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.

How Does Insurance Work for Addiction Treatment?

Once a person has made the decision that he or she needs to seek treatment for addiction, one of his or her main concerns is how to pay for it. The good news is that there are some insurance options for them to choose from to help with the cost of addiction treatment. Both public and private health insurance typically covers at least a portion of the expenses for inpatient and outpatient treatment for all types of addiction.

As addiction awareness has increased over the last several years, insurance companies have come to a better understanding that addiction is, in fact, a medical condition that is very treatable. They recognize that covering the cost of addiction treatment can be far less costly than covering the costs of all the negative medical effects of substance abuse, including psychological or psychiatric care that often accompanies both substance addictions and behavioral addictions throughout an addict’s lifetime. So now, insurance providers view addiction treatment programs as a precautionary medical concern.

Health insurance companies do not make a profit unless their customers lead healthy and productive lifestyles. Thus, they typically make it a point to offer coverage, or partial coverage, of addiction treatment to individual policy-holders as well as employers who offer employees health insurance.

If you need help determining if you have access to benefits for addiction treatment, whether it is partial or complete coverage, and which facilities are covered by your policy, you can contact your health insurance provider to find out. Knowing what is available to you is important because the cost of treatment can be a major expense.

Public Insurance

For those individuals whose insurance doesn’t include behavioral health coverage or substance abuse treatment programs, they may be able to obtain public insurance to make inpatient treatment affordable. Some treatment facilities are partially or completely subsidized by the government, so they accept federal or state medical insurance for full or partial payment for their services. Those facilities often have specific guidelines, like income requirements, so you would have to contact them to see how to determine whether you qualify for their programs.

In situations where inpatient treatment isn’t feasible or available, you may find nonprofit organizations that provide addiction treatment programs that accept monthly installment payments using a sliding scale based on income to determine the cost. While payments may continue long after the addiction treatment program is completed, using one of these types of facilities may allow you to get the help you need while keeping monthly payments as low as possible.

If you are thinking about addiction treatment, you should evaluate your insurance plan with your agent, insurance provider, or your employer’s benefits department to find out exactly what they will cover and what you will be responsible for.

Private Insurance

Obtaining private insurance may cost you more than public insurance, but typically the healthcare choices you receive is more comprehensive than what is provided by government-supported plans. These benefits are especially helpful when you realize that you or someone in your family needs addiction or substance abuse treatment.

Private insurance is any healthcare insurance that is provided by an employer or that is obtained and paid for by an individual. People who have private insurance are able to avail themselves to a wide selection of benefits, including:

  • A bigger selection. With private insurance plans, you will find that there are a large number of drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities and programs to choose from.
  • Price. You will likely not have a lot of out-of-pocket expense for addiction treatment if you have private insurance. Of course, that depends upon your deductibles, but it’s typically a lot less expensive than if you had public insurance.
  • Inpatient drug or alcohol rehab.Residential treatment, where the patients live for a period of time, is often the best solution for early recovery. With private insurance, you are more likely to be able to afford residential care.
  • High-end drug and alcohol rehab. Your private insurance may even allow you to attend more exclusive rehabs. They usually offer more luxurious amenities than regular residential treatment, like gourmet food, private rooms, and fitness instruction.
  • Holistic rehab facilities and programs. These types of programs include traditional addiction treatment in conjunction with holistic approaches to recovery like acupuncture, meditation, and yoga.

Before You Decide Which Treatment is Best for You

It’s important that before you enter into treatment for drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, you understand exactly what your insurance benefits will and will not cover. You don’t want to find yourself in the vulnerable state of early recovery having to deal with shouldering the whole expense of your treatment.

Sometimes people who are seeking treatment for addiction don’t want their employers to find out about their addiction. Unfortunately, it’s usually necessary to consult with employers and their benefits departments in order to get the information necessary to attend treatment. If you have to take a leave of absence from work, know that there are laws and regulations that your employer has to follow regarding keeping your position with the company secure. The Family Medical Leave Act is something you should look into, as well as any short-term disability benefits your employer may be able to provide. If your employer offers it and you qualify, you may be able to continue to receive a paycheck even while you are in treatment.

Don’t assume that because you don’t have spectacular health insurance that you can’t go to rehab. At Serenity at Summit, we can help you explore what your insurance covers, and how you can attend treatment without financial hardship. Call us at 844-432-0416.

The Trillion-Dollar Opioid Substance Abuse Crisis

Thanks to the worsening opioid crisis in the U.S., substance abuse is the new hot topic, and that’s a good thing, because anything that helps to make us more aware of this problem, and triggers more solutions is welcome.

From the White House to local legislators, lawmakers are trying to implement measures that will help fund more addiction treatment, while also stemming the number of illicit drugs that are flooding the streets.

We’ve heard sad and startling overdose statistics, and we’ve lamented the shortfall in treatment facilities that is keeping addicts on long waitlists.

But what we haven’t heard as much about is the economic consequences of the opioid crisis. In other words, what kind of money are we spending to fund treatment, put more law enforcement officers on the streets, and to jail people who are found guilty of opioid-related crimes?

Let’s take a look at some of the obvious and not-so-obvious costs of the crisis and learn why these costs could have a long-lasting impact.

Explaining the Roots of the Opioid Crisis

Before we dive into the economic impact of abuse, we should try explaining the roots of the opioid crisis, and why it’s become such a major issue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about 115 people in the U.S. die of an opioid overdose every day. When we talk about ‘opioids,’ we’re not just talking about prescription painkillers, we are also talking about illegal opiates like heroin, and synthetic opioids, which are many times more potent. (1)

The question many of you are probably asking is why opioid abuse became so bad so quickly, and why many healthcare experts didn’t see this coming. The answer isn’t simple, because the opioid crisis is the result of a combination of factors that created a perfect storm.

Twenty years ago, big pharmaceutical companies began manufacturing new brands of prescription pain relievers that they advertised as effective and non-addictive. Doctors throughout the U.S. were sold on these promises, and they began prescribing opioids to patients in record numbers.

Unfortunately, patients quickly discovered that as these pills controlled their pain, they also released powerful chemicals in their brains that created a high. Even after their pain was under control, these patients would crave the pleasurable feelings produced by opioids, and within a short period of time, they became addicted to painkillers.

Over the next decade, the rate of opioid overdoses began to skyrocket even as doctors began to cut back on prescribing these medications.

The problem was that patients who couldn’t get prescriptions for painkillers would often move on to the next best thing, illegal drugs like heroin that produced the exact same effects.

In 2015, 33,000 people died from an opioid overdose, and those drugs included prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids. That doesn’t tell the full story, because two million people also admitted to a substance abuse disorder involving prescription opioids in 2015, and more than 500,000 people admitted to struggling with heroin abuse.

Studies have also found that in addition to prescription pill abuse, the opioid crisis is also driven by other factors, including:

Low-Income – Studies have found that the opioid crisis has impacted poorer communities to a greater degree than middle-class and upper-class communities. Some of the reasons include lack of access to counseling and to healthcare.

People On Medicaid – People on Medicaid are more likely to suffer from substance abuse related to opioids. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said this is because people on Medicaid are more likely to be prescribed opioids, at higher doses, and for longer durations, increasing their risk for addiction and its associated consequences. (2)

Economic Downturn – the 2008 economic downturn forced many companies to lay off workers, and many of them were middle-aged workers in industrial jobs that required less formal education. Some of these laid-off workers were unable to find new jobs, and the stress from their circumstance lead some of them to fall into drug use and addiction.

The Costs of the Opioid Crisis

As an increasing number of people fall prey to fatal opioid-related overdoses, the costs of the opioid crisis in human terms continue to grow more expensive.

But in real dollars and cents, there are some staggering numbers to consider, including: (3)

$1 Trillion – The total estimated toll on the U.S. economy from 2001 to 2017.

$500 Billion – The total estimated amount of money that heroin addiction and prescription opioid abuse will cost the U.S. from 2018 to 2020.

$217.5 Billion – The total estimated healthcare costs of the crisis from 2001 to 2017.

62,000 – The number of estimated people who suffered from a fatal opioid-related overdose in 2017. If this number holds, it will double the name of fatalities from just two years ago.

The bulk of the economic costs are related to lost wages due to people missing work because of opioid abuse, and lost productivity.

That also impacts tax revenue that state and local governments can collect, because missing workers can’t produce profits for companies, and those profits can’t be taxed, because they don’t exist.

Other economic costs include money spent on funding treatment facilities, social services and education, and costs related to prosecuting and defending drug-related charges.

In February, President Trump’s budget proposal included $17 billion to fight opioid abuse, including increasing healthcare services for treatment and recovery, and for mental health.

The Role of Treatment Facilities

Some suffering from addiction believe that they can overcome substance abuse on their own, but that rarely works, and every failure highlights the important role of treatment facilities. Serenity at Summit New Jersey Addiction Treatment Centers in Union are only 40 minutes from New York City, and offer a full range of services, including detox and rehab. Call us today at 844-432-0416 to learn all your treatment options.



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.




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 Health Risks of E-cigarettes for Young People

Although smoking itself is at an all-time low e-cigarette use has risen steadily

Also known as “vaping,” e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular, especially among young people. Although smoking itself is at an all-time low according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), e-cigarette use has risen steadily. Surveys reveal that about 24.6 percent of high school students and 7.7 percent of middle school student say they’ve tried some form of tobacco. Public health advocates say that e-cigarette use has climbed for a variety of reasons, including low cost and different flavors like gummy bear and cotton candy — both of which appeal to young people.

Are E-cigarettes Safer Than Regular Cigarettes?

Unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that emit an aerosol, which the user inhales. In many cases, the aerosol contains both nicotine and a flavoring to make the vapor taste better.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), research suggests that e-cigarettes might be safer than traditional smoking, but only in cases where smokers switch from regular cigarettes to vaping. This is not the case for the majority of young people, who tend to start vaping without ever having smoked regular cigarettes.

The vapor in e-cigarettes contains toxic chemicals and known carcinogens, as well as high levels of nickel and chromium. As the NIDA states, “…nicotine in any form is a highly addictive drug. Research suggests it can even prime the brain’s reward system, putting vapers at risk for addiction to other drugs.”

The Health Risks of Vaping

E-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which has a powerful effect on the body’s adrenal glands. When a person vapes, their brain is stimulated to release the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), which increases the levels of dopamine in the brain. This is the so-called “reward system,” which tricks the brain into a calmer, more relaxed state. As so many people have discovered, however, this reward is only temporarily — and users eventually need more and more of the drug to achieve the same pleasant results.

In addition to pushing the body’s reward system into overdrive, e-cigarettes also contain other harmful substances. The U.S. Surgeon General warns that vape pens release ultrafine particles into the lungs, as well as volatile organic compounds. People can even inhale heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead — all of which have been shown to be toxic in the body.

Because the brain continues to develop all the way to age 25, nicotine exposure as a high school student or young adult can cause long-term problems. Additionally, research shows that e-cigarettes can open a gateway to other types of drug use.    

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Serenity at Summit offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome drug and alcohol addiction, as well as co-occurring disorders. It is possible to obtain a lasting recovery — even if you have relapsed before. Our programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 844-432-0416 to speak with a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.

Detox Treatment

1000 Galloping Hill Road

Union, NJ 07083

Phone: (908) 481-4400

Summit Behavioral Health – Serenity At Summit

Detox & Residential Treatment

61 Brown St

Haverhill, MA 01830

Phone: (978) 641-3001



Overdose Deaths: Drug Addiction Expert Breaks Down The Up-tick In Adolescent Overdoses

Paul Lavella of Serenity at Summit weighs in on the significant climb in overdose deaths of those under the age of 18.

When it comes to acknowledging the Opioid Epidemic, the US has been faced with some harsh realities over the past several months. Most notable of all is a recent report from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) which cites findings that the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years of age is now Accidental Death by Drug Overdose. The 2016 count of lives lost exceeds 64,000 and is a 19% increase from the previous year’s 52,000. These figures are heartbreaking.

Perhaps a more important statistic to notice is that overdose deaths for adolescents (the 12-17 year old demographic) are up as well: A striking similarity, 19% increase in the past year. This information is significant. Not just in the alarm that this news creates, but it also begs a different approach in how to address the problem.

Several governmental actions have been taken to curb the effects of this devastating crisis. Many states have adopted Good Samaritan Laws, which encourage bystanders to call law enforcement for help, if there is concern for a potential overdose, without fear of prosecution for being involved in illicit activities themselves; federal regulations hold heavy sanctions on misguided prescribers who may be buffering their revenues by pumping out scripts for prescription opioids; the release of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan and subsequent funding for free community trainings, with ease of access through your physician or local pharmacy… These efforts are worth mention and are certainly needed, however do not address the full picture.

Where is the haste toward prevention?

In my 13 years working in the mental health and addictions counseling field, I can list over a dozen adolescent treatment programs (that I was personally acquainted with) that have closed simply due to lack of census. Services were being offered, but few were using them. Some of these programs, responding to an increase of young adults (18-26 year olds) in need of treatment, converted their juvenile programs to fit the business’s needs, says Paul Lavella Director, of Alumni Services with Serenity at Summit.

Alongside the trend for more young adults seeking treatment, service providers continued to see further declines in adolescents accessing services. In essence, what we are seeing is a decrease of identification in teens, and an increase as they transition into adulthood. There’s something horribly wrong with this picture. As a culture, we are being reactive to a crisis as opposed to placing efforts to be proactive. This, unfortunately, is a making of the tragedy we see on the news each and every day.

Yes, prevention does exist, however it is fragmented at best. Most common prevention efforts take place in the school setting. One of the most frequently used school-based prevention programs has been empirically suggested to be ineffective, and yet the program gets renewed year after year in some states. Some states’ education departments require that school boards employ a specialist to handle substance use and other crises in their students, however these professionals often occupy several roles within the district and their time is often stretched too thin. Programming targeting parents to provide information on current trends and concerns regarding substance use are lightly attended. I’ve facilitated many of these workshops myself; in a student population of 1200, if you can get 20 parents to attend, you’re in luck!

One thing is blatantly clear: when we are not appropriately addressing substance use and addiction in adolescence, we are inundated with young adults literally fighting for their lives shortly thereafter.

“It’s not that the approach we are taking to the Opioid Crisis is wrong, rather that it is incomplete. We need to start the conversation about drug use and addiction at an early age. And no, Just Say No is not an acceptable means of prevention. Just Say No is something that we feel more comfortable doing. We can just check it off the list, say that we ‘had the conversation,’ and be done with it. In order to create change, we have to be okay with getting uncomfortable. This is how we’re going to save these kids lives,” says Paul Lavella Director, of Alumni Services with Serenity at Summit.

Talk to your families about substance use. If you have a family history of addiction, all the more reason to – your children may have a predisposition. Go to prevention programs offered in your community. Most, if not all, are free. Bring your kids with you. Talk about the program on the drive home. Have family dinners once in awhile. Bring up any pop-culture or media references to overdose deaths and listen to their reactions. Reach out and call the school your child attends to find out how they address prevention. Acquaint yourself with the personnel who coordinates it. Introduce your child too. Research other agencies in your community and participate or volunteer in their events from time to time.

There are limitless ways that we can make small impacts in our families and our communities. Stigma usually hold us back. Stigma also adds to this crisis. However, if we are more active in our prevention efforts, not only will we see a reduction in adolescent overdoses, over time we will not have an opioid epidemic on our hands.

About the Author: Paul Lavella Jr. MA, LPC, LCADC, ACS

Wellness Based Counseling is a concept very dear to my heart. At the root of it, the counseling relationship is not solely focused on “the problem,” rather how you go about life’s journey in a way that leads you toward feeling and being well. Counseling is not about pathologizing; it’s about learning what’s not working and figuring out what will.

Paul is dually Licensed in the State of New Jersey as a Professional Counselor and a Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor with thirteen years of professional experience working with adolescents, adults and families. As an Approved Clinical Supervisor, I also provide supervision for those seeking licensure for counseling or addiction counseling.

Embarking on a journey towards wellness and recovery is perhaps the bravest and most inspiring thing a person can do. At Serenity at Summit we are here for you every step of the way.

Serenity at Summit to Hold Event During Cape Cod Symposium

Summit Behavioral Health’s Haverhill, Massachusetts facility, Serenity at Summit, will host the 2nd

Annual Beachside Bash during the Cape Cod Symposium on September 15th

Summit Behavioral Health’s Haverhill, Massachusetts facility, Serenity at Summit, will host the 2nd Annual Beachside Bash during the Cape Cod Symposium on September 15th. The event is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. and will include dinner, live music, social lounges, and a dessert.

Attending the event will be the Summit Behavioral Health Marketing and Leadership team. Guest of the event will have ample time for visiting with friends, playing games, listening to music, and participating in giveaways, all while enjoying the view from the beautiful Pelham House Resort in Dennis Port, Massachusetts.

During the event, Summit will show its recently produced promotional video that provides viewers with a look into their Serenity at Summit Haverhill addiction and the Serenity New Jersey Residential Detox. In the short video, treatment programs, recovery approaches, and client expectations are addressed, as well as a view into the actual recovery center and its amenities.

Serenity at Summit treats adults with mental health and substance use disorders. The center offers medical detoxification and residential treatment to its clients. In the video, treatment is described as a combination of monitoring by clinical counseling and medical staff.

Serenity at Summit is a state-of-the-art recovery center where clients are able to take advantage of residential treatment that involves living at the facility for the duration of their treatment. Taking time away from home and being able to focus solely on recovery is beneficial to clients.

Summit’s Chief Operating Officer, Maria Ulmer MA, LMFT, CAADC, explains residential treatment at Summit in this way, “In this setting, they [clients] are able to truly be cut off from the rest of the world, really able to dig into some emotional and psychological stressors that have been creating a barrier for them to be able to move on with life without having the addictive behavior or abusive substances getting in the way. So, it truly gives an individual the opportunity to self-explore – but really helping to maintain a sense of hope. And for each individual to be able to recognize that they have the ability to move forward, to take care of themselves, and to prioritize all those self-care needs.”

The video goes on to discuss the exclusive holistic programming that clients will find at Serenity at Summit. While the narrator talks about the clinical and holistic approach, viewers are able to see the beautifully decorated – muted color tones, luxurious décor, natural elements – facility and some of the amenities that it provides. Wellness programs, massage therapy, fitness equipment, and chef prepared meals are just a few aspects that are included in Summit’s holistic approach to treating the mind, body and spirit of its clients.

All clients at Serenity at Summit are treated with “care, compassion, dignity, and respect,” and are encouraged to focus on their personal recovery during their stay at the facility.

To see the full video mentioned above, please attend Summit’s 2nd Annual Beach Side Bash on September 15th at the Pelham House Resort during the Cape Cod Symposium.

Serenity Drug & Alcohol Addiction Center Celebrates 5 Years

New Jersey-based addiction treatment centers of Summit Behavioral Health & Serenity at Summit with 6 locations in NJ, PA and MA are 5 years old today September 12, 2017.

Princeton Junction, NJ – It was just five years ago that we were celebrating at the Open House of a premier treatment provider joining the Mercer County community in it is efforts to help those struggling with substance use disorders. On September 12, 2012, the Serenity at Summit Princeton Junction Outpatient site was born.

It is with great pride and gratitude that we celebrate today the birth of our organization and recognize the many lives we have touched over 5 years in treating Substance Use and Mental Health disorders, now across 3 states.

The visionaries behind the creation of Summit wanted to build a continuum of treatment options driven to restore dignity and respect to individuals and their families in the throes of active addiction.

Today, as a multidisciplinary team of medical, clinical and holistic practitioners, we continue this mission to provide the highest standard treatment for the behavioral health needs of those in our communities.

The leadership team is in awe of the dedication and commitment that each staff member carries as they compassionately offer support and comfort to those seeking help. They tirelessly come to work each day with hearts filled with empathy and understanding as the team meets their clients not just where they are but where they dream to be.

Thank you for your continued belief in the Summit experience and working with us to help others take the journey from hope to healing.


Maria Ulmer – Chief Operating Officer
4065 Quakerbridge Road
West Windsor Township, NJ 08550

What is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), also known as chronic withdrawal or protracted withdrawal, encompasses a wide variety of symptoms (sometimes debilitating) that continue after acute withdrawal from stopping drug or alcohol use is over. Depending on the substance and how it was used, these symptoms can hang on for a long period of time, causing discomfort and frustration, which can lead to relapse. Understanding these symptoms and how to treat them is essential to moving forward in recovery and preventing relapse.

What is the Difference Between Acute Withdrawal and PAWS?

When you use drugs or alcohol for a period of time, your brain chemistry changes to accommodate the presence of the substance. In other words, it gets used to having drugs or alcohol in your system. When you stop using the substance, your brain once again has to recalibrate its chemistry to adjust to the change. As it does this, you will feel the symptoms of withdrawal.

Acute withdrawal (AW), most commonly just called withdrawal, is generally used to describe the uncomfortable physical symptoms that are associated with stopping the use of drugs or alcohol that the body is used to having. As acute withdrawal diminishes, your body and brain will begin to function normally. However, some individuals continue to have these and other symptoms long after acute withdrawal is over. The period of time that an individual suffers symptoms after AW is finished is known as post-acute withdrawal. PAWS commonly affects users who have stopped using alcohol, benzodiazepines, opioids, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, but it may affect users of other types of drugs as well.

How Long Does Acute Withdrawal and PAWS Last?

Just how long a person experiences withdrawal symptoms depends on the type of substance, how long it was used, in what amounts and what manner it was used, along with other individual physical and medical factors. However, there are some average time frames for the duration of withdrawal symptoms – both acute and post-acute.

Acute Withdrawal Post-Acute Withdrawal
AlcoholFour to seven daysTwo years or more, with some sleep disturbances potentially lasting up to three years
BenzodiazepinesOne to four weeksUp to several months
OpioidsFour to ten daysSeveral weeks to several months
MarijuanaAbout 5 daysUp to 45 days
Cocaine and MethamphetaminesOne to two weeksOne to two months, with some impulse control issues lasting longer

What are the Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?

While the symptoms of post-acute withdrawal can vary from individual to individual, there are some common symptoms that occur most frequently. Some of these include:

  • Cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Irritability
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Reduced libido
  • Reduced ability to enjoy things or feel pleasure
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulties focusing
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Decreased control of executive functions
  • Physical issues, like aches and pains that are not attributed to a specific cause

These symptoms will eventually subside, but it’s easy to become frustrated in the meantime. That frustration, along with the discomfort of the symptoms, is often a cause for relapse. That’s why it is extremely important that you learn to deal with the symptoms of PAWS in order to prevent relapse and remain sober.

How to Deal with the Symptoms of PAWS

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the symptoms of PAWS, it’s undoubtedly hard to deal with. After getting clean and sober, and starting the long journey toward recovery, it probably feels intimidating to have to deal with yet another trial of the process. But, there are some things that you can do to make the process less difficult and to alleviate PAWS symptoms.

Focus on your progress – Withdrawal symptoms can steer your focus to the negative. It’s important during this time to focus on the progress that you have made and continue to make in your recovery. Remind yourself of where you started – addicted and needing help – to where you are now and where you are headed.

Stay involved and active – It’s easy to shut down and isolate when you are feeling depressed or suffering other symptoms of PAWS. Try to maintain relationships with those people who are supportive of your recovery and take part in activities that you enjoy. Staying active can greatly help minimize psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle – Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, and getting some exercise daily will help you combat the symptoms of PAWS physically.

Find support – Support groups like 12-step programs or other recovery groups are essential during recovery, especially when you are feeling post-acute withdrawal symptoms. They often provide members with valuable information and coping skills that others have learned during recovery. If you attended inpatient or outpatient treatment, it’s likely that the facility you went to offers some type of aftercare program. Don’t ignore that – use what is available to you to help you make it through this period of time.

Continue medical and mental health care – Be sure that you see your primary care doctor regularly and let him or her know how you are doing with your recovery and withdrawal symptoms. Also, if you are involved in therapy or psychiatric care, continue seeing those medical professionals. The work of recovery doesn’t end when you complete treatment, it’s important to your recovery that you continue to receive care or as long as you need it.

Maintain balance – When you have lived a life (or even a short period) of addiction, it’s easy to try to make up for lost time once you get clean. Some people tend to overdo things, hoping to make a bunch of changes all at once to build a better life. While those changes may be positive ones, attempting to do them all at once can be overwhelming. Be careful that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Take time each day to relax, meditate, or just have some downtime to maintain balance in your new, sober life.

Final Thoughts about PAWS

Making through post-acute withdrawal symptoms isn’t easy, but just like sobriety, it is possible. If you are suffering from PAWS, try some of the above techniques and be patient with yourself. You will make it through the withdrawal symptoms – it just takes time. Stay focused on what is important, your health and your recovery from addiction.

Call Serenity at Summit Today

Serenity at Summit has both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome drug addiction and deal with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAW). Our experts have helped people conquer drug addictions with lasting success. Our programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today to speak to a substance abuse expert about a program that will help you reclaim your life.

Searching for Effective Medications for Alcohol Addiction

Research for additional medications that may help alcoholics is ongoing and there may be new options on the horizon

Alcohol-related issues, resulting from drinking too much, too fast, or too often, are one of the most significant health issues in the U.S. Many Americans struggle with alcohol at some point in their lives. In fact, 17 million people ages 18 and over have an alcohol abuse disorder, and 10% of children live in a home with an adult who has a drinking problem. The good news is that people with an alcohol abuse disorder can benefit from treatment, no matter how severe their drinking may be.

Effective Medications for Alcohol Addiction

Types of Treatment

There are several different treatment options for alcohol addiction. While most people typically think of 12-step programs and inpatient rehabilitation, they may not know that there are additional options available. Thanks to significant research done over the last six decades, there are actually a variety of treatments available. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to alcoholism treatment, so what works for one person may not work for another, and that many times, a combination of treatments are necessary. That means that it is crucial to understand the options available in order to begin on the path to recovery.

Behavioral Treatments

This type of treatment focuses on changing the way a person thinks and behaves, which will help work through the underlying issues that are causing a person to drink. You will find this type of treatment used in inpatient rehab facilities, outpatient programs, and done on an individual basis by therapists.

Support Groups

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), other 12-step groups, and non-12-step groups (like SMART Recovery) focus on using peer support to help people with addiction issues.


Some treatments for alcohol addiction include the use of medications to help stop drinking and reduce cravings. There are currently three medications in the U.S. that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcoholism.

Research for additional medications that may help alcoholics is ongoing and there may be new options on the horizon. But first, let’s take a look at the currently used medications.

FDA-Approved Medications for Alcohol Addiction Treatment

The following medications are approved by the FDA and have been shown to be helpful to people in reducing or stopping their drinking.

Naltrexone – This medication can help reduce the cravings associated with alcohol and opiate addiction. It is available in pill form and as the monthly injectable Vivitrol shot.

Acamprosate – Also known as Campral, this drug is useful in maintaining abstinence from alcohol. It’s taken in pill form.

Disulfiram – This medication, also known as Antabuse, causes unpleasant symptoms when a patient takes it and then drinks. It is used as a deterrent to drinking.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will respond to medications used for alcohol addiction. But for some people, they can be a useful tool in overcoming alcohol dependence. Research continues to search for more medications that will help those suffering from alcoholism, hoping to find additional options so alcoholics can find a medication that they respond to best.

The Future of Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Progress is continuing in the search for better treatments for alcohol addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is working to identify key molecular or cellular structures (targets) that may lead to the development of new medications by studying the underlying causes of alcohol addiction in the body and the brain.

Ideally, this would allow healthcare providers to identify the alcoholism treatment that is right for people on an individual basis. The NIAAA and other research organizations are working on identifying genes and other factors that predict how someone will respond to a specific treatment, allowing them to make the best decisions for each individual. These advances would optimize the efficacy of treatments significantly.

Current NIAAA Research

Some medications that are already approved for treating other conditions have shown encouraging results in treating alcoholism and problem drinking.

Varenicline (brand name Chantix), the anti-smoking medication, significantly reduces alcohol cravings and consumption in people with alcohol addiction.

Gabapentin used to treat chronic pain conditions and epilepsy, has shown that it reduces heavy drinking, increases abstinence, and cuts down on cravings for alcohol in those with alcohol addiction.

The anti-epileptic medication topiramate is shown to help reduce problem drinking, specifically for those who have a certain genetic makeup that appears to be associated with the treatment’s efficacy.

Choosing the Right Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, you need to seek help from a medical or an addiction professional. They will be able to offer you support and guidance about which types of treatment you should seek. Gather as much information as you can about their suggestions and decide which feels right for you. Know that there are options and that there is a current treatment that will help be able to help you with your alcoholism.  

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Contact one of our behavioral health experts. Summit Behavioral Health offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people recover from alcohol abuse disorder. We can help you too. Our programs are medically supervised and designed to fit your specific needs and goals. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 1-855-855-9199 to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.

The Holistic atmosphere

5 Tips to Recovering a Good Night Sleep

Paul Lavella with Summit Behavioral Health Shares – tips to help you sleep

Waking up refreshed after a good night sleep is priceless. If you’re in early recovery, you know (more than anyone else) exactly what I mean. Maybe a mother to a newborn child also knows the struggle, but I think we’d agree – it’s different. Your body is still recharging from a rough run and one of the best ways we rally is through rest. Sleep not only restores physical energy but also helps with regulating our emotions and sharpens our critical thinking, amongst other things.

“Nice to know, but I can’t get to sleep,” you might be saying.

Don’t worry, we’ve got some thoughts for that. Here are some quick tidbits that tend to lead into a better relationship with your bed so you can learn how to sleep better and faster. Disclaimer: As with most things in life, consistency is key!

Lay Off the Caffeine

Caffeine will Contribute to Sleep Disturbances


Don’t hate me. Seriously though. One of the first things a physician or clinician is going to ask a person who has trouble with sleep is about caffeine intake. So I’m betting you’ve heard this before, but it’s true. Just think about your general intake of routinely caffeinated products: coffee, energy drinks, tea, energy drinks, soda, energy drinks… Hey, no angels here! I’m drinking a cup of English Breakfast tea while I’m writing this. I’m not trying to say that caffeine is a bad thing, but keep in mind, it will contribute to sleep disturbances.

How long does caffeine affect the body? Experts say that although nearly all caffeine is absorbed in the body within 45 minutes of consumption, it effects can last 4-6 hours (2). Best bet – anything over 4 caffeinated beverages daily may be adding more sheep to your counting queue (and a 20oz Red Bull counts as 2). If you’re looking to conk out by midnight, the last call is 6 PM.

 Get Your Energy Out

Get your Steps In Your Body will CRAVE a Reset

Physical activity is essential! Not only is it good to get active and get some endorphins going, but it is a very simple way to help along your physical recovery and use up your body’s energy so that it’s ready for rest. Kind of like feeding two birds with one seed…

Think about your body as an energy generator. It’s self-powered and you fuel it intentionally with food, and indirectly with anxiety, anger, and other strong emotions. (Yes, emotions are energy – but that’s a whole other topic) If you’re not doing anything with that energy by the time you’re looking to sign off for the night, your body may not physically be ready to be still. Insert restless nights here. advises exercise for good sleep at night, however, cautions to keep rigorous routines to earlier hours in the day as evening workout routines might contribute to a restless night (3). So say yes to sweat, just not right before bedtime.

Get outdoors, get your steps in, have an impromptu dance party in your living room for all I care, just do something. If your energy is being used, your body will crave a reset.

 Make Your Bedroom a Snooze Only Zone

Your Bed Should Be a SACRED Place of REST

The unconscious brain does many things that we’re not aware of and one of them is making associations. An association is when we make mental connections between one thing, person, or concept and another. Sleep Hygiene Tip: Make the brain to associate your bedroom with sleep. To help secure this connection, it would be best for you to limit activity in it to the essentials.

Harvard researchers will tell you, the bedroom should be treated as a space of rest and relaxation (3). If you’re lounging around there most of the day, your brain won’t be associating it with sleep. It will be associating your bedroom with everything else you do and will likely result in long periods of thinking – not sleep.

If your living space makes following this tip unlikely, then try dedicating your bed itself as a sacred place of rest. Put in an arm chair for lounging and other activities.

Set a “Ready for Bed” Routine


We are nothing if not creatures of habit. Again, another fun brain fact. Similar to the previous tip, you can train your brain to not only associate your bedroom with sleep but also prepare it by establishing a routine so that it knows rest is coming up on the evening routine checklist.

Everyone has something that works for them. Maybe this is when you journal, sit for a few minutes to meditate, or stretch and do some breathing exercises. The folks over at Harvard also note “Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness. If you tend to take your problems to bed, try writing them down—and then putting them aside.” (3).

Limit Your Screen Time at Night

Place Your Technology In a TIME OUT

In the world of Netflix, Hulu, and binge-watching random YouTube videos, we could all benefit from putting the technology away for a bit. If you’re having sleep problems, try being screen free (including your phone) for at least one hour before bedtime.

Interesting fact contributed by HuffPost writer Dr. Laurie Hollman, too much light from device screens will interrupt the brain’s production of melatonin, a naturally occurring chemical responsible for bringing on sleep (4). So scientifically speaking, you may be contributing to your own problems.

Give yourself a break from your tech. Your brain won’t be so stimulated and you just might pick up that book sitting on your night stand, talk to your roommate, or play with your pets before getting in some shut-eye.

Never hurts to try. Play around with these tips for two weeks and see how it goes! Give us your feedback and spread the word.

About the Author: Paul Lavella Jr. MA, LPC, LCADC, ACS


Paul shares, “Wellness Based Counseling is a concept very dear to my heart. At the root of it, the counseling relationship is not solely focused on “the problem,” rather how you go about life’s journey in a way that leads you toward feeling and being well. Counseling is not about pathology; it’s about learning what’s not working and figuring out what will.

I am dually Licensed in the State of New Jersey as a Professional Counselor and a Clinical Alcohol & Drug Counselor with ten years of professional experience working with adolescents, adults, and families. As an Approved Clinical Supervisor, I also provide supervision for those seeking licensure for counseling or addiction counseling.”

Embarking on a journey towards wellness and recovery is perhaps the bravest and most inspiring thing a person can do. At Serenity at Summit we are here for you every step of the way.

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Will Smoking Disappear by 2050?

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

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

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

How Many Americans Smoke?

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

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

Tips for Kicking Your Nicotine Habit

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Serenity at Summit

Serenity at Summit provides people with the resources they need to address their addictions. Whether you’re struggling with alcohol abuse disorder or an addiction to prescription drugs or street drugs, our behavioral health professionals can help you. Call us today at 844-432-0416 to speak to a substance abuse expert about treatment options for you or someone you love.




Chris Cornell’s Death Prompts Questions about Ativan

Ativan is mostly prescribed for short-term use

Music fans around the world mourned recently when legendary singer Chris Cornell died at just 52 years of age. The singer was known for heading up the major 1990s grunge bands Soundgarden and Audioslave and was widely recognized for his songwriting talent, stage presence, and instantly recognizable voice.

A recent report states that Cornell’s family is disturbed by findings that Cornell died by hanging himself. Specifically, the media has reported that Cornell’s widow doesn’t believe he was suicidal. The night of his death, he reportedly told her he had taken more than his usual dose of Ativan, a drug prescribed to treat anxiety.

Cornell’s wife also reportedly stated that he was slurring his words over the phone and that she called security to check on him because he didn’t sound like himself. Reports also state that Cornell was a recovering drug addict.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan is prescribed to treat a variety of anxiety-based conditions, such as agoraphobia (the fear of crowds and large spaces), panic attacks, seizure disorders, anxiety, and even drug withdrawal. Ativan is the brand name for the drug lorazepam, which belongs to the drug benzodiazepine drug family — commonly known as “benzos.” Potential side effects include depression, shifting moods, unusual behavior, and suicidal thoughts.

Ativan is mostly prescribed for short-term use, as users can develop a dependence on the drug. In the short-term, Ativan and other drugs in the same family can help people with anxiety. Taken too long, however, they can be extremely addictive and deadly. In fact, Ativan can be so addictive that some have called it and other benzos “the world’s deadliest drug.”

Other benzos include Valium, Restoril, Xanax, and Klonopin. Several high-profile deaths have been linked to various benzos. Actress Margaux Hemingway committed suicide by overdosing on benzos. Hollywood producer Don Simpson died of an unintentional benzo overdose. Acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace was taking Klonopin before he died by hanging himself.

According to a Rolling Stone report, public health experts don’t recommend Ativan for individuals who suffer from depression, psychosis, lung or breathing problems, or addictive disease.

The problem is that the brain will eventually build up a tolerance to Ativan. Over time, a person must take more and more of the drug to obtain the calming effect it’s supposed to produce for those with anxiety and related conditions. As one physician put it, “When the brain pushes back, what that essentially means is that after the drug wears off, you’re more anxious, more irritable, more distressed, and more uncomfortable than you were, to begin with.”   

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Summit Behavioral Health offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome prescription drug addiction, alcohol abuse disorder, and co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression. Our programs are medically supervised and designed to fit your specific needs and goals. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 1-855-855-9199 to speak to a substance abuse expert about treatment options for you or someone you love.



Drug Use and Depression Among Teens

An overwhelming number of teenagers remain addicted to powerful drugs

A recent report from Time magazine says that teenagers are using fewer drugs but are experiencing more depression. On the other hand, the report goes on to state that opioid use among teens has not shown any signs of slowing down.

The data in the report was gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which pulled statistics from two 2015 surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Marijuana remains the drug teens are most likely to use, and marijuana use has declined a bit since 2011.
  • Fewer teens are using cigarettes. Cigarette use among teenagers was 8% in 2011. In 2015, it dropped to 4.2%.
  • Among teens who use drugs, few get the treatment they need. Among 12 to 17-year-olds, just 4% get treatment. In the 18 to 25-year-old age group, only 8% of those with a drug problem receive treatment.
  • Depression rates among teenagers have risen steadily. In 2015, an estimated 3 million teens suffered from depression.
  • Major depressive episodes have also increased, with teenage girls being particularly vulnerable.
  • At the same time, fewer kids are getting mental health treatment for their depression. Just 39% received the treatment they needed, despite increases in the number of teens experiencing depression.

Opioid Abuse Remains High Among Teens

Sadly, the rates of opioid abuse have not improved. An overwhelming number of teenagers remain addicted to powerful opioids that are notoriously difficult to kick once an individual has become addicted.

Experts blame this on overprescribing. The report states that doctors give teenagers prescription painkillers for everything from headaches to dental surgery.

When teens’ prescriptions run out, they turn to other sources for the drugs they’ve become addicted to. About 36% of teens obtain a prescription drug from a doctor. An astonishing 54% get their prescription drugs from a friend or relative. About 5% obtain theirs from a drug dealer or a stranger.

  • 7.2 million teenagers are addicted to hydrocodone.
  • 4.3 million teenagers are addicted to oxycodone.
  • 1.7 million teens are addicted to tramadol.
  • 700,000 teens are addicted to morphine.

Additionally, research shows that drugs like fentanyl, which are not always obtained in a pure form, are causing a growing number of overdose deaths among teenagers.

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Is your teen struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction or a co-occurring disorder like depression or anxiety? Serenity at Summit offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help teens and young adults overcome opioid drug addiction, alcohol abuse disorder, and co-occurring disorders.

We have helped people of all ages and from all walks of life conquer their opioid drug addiction or alcohol abuse disorder. Our detox programs are medically supervised and designed to accommodate individual specific needs and goals. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 844-432-0416 to speak to a substance abuse expert about treatment options for you or a loved one.  

Medically Supervised Drug & Alcohol Addiction Locations

Serenity At Summit

Detox Treatment

1000 Galloping Hill Road

Union, NJ 07083

Phone: (908) 481-4400

Serenity At Summit

Detox & Residential Treatment

61 Brown St

Haverhill, MA 01830

Phone: (978) 641-3001



How to Support a Loved One Who Is Going Through Addiction

When you understand exactly what is happening to your loved one it’s easier to cope with the ups and downs

Addiction takes a toll on both the addict and the people around them. If your spouse, child, or loved one is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction disorder, you know firsthand how difficult it can be to offer support without losing hope — or your sanity.

It may be tempting to give up, but it’s important to continue offering support in any way you can. Here are several ways to remain supportive as your loved one struggles to recover.

Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up about your addiction 

In some cases, family members and friends of addicts are afraid to confront them. They may worry that raising the issue of addiction will drive their loved one away or cause them to become angry and break ties. This is a reasonable fear, but it’s important to recognize that your voice of reason may be the only thing capable of getting through to the person you love. Of course, any time you plan to confront an addict or stage an intervention, it’s best to work with experienced behavioral health specialists who can give you tips for approaching the confrontation or intervention in a positive, structured way rather than an antagonistic one.

Don’t Lose Hope about your substance abuse 

It’s very easy to become frustrated and lose hope when you’re dealing with someone who insists on indulging in self-destructive behavior. However, persistence can pay off. The best case scenario is that it rubs off on your loved one. If they see that you’re unwilling to give up on them, they’re more likely to refuse to give up on the hope of a long-term recovery.

Don’t Neglect Your Own Need for Support

Caregiver fatigue or burnout is a very real problem. If you neglect to look after your own needs and mental health, you could end up dealing with serious emotional, mental, and physical consequences. Caregiver burnout can even lead to major health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. Take time to get the support you need — whether it’s talking to a friend, physician, or even a professional counselor — any time you feel like your efforts to support your loved one are taking a toll on you.

Educate Yourself about substance abuse options 

Knowledge is power. If you’re struggling to understand why your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it will help to learn as much as you can about addiction. Dependency disorders have a tremendous impact on the brain, which is why they are so difficult to overcome. When you understand exactly what is happening to your loved one’s physical and mental health, it’s easier to cope with the ups and downs of supporting someone with an addiction.   

Contact Serenity at Summit Today for Alcohol or Drug Addiction Disorder

Serenity at Summit offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome opioid drug addiction, alcohol abuse disorder, and co-occurring disorders. We have helped people just like you conquer their addiction disorder for good. Our programs are medically supervised and designed to fit your specific needs and goals. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 844-432-0416 to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.

Debunking 5 Common Drug Addiction Stereotypes

When a lot of people think of someone who struggles with a drug or alcohol problem, they picture a “junkie” or someone who is strung out and completely nonfunctioning.

In reality, drug addiction affects people from all backgrounds, economic classes, ethnic groups, and professions. There are construction workers, teachers, nurses, doctors, and college professors who have struggled with long-term drug or alcohol addiction.

If you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, or you love someone who is, it’s important to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of a person with a drug addiction or alcohol problem

Here are five common stereotypes of people suffering from addiction that are often false.

  1. Drug Addicted people Can’t Function

Many people assume that if someone has a drug addiction or alcohol problem that they are unable to hold down a job or look after themselves and their families. This is often untrue. In fact, many people with addiction disorders are successful professionals, loving parents, and responsible adults. In some cases, the pressures of their jobs or home life cause them to turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

  1. The Reasons Behind Addiction Are Obvious

It’s not always immediately apparent why someone develops a drug addiction or becomes an alcoholic. Many people conceal past abuse or a traumatic event that caused them great mental anguish or emotional distress. In some cases, they’ve never shared the reasons for their depression or anxiety with anyone.

  1. Drug Addicts Don’t Want Help

Someone with an addiction may push people away, but that doesn’t mean they want to be abandoned, or that they’re suicidal. They may feel alone and depressed, and that can cause them to feel hopeless or embarrassed.

  1. Only Close Loved Ones Can Help

Sometimes, friends co-workers, or acquaintances are reluctant to reach out to the person they love who suffers from alcohol or drug addiction because they worry they are intruding or violating their privacy. The truth is that anyone can be the helping hand a person needs to finally seek help. Even someone you see at the library or grocery store can be a support person.

  1. Drug Addiction Is Easy to Recognize

Drug addiction and alcoholism aren’t always easy to spot. A lot of people who suffer from the disease of addiction have learned to function so well that no one realizes they have a problem. In some cases, their attempt to stop using drugs or alcohol is the only way people around them notice their problem. This is also why many people attempt to quit, only to relapse down the road. The physical and mental pain of quitting is usually too difficult for them to endure without professional help.

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Do you struggle with drug or alcohol addiction? Help is available. Get in touch with a behavioral health center counselor that can tailor a program specifically to your needs.

Serenity at Summit has both inpatient and outpatient programs that help people overcome prescription and illegal drug addiction, as well as alcohol abuse disorders. Our programs are personalized and Summit’s detoxes are medically supervised. For more information, you can call 844-432-0416 and you can speak to one of our substance abuse professionals about your treatment goals and options.

Drug Addiction in Bodybuilding – The Risks of Long-term Steroid Use

When you think about someone who’s addicted to drugs, you probably picture someone who doesn’t care about their health. It’s unlikely you think of a person who hits the gym, watches what they eat, and keeps a close eye on their physique.

Drug addicts aren’t supposed to care about those things, are they?

This is just one stereotype about drug addiction that is rarely grounded in reality. For example, individuals who use anabolic-androgenic steroids are often some of the most health-conscious people around. Bodybuilders and weightlifters pay close attention to their diet and fitness regimen.

Unfortunately, many are tempted to give nature a boost by taking steroids. And recent studies show that long-term steroid use can cause serious damage to the heart and arteries.

What Are Steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds of the male sex hormone testosterone. In some cases, doctors prescribe steroids to treat legitimate health conditions, such as muscle loss, cancer, and AIDS. Steroids are also used to correct hormonal imbalances.

However, steroids can also be abused. When athletes or bodybuilders use steroids illegally, they often take doses that are 10 to 100 times higher than those prescribed by physicians. Steroids can be injected, taken in pill form, or absorbed through the skin by applying lotions, gel, or patches.

Steroids don’t produce the “high” that other substances do, but they can be just as damaging to the body. They can also alter a person’s mood, causing them to become violent, aggressive, paranoid, or delusional. This is the “‘roid rage” that people sometimes reference when talking about a person who lashes out or acts irrationally after consuming steroids.

Heart and Artery Damage Following Steroid Use

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently funded a new study that examined the physiological impact of long-term steroid use on the body.

The study, which analyzed male weightlifters between the ages of 34 and 54, revealed that long-term exposure to anabolic steroids is associated with reduced pumping performance in the heart and damage to the arteries. An astonishing 71 percent of the men studied had impairment in their heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.

Contact Serenity at Summit Today

Drug addiction treatment often seems to focus on street drugs and prescription drugs. Steroids don’t often receive a spotlight. Because they don’t affect the levels of dopamine in the brain, they may not seem as addictive as other substances. However, steroids can be difficult to give up. If you’re struggling with steroid abuse, you deserve help like anyone else. There are ways to change the way you see your body. Take a positive step forward for your long-term health by seeking treatment.

Serenity at Summit has both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people tackle their addiction and overcome it long-term Our inpatient and outpatient programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our drug detox experts in New Jersey at behavioral health professionals today at 844-432-0416 to speak to a substance drug abuse expert about your treatment options.

Why Is Fentanyl So Deadly?

Although fentanyl deaths have been reported across the country, some areas have been hit particularly hard

Almost unheard of even just a couple of years ago, fentanyl has dominated news headlines lately. The drug received, even more, attention when iconic singer Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in April 2016. In 2016 alone, fentanyl deaths rose by 73 percent. In the U.S., opioid deaths have increased by 200 percent since the year 2000.

So what is fentanyl? And why has it claimed so many lives?

Fentanyl Is 50 to 100 Times Stronger Than Morphine

Although fentanyl can be legitimately prescribed by doctors to treat chronic pain and other conditions, illegal fentanyl also poses a problem. Most illegal fentanyl is produced in overseas labs. When it arrives on American streets, users have no way of knowing how potent it is or what has gone into it.

Prescription fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. It takes just a quarter of a milligram to cause death. With such an extremely narrow margin of error, it’s easy to see how people can accidentally overdose after taking even a tiny quantity of the drug.

What makes fentanyl particular dangerous is that it’s easy and inexpensive to make. Although fentanyl deaths have been reported across the country, some areas have been hit particularly hard. In Ohio, for example, there were over 4,000 fentanyl deaths in 2016 — an increase of 30 percent over 2015.

Prescription Fentanyl comes in a variety of forms, including pill, injection, patch, lozenges, and even lollipops. Street fentanyl is typically sold as a powder or spiked on blotter paper. It’s also common for dealers to cut fentanyl into other drugs, such as heroin.

What Fentanyl Does to the Brain

Fentanyl causes the brain to produce a rush of dopamine, the chemical responsible for pleasant emotions. Users feel relaxed and euphoric. Side effects include drowsiness, nausea, confusion, and constipation.

The problem is that the brain can only produce so much dopamine at a time. As users become addicted, they crave the euphoria and relaxed state. However, they can’t quite attain the same high levels they’re used to, so they consume more and more of the drug.

The opioid receptors in the brain are also responsible for controlling the body’s breath rate. High doses of fentanyl can make a person stop breathing.

About Serenity at Summit

Do you know someone struggling with a fentanyl addiction? Are you seeking help for your own fentanyl problem? Compassionate, nonjudgmental help is available today. Reclaim your life by working with behavioral health experts who understand fentanyl addiction and how to overcome it.

Serenity at Summit offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people overcome drug addiction. It is possible to obtain a lasting recovery — even if you have relapsed before. Our programs are personalized and medically supervised. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 844-432-0416 to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.