are some common birth defects and complications including:

Miscarriage and Stillbirth – The death of an unborn baby before the 24th week of pregnancy is considered a miscarriage, and after the 24th week is considered a stillbirth. Both types of fatalities can be caused by drug or alcohol use during pregnancy.

Placental Abruption – This occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before the mother goes into labor. It is commonly caused by smoking, drinking alcohol, or abusing drugs during pregnancy. Placental abruption is not usually fatal, but it can cause developmental problems in the child.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – This causes physical and mental abnormalities in the unborn child when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome can include cognitive impairment, developmental delays, learning disabilities, poor motor skills and coordination, and facial abnormalities. These effects can last a lifetime.

Low Birth Weight – A baby that weighs less than five and a half pounds at birth is considered to have a low birth weight. Some low birth weight babies have serious complications such as respiratory issues, heart problems, digestive tract issues, vision problems, and brain bleeds. Additionally, low birth weight can lead to future problems for the child including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity.

Brain Damage – Babies with mothers who abused substances during pregnancy may be born with brain damage that is irreparable.

Developmental Problems – Drug or alcohol use during pregnancy can affect an unborn baby’s central nervous system, which can lead to developmental delays and poor academic performance later in life.

Premature Birth – If a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy, it is considered a premature birth. Drug or alcohol addiction can cause premature birth and lead to respiratory issues, trouble maintaining a stable body temperature, and trouble eating and drinking. Sometimes the baby’s internal organs are underdeveloped and he or she will require ongoing medical care for an extended period of time.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) refers to several complications that affect babies born to mothers who used opioids while pregnant. The drugs are passed to the unborn baby through the placenta and the baby becomes dependent on them. When the baby no longer receives the drugs after birth, it will suffer withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Blotchy skin
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Seizure

Babies that are born with NAS are often premature, with a low birth weight and smaller than normal body size. They must be detoxed from the opioids gradually and using medication.

Microcephaly – This refers to a small head circumference, and it usually means that the baby’s brain is not developing correctly.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – SIDS is the unexpected and sudden death of a child that is less than a year old. While autopsies do not show an explainable cause of death, babies who are born to mothers who abused drugs or alcohol during pregnancy have a higher rate of death due to SIDS than those born to women who did not use drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.

Treatment for Women Who Are Addicted and Pregnant

Because of the multitude of serious risks for baby and mother, it is very important that women who are expecting and also suffering from addiction tell their doctors as soon as possible so they can receive treatment. However, many pregnant women are hesitant to talk about their drug or alcohol use with doctors because they fear judgment or punishment including having their baby taken from them when it is born. But the sooner she speaks up about her problem with addiction and gets treatment, the better her chances are of minimizing the negative effects of drug abuse and having a healthy baby.

It would seem that being pregnant and responsible for another human being’s health and well-being would be enough of an incentive to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol. But unfortunately, the strength of addiction often outweighs the most negative of consequences. Most people who suffer from addiction, pregnant women included, need professional help to get clean and sober. Seeking professional medical treatment, like inpatient treatment at Serenity at Summit, sooner rather than later is essential for pregnant women. This is especially true for expecting mothers who are addicted to opioids, as abruptly stopping them can cause preterm labor, fetal distress, or a fetal fatality.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and is pregnant, now is the time to get help. Doing so is the only chance that you have to give birth to a healthy child who doesn’t have long-term negative effects of drug or alcohol addiction. Getting help could not only save your life, but also the life of your unborn baby.

Pharmacogenetics: Individualized Drug Therapy for Addiction

Substance addiction is a very complex disorder with many factors at play, making it difficult for doctors to always know what the best method of treatment is for each of their patients. One area that is particularly challenging is medication-assisted treatment for addiction. Each individual has the potential to respond differently to medications that are prescribed to help aid recovery from drugs or alcohol, making it hard for prescribing physicians to know what will work and what might not.

Pharmacogenetic testing may make that easier for doctors working in addiction treatment. It will allow them to understand how an individual metabolizes specific prescription medications, making it much easier to find successful treatments.

What is Pharmacogenetic Testing?

Pharmacogenetics is the study of how an individual’s genes affects his or her response to medications. It is a fairly new field of study that combines pharmacology and genetics in order to develop the safest and most effective medications and to determine optimal doses for the person’s genetic makeup.

Most of the medications currently on the market are essentially one-size-fits-all, but they don’t cause the same results for everyone. Right now, it is hard for medical professionals to predict which patients will benefit from a specific drug, which patients will not respond, and which patients will have adverse drug reactions. These negative side effects cause a significant amount of hospitalizations and deaths each year. With the knowledge that medical professionals are able to gain from learning about how medications will interact with an individual’s genetic composition, they will be able to predict how the individual will react to the medication and help prevent adverse drug reactions.

While the field of pharmacogenetic testing is still in its infancy, it is hoped that it will greatly advance the effectiveness of drugs, when tailored to the individual, in the treatment of a range of health issues including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, psychiatric conditions, and addiction.

How Can Pharmacogenetic Testing Benefit Addiction Treatment?

Two people who seem to be very similar – same age, gender, socioeconomic background, and marital status – may also both be addicted to alcohol. However, the underlying genetic reasons that caused each of them to become alcoholics may be quite different. One may have a condition that reduces the release of dopamine, so that individual consumes alcohol for its dopamine-releasing powers. The other person may have a condition that inhibits their dopamine receptors and causes spikes in dopamine, so they drink to raise dopamine tone a different way.

Each of those two patients needs individualized treatment to address the unique genetic issues that caused his alcoholism. Knowing what exactly the underlying issues are, and which medications will be effective will help doctors to treat each patient individually based on their genetic needs, thus improving the outcomes of addiction treatment.

Benefits of Pharmacogenetic Testing

There are many benefits of pharmacogenetic testing. Not only will they allow doctors to treat each individual with a tailored treatment, they will also:

  • Provide more accurate diagnoses for patients
  • Allow for precise treatment of various co-occurring disorders, conditions, and diseases
  • Predict increased risks of developing disease later in life
  • Identify genetic changes that may be passed on to children
  • Screen children for conditions that require treatment as early as possible

Genetic testing is becoming more important in healthcare of all arenas as there is a shift toward higher-quality, evidence-based treatment. Research has shown that pharmacogenetic testing provides patients with up to 70% better effectiveness of treatment. Patients are more responsive to their customized treatments and appreciate the personalized genetic data. Being more informed and responsive to treatment often translates to a higher confidence level in the medical care they receive, which in turn, makes them more likely to experience success in the healing process.

From the Lab to Clinical Practice   

Now the question becomes when will using pharmacogenetic research to aid addiction treatment to be translated into clinical applications? And will the average patient be able to afford it?

Unfortunately, the type of tailored medical treatments that researchers are working on for addiction is still in progress. Experts in the field believe that some pharmacogenetictreatments for addiction (including nicotine and alcohol) may result in the next five to ten years. The approach is likely to be embraced, perhaps slowly, by medical professionals and patients alike.

The cost of genetic testing will continue to decrease as it becomes more ubiquitous. Patients were required to pay for genotype tests that identify one or few relevant mutations will no longer apply. It’s predicted that in the not too distant future, patients will see their doctor, have their entire genome sequenced, and have the information readily available for future medical issues.

How that information is interpreted and used to create specialized addiction treatments may be another story. We may be looking at that piece being 10 to 15 years away, but it’s clear that’s the direction addiction treatment is headed.

Traditional Addiction Treatment in the Meantime

Using pharmacogeneticsto develop treatment plans for addicts will not replace traditional treatment options, like those used at Serenity at Summit’s addiction treatment facilities. It’s believed that greater success will be achieved when both pharmacogenetics and traditional addiction treatments are used together. The knowledge that is learned through traditional treatment – rehabilitation, 12-step programs, relapse prevention, addiction education, and therapy will continue to be vital pieces in addiction recovery. Psychiatric care though will likely be greatly enhanced by pharmacogenetic testing which will increase the success of treatment overall.

Acupuncture for Addiction Treatment and Recovery

There are many different types of holistic therapies that can help with people who suffer from addiction. While many of them have to be used in conjunction with others to be effective, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are becoming more popular for enhanced recovery from many medical conditions, mental illnesses, and addiction. One such treatment is acupuncture. It has been shown to be an effective treatment when added to your long-term recovery plan.

Acupuncture has long been practiced – it’s a 2,000-year-old treatment from China – and it is a low-risk treatment that can have positive effects on many body systems. Holistic drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation facilities often use this treatment for patients alongside traditional treatments.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture therapy originated from traditional Chinese medicine as a way to heal illnesses and improve wellness over 2,000 years ago. Chinese medicine believes that energy flows through body pathways and that pain, illness, disease or other discomforts are thought to be blockages of the energy flow in those pathways. Acupuncture, which it the placement of very thin, sterile needles into specific areas of the skin, is used to bring the flow of energy back into balance.

Western medicine explains the benefits with neuroscience. The acupuncture points are viewed as areas where the stimulation of muscles, nerves, and body tissues increases the blood flow and triggers the release of endorphins. Acupuncture has recognizable effects on many body systems including the nervous, immune, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. There are very few known complications and side effects associated with this treatment.

Ear Acupuncture is Used for Addiction Recovery

Acupuncture can be effective throughout all stages of addiction recovery, from detox through long-term abstinence. There is a specific acupuncture treatment that is used for those with addiction called the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association protocol.

Acupuncture has been successful in helping ease the discomfort and cravings that are associated with the withdrawal phase of addiction recovery. Additionally, it is beneficial to the rehab process, improving patients’ willingness to engage in and complete treatment. Many people use acupuncture as a tool in their long-term recovery, as well.

The ear acupuncture treatment, also known as the NADA 5-point treatment, is done by inserting needles into five points on the outer ear area and leaving them for half an hour. The five acupuncture points in this treatment are:

Autonomic – Aids in relaxation and quiets the nervous system.

Spirit Gate – Lowers anxiety.

Kidney – Aids the healing of the body’s organs and soothes fears.

Liver – Assists with blood detoxification and lowers aggression.

Lung – Promotes air circulation and aids with calming grief.

The NADA 5-point protocol is the most common acupuncture treatment for people with addiction problems, specifically in the beginning stages of treatment. But it is only one of the numerous treatments that is successful for patients in recovery. Typically, a patient will work with an acupuncturist to determine which points will provide them with the best outcome for their specific needs.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Addiction Recovery

Everyone works a different program of addiction recovery. Successful addiction recovery is often achieved with a combination of different treatments that individuals find useful to their individual circumstances and needs. While acupuncture is not a stand-alone treatment for addiction, it does have some amazing benefits that make it a useful tool to add to a holistic recovery plan.

Relief of Anxiety and Stress

Stress and anxiety are two of the most common reasons for relapse. Preventing relapse is best managed by finding ways that reduce stress and lower anxiety. While acupuncture alone cannot remove all anxiety and stress, it has been shown to be very useful when integrated into recovering addicts’ overall stress management strategy.

Lessens Depression

Depression is a common accompaniment to drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. Acupuncture research shows that when it is used on patients in addiction recovery, the instances of depression are lower.

Decreases Cravings

Dealing with cravings is one of the most difficult aspects of recovery for many people who suffer from addiction. Acupuncture, particularly the ear acupuncture described above, can be a huge help in reducing and coping with the intense drug and alcohol cravings in early recovery.

Helps Pain Management Without Medication

Treating acute pain is tricky for people in recovery because many painkillers are addictive, making using them a huge risk to their recovery. The use of narcotic medications for acute or chronic pain causes many people to slip back into addiction, even when painkillers were not their drug of choice. Acupuncture has been shown to alleviate pain without the use of medication, as it stimulates natural painkillers in the body.

Helps with Sleeping

Recovering addicts who have problems going to sleep or staying asleep are at risk for relapse, so ensuring that they get enough quality sleep is crucial. Many sleep medications are addictive in nature, so that is a slippery slope for those in recovery. Research suggests that acupuncture as a treatment for insomnia can be helpful without having to risk using sleep medications.  

Acupuncture isn’t a cure for addiction, but it can be a very useful recovery tool to help you maintain sobriety and live your new life of recovery. It doesn’t benefit everyone in the same way, so it is important that you discuss your specific challenges and needs with a knowledgeable acupuncturist for the best results. Overall, acupuncture is a very low-risk treatment that may genuinely enhance your program of recovery.

What Are the Traits of An Addictive Personality?

If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, then you know that their behavior can be frustrating, unpredictable, and scary. Addiction is so powerful that many people become overwhelmed and the behavior is strictly dictated by their need for their drug of choice. It’s hard for the people around them to see them act out, often in an abusive or even criminal manner – and it can last for a long time.

You are not alone in the feelings that you are having about the behavior of your addicted loved one. Being witness to someone whose morality and personality has changed for the worse is difficult to deal with. The following list of traits that are common to people addicted to drugs or alcohol will help you figure out which behaviors might be a result of addiction so you can make the right decisions and take the actions that are best for you and your family.

Addictive Personality Traits

Not all addicted people behave the same way. However, there are some characteristics that seem to be more common than others.

They Lie

People who are living with addiction have to lie to loved ones about where they were when they were actually out drinking or using, or looking to do so. They often lie about where their money goes as well. And the deeper that they get into their addiction, the worse their dishonesty becomes.

When someone whom you have trusted begins breaking that trust, it may be hard to believe that they are doing that. Loved ones may be in denial, or they may genuinely be fooled by the addicted person. All the while, the addict is self-destructing.

If your loved one’s behavior has drastically changed, and the things they are saying doesn’t make sense, you have to pay attention to what that is saying. It probably means that you are being lied to. Some of the stories you hear from your loved one may be easy to check out, but most probably won’t. However, if these behaviors, evasiveness, and stories that don’t make sense continue to happen, then your suspicions are likely correct.

They Manipulate

Typically, an addicted person will attempt to manipulate the people closest to him or her. That means that family and friends are the most likely to fall victim to this manipulation. In addition to lying, the addict will try to talk his or her way out of things, especially if there is a confrontation with friends or family about his or her drug use.

In order to be able to continue to use drugs or alcohol, an addicted person will use whatever he or she can think of to end the confrontation. You may hear things like: I have it under control. I can stop when I want to. You never want me to have any fun. You wouldn’t be saying that if you loved me. And the list goes on.

People who are in the throes of addiction will say anything that will allow them to continue to serve their addiction, whether it’s lying or pushing someone’s buttons, or tugging at their heartstrings, it’s all manipulation.

They Blame-Shift

People who are addicted tend to blame others for all of their misfortune. Even when the addicted person was completely honest and responsible in his or her life before becoming an addict, they will usually place blame on someone else and not take any responsibility for the negative consequences that addiction causes. If they get fired from their job, it was their boss’s fault, if they wrecked the car, it was the other driver’s fault, etc.

They Commit Criminal Acts

Not every person who becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol becomes a criminal. However, the chances of criminal behavior happening is greatly increased when the person has a drug or alcohol problem. Drug addicts usually run out of money at some point, and because their need for drugs and aversion to withdrawal are so strong, they often turn to stealing to pay for their drugs.

Of course, alcohol is one of the biggest contributors to assault and domestic violence offenses, and DUIs that can result in property damage, injuries to others, and even fatalities.  

They’re Impulsive

It goes without saying that people who are using drugs or alcohol act without considering the consequences. Typically, impulsiveness and not thinking about the impact that an action may have on someone else are behaviors that indicate an addictive personality. This impulsiveness may lead to promiscuity, using more serious drugs, and other risky behaviors.

They’re Abusive

Not all people who are addicted commit physical violence against others, but it is common. Drug and alcohol use can make a person paranoid, angry, and aggressive, and impulsiveness can cause them to act out abusively when they are using or drinking.

Most commonly, those closest to the addicted person – spouse or children – bear the brunt of the addict’s abuse. There may be verbal and emotional abuse as well. The family likely feels like they have to walk on eggshells to avoid being verbally or physically attacked.

What If My Loved One Has These Traits?

If you have recognized that your loved one has some of the above-listed personality traits and you think that they may have a drug or alcohol addiction, it may be time to try to get them help. Unfortunately, that is often hard to do unless the person is ready and willing to accept help. Having a discussion with him or her about treatment when you believe they are sober is your best bet. An addiction treatment center like Serenity at Summit can help both you and your loved one.

If they will not agree to seek help, then the most important thing you can do is take care of yourself and the rest of your family. Talking with an addiction counselor will help you decide what action you need to take to protect yourself.

The Benefits of Meditation for Addiction Recovery

While recovery is a relief from active addiction for most people, it isn’t without its own challenges. It can be very stressful for those who are new in recovery to deal with cravings, rebuild relationships, and clean up the wreckage that their addiction caused, all while trying to hang onto their newfound sobriety. Part of early recovery involves learning to cope with life’s challenges in new ways as the old way of dealing with things – using drugs or alcohol – is no longer an option.

If you are new in recovery, or you have been sober for a while but still struggle to handle difficult situations with new coping skills, it is worth considering the practice of meditation to help you deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. Daily meditation can also help you to have more patience and resilience with what life throws at you.

Meditation and Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery

Meditation involves being mindful. What exactly is mindfulness? Generally speaking, it’s being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensory experiences, right now, in the current moment. There are many benefits of using mindfulness during meditation as a daily practice, many of which can make a significant difference in your recovery.

Benefits of Meditation

Practicing mindfulness meditation means that you are regulating your attention. In essence, you implement the attitude of an observer of what you are currently experiencing. It’s a simple concept, but it does take practice to accomplish. What can you expect in terms of results? Here are just a few of the benefits you will see when you meditate.

Increased Self-Acceptance

We are often harder on ourselves than we are on others – especially when we are in addiction recovery. Because mindfulness encourages observation and attentiveness to your own thoughts and feelings, it makes it easier to be patient with yourself and your emotions. You become able to treat yourself with the same patience and acceptance that you would likely extend to others who are in the same situation.

Increased Attention

Being mindful means paying attention to right now, not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. When you take the time to develop a practice of mindful meditation, you are more able to enjoy the current moment. That means that whatever situation you are involved in, you will be able to be there fully, enjoying the moment for what it is.

Improved Physical Health

Meditation isn’t only good for your mental health, it can also positively affect your physical health as well. When you develop self-awareness using meditation, you will likely experience a positive impact on your stress and anxiety levels, which can help reduce your risk of developing related medical issues like hypertension, heart problems, and other stress-induced illnesses. Because meditation lowers stress and anxiety, it also helps reduce the risk of depression – which is a common occurrence in people with addiction issues. It has also been shown to help improve your quality of sleep and help those who suffer from insomnia.

Increased Resilience

People in addiction recovery are often some of the most resilient people you will meet. The ability to bounce back from challenging (sometimes seemingly impossible) situations and adapting to change are two things that are exceedingly necessary to recovery. Research shows that practicing mindful meditation, even in small amounts, can help users cultivate increased levels of resilience. Being able to rebound after challenging situations is key to recovery and to preventing a potential relapse.

Meditation Works Even When You’re Not Actively Practicing It

For meditation to be beneficial, you don’t have to be actively engaged in it. In other words, you will see the benefits of your meditation practice even when you are going about your daily routine. According to a study in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, meditation changes your brain. The amygdala region of the brain’s response to emotional stimuli is positively affected by meditation – and that change means that you will feel the positive effects even when you are not actually meditating.

Are You Ready to Meditate?

Meditation may feel strange at first, but when you are able to be mindful and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and senses, you will reap the rewards that come along with it. The practice will help you during the rough spots in your recovery and will enhance your positive experiences even further.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you should seek professional help from a holistic rehabilitation program. Many addiction treatment facilities, like Serenity at Summit, use meditation as part of their holistic approach to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Contact Serenity today at (609) 473-6720 to start your recovery and to learn to get the most from every moment.

Saying Thanks to Someone Who Supported You During Recovery

Research shows that expressing gratitude can actually be good for your health

In many cases, addiction recovery is focused on the patient. This is normal and to be expected — after all, the person being treated should be at the center of any recovery effort.

However, supportive individuals are key to a lasting recovery. Although it’s very possible to achieve a lifelong recovery on your own, it is always best to surround yourself with friends and family members who support what you’re doing and go out of their way to ensure you are given the encouragement and acceptance you deserve.

If you’ve been through treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, and you’re now in recovery, saying thank you to the people who supported you can be a great way to recognize them, as well as further cement your bond with them. Here are some ideas for making sure your support system knows you appreciate their help and compassion.

Write a Letter

Research shows that expressing gratitude can actually be good for your health. In a 2012 study, researchers found that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, exercise more often, and live longer than those who don’t take time to say thank you to others. In today’s busy world, most people don’t write letters anymore. Sending a heartfelt card or letter to people who supported you during your recovery will make them — and you — feel great.  

Include them in Your Recovery Journey

Recovery is a lifelong process. Even if it’s been years since you kicked your addiction, it’s always important to stay focused on your recovery journey. There are many ways you can include your support partners on your journey. Examples include talking to them about temptations you face, sharing experiences in which you turned down a chance to use alcohol or drugs, and inviting them to attend therapy sessions or treatment meetings.

Spend More Time Together

It’s always nice to spend time with people who care about you. Even if you can’t get together in person, you can still connect through email, video messaging, and text. If you live near each other, consider inviting supportive individuals to go shopping, eat dinner, or take a walk together. You don’t have to plan a big or expensive outing — often, small gestures are the most special.

Offer Support in Return

You never know when someone who supported you will need a helping hand themselves. Look for opportunities to give back. For example, offer to run errands for someone who comes down with the flu or suffers an injury. Small gestures of kindness are a wonderful way to let someone know how much you appreciate their support when you needed it. It’s also a great feeling when recovery enables you to be the support person someone else needs.

About Serenity at Summit Today

Serenity At Summit offers drug and alcohol addiction programs in New Jersey and Haverhill, MA. They offer personalized and drug and alcohol detox under medical supervision.

Call us (609) 473-6720



Choosing the Best Inpatient Fentanyl Addiction Rehab

The opioid epidemic is rampant in all parts of the country; there is no demographic that is not affected by it. More and more people are dying from overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers like fentanyl. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most recent dramatic increase follows the pattern that has been going on since 1999 when prescription opioids became ubiquitous in the United States. In the last 16 years, there have been nearly 200,000 deaths caused by overdoses related to prescription opioids, and deaths associated specifically with the drug fentanyl, are definitely on the rise.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller that is similar to other opioids like morphine, OxyContin, and even heroin, but it is much more powerful. It is typically used during and following surgery for pain relief, or for the severe breakthrough pain associated with cancer. It has a shorter half-life than other pain medications, working by inhibiting the pain pathways to the brain from the location of the pain. It isn’t like over-the-counter pain medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which generally affect the peripheral or local site of pain.

Fentanyl is administered in various ways including as an intravenous injection, a patch that is placed on the skin, a tablet that is dissolved between the cheek and gums, a lollipop or lozenge, and as a mouth spray.

Fentanyl is Dangerous and Addictive when Abused  

Fentanyl has a high potential for abuse due to the euphoric effects and pleasurable sedation that it causes. It is commonly abused when users attempt to numb the emotional pain with a rush of pleasure and a high feeling. Continued use causes the opioid receptors in the brain to crave repeated use.

When a person begins abusing fentanyl, they will become increasingly tolerant to the drug. That means that they will need to take more and more of it to get the same effect. Additionally, they will begin to feel withdrawal symptoms if they decrease or stop taking fentanyl. Because of these two factors, fentanyl abuse can cause a person to escalate from wanting the drug to needing it to feel normal very quickly.

Fentanyl is very powerful – about 100 times more potent than morphine – and it can greatly depress breathing. Overdoses that result from fentanyl are caused by respiratory failure. Research shows that women are more likely than men to become addicted to fentanyl because they are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic pain and prescribed the medication and end up taking it longer than it was originally prescribed. Adolescents and young adults are also among the highest fentanyl abusers, typically getting access to the medication from friends or relatives.

Many people who become addicted to fentanyl do so innocently when they are prescribed the medication for a legitimate reason. Unfortunately, due to the highly addictive nature of the drug, they start using more and quickly become dependent on it. When the high that is achieved with fentanyl becomes a daily occurrence, it’s important to watch for possible signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse and addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Building up a tolerance to fentanyl is one of the first signs of addiction, as is suffering withdrawal sickness when the drug is stopped or doses are decreased. Some of the other, outward, signs of addiction are:

  • Extreme euphoria and relaxation
  • Sense of well-being
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drug-seeking behavior, or doctor shopping
  • Irritability
  • Decline in activity
  • Problems sleeping
  • Increasing conflicts in relationships
  • Reporting pain medication prescriptions as lost or stolen
  • Frequent early renewal requests from pharmacists
  • Increasing complaints of pain
  • Reluctance to try non-opioid pain medications for pain
  • Requesting other prescriptions for medications with euphoric effects
  • Respiratory arrest

It can sometimes be challenging to identify a loved one’s behavior as fentanyl abuse, but if there are several of the above signs and symptoms present, it may indicate that abuse is occurring.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in the Body?

This question’s answer has many factors involved. How long it takes for the body to rid itself of fentanyl depends on:

  • Amount of fentanyl taken
  • How the fentanyl was administered (patch, injection, lozenges, etc.)
  • Length of time fentanyl has been used
  • Genetic makeup of the user
  • Overall health of the user
  • History of drug use of the user

If fentanyl is used intravenously, it will be out of the system faster than if it’s used in the patch or lozenge forms. IV fentanyl is usually out of the body within 24 hours, depending on the other factors. Other methods of administration can take up to about two days for the body to get rid of fentanyl. However, that doesn’t mean that the withdrawal symptoms will be gone that quickly. Those can last much longer as the body works to recalibrate itself without fentanyl in its system.

What is Detox from Fentanyl Like?

Like any other opioid, the detox from fentanyl is not comfortable or pleasant. It is also not always safe to do without medical supervision. The effects of withdrawal typically begin within about 24 hours from the last use and the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. Some of the withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Chills and fever
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramping
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Body aches
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Irritability

It’s recommended that detox from fentanyl is done in a medically-supervised detox facility. Not only is it safer should symptoms become severe, it can also be much more comfortable as there are medications that can be given to help manage the symptoms.

Finding the Best Inpatient Rehab for Fentanyl Addiction

Choosing a rehabilitation facility for fentanyl addiction treatment should be done with the same careful consideration that you use to choose a doctor or a hospital. When you choose the right rehab facility, it makes all the difference in the whole process. Here are some important considerations to look at when choosing an inpatient rehab for fentanyl addiction:  

Reputation. To find out the reputation that a rehab facility has, it takes some research. You can easily do some online searches to see what former clients and their families have to say about the facility. It’s important that you find a facility that has a good reputation with both patients and medical professionals. When you find one whose reputation you are happy with, and that has a track-record of satisfied patients who are in long-term recovery, it should make your short list of choices.

Respect. Every patient (regardless of whether they are treated in a hospital for an illness, or in a rehab facility for an addiction) should be treated with respect and should have a say in what their treatment is and how it is administered. That means that your wishes should be carefully considered by the facility staff. For example, if you would like to detox without the use of prescription medication, that desire should be evaluated by your doctor and if it is medically feasible and safe, it should be carried out.

Location. Where the facility is located is worth taking the time to consider. Is it close enough to home that your friends and family can come visit you? Is it in a safe area where you will feel at ease? Is the aesthetics of the surrounding area important to you? The more calm, relaxing, and secure it is, the lower your stress and anxiety will be.

Qualifications of medical professionals. All of the medical staff at the facility you choose should be encouraging, professional, and have the proper credentials. When you take a tour of the facility, don’t be afraid to ask about the qualifications of the doctors, nurses, therapists, and other staff. They should be willing to answer all of your questions without hesitation.

Comfort. Whatever your decision is about the rehab you go to, the facility, program, and staff should be tailored to the needs of people needing treatment for fentanyl addiction. That means that in addition to monitoring withdrawal symptoms, the facility should provide such things as nutritious meals, 24/7 support, and complementary therapies. Patients should be comfortable in private, or semi-private rooms. Also in the area of comfort, patients should feel comfortable with and welcomed by the staff.

Use of medications. There are some specific medications that can be used in detox to make patients more comfortable, and withdrawal symptoms more manageable. For example, buprenorphine is often used for withdrawal from opioid drugs like fentanyl. Other medications may also be used such as anti-nausea medication and over-the-counter pain relievers. Many people who seek help for fentanyl addiction are also diagnosed with co-occurring mental disorders or illnesses like depression or posttraumatic stress disorder. Those patients may be prescribed medication to help with those conditions. Make sure that the facility you choose adheres to the use of medication philosophy that you subscribe to.

Payment options. One of the most common reasons that people with addiction problems don’t seek help is the cost of treatment. However, most rehab facilities do accept insurance and in many instances, insurance does cover at least a portion of the cost. Be sure to see if the facility you are interested in accepts your insurance. You can also check to see if they will accept payment plans for the balance that insurance doesn’t cover, so you don’t have to come up with a large sum of money all at once.

Realistic promises. There is no quick fix of addiction. Detox and rehab facilities that promise a “cure” or a “full recovery” from addiction should be avoided like the plague. Likewise, detox centers that offer “rapid detox” should also be considered suspect. The rehabilitation process should not be rushed, and the process should focus on true recovery and that takes time. The program should enlist evidence-based treatments and integrate the potential for relapse over the course of recovery.  

Recovery for Fentanyl Addiction is Possible

Fentanyl addiction is treatable and it is possible to recover from it. Inpatient rehabilitation is typically recommended over outpatient treatment for fentanyl addiction, and ongoing and consistent treatment of some kind is often necessary for fentanyl addictions.

If you or a loved one are using fentanyl and have overdosed or you are concerned that you may be addicted, seek help now to begin recovering. The first step to recovery is asking for help.

IV Drug Use And The Risk Of Sepsis

It’s crucial that if you are developing sepsis you seek medical attention immediately

Drug abuse of any kind has risks, but some methods that abusers use to take drugs are more dangerous than others. Intravenous, or IV, drug use is the act of injecting drugs into your body. It is one of the most dangerous and invasive ways that drugs are taken. Using drugs in this way can lead to some serious medical conditions like Hepatitis C and the HIV virus, and continued use and repeated trauma to injections sites can lead to sepsis.

What is Sepsis?

Contrary to most people’s understanding, sepsis is not an infection in itself. It is actually a complication that results from an existing infection. Sepsis occurs when the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream in an attempt to fight the infection that instead triggers an inflammatory response. Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can all result in sepsis, however, bacterial infections are the most common precursors to the condition. Sepsis is also called blood poisoning because the bacteria or toxins that are produced invade the bloodstream.

Stages of Sepsis

Sepsis is typically categorized into three stages that have the following symptoms:


Sepsis is diagnosed when doctors have verification or reasonable suspicion that an infection exists and two of the following symptoms are present:

  • Fever below 96.8 F or above 101 F
  • Heart rate over 90 beats per minute
  • Respiratory rate over 20 breaths per minute
Severe Sepsis

In severe sepsis, at least one additional symptom from the following must be present:

  • Heart not working properly
  • Struggling with breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Falling platelet count
  • Altered mental states
  • Drastic drop in urine production

Any one of the above symptoms may be an indicator that organs are failing.

Septic Shock

Septic shock occurs when the patient’s condition continues to deteriorate. They will exhibit the above symptoms and also low blood pressure that remains low even with attempts to raise it using fluid replacement.

As sepsis progresses, it becomes increasingly dangerous for patients. Treatment must be started as early as possible for the best outcome.

IV Drug Use and Sepsis

Using drugs intravenously can introduce a number of pathogens and toxins into your veins and body, which makes you susceptible to infection. Pathogens are disease causing microorganisms that include viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, as it’s most commonly known) is the most common bacteria to cause infections in IV drug users.

Pathogens are commonly transmitted due to the improper or unhygienic handling of needles. When a person becomes addicted to a substance, his or her need to use becomes so strong that there is little or no thought given to his or her health. The use of dirty or shared needles at this point is common and increases the risks of infection.

Even if you do not share needles, IV drug use is still risky. Many IV drug abusers will use the same needle repeatedly to inject the drug. This is dangerous because bacteria can grow on the needle and then be transmitted to your bloodstream and body tissue. That does not mean that using new needles every time will eliminate the risk of infection. If the injection site is not properly cleaned, you can still be at risk of infection.

Types of IV-Related Infections that Cause Sepsis

There are a variety of infections that IV drug abuse can cause – some of which can be fatal. One of the biggest reasons that these infections are life-threatening is because they cause sepsis.

Some of the infections that can lead to sepsis are:

Endocarditis – This is an infection of the inner-lining of the heart caused by bacteria, fungus, or viruses.

Cellulitis – This is an infection of the skin and underlying tissue that spreads out across the limb.

Necrotizing fasciitis – This infection is commonly called a flesh-eating disease that causes the body’s soft tissue to die and is very aggressive.

While it is true that prolonged or repeated use makes the risk of infection and sepsis more likely, if you use IV drugs, even sporadically, you are exposing yourself to dangerous possibilities; it is possible to contract an infection from even one use.  

Complications Related to Sepsis

Because sepsis poisons your body and blood, the longer time that goes by without treatment, the greater the risk of complications, and death. It can become so detrimental that your organs begin to struggle to function properly and may fail. Sepsis, along with the original infection itself, can increase the risk of death even further.

Even when a person recovers from sepsis, there can be long-term effects including:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Limb amputations
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Reduced functioning of internal organs

Sepsis Treatments

It’s crucial that if you believe you have an infection or that you are developing sepsis, that you seek medical attention immediately. It progresses quickly and your life may be in danger. When you seek treatment, it’s likely that you will be administered a broad-spectrum antibiotic first. This is to address the infection and the bacteria that caused it. Once testing is done, your medication may be changed to treat a more specific bacterium.

Other treatments for sepsis may include:

  • IV fluids
  • Oxygen
  • Corticosteroids
  • Insulin
  • Pain medication
  • Sedatives
  • Vasodepressor to raise blood pressure

If your sepsis is in advanced stages, you may require:

  • Intubation for breathing support
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Surgery

While sepsis can be treated and you can get better, it’s important that you also consider treating your IV drug addiction by entering drug rehab treatment. Rehab through Summit will include therapy, addiction education, relapse prevention, life and coping skills, and psychiatric care (if needed). It will give you the tools you need to stop using IV drugs and to stop putting yourself at risk of developing life-threatening infections and sepsis.

The Risks of Using Heroin with Crack Cocaine

When users mix heroin and crack they are playing with fire.

Heroin and crack cocaine are risky enough when used individually, but they are even more dangerous when they are combined. Mixing the two, one a depressant and one a stimulant, can have very unpredictable results. When the two are combined and used at the same time, it’s known as “speedballing,” which can be even more dangerous. If a person develops an addiction to heroin and crack, it can be very difficult to stop using without help. Usually, it takes inpatient treatment at a rehab facility in order to begin recovery.

Why Do People Mix Heroin and Crack Cocaine?

People who abuse drugs will often move from one drug to another or experiment with different combinations of drugs. When they become addicted to two or more drugs at the same time, it’s called polydrug addiction. Users started using heroin and crack together by injecting or smoking in order to achieve a dual drug euphoria, or they would use one of the drugs to help with the withdrawals from the other.

There are many reasons that users find mixing heroin and crack cocaine appealing besides avoiding withdrawals – they want to find a greater high, it’s cheaper, or they want to stay high for longer. Additionally, users may mix drugs for the following reasons:

  • In an attempt to heighten the effects of another drug. For example, someone may use alcohol to enhance the experience of cocaine.
  • In an attempt to decrease the negative effects of the other drug, typically when they are coming down from the other drug. For example, some people will smoke marijuana to lessen the effects of ecstasy.
  • In an attempt to substitute for the drug they were looking for – using the next best thing.

Sometimes people will combine drugs because they are already intoxicated and are not thinking straight.

What Happens to the Body When Heroin and Crack are Mixed?

When users mix heroin and crack, they are playing with fire. Not only are both drugs highly addictive, mixing them can lead to death. Heroin is a depressant, while crack is a stimulant. Both drugs have an effect on the central nervous system and when taken together they send contradicting messages to the brain, sometimes causing both respiratory and cardiac arrest simultaneously.

Some of the other effects of mixing heroin and crack cocaine include the following:

  • Impaired thinking and judgment
  • Erratic behavior, sometimes violence
  • Disinhibition
  • Sweating
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Change in heart rate
  • Blurry vision
  • Chest pain and arrhythmia
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Liver failure
  • Overdose
  • Coma

There are additional long-term effects when the mixture of heroin and crack are injected as the route of administration. Doing so increases the risks of:

  • Hepatitis C and HIV
  • Tuberculosis
  • Track lines
  • Collapsed veins
  • Injection site abscesses
  • Infection in the lining of the heart

When heroin and crack are snorted, the user runs the risks of:

  • Uncontrollable nosebleeds
  • Sinusitis
  • Perforated nasal septum

The effects of mixing heroin and crack can be short or long-term and can have devastating results, up to and including death. It’s important that users of either or both of these drugs seek help from a drug treatment facility for their addiction before it’s too late.

Recognizing Polydrug Addiction

Signs and symptoms of polydrug addiction are much the same as those of a person addicted to only one drug. They may be more intense though because the risks of overdose and more serious complications are greatly increased when more than one substance is used. Some of the warning signs that someone you love may be abusing drugs are:

  • No longer caring about activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Reduced level of personal hygiene and appearance
  • Increased secrecy and isolation
  • Has much less money with no explanation why
  • Mood swings and erratic behavior
  • Cannot focus, has memory loss, or is easily confused
  • Has problems at work or school

The signs that someone has overdosed while taking multiple drugs may be more pronounced, but they can easily be confused with other medical problems if you don’t know that a person is using drugs.

Treatment for Polydrug Addiction

Many times, the treatment of polydrug addiction is much more complicated and difficult than the treatment of a single drug addiction. This is due to the following factors:

People who abuse multiple drugs, like heroin and crack, are typically more ensnared in addiction. Generally, by the time a person tries multiple drugs or combinations of drugs, he or she has been using drugs for a significant amount of time, and the drug abuse has had time to recalibrate brain function. People in this situation are highly addicted and harder to treat.

Drugs used together to play off one another causing heightened reactions, as well as more physical and psychological dependency. Mixing drugs often make quitting any of them more challenging.

The withdrawal symptoms of people who use multiple drugs are compounded. The more drugs they use, the more severe withdrawal symptoms can be.

Polydrug abusers and addicts are more resistant to accepting help. Higher levels of addiction create more resistant addicts. Unfortunately, many of these types of addicts die before they seek help.

For people who are addicted to more than one drug, the best option for treatment is an inpatient rehab facility. While outpatient treatment may work for some addicts, they are often not as effective for addicts with such severe addictions. Attending an inpatient drug rehab will give patients a higher level of around-the-clock care and will provide:

  • Supervised medical detox to ensure safety during the withdrawal phase of recovery
  • Individual and group therapy that gets to the underlying causes of patients’ addictions
  • Psychiatric treatment, if needed
  • Addiction education, relapse prevention techniques, and coping skills

If you or a loved one is suffering from drug abuse or addiction, know that there is help available no matter how severe the addiction is. Seek help now and begin your recovery before it’s too late.

Our programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.

Why You Need a 30-Day Sugar Detox

A sugar detox may sound extreme but the benefits that you will see and feel are worth the uncomfortable first few days

Millions of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, and fatigue due to the diet that they put into their bodies. It’s unfortunate, but feeling lousy, achy, tired, and carrying extra weight has become the new normal for many people. If you are one of them, you may be suffering from a sugar addiction that is contributing to your ailments. It may be time for you to consider a 30-day detox from sugar.

A sugar detox may sound extreme, but the benefits that you will see and feel are worth the uncomfortable first few days. Not only will it help you physically by restoring balance to your blood sugar, reducing spikes of insulin, balancing your hormones, boosting your metabolism, and reducing inflammation, it will also improve your mood and self-image, and you will likely lose weight.

Sugar Addiction

Many people today eat diets that are high in sugar, and as many as 10% of Americans are true sugar addicts. While sugar addiction may not be on the same level as drug and alcohol addiction, there are many similarities. In fact, research shows that for the sugar addict, sugar affects the pleasure center of the brain and induces cravings that are similar in extent to those same symptoms in drug addicts.

For many people, one of the most concerning facts about sugar is just how much is added to our diets without us even realizing that it’s there. When we think of sugar, we think about cakes, cookies, and ice cream. But the reality is, it’s in many foods that don’t even taste sweet. – bread, sauces, salad dressings, and pasta. You may be eating sugar all day and not know it.

Even if you are not a true sugar addict, you will benefit from reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, or be doing a 30-day sugar detox. It will require that you read labels, eat whole foods, and stay away from prepackaged foods, but the results will be worth it. 

How to Detox from Sugar

Getting the sugar out of your system requires that you go cold turkey for the first three days of the detox. This sounds daunting and you may wonder why it’s not recommended to just cut down on the amount of sugar you consume. The reason is simple, you would not ask a drug addict or alcoholic to just have a couple of pills or beers a day. For true addicts, this would be impossible. If they could moderate their use, they would already be doing it. The same is true for sugar addicts, and that’s why the first three days have to be sugar-free.

For the first three days, you should have no added sugar. That means no fruits, grains, dairy, starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes, and squash), and alcohol. You can fill up on proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.

A typical sugar-free day may look like this:

  • Breakfast – Three eggs, cooked any way you like them
  • Lunch – As much as six ounces of poultry, fish, or tofu, and a salad
  • Dinner – Same as lunch, but you can substitute steamed vegetables for the salad
  • Snacks – Nuts (1 oz. servings), hummus, vegetables

You will want to stay away from artificial sweeteners because they may make you store more fat and end up overeating. Stick to water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee.

Starting on the fourth day, you add one apple and one dairy food (full-fat and unsweetened) each day. You’ll find that after three days of no sugar, your taste has recalibrated and things that didn’t use to taste sweet now do. You can also add back in some of the higher sugar vegetables like carrots and peas, and have up to three glasses of wine for the week.

For week two, you add another serving of dairy, a serving of berries, and starchy vegetables like squash and yams.

Week three allows you to include grains (like oatmeal, quinoa, and barley), and additional fruit like grapes, tangerines or another citrus, and bananas, and an ounce of dark chocolate.

Week four begins the maintenance part of the plan. You can add two starches each day, and up to five glasses of wine per week.

By the end of the four weeks, your addiction to sugar should be broken and be eating healthy sugars, like fruit and whole grains should be satisfying enough that you no longer crave sugar-laden foods. Of course, once you complete the 30 days, having a small dessert or piece of birthday cake isn’t going to send you back into the throes of sugar addiction. Now is when moderation is possible because the addiction to sugar is broken.

Benefits and Risks of Sugar Detox

Doing a sugar detox can result in significant weight loss. Some people lose between five and 20 pounds in the first 30 days, depending on their starting weight and severity of their sugar addiction. People who detox from sugar also experience increased energy, fewer mood swings and blood sugar fluctuations, and have improvements in the appearance of their skin and brighter eyes.

The drawback of any detox is the discomfort you feel in the beginning. The first three days of a sugar detox can make you feel irritable, tired, and anxious because you are actually going through withdrawal. It’s important that you plan to start your detox at a time when you will be around supportive and understanding people who will help you through the challenge.

Doing a 30-day sugar detox will be helpful to nearly everyone – but if you are diabetic or pregnant it may not be right for you and you should check with your doctor before starting.

The Shocking Truth About Drug and Alcohol Abuse In College

The most recent national survey about drug and alcohol abuse among college-age adults provides relevant information about the attitudes and practices of this demographic that is far more likely to indulge in these excessive activities. But information is useless without actionable solutions so here are five key takeaways from the 2015 National Institute on Drug Abuse survey that can help craft new ways to attack this persistent problem.

Marijuana Remains a Popular Drug of Choice

For years, smoking weed has become something of a rite of passage among high school and college students. And according to the survey, nearly 5 percent of college-age students admitted that they smoked pot on a daily basis.

Although this may not seem like a large number, the percentage of full-time marijuana users in college has risen steadily since 1995, when it was at 3.7 percent. Part of the reason for this steady increase is that states have lowered the stigma of marijuana smoking by passing laws legalizing its use in one form or another.

Twenty-six states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, and many others are in the process of decriminalizing marijuana use. (1)

Binge Drinking Is Common

College-age drinking remains a large problem, and the survey confirms this fact, as nearly 32 percent of college students said that they engaged in binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) in the two weeks prior to the survey. In comparison, only 23.7 percent of non-college survey participants said they had engaged in binge drinking.

Furthermore, 38.4 percent of college-age students said they had been drunk in the previous month, compared to 24.9 percent of non-college participants.

Binge drinking dangers include alcohol poisoning, heart attack, and a higher risk of vehicular homicide if the drinker chooses to operate a motor vehicle.

Cigarette Use Is Trending Down

The survey also found that cigarette smoking and hookah usage are trending downward among college-age adults.

Only 23 percent of college students said they used a hookah in the previous year, compared to 24.5 percent of non-college survey participants. And only 11 percent of college students said they smoked cigarettes in the previous month, compared to 23.4 percent of the non-college group.

And that holds true even for E-cigarettes, which only 8.8 percent of college students admitted to smoking, less than the 12.9 percent of non-college participants who admitted to E-cigarette smoking. Part of this decrease may be attributed to the number of universities that have banned smoking on campus. (2)

Smoking bans have helped change attitudes among some college students about the risks of this activity, but they have also helped promote ways that students can kick the habit, including behavioral modification classes, individual counseling sessions, and even the use of tobacco patches.

Cocaine Use Is Trending Upward

Unfortunately, while cigarette use is decreasing among college-age students, cocaine use has risen over the past few years, hitting a 10-year high in 2014. In the survey, 4.3 percent of students admitted they used cocaine full-time, which is slightly less than the 4.4 percent that admitted their cocaine use in 2014.

The upward trend is of great concern because full-time cocaine use among college students decreased to 2.7 percent in 2014 before its steady climb. Before then, cocaine use had remained in the 3.5-percent to 3.1 percent range dating back to 2010.

Cocaine use among college students may be motivated by the stress and pressures of coursework or may be influenced by the party culture of a particular university. Cocaine is widely available at nightclubs, parties and raves, three venues that are prevalent across campuses in the U.S.

Synthetic Drug Use Is Declining

But at least one fad drug seems to be declining in popularity among college students. The survey found an 80 percent decrease in synthetic drug use from 2011 to 2015, and the use of salvia decreased 90 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Salvia is an herb that grows in southern Mexico and it causes vivid hallucinations and intense, frightening visions. The stimulant is not illegal in the U.S., but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has warned people not to use it because the extent of the health risks is unknown. (3)

The decline in synthetic drug use among college-age students may be attributed to the fact that these drugs are very dangerous. In fact, overdoses are common, because the chemicals used to enhance these drugs – such as bath salts – are not for human consumption.

Treatment Is a Solution

For college students struggling with an addiction, drug and alcohol detox may provide a solution. A treatment program must begin with physical and psychological withdrawal from drugs and alcohol, followed by intensive counseling. In some instances, residential treatment is necessary prior to outpatient treatment, but in all instances, a personalized addiction program works best.

If you or someone you love needs help with an addiction, please contact the Drug and Alcohol Detox experts at (609) 473-6720 to discuss all your treatment options.




Summit Behavioral Health’s Executive Director of Medical Services Dr. Patricia Allen To Appear At Recovery 360 Conference

Her presentation will provide clinicians and nurses with an understanding of the role of pharmacogenetics testing in co-occurring disorders

Union, New Jersey – July 11, 2017 –
Summit Behavioral Health is proud to announce that Executive Director of Medical Services  Dr. Patricia Allen will be a presenter at Recovery 360 Conference Sponsored by Pyramid Healthcare that takes place from July 20 to July 21 at the Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Allen’s presentation will cover innovative testing methods for patients who suffer from both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder, commonly known as co-occurring disorders.

“I am honored to be included among the speakers at Recovery 360,” stated Dr. Allen. “The presenters for the conference are an impressive collection of healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, counselors and social workers. Behavioral healthcare deserves this kind of gathering so that we can hear a variety of viewpoints, and learn new methods to improve our caregiving.”

The Recovery 360 Conference is the first of its kind, a gathering of behavioral healthcare specialties that includes mental health, addiction and eating disorder treatment. It offers seminars, 10 hours of continuing education, and multiple networking opportunities. The conference is hosted by Pyramid Healthcare, a rehabilitation center in Pennsylvania that provides treatment for adults and teens suffering from mental health disorders, substance abuse issues and all phases of addiction.

Dr. Allen’s presentation will focus on three main learning objectives:

Applying the principles of evidence-based practice and cost effectiveness in the utilization of genetic testing in the treatment of a client with co-occurring disorders.

Determining the relationship between the use of pharmacogenetics results and treatment engagement outcomes for those with co-occurring disorders.

Describing ways in which genetic testing can empower the client and support sobriety and resiliency within the co-occurring population. 

Dr. Allen, who is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner was a presenter at the recent Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders, and the Annual Conference of the American Psychiatric Nurse’s Association, discussing issues related to pharmacogenetics and medication-assisted treatment for patients with co-occurring disorders. She was also a presenter at the NEI Psychopharmacology Congress.

In her role as Executive Director of Medical Services at Summit Behavioral Health, Dr. Allen evaluates the treatment of patients in detox and also supervises the Intensive Outpatient programs. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association and the International Nurses’ Society on Addiction.


Serenity at Summit is an addiction treatment center that offers drug and alcohol medical detox, inpatient treatment in a residential facility, and intensive and non-intensive outpatient treatment for patients who have successfully completed the residential program. Summit’s integrative treatment combines cognitive-behavioral and emotion-based therapy techniques with 12-step facilitation and relapse prevention.


Will Smoking Disappear by 2050?

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health

Anyone who has ever tried to give up smoking knows it can be an especially difficult challenge. Because research shows that smoking and drinking alcohol often go hand in hand, it’s important for people who wish to stop drinking to also make an effort to give up cigarettes. Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Data from the CDC shows that the number of people who smoke cigarettes has declined dramatically in recent years. In fact, if rates continue to drop, researchers think smoking could completely disappear by 2050.

How Many Americans Smoke?

In 2005, about 21 percent of the U.S. population smoked cigarettes. In 2014, that number had dropped to 16.8 percent. The dean of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says less than 15 percent of the American population smokes. Furthermore, this trend spans all age groups, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. No matter who you are or what community you live in, you’re less likely to smoke than your parents or grandparents.

These shrinking numbers are actually quite astonishing when you consider that even just a generation or two ago, a majority of people in the country smoked. In the UK in the 1950s, for example, 80 percent of the population smoked. Tobacco companies marketed their products as macho, rugged, and even healthful. Obviously, we know today that cigarettes cause lung cancer, but past generations didn’t have that information.

Tips for Kicking Your Nicotine Habit

Are you addicted to nicotine? Like any other addiction, nicotine can be conquered. And like other types of addiction, what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Fortunately, Once you’ve kicked your smoking habit, you may even find that addressing your addiction to alcohol or drugs is easier. Here are some top tips for stopping smoking.

Get motivated – Find a good reason to quit, whether it’s saving money, getting healthier, or having better-looking skin.

Accept that you have an addiction – Quitting cold turkey works for some, but many people find that just stopping sets them up for relapse. Chances are you’ll need to address your nicotine addiction in stages.

Get a support person – Tell people close to you that you want to stop smoking. The support of your loved ones can make a big difference.

Don’t be afraid to fail – Relapse happens, and it’s okay. If you have a “cheat day” or pick up cigarettes again, this doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail. It’s okay to try quitting again when you’re ready.

Contact Serenity at Summit

Serenity at Summit provides people with the resources they need to address their addictions. Whether you’re struggling with alcohol abuse disorder or an addiction to prescription drugs or street drugs, our behavioral health professionals can help you. Call us today at (609) 473-6720 to speak to a substance abuse expert about treatment options for you or someone you love.




5 Red Flags Your Loved One May Be Addicted

Alcohol and drug addiction are epidemics that are sweeping the nation. Regardless of age, gender, social class, race and any other status, drug addiction is a problem that touches them all. Chances are, you know someone that needs help from an addiction treatment center. You also may wish you had known the signs they were headed for this situation, but just didn’t have the information that would have let you know when it was time to intervene.

If you want to know if someone you love is teetering on the edge of active drug addiction or alcoholism, or ensure they don’t reach this point in the future, read the information here. These signs will let you know if your loved one is on a one-way path to substance abuse.

High levels of anxiety

When faced with a new challenge, how does your loved one react? A certain level of anxiety is to be expected and, in some situations, even serve as a motivating force. However, when the anxiety becomes extreme, the person may feel desperate for relief. Many addicts were once perfectionists who sought approval for any and everything they did. Feelings of extreme anxiety can push a person to seek relief from drugs or to engage in other destructive behavior.

Reducing anxiety can be challenging, but a step in the right direction when it comes to preventing substance use disorder down the road.

Pharmaceutical frequency

How often does your loved one seek pain pills? Does it seem as though they are going to the doctor more and more often to replenish their supply? Have they recently changed doctors? Over time, opioid use will create a tolerance to the drugs in the body, which will diminish their effectiveness as a person becomes used to them. As a result, they need more and more to feel relief. Those who suffer chronic pain are especially susceptible to becoming chemically dependent. If a person is currently taking pain pills but seems to need more and more each month, then this is a definite sign of a substance use disorder.


A person who is suffering from other conditions, in addition to chronic pain, may become more susceptible to poly-substance abuse. The conditions that most commonly spur this include osteoporosis and diabetes. However, it can be any other type of chronic condition they suffer from.

Mental health

A person who suffers mental health issues may find himself or herself easily drawn into the clutches of opioids and other drugs. Regardless of if they are always angry, or just avoid emotions altogether, these problems can indicate a mental problem that needs to be addressed. In some cases, depression is the culprit. In an effort to overcome this depressed state, a person turns to drugs or even alcohol.

Muscular health

When a person is unhealthy, overall, they may be more susceptible to becoming hooked on opioid drugs or to alcohol. They can find relief from pain and even feelings with these substances in their system. Alcoholism and opioid addiction is sneaky, many people may not even realize it has occurred until it is too late.

If you want to help someone you are worried may become addicted to drugs or alcohol, you have to watch for the signs of a problem early on. For someone suffering from the disease of addiction, go to their doctor’s appointments with them, if possible, and ask the doctor if it is possible to find relief with something other than extremely addictive opioids. Too many addicts become addicted without even realizing there is a problem. Being aware of the problem is the best way to minimize the risk of your loved one becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol.

For additional information on this subject read The Five Most Important Signs of Drug Addiction to Know.