Monthly Archives: November 2017

holiday addiction triggers

Common Holiday Triggers and How to Manage Them

It’s no good trying to hide from it. The holiday season has many wonderful aspects, but it has some tougher parts as well. It can be especially rough for someone living in recovery. Particularly for someone early in their journey. Managing and maintaining sobriety is a day-by-day process, but something about the hap-hap-happiest time of year brings a certain amount of potential pitfalls for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder. Why is that?

Celebrating together with family and friends is one of the greatest parts of life. Except when it isn’t.

The holiday season comes with numerous demands: parties to go to, cooking to manage, work gatherings to attend, endless shopping to accomplish and expense, traveling near and far, and so much more. For a person in recovery, the stresses of the seasons might be enough to make them waver in their commitment, or simply miss a couple meetings, which can be a slippery slope.

Holiday Triggers

Then there are the triggers that are distinct to the season. Triggers can be anything that elicit an emotional or psychological response in us. In particular, people in addiction recovery will find that certain people, places, times of the year, or even songs will elicit a craving. Here are a few that are specific to the holiday season to keep an eye on.

Stress

The stresses of the season were mentioned before, and there are probably many more in each individual’s personal experience. Studies show that preventing stress has a major influence on sustained recovery. When life seems overwhelming, a person in recovery is vulnerable.

How to counteract: Practice your breathing. Make sure you are getting your sleep. Practice mindfulness or meditation throughout your days (or prayer if that is part of your tradition).

Lack of Structure

Routine is your friend. Especially in early recovery. So the erratic traveling and demands of your daily structure will affect your emotional state and is a potential holiday trigger that could put you at risk for relapse.

How to counteract: Say, “No.” It is not mean to turn a few things down. Maybe you skip out on buying gifts this year. Maybe you don’t show up at the seventh party your friends are having. It’s not mean. It’s life or death—yours. Also, on the other side, continue to say yes to some of your regular activities, such as maintain your bedtimes and wake times, keep your exercise schedule, eat healthily and regularly. And please make your support groups a massive priority!

Family and Social Engagements

Some family relationships are so good and so healthy for us. While others are toxic. And some are going to model horrible behaviors that you know are destructive. You likely know the difference, and there will probably be one or two of all of those in your path in the next few weeks. It’s the toxic ones and the family dysfunctions that you have to watch out for. The amount of emotion and anger they are able to evoke can rise to dangerous levels for any recovering addict. As well, some of these parties will have drugs or alcohol at them. 

How to counteract: Be smart and stay clear where it matters most. Feel free to avoid the people and places that will do harm this season. Especially avoid parties where drinking or drugs will be prominent. You always have the option of not showing up where you know certain members of your family are going to be. For the gatherings you decide to attend, keep an escape plan in mind. If things get too intense for you excuse yourself and find a healthier option. Before your family gathering, talk to someone you love and trust, and see if they would be willing to jump in where necessary or help you leave the environment.

Sadness and Happiness

Sadness is kind of an obvious one. Though it is still quite lethal. The holiday season has a way of making loss feel even keener. It also has a way of making solitude sting that much more. On the other side of that coin is happiness. Or maybe over-confidence. A person is highly at risk for relapse when they actually believe they are beyond the need for vigilant recovery management. It comes with such thoughts as, “Well one glass of champagne won’t hurt. It is Christmas after all!”

How to counteract: Always remember that your emotions affect your decisions. Track them and manage them. But most of all don’t isolate. The holiday season is the time to stick to your support community. The good news is that being around other like-minded individuals who are maintaining sobriety can help alleviate nearly all these triggers. Talk through your days. Challenge your thinking together. Be held accountable, and hold others to the same standard. And give each other lots of grace.

Concerned About Yourself or a Loved One?

Even though triggers are part of the journey, are you concerned that you might have already given too much ground? Do you need some kind of help or stabilization? Or have you relapsed already? Call us today. Our addiction specialists are here to help you understand your options: 888-590-0777.

change i must

Changing Before Hitting Rock Bottom

It is a saying that sounds like a phrase Yoda would say to Luke Skywalker: Change you must, or die you will. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But that’s for a reason. When a person finally comes to the understanding that they need help, the change has to come first. And the change has to be complete. And the only alternative to change is death. It’s pretty intense. But it’s a stark reality.

However, the absolute and full “change I must” is a tough thing to process for someone considering quitting drugs or alcohol. It’s like hearing someone say, “Getting clean is actually quite easy: all you have to do is change everything about you.”

This is fairly true. But not exactly helpful for someone on their first day in detox or rehab.

First the Rock-Bottom Reality

So let’s look at this from the back to the front. Do you really believe the fact that death is the end of drug and alcohol addiction? In more than a were-all-gonna-die-someday kind of thing. Alcohol and drug addiction brings people to early, painful, and avoidable death. It causes chaos and grief for their families and even puts other innocent people in danger.

It has been said that a person has to hit rock bottom to begin looking for recovery. And sure, it helps. But there is a real problem with waiting for that to happen in your life—you’re putting yourself at a pretty high risk. The real rock bottom is death. And it happens every day. There is no recovery from that.

So maybe you are actually at your proverbial rock bottom. You have realized that your life is being lost. That you are hurting yourself and your loved ones. You have realized where all of this is headed. The key for you to find real recovery is not getting into a near-death situation. It is living in this understanding and deciding to make the change.

Of course, there are plenty of other aspects of addiction that are near as bad as death, or at least horribly life changing. Declining health, dwindling finances, criminal activity (happening to you or by you), and of course, there is the fact that you are living a lie to the people you care about most in this world.

Baby Steps to Change

So back to the beginning of the phrase, “change I must.” Inherent in the understanding of this phrase is the fact that for an addict, yes … pretty much everything must change.

But that’s less of an overarching statement than it seems on the surface. And you don’t have to start there.

Obviously, your family is not going to change or your hair color (unless you make some other, necessary drastic changes in those places). But the way you approach everything will change. It is called living in recovery. The good news is that this living in recovery is better. Once you are in it, you understand how there was no good or fun or even enjoyment in addiction. It was the drugs and alcohol brainwashing you.

This means that everything changes. For some people, this change can come quickly. But usually, it takes time and practice. But the change does come, and it is fairly complete. It arches over everything in your life, daily actions, minute details. Once this change is in your life, however, you will be amazed at how wonderful it is. It won’t happen all at once, so the overwhelming possibility of this change should not stop you. Just take it a day at a time. As life passes, the change will become what you point to as your liberation from death row.

Some people hit the real rock bottom. A tragic number of people. Make no mistake, addiction will kill and destroy everything good in your life; it will bring you to full insanity and eventually end your life. Please don’t let it get that far before you realize, “Change I must.”

What Now? The First Step in Change for Addiction Recovery

The first step is truly deciding you are done with the downward spiral that will lead to destruction. And really, the faster you decide this, the better. Please don’t let stigma and shame keep you from the bravest, smartest thing you can do: getting help.

Once you have decided that, you will need to detox and formulate a recovery plan. This is where SoCal Detox can come in and help. We are an orange county detox (San Clemente, California) with an outstanding clinical program and an experienced team to guide you through detox and on to further rehab options.

Please call us today and talk to one of our addiction specialists to find out what your options are: 888-590-0777.

5 gratitude quotes for recovery

5 Gratitude Quotes for Recovery

In the process of recovery, one that can be messy and turn up lots of dirt in our hearts that needs to be tended, it’s easy to feel victimized. The world feels like a harsh place that is out to get us. However, along with being a magnet for further decent into negativity, it is often is a precursor to allowing the destruction of addiction back into our lives.

Gratitude combats this. It keeps us from being victimized and nurtures recovery. The key is to make an effort. For so long our natural state is one that sees the worst of any situation—pushing us to cover it up with substance use. But there is always something to be grateful for. Practice it. Watch as the moments that might seem scarce at first, grow and multiply.

Here are 5 quotes to get you going.

Melody Beattie

gratitude recovery quote

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beattie


Eckhart Tolle

Gratitude addiction recovery quote

It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up. – Eckhart Tolle


Tony Robbins

Gratitude addiction recovery quote

Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly. ­– Tony Robbins


Robert Holden

Gratitude addiction recovery quote

The real gift of gratitude is the more grateful you are, the more present you become. – Robert Holden


John F. Kennedy

Gratitude addiction recovery quote

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ­– John F. Kennedy

 

If you, or a loved one, are struggling with an addiction, and you want to take a single action step but don’t know where to start, call us. That step could change your life forever. Call now: 888-663-8009.

Benzodiazepine addiction

What Are Benzodiazepines?

There has been much discussion in recent years regarding the dangers of prescription medications, especially opioids. And while the fears and subsequent warnings regarding opioids are well warranted, there are other, perhaps nearly as dangerous prescription drugs demanding attention.

One class of these drugs, Benzodiazepines, or benzos as they are commonly called, is now the second most abused class of prescription medications in the country. Making matters worse is the great increase of benzo prescriptions in recent years, and with these prescriptions, the resulting overdoses.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are typically used to treat patients suffering from anxiety issues, insomnia, or seizure disorders. These addictive prescription anxiety meds have a depressant effect: sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant. The effectiveness of the chemical GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for slowing brain activity, is increased in the brain, setting off a chain of events in the central nervous system that results in feelings of relaxation for the user.

Here are some common benzos:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • clobazam (Onfi)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • diazepam (Valium, Diastat)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • temazepam (Restoril)
  • triazolam (Halcion)

Risk of Addiction

Benzos are highly effective at addressing the issues for which they are prescribed. However, these powerful medications have proven to be highly addictive for many users.

Extended use will often cause an individual’s body to become less sensitive to the effects of GABA. The user compensates by increasing intake of the drugs and will often feel agitated or ill if the drugs are not taken.

Risk of Overdose

Addictive prescription anxiety meds are most dangerous when mixed with other drugs, such as alcohol or cocaine. Because the benzo high tends to be relatively low in intensity, they are often used by addicts when they are either coming off of cocaine or to enhance the effects of alcohol or other depressant medications. This is a dangerous behavior that can have deadly consequences for the user.

Psychology Today recently reported that since 2010, over 6,500 drug overdoses in America were attributed to the use of Benzodiazepines. And in 2010 alone nearly 125,000 people were taken to local emergency rooms for problems caused by Xanax alone.

To further highlight the dangers of mixing benzos with alcohol or other drugs, the lives of Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and Whitney Houston were all lost due to this practice.

Finding Help

The rising rates of both addiction and overdoses associated with Benzodiazepines in the United States have reached alarming proportions. This matter is a serious health crisis in America and warrants more attention. However, withdrawal from these medications can be extremely dangerous and should be done under the care of a professional.

If you or someone you know has an addiction to Benzodiazepine, an acute detox in a safe environment is the first step to getting the much-needed help. At SoCal Detox, an Orange County detox in California, we are prepared to safely monitor you through the detoxification of this highly addictive substance and then guide you to the next steps that will work for you in finding lasting recovery.

kratom illustration dangers

What Is Kratom?

When we begin the conversation on kratom, we need context. And our particular context is one of recovery and addiction treatment. And that matters. A lot. Remember, an addiction to drugs or alcohol is largely driven by a deeper need to hide from deeper pain or loneliness. When we choose detox and recovery, we are choosing to live in our lives. To wear our own skin and refuse to hide from ourselves anymore. If we don’t, we will slip back into the death trap of addiction.

What is Kratom?

That said, what is kratom? Simply put, kratom is a tree in the coffee family that is native to Southeast Asia where its leaves have been traditionally used as an opium substitute. It has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for diarrhea, pain, and also as a recreational substance. There are a number of different strains, such as green, red, and white, which are supposed to have different effects. Some strains are more stimulating, while others are more calming. The substance is known to have the ability to alleviate symptoms from opiate withdrawal. Although it’s not an opioid, it does appear to have the ability to attach to certain opioid receptors in the brain.

Kratom is sold in the form of a powder made from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree. Because it has an unpleasant taste, it’s also sold in the form of concentrates and capsules for those who don’t want to have to drink a solution made from the powder.

Kratom Dangers

It has been linked to both kidney and liver damage, although this appears to be rare. It has addictive potential and can cause withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopped after usage over time, just like any other addictive substance. On the other hand, it may have value as a natural, herbal treatment for opioid withdrawal symptoms when used in the short term.

As of 2017, the substance remains legal in most of the US, although a few states have prohibited its residents from ordering it online and having it delivered to their homes. In some countries, such as Thailand, it’s illegal.

Safety Issues

The drug is freely available online, and for now, not federally controlled. The DEA has tried to act against it, but organizations in favor of keeping it legal and available fought hard to keep it so. Because there are no uniform manufacturing methods as there are with pharmaceutical drugs, there is also no way for users to be sure what they’re getting in terms of strength and purity. For that reason alone, it is a risk.

Beyond that, the use of kratom for a person in recovery is a real issue. It is very closely related to opiates binding to the same kinds of receptors as heroin and painkillers do. The true danger is in the fact that usage creates a tolerance. When tolerance is developed, a person’s body stops creating its own natural chemicals because they are being supplied by the drug. That means dependence, withdrawals, and detox becomes necessary to quit long-term usage. It is a slippery slope to addiction and dependence on this substance that is being touted and marketed as a simple “herbal supplement.”

Bigger Picture

Ultimately, we know enough. If a substance is addictive, creating a dependence, it is a danger. Beyond that, if it alters your mind and perception, it is still a tool used to avoid life. A substance used to hide from ourselves and numb our existence. For those of us in recovery, this is not the road we want to walk. Real recovery is a life transformed in a way that is fully present and happy to enjoy existence free from the chains of drugs of any kind.

If you or a loved one is using kratom or struggling with chemical dependency on any level and are ready for help, please call 888-590-0777. We are ready to give you any suggestions possible and set you or your loved one on a path toward lasting recovery.