Archives for April, 2012
Drug rehab is both an opportunity and an investment. Like all investments, it can be strategically planned and implemented, or it can be an opportunity squandered. Even if you have all the resources you could hope for and choose the most respected program in the country, no drug rehab can do the work of recovery for you. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your time in drug rehab: Stay Positive. People often come into rehab feeling defeated and hopeless, especially if they have been through treatment before and relapsed. Celebrating your willingness to try again and the courage it takes to ask for help can set a positive tone for your recovery.
For many of us, daily life is about “going through the motions.” How often do you drive from point A to point B without remembering how you got there? Are you able to focus on one activity at a time or are you a multi-tasker who juggles five things at once? Modern life is not always conducive to staying in the present moment, but as we are learning in the addiction field, the practice of mindfulness can bring greater joy into daily life and also help recovering addicts guard against relapse. Increasingly, the field is embracing Eastern practices, including mindfulness meditation, as an adjunct to traditional addiction treatments. In the past two decades, mindfulness has been incorporated into a variety of therapies, including: • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)
What does an addict who has lost everything in their pursuit of drugs and alcohol have in common with the person who has it all – a great job, a loving family and an immaculate home? Although they may appear to come from opposite worlds, perfectionism can be at the root of both great successes and great struggles. Although paradoxical, where there is addiction there is often perfectionism. Underneath the addiction may be a person whose unrealistic expectations have caused them to give up on their goals and “check out” through drug and alcohol use. Of course, not all addicts are perfectionists, but it is often black-or-white thinking that drives the unhealthy thought and behavior patterns behind a number of addictions and mental health disorders. Here are some of the ways perfectionism and addiction are linked:
Despite warning labels on prescription pill bottles and frequent news reports of celebrity overdoses, people are not taking the risks of fatal drug combinations seriously. Prescription drugs and alcohol are legal, so they must be safe, right? Few people even consider them “drugs,” yet together they are responsible for thousands of preventable deaths each year. While alcohol and prescription drugs are among the most common and dangerous, other types of interactions also can be life-threatening, including interactions between herbal or dietary supplements, illegal drugs, over-the-counter medications, and even some foods. Certain medications have a similar function and can increase each other’s effects, risking severe side effects or overdose, whereas others decrease or block another drug’s effects, causing one or both drugs not to work as intended. Dangerous drug combinations are of particular concern among adults ages 50 and older, who are more likely to take a variety of medications for different ailments and whose bodies are more sensitive to the drugs’ effects. Given that more than half of older adults take five or more prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements every day, the risk of an adverse drug interaction is high.
Early recovery is a confusing time, not only because returning to “normal” life outside rehab can be jarring but also because the brain takes time to heal from the cognitive impairments caused by prolonged drug use. With the aid of neuroimaging, we can see the physical changes that take place in the brain as a result of addiction, and we know that in most cases, it can repair itself over time. Many recovering addicts, frustrated by difficulties remembering things, concentrating for more than a few minutes, understanding abstract concepts and solving problems, ask, “I stopped using drugs – why do I still feel so confused?”
Alcoholics aren’t the only ones who need to be concerned about their drinking habits. We all know someone who drinks more than they should, but justifies their habit by arguing, “At least I’m not an alcoholic” or “It’s just wine – wine is good for you!” Even though they are not necessarily alcoholics, heavy drinkers risk a lot. Excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with a broad range of emotional, mental and physical health problems, including: Impaired Physical Health – Research has linked habitual heavy drinking to more than 60 diseases, including: • Liver disease (including cirrhosis) • Brain shrinkage or dementia • High blood pressure (which can increase the risk of stroke, kidney disease and heart failure) • Cancer (including breast, colon, stomach, mouth, throat, esophagus and liver cancers) • Anemia • Heart disease and stroke • Nutritional deficiencies • Gout • Digestive problems such as gastritis and pancreatitis • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and suicide • Alcoholic neuropathy (nerve damage) • Seizures and epilepsy
One year, five years, 10-plus years into recovery, it is not unusual to hear of someone relapsing. What happens? There are endless possibilities but a common explanation is, “I quit going to meetings.” So why do people stop going to meetings (whether AA/NA, SMART Recovery, LifeRing or some other form of group support)? And are they destined for relapse as a result? Here are some of the most common reasons people give up on meetings: #1: I don’t need them anymore. Complacency leads many recovering addicts off course. When the program starts working and the recovering addict begins to feel better, they think they got what they needed to get out of meetings. Rather than wanting more of a good thing, they stop working their recovery program.