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 844-326-4514 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 844-326-4514 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.

5 Stages of Addiction: What You Need to Know

Today, more40 million people in the United States older than age 12 are grappling with an addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. With overdoses on the rise and a growing opioid epidemic affecting millions throughout the country, it’s more important than ever to spot and treat substance abuse early on.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from a drug problem, it’s important that you learn to recognize the different stages of addiction and how to take proper action to address substance abuse. Sadly, the path from experimentation to a full-blown addiction can easily be a downward spiral.

There are five major stages of drug addiction that manifest along this spiral. Below are some of the most common factors of each phase and recommendations on how to help users who are dealing with the five stages of drug addiction.

Stage 1: Experimentation

Common signs:

People usually start experimenting during their teenage years. More than half of first-time users start experimentingbefore they turn 18 years old. They are often initiated or pressured into trying drugs by a friend, and, at this point, they still consider the experience to be fun and entertaining.

More than half of first-time users begin experimenting with marijuana first. Substance use during this phase is not frequent and typically happens during social gatherings.

Experimental users don’t have cravings and feel like they are in total control of their drug use. They can choose to stop using whenever they want and can go for long periods without them.

How to treat this stage:

For some, drug experimentation never leads to substance abuse problems later on. For others, it can be the first step toward establishing a long-term addiction. Monitoring the frequency of drug use early on is an important step toward preventing more routine use in the future.

A good approach early on in drug experimentation is to ask the person why they are experimenting in the first place. If they are using drugs to cope with pain or emotional issues, try offering counseling or therapy as alternative solutions.

Stage 2: Regular Use

Common signs:

At this stage, substance use becomes part of a user’s routine. It doesn’t necessarily mean drugs are used daily, but there is a repeated pattern of behavior such as using every weekend or at every party. Users also may start using repeatedly to help them cope with a particular situation, such as when they are stressed out, or when they are depressed.

Regular users no longer need to be in a social setting to do drugs and begin to use substances when they are alone, too. They also may start experiencing hangovers the day after, which may cause them to occasionally miss work or school.

Regular users still appear to function normally but start displaying certain changes in behavior including defiance, depression, aggression, and anxiety.

How to treat this stage:

If a person who uses substances regularly has tried counseling without positive results, it might be time to try going to anoutpatient facility for treatment.

With outpatient care, users typically visit a clinic for regular, scheduled appointments with medical professionals that can last from one to eight hours. The treatment is similar to what a person would receive at an inpatient facility but with the added benefit that they do not have to leave their homes.

Outpatient programs include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, stress management, motivational incentives, group therapy, and individual and family therapy.

Outpatient care works best for users who are still in good health, have a stable living situation, and a strong network of supportive loved ones. “The strongest thing that is helpful is having a system of care that can surround the person,” says Dr. Kelly Clark, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Stage 3: Risk-Taking Use

Common signs:

During the risk-taking stage, users start to lose control of their drug use and start engaging in dangerous activities to fulfill their habit. Their drug use starts to negatively affect their job performance, grades, personal relationships, and financial well-being.

At this hazardous stage, it’s not unusual for users to:

  • Drive under the influence
  • Have unprotected sex
  • Get arrested
  • Lose their jobs
  • Spend irresponsible amounts of money on substances
  • Break up with partners and end friendships
  • Lie to loved ones

Physical symptoms in a risk-tasking user start to become more noticeable. Risky users often experience changes in weight, problems with memory, and poor coordination skills.

Users at this stage often realize they already have a substance abuse problem. Still, they might still refuse to get help or treatment, even though they are aware of the consequences of their use.

Risk-taking drug users begin to experience intense cravings for drugs, and the possibility of quitting seems much more difficult than it did in the past.

How to treat this stage:

For those in the risk-taking stage,inpatient rehabilitation might be a better option for treatment than therapy and/or outpatient facilities.

Users who have started engaging in reckless behavior can benefit from going to a short-term, inpatient program in a residential setting that will help remove them from situations where they are constantly tempted to do drugs. It also can help them avoid negative influences and people who have contributed to their addiction.

The length of stay for a user at a short-term inpatient facility can vary anywhere from a few days to up to 30 days. Longer-term stays may require a 60- to 90-day stay, depending on the severity of one’s addiction or dependence.

At an inpatient rehab, users are provided with round-the-clock care including but not limited to individual counseling sessions, family counseling, group therapy, medical care, and medication management.

Inpatient care is recommended for those who feel they can’t stop their drug use without being in a safe, supervised, and drug-free environment. Once their inpatient treatment is over, users usually continue their recovery with outpatient care and counseling.

Stage 4: Dependence

Common signs:

Users at this stage have become physically dependent on drugs. Their brain’s chemistry has now become accustomed to regular use and can’t function normally without it.

Dependent drug users suffer from constant cravings for substances as well as intensewithdrawal symptoms that depend on their drug of choice and can include nausea, shaking, sweating, muscle pain, rapid heart rate, and even seizures.

Dependent users have created a much higher tolerance for drugs and now need much higher doses of the substance than before to get high.

Dependent users are aware they are physically and psychologically dependent on drugs, but the possibility of stopping use can seem impossible without outside help.

Relapse often occurs for users who try to quit substance abuse on their own at this stage.

How to treat this stage:

Once a user has become physically dependent on substances, his or her body might need to go through medical detoxification first.

During detox, users go through the withdrawal process of drug addiction in a safe, monitored environment. They are also provided with medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms and minimize discomfort.

Going through detoxification first increases a user’s chance of staying sober. Those who detox safely from drug dependency are also more likely to seek treatment at inpatient and outpatient facilities immediately after detoxification.

Drug detox programs are recommended for users who have become physically dependent on substances and those who have been abusing drugs for long stretches of time.

Stage 5: Addiction

Common signs:

Users in the addiction stage of substance abuse have become completely and utterly dependent on drugs. Addicted users can’t imagine life without using drugs and will do almost anything to get their hands on them.

Cravings have become unbearable, and it often feels like the only way to survive is to consume more substances. The search for more drugs dominates a user’s daily activities.

Users are compulsively dependent on their drug abuse and can suffer from chronic relapses when trying to quit their substance abuse.

The lives of people who are in Stage 5 are often chaotic and out of control.

How to treat this stage:

Different treatment options are available for people who have become completely addicted to drugs. A hospital inpatient treatment facility can provide several levels of care for addicts.

Users who are hospitalized first go through medically supervised detoxes, in which severe withdrawal symptoms are managed and eased. Medication to help manage their addiction, such as methadone and Suboxone may also be provided.

Users are also required to attend individual counseling sessions to understand the root of their addiction and to help them avoid psychological relapses in the future.

Hospital inpatient facilities are beneficial to most substance users but are typically aimed towards users who are addicted to substances with severe withdrawal symptoms and long-term substance abusers.

There are alsolong-term residential drug treatment programs for those who feel like they need a lengthier, more dedicated type form of treatment. In this type of housing facility, users often stay in treatment for at least 90 days, regularly attending counseling, group therapy, and educational classes on drug abuse. Medication management is also available.

Addiction can seem like a tough battle to fight, but it’s important to know it is possible to overcome. As is the case with most diseases, the sooner an addiction is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chance of recovery. Drug addiction doesn’t have to become a lifelong struggle, with the right amount of support and the proper course of treatment, addicts can regain control and live happy and fulfilling lives.

Get Help for Substance Addiction Today

If you or a loved one is battling with an addiction, you may feel like addiction has you trapped, but it doesn’t have to be that way. At Serenity at Summit, we understand how difficult it is to quit abusing substances, but we also know there’s always hope. Together, we can make an addiction-free life a reality.

From detox to ongoing care, we provide the full continuum of recovery treatment, offering a seamless transition between levels of care throughout your or your loved one’s addiction treatment program.

Call us at 844-432-0416 for a free and confidential consultation with one of our specialists, who are available 24/7 to help you navigate treatment options and answer any questions or concerns you have about treatment at Serenity at Summit. You also can reach us online for information.

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 ADHD 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 844-432-0416 to find out how we can help you get on the road to recovery.



The Abuse of Prescription Drugs and the Role of Drug Makers

The abuse of prescription drugs has become a major public health problem as people addicted to prescription painkillers and to illegal opiates like heroin continue to die of overdoses.

The federal government has reacted to the opioid crisis by declaring it a public health emergency, which sounds good, but in reality, hasn’t done much to move the needle when it comes to lowering overdose rates.

One of the biggest challenges of this crisis is that big drug makers have been reluctant to take responsibility for manufacturing prescription painkillers that they knew were potentially addictive if patients took them beyond the recommended limit of seven days.

In fact, the opioid epidemic hasn’t done much to convince major drug makers to participate in the fight to get addicts into treatment, because the truth is, there is far too much money to be made distributing these medications to local pharmacies throughout the U.S.

However, that hasn’t stopped some cities and counties from trying to force drug makers to do their part, even it means taking legal action.

The most recent example is Camden County, New Jersey, which is suing manufacturers for distributing addictive painkillers that directly led to addiction and to fatal overdoses.

What’s interesting is that Camden County isn’t just taking legal action because drug makers flooded the streets with addictive painkillers, it is also suing to compel these companies to pay the county back for the costs of dealing with the addiction problem. 

Drug Companies and the Opioid Crisis

Even the most tangential evidence shows that there is some correlation between drug companies and the opioid crisis. The question is whether there is actually some liability on the part of companies because liability opens up the opportunities for legal action.

Several years ago, claimants who were addicted to prescription painkillers sued Purdue Pharma, claiming that their addiction was a direct result of the company’s negligent practices.

The claimants said that Purdue Pharma failed to adequately warn about addiction risks on drug packaging and in promotional activities. (1)

Other similar lawsuits claimed that opioid drug makers intentionally misrepresented their products as being non-addictive, when in fact, the drug makers knew that taking these medications longer than a specific period of time could lead to addiction.

One of the weapons that claimants are using against opioid drug makers is a law that makes it illegal for companies to distribute products that are misbranded. The federal government is also suing opioid drug makers alleging that their products are negatively impacting public health due to widespread misuse.(2)

The government is also using the concept of deceptive business practices based on the idea that opioid drug makers are falsely representing their medications as being safe when they know they can lead to addiction.

The Camden County Opioid Lawsuit

The details of the Camden County opioid lawsuit are illuminating because the county is the first in the U.S. to file a racketeering lawsuit against a drug company as it relates to the distribution of opioids.

Camden County is suing Purdue Pharma under federal racketeering laws that are usually reserved for organized crime.

The suit alleges that Purdue Pharma participated in an epic scheme to deceive doctors and the public at large into believing that opioids can be prescribed for long periods of time, with little to no risk of addiction.(3)

The suit also alleges that Purdue Pharma’s fraudulent scheme resulted in billions in profits. As we covered earlier, the drug maker isn’t a stranger to lawsuits related to opioid manufacturing, but this is the first time it is being sued for racketeering practices.

In 2007, Purdue Pharma was ordered to pay a $600 million fine for intentionally misleading the public about the addictive qualities of one of its drugs.

Camden County would like a similar payout for its suit and listed the services it had to use to fight opioid overdoses from 2016 to 2017, which included:

  • 1,740 man hours responding to 941 opioid overdoses
  • 131 opioid fatalities (90 alone in 2017)
  • 312 lives saved using Naloxone (an opioid overdose antidote)

The suit also alleges that Purdue Pharma has been hiding its practice under the cloak of pain management while pushing opioid painkillers it knew were highly addictive to the point that they could cause fatal overdoses.

Camden County did not release the amount of money it has spent fighting the abuse of prescription drugs, but it is likely seeking compensation in the millions.

A successful claim could pave the way for many more counties suffering from the effects of the opioid crisis to file similar lawsuits against other drug makers.

Addiction Treatment For Abuse of Prescription Drugs

Anything that can help curb the distribution of opioids is a good thing, but the truth is that despite all their best efforts, lawmakers may find that the most effective solution is to increase access to addiction treatment for abuse of prescription drugs.

Serenity at Summit New Jersey Addiction Treatment Center in Union is only 40 minutes from New York City, and have all the services needed for people struggling with substance abuse and looking for a family style addiction treatment center. 

Please call us today at 844-432-0416 to speak to one of our behavioral counselors who can tell you all your treatment options.




What Life Is Like for People Who Abuse Prescription Drugs and Illegal Opioids

The opioid crisis is an important issue, because people who are hooked on prescription drugs, and people who are addicted to illegal opiates like heroin are dying at record rates. In fact, the devastating number of fatal opioid-related overdoses in 2016 is expected to climb when the 2017 numbers come in.

That is sobering news because healthcare experts and law enforcement officials have been willing to try innovative and bold methods to stem the tide of fatal overdoses, including expanding access to naloxone, a life-saving antidote that saved thousands of lives in 2017.

But lost in all the numbers, statistics and talk about overdoses is that there is a real human toll being exacted on people across a wide range of ages, races and economic circumstances.

The truth is that opioids don’t discriminate, and anyone can become addicted to prescription painkillers, and when that path is cut off, illegal opiates are often the next step.

So instead of talking about some of the issues triggered by opioid abuse, let’s take a slight detour and talk about some of the people who are suffering through one of the worst public health emergency crisis in U.S. history.

What It Feels Like To Have An Opioid Addiction

You don’t have to be struggling with an opioid addiction to understand how it feels to be under the compulsion of this drug, because there are plenty of first-hand accounts that can bring those horrors home to you.

One story is told by Sam Snodgrass, who started using heroin years ago but had it under control enough to earn a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in experimental psychology and a doctorate in biopsychology.

In fact, Snodgrass became so knowledgeable about drugs that he was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arkansas.

Then one day, it all came crashing down.

Snodgrass gave in to temptation and used methadone, and for the next 20 years, he became a full-blown opioid addict. In the last 18 months of his addiction, Snodgrass became homeless and slept on the street, at shelters, and at the houses of anyone who gave him their floor for a night.

He describes opioid addiction in this way: (1)

Our craving for opioids is measured in hours. Four to five hours after our last use we begin to starve. And we crave. Everything but our need for these opioids falls away. And we focus solely on what we have to do to survive. We don’t have a choice. We really don’t.

Snodgrass goes on to talk about the overwhelming desire that opioid addicts feel to satisfy their craving:

We become desperate, and in our desperation, we do things that we know are wrong; we do things that we know are not us. But this doesn’t mean we don’t care. If you are starving, you still love. What it does mean is that we are so desperate in our starvation that we will hurt the ones we love to end that hunger.

One of the tragedies about drug addiction, in general, is that abusers rarely understand how profoundly these drugs alter the chemicals in their brain:

No one told us that these opioids cause changes in brain structure such that they become more important for our survival than food. We don’t understand this, and neither do you. And this lack of understanding can rip a family apart. It can replace love with resentments and anger. On both sides. And in this pain, in this lack of understanding, we lose each other.

Another long-term abuse of illegal opiates described addiction in this way: (2)

I just found love and peace. Heroin is a wonder drug. Heroin is better than everything else. Heroin makes me who I wish I was. Heroin makes life worth living. Heroin is better than everything else.

But pretty soon, the ugly side of the drug begins to assert itself:

Heroin builds up a tolerance fast. Heroin starts to cost more money. I need heroin to feel normal. I don’t love anymore. Now I’m sick. I can’t afford the heroin that I need. How did $10 use to get me high? Now I need $100. That guy that let me try a few lines the first time doesn’t actually deal. Oh, I need to find a real dealer? This guy is a felon and carries a gun—he can sell me the drug that lets me find love in the world. No, this isn’t working. I need to quit. To answer your question, heroin feels nice. That’s all, it just feels very nice. You can make the rest up for yourself. Attach your own half-truths to this drug that will show you the world and for a moment you will be as clever as Faust.

The good news is that the addict who shared these feelings eventually entered treatment, got on a maintenance drug, and is in recovery.

Treatment For Abuse of Prescription Drugs and Opiates

In real human terms, opioid addiction can’t be brought under control until patients seek treatment for abuse of prescription drugs and opiates.

If you are struggling with opioid abuse and you live in Massachusetts, Serenity at Summit New England Addiction Treatment Centers in Haverhill is only 45 minutes from Boston and offers a full range of treatment services that can help you get back on your feet.

Please call us today at 844-432-0416 to learn the options you have to get you 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.

4 Reasons Travel is Helpful in Recovery

There is a wealth of benefits that you experience from getting clean and sober and living a life of recovery from addiction. Just one of those benefits is that you get to know and experience new things and new passions. When you are in active addiction, it’s unlikely that you spend any time at all thinking about the possibilities you have in life – you’re too busy using, thinking about using, or planning how to use. When you get sober and begin your recovery, you will see that there is an endless amount of new adventures to embark upon.

Some people in recovery find that they love to travel, and that not only is it enjoyable, but that it can also enhance their program of recovery. Here are some of the ways that hitting the road, or jumping on a plane, can help your recovery.

It Helps You Keep an Open Mind

A big part of recovery is having an open mind. You have to be willing to look at things differently and learn new, sometimes awkward-feeling, ways of coping with things. You are encouraged to view things without preconceived notions and to try things that feel foreign to you. In early recovery, you have to begin to become more self-aware and introspective in order to be able to make the positive changes that are necessary to stay sober.

Traveling to new, exciting places can be like that. You don’t know what to expect, but you are filled with the excitement to find out. Your mind is open to the possibilities. Isn’t that just what it was like when you decided you could no longer live a life of addiction? You were able to see that there were possibilities beyond what you knew at the time.

It Gives You a New Perspective

When you are facing challenges, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself – for those who are in recovery and those who are not – is change your perspective. That is certainly something that you learn in recovery. What used to seem impossible, like quitting using, may actually be possible after all. Your addiction didn’t change, your perspective did.

When you travel, your perspective is constantly changing, figuratively and literally. You are able to see new places with open eyes or recognize new things about your favorite destinations that you return to over and over. Being able to see the same things differently is a wonderful skill to have, in your travels and in your recovery.

 It Provides You with New Discoveries

You started a journey of discovery when you began recovery. You had to discover who you really were and then get to know that person. Chances are, the person you have gotten to know in recovery is much different than the person you were in active addiction. What an amazing discovery that is!

Taking trips, whether for a day or for a month, offers you a world of discoveries too. With your newfound open-mindedness and positive perspective, you never know what incredible things you might discover in your travels.

 It Takes You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone may feel like a safe place, but you have to keep in mind that your comfort zone is where you lived when you were using. Mustering up the courage to make a change and seek treatment were you getting WAY outside of your comfort zone. And look at the benefits of doing that!

Traveling to somewhere that you have never been may feel like you are stepping outside of your comfort zone, and that’s great! You know how to do it, you’ve done it before, so why not see what awaits you?

It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination

Traveling can be a wonderful way to augment your recovery. It has the potential to benefit your mind, body, and spirit, just the way that recovery does. Step outside your comfort zone and give it a try. You will likely find that the destination isn’t so important, it’s how you get there that is.

If you have not yet made it to recovery, but want to change the course of your life, seek treatment for your addiction and get yourself heading in the right direction. Contact us at Serenity at Summit and we can help you find the path to recovery.

Serenity at Summit Announces Relocation To New Facility

The outpatient facility provides personalized addiction treatment in a welcoming environment

Serenity at Summit is proud to announce its relocation to a new outpatient facility at 83 Hanover Road, Suite 160, Florham Park, New Jersey. The new facility will continue to offer Summit’s unique brand of personalized addiction treatment programs for people suffering from substance abuse disorders and alcohol dependency.

“We’re happy to announce the relocation to our new home,” stated Tricia Kostin, Clinical Director of Florham Park. “Although we’re just a few miles down the road from our old location, we feel as if this is an expansion in many ways of what has made our facilities so well-equipped to help people on the road to recovery.”

The Florham Park facility provides intensive outpatient services catered to each client’s individual needs with our flexible scheduling, adult and adolescent programming and family support. Patients in the outpatient program have access to professional counseling and group therapy sessions that provide them with the skills necessary to progress on the road to recovery.

“Our outpatient addiction treatment programs include educational sessions, ongoing support, family counseling, and access to behavioral counselors in times of need,” Bethany Kassar, Executive Director of Outpatient Services. “We offer both adolescent and adult programs and conduct assessments to ensure that the team designs unique treatment programs based on each patient’s needs. Summit views addiction as a family disease and holistically treats the entire system by having a client’s family actively involved in the recovery process.

Patients who choose outpatient treatment can maintain their daily lifestyle and pursue education and career goals while also having the assurance of anonymity and privacy that some patients need because of the possible consequences that discovery of their addiction might cause professionally and personally. Summit’s treatment programs have multiple levels of intensity based on a patient’s clinical history and existing struggle with addiction.


Serenity at Summit programs are based on the fundamental belief that no single treatment philosophy or approach is best for everyone. Our experienced staff collaboratively creates each client’s treatment plan to reflect their unique needs and empower them to succeed. We partner with the individual to begin a transformational journey from hope to healing and beyond. Serenity at Summit operates addiction treatment centers that offer different treatment programs that include: drug and alcohol medical detox, inpatient treatment in a residential facility, and intensive and non-intensive outpatient treatment.

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.

Relapse Triggers That Can Ruin Your Recovery

People who are suffering from addiction to drugs and people who are struggling with alcohol use rarely fit into a conventional box when it comes to the recovery process.

For some, it may only take years before they gain the strength and discipline to go ‘cold turkey’ for the rest of their lives, never again returning to the source of their addiction.

For others, recovery is a lifelong process that requires dedication, commitment, and a willingness to understand that relapsing is a real possibility.

That brings us to the issue of relapse triggers that can disrupt the recovery process of an individual struggling with addiction

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of relapse triggers, and how people struggling with addiction can avoid these traps and continue walking the road to recovery.


Everyone understands that stress can take many forms, but it always brings worry and doubt with it, and the mental aspects of stress are what makes it such a dangerous relapse trigger.

The reasons are that the addiction recovery process is a delicate one that is built on establishing new ways of reacting and behaving that do not include drinking alcohol or using drugs.

Stress is the definition of a significant disruptor because it forces those struggling with addiction to deal with another set of challenges, whether those challenges are physical, psychological or emotional.

A recent study found that addicts who were exposed to stress such as the death of a loved one, emotional abuse, and unfaithfulness of a romantic partner were more likely to relapse, because of the increased number of personal challenges. (1)

For some, stress drives them back to the comfort zone of using drugs as an escape from their daily reality.

Often, the greater the amount of stress, the more that addicts seek that escape and addicts are especially vulnerable during the recovery process.

Exposure To Friends And Locations Associated With Addiction

Another relapse trigger occurs when people in a recovery run into friends or associates with whom they used to use drugs.

And because these people are still involved in drugs, it becomes a powerful trigger to the recovering individual.

The reason is that when in recovery, the memories of using drugs are often more pleasant than the reality of what it was really like.

In other words, those in recovery often look on their past behavior with drug-using friends as a time when they felt safe and comfortable, even though that is an illusion.

So when they run into old friends or revisit locations where they used to use drugs and drink alcohol, they relive a past time that brings back powerful memories.

And the more pressure that their old friends exert on them to use one last time, the more likely it is that they will give in and relapse.

Overconfidence That Recovery Is Complete

It’s not unusual to see someone build up several months of sobriety and begin telling friends and family members that they have discovered the ‘secret’ of staying clean, and that they will never go back to their old life.

While confidence in the recovery is important, overconfidence can be dangerous, because when addicts feel as if they have all the answers and make bold pronouncements that they will never use drugs again or take another drink, it can set them up for a relapse.

Recovery may not always be a lifelong process for some, but when they are in early recovery they must measure their progress in hours, days, then weeks.

While the phrase ‘one day at a time’ may be a cliché when it comes to recovery, it is the only way for addicts to guard against the overconfidence of believing that they have conquered their addiction. (2)

Steps You Can Take To Prevent Relapse

Relapse triggers can be powerful, but if you are aware of these triggers, they can take steps to avoid these negative attractors. These steps include:

  • Avoid Friends Who Use Drugs
  • Avoid the Places Where You Used To Use Drugs Or Drink Alcohol
  • Remain Active In Outpatient Counseling
  • Join a Support Group
  • Follow a Healthy Lifestyle That Can Help Lower Stress

Why Treatment Is So Important

The myth of the ‘functional’ substance user is just that, a myth. Because addiction eventually destroys all the carefully built facades that people put up to convince themselves and their friends, family members and colleagues that they are doing fine. The only real way for addicts to live a life that is balanced and honest is to get treatment at a professional facility that can design a recovery program suited to their unique needs.

If you live in New Jersey and are seeking this type of rehab treatment, call the behavioral counselors of Serenity at Summit Detox New Jersey to learn about all your options.




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 to Ask Before Choosing a Rehab for Your Loved One

Each year in the U.S. millions of people enter rehabs for help with their addictions. For some, the results are successful and they go on to lead happy sober lives. But for many others, their stay in rehab offers them a short respite from using only to result in relapse after they return home. Most rehab patients have been to residential treatment more than once, with one in ten having been five or more times.

When a family has to decide which rehab will best help their loved one the choices may seem overwhelming. There are a variety of different approaches, programs, and levels of care for them to consider. When they know the right questions to ask, they are better able to choose the facility that will offer their loved one the most help and the best chance of long-term recovery.

Here are some of the questions families should ask before making their decision about where to send their loved one.

What Type of Results Do You Expect from Rehab?

Different facilities have different expectations, and what they consider success is subjective. Some programs consider it a success for patients if they complete a 28-day stay in residential rehab, while others view success as a patient who stays clean and sober after they return home. Still, others consider their programs as successful when a patient is able to assimilate back into normal life after rehab with gainful employment, improved relationships, and morality, etc.

The family has to decide which result is in line with what they are looking for before making a choice. Finding out how a facility measures their success and what their success rate is will provide valuable information.

How Long is the Program?

Most rehab programs are 28 days. Unfortunately, for many people with addictions that isn’t enough time to achieve stable sobriety. Whether a facility offers a longer period of time, or at least has the option of doing so, is a consideration that is worth looking at. Most people need longer than 28 days to become stable enough to return to daily life without a high risk of relapse.  

Does the Program Use Medication as a Substitute for the Individual’s Drug of Choice?

Many treatment programs use Suboxone, methadone, or buprenorphine to treat addiction to heroin or other opioids. This type of treatment is considered a harm reduction program and its goal is to reduce the harm created by illicit drug abuse rather than creating sobriety. While this type of treatment is shown to be successful at times, it may not be in line with your family’s goals.

Does the Program Use Other Medications that May Be Addictive Themselves?

Most rehabs use benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax during the detox portion of the program. This helps patients maintain some level of comfort as they go through withdrawal. The goal is typically to use these types of medications only for a very short time and then to discontinue use, as patients can become dependent on them after only several weeks of use. However, some facilities continue to rely on medications like this as a way to lessen stress and anxiety while a person is in treatment. Making sure that addictive drugs are only used short-term and only for detox can help families narrow down their search.

Does the Facility Offer Psychiatric Evaluations and Care?

Most people with addictions have underlying psychological or psychiatric issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve long-lasting recovery. Whether a facility offers access to psychiatric care can be a huge factor in the family’s decision for their loved one.

Does the Program Teach Life and Coping Skills?

No matter how well a person does while they are in rehab, they have to return to daily life and deal with day-to-day situations that will be stressful. That combined with the anxiety and fear that comes with early sobriety can be a recipe for disaster if they have not learned sufficient life and coping skills while in treatment. Making sure that the program they choose offers enough education about dealing with life and coping with triggers is essential for families who are looking for a rehab for their loved one.

Does the Program Offer Family Participation in their Loved One’s Recovery?

Most treatment centers offer some level of family participation in their programs. Some have family days where the patients’ families are welcome to participate in some of the activities and therapy for their loved one. Others offer family members their own program – with some interaction with the patient – so that they can begin to heal as well. The level to which a family wants to participate in their loved one’s recovery is an important factor to consider when choosing a treatment facility.

What Is the Facility’s Recovery Model?

Different facilities have different views on addiction. Some believe that addiction is a disease and that it needs to be treated as such. Others treat addiction as a behavioral issue, a matter of choice. It’s important for families to find a facility that falls in line with their beliefs and that they feel will benefit their loved one the most.

These questions are just a starting point for families looking for help for their loved ones. At Serenity at Summit, we are happy to answer whatever questions you may have about our facility and programs, and to help your loved one get started in 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 844-432-0416 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.

1-908-481-4400 (NJ)

1-978-641-3001 (MA)



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.