Resources

Substance Abuse, Recovery, and Michael Phelps

i Aug 12th No Comments by

What does the word recovery really mean to someone like Michael Phelps?

michael phelps

Michael Phelps swam past his substance abuse issues at 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo credit: edition.cnn.com

The phenomenal Olympian’s legacy was called into question over the past 8 years after he was charged with substance abuse.

What Happened?

Photographed taking a hit from a bong
Handed two DUI’s
Sentenced to an 18 month probation
Suspended from Team USA Swimming and forced to miss world championships in Russia
Spent six weeks in an alcohol rehabilitation program

What Next?
Girlfriend became his fiancée
Estranged relationship with his father improved
Peers elected him captain of Team USA
Developed reputation as a mentor at 2016 Olympics
Increased his Olympic medal collection to 26 (as of today)

Recovery is rewarding. But recovery is a hard word to swallow. A lot of people seem to believe the word brands them as addict, or alcoholic. Yet experts tell us that only the individual who has suffered from substance abuse can brand himself or state he is in recovery.
Michael Phelps rebranded Michael Phelps. The word recovery, in my opinion, should only be used in the context that Phelps recovered his career, his self-respect, respect of loved ones and peers, and most important, a rewarding relationship with his authentic self. His journey should be celebrated on multiple levels and bring a message of hope to families who struggle with loved ones who suffer from substance abuse. Congratulations, Michael Phelps. And thanks for showing those of us who want to recover our own self-image, that we can.

Experts Provide Clinical Overview of Drug Recovery Experience

i Jul 30th No Comments by

Reporting on CORE Conference Summer 2016

I attended this conference on Amelia Island Florida in July. The membership goal is to improve accessibility to and the quality of addiction treatment and to promote recovery solutions.

Ivanka Grahovac, Executive Director, Austin Recovery

I am with Ivanka Grahovac, Executive Director, Austin Recovery. She shared her own recovery experience from heroin to advocate for change at the CORE conference.

The conference is “structured as a forum to increase the collective understanding of the addiction recovery processes.” Participants are eager, in general, to improve addiction treatment outcomes by better integrating abstinence-based practices and Twelve-Step principles into therapeutic initiatives.

Four themes emerged during the four day event.

  1. Abstinence versus medication assisted treatment for recovery

More often, meds are being delivered in a physician’s office, administered in many cases by the physician’s assistant. Atlanta has seen this trend with Adderall. Used to be, a psychologist or psychiatrist would diagnose ADD or ADHD and submit the treatment plan with a prescription. Nowadays, people can get a prescription, without the rigorous assessment that was required formerly. In the case of opioid addiction, many physician’s assistants are writing the treatment plan. And many are not necessarily trained to develop it.  Doctors’ offices are focused on harm reduction, which is good. But do they understand the cravings? Do they understand how medication could actually threaten authentic sobriety? These were the sorts of questions and issues that were explored.

  1. Suboxone in the wake of a national opioid addiction trend. Just how helpful is it?

Suboxone is used as a detox agent, and it represents a $1.5 Billion market. Doctors wrote 9 million prescriptions last year. One expert stated, “And guess what? It’s harder to kick than heroin.”  Insurance companies encourage its use, allegedly, because users don’t need to go into detox, which costs insurance companies money. Many experts rejected claims of its benefits, because “it undermines the brain’s ability to present as one’s authentic self.”

Without “full surrender to abstinence, people cannot engage in recovery and 12-step (programs) as their own, real, authentic selves,” said the CEO of a recovery program. Otherwise, claimed many experts, people trying to recover can remain isolated and addicted.

  1. Twelve step programs and the role of a higher power in addiction. The most compelling speakers, across the board, advocated for complete abstinence to support this notion of showing up as yourself, no one else, because it is the surest way to remodel the brain and change behavior. No surprise that drug manufacturers and insurance companies were not present at CORE. Unless they were under the radar. Is “Big Pharma” too busy selling “meds” to physicians’ offices and using Public Relations to sell only part of the story to consumers, so that consumers will be the very people asking for those drugs? And is that a good thing?

“Full surrender” to medication-free recovery made a suboxone prescription sound sketchy, at best. But there is no question that some specific co-occurring disorders warrant medication.

4.   Pornography addiction is a big ugly taboo problem. It is impacting a lot of folks, particularly 12-16 year olds who watch online. It has serious implications for brain receptors, in terms of the stimulation, even compared to what certain drugs do to the brain. I don’t know anything more, but will keep you posted.

The many dedicated professionals were on hand at CORE who are committed to helping people recover and lead full and happy lives – they were nothing short of inspiring. I am so glad I was able to attend and learn more about what they do, how they help others. Want to learn more about CORE?

http://core-conference.com/about-core/

Ways to Deal with Anger over your Teen’s Substance Abuse

i Sep 22nd No Comments by

You are not alone. But it’s time to get help, whether you think you need it or not. Talbott Recovery Atlanta and Aspen Group provided me with the same document on Anger. It offers rich insight and advice.

The document suggests first answering these 5 questions:

Do you feel guilty for your rage?

Do you feel remorse for hurting others?

Are you or others embarrassed by your behavior?

Are you disappointed in yourself?

Are you afraid you may hurt someone in anger?

Do you feel hopeless and/or full of shame?

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Managing anger over a substance abuse situation is a challenge, but patience and simple steps can help a family recover.

What is Anger?

Well, it’s quite simply a response to stress that usually comes from inaccurate perceptions of events. And contrary to what some might think at a given moment, it is generated from thoughts and beliefs that CAN BE CHANGED.

Anger Is Called the Great Manipulator

It is often used to manipulate others into getting what they want, kind of the way bullies bully people to get what they want. And it might win in the short term, but rarely in the long term. Anger, sadly, can make people feel powerful and in control, even when they are not.

Anger is a Bad Habit

We make ourselves angry by engaging in angry thinking:

Judging an event as unfair or hurtful

“Can’t standing”

Demanding (should and shouldn’ts/always and never)

Blaming

You Know Your Triggers, So Move from Anger to Thinking

Breathe and count to 10 before responding

Take a time out away from the situation to cool off and gain perspective

Wash your hands in cool water and drink cool water

Ask for help from someone nearby who is calm

Then…

Set a time to talk or use a mediator

Choose your “battles” wisely

Have structure in place that outlines rules and expectation

Use an “I feel” statement

Take verbal accountability for hearing your anger: say “I’m sorry” and talk about what you choose to do differently

Enter a safety contract with your family to outline your strategy for intervening to stop acting out of anger

Anger Hurts Teens

It leaves a teen feeling powerless, unable to change, fearful, alone, embarrassed, humiliated.

As a result, teens can feel revengeful, betrayed, falsely accused, rejected, stressed, inadequate, frustrated and guilty. It’s important to get on track and stay on track with teens.

Here are some self-help books that the document recommended.

Calming the Family Storm: Anger Management for Moms, Dads, and all the Kids by McKay and May bell

When Anger Hurts Your Kids by McKay, Fanning, Paleg, Landis. And check out these sites:

www.talbottrecovery.com

www.aspengroup.com

What to Look for in Teen Recovery Services

i Sep 17th No Comments by

The Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a remarkable organization dedicated to helping Americans, particularly recovery professionals and people in crisis, to better navigate substance abuse issues with better tools and information. It also performs research on programs and tracks and reports outcomes. This checklist is beneficial to any parent who is trying to make a decision about what comes next for their teen in crisis. Whether a parent is alone in this journey or working with a therapist, law enforcement office, or school counselor, the list is a dependable guide to understand quickly what one must look for in terms of support services.

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Knowing the right type of program for your teen to recover is important. Inpatient? Outpatient? Read on…

When you are looking for a recovery program for your teen, here is a list of services that you should feel are required.

Primary Focus of Provider

  • Substance abuse treatment services
  • Mental health services
  • Mix of mental health and substance abuse services
  • General health services

Services Provided

  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Detoxification
  • Methadone maintenance
  • Methadone detoxification
  • Buprenorphine used in treatment
  • Halfway house

Type of Care

  • Hospital in-patient
  • Out-patient
  • Partial hospitalization/ day treatment
  • Residential short-term treatment (30 days or less)
  • Residential long-term treatment (more than 30 days)

Special Programs/ Groups Offered

  • Adolescents
  • Persons with co-occuring mental and substance abuse disorders
  • Persons with HIV/ AIDS
  • Gays and Lesbians
  • Pregnant/ postpartum women
  • Women
  • Men
  • Residential
  • DUI/ DWI offenders
  • Other, Criminal justice clients

Forms of Payment Accepted

  • Self payment
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • State financed insurance (other than medicaid)
  • Private health insurance
  • Military insurance
  • Access to recovery voucher

Payment Assistance Available

  • Sliding fee scale (Fee is based on income and other factors)
  • Payment assistance (Check with a facility for details)

Special Language Services

  • ASL or other assistance needed for hearing impaired
  • Spanish
  • Native American or Alaskan native languages
  • Other Languages

What is a 12-Step Program for Recovery?

i Aug 11th No Comments by

12-Step Programs are communities whose members come from all walks of life. They share a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsion. Per Wikipedia, a 12 step program was originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous as a method of recovery from alcohol. The original Twelve Steps were first published in 1939; then they were adapted and became the foundation of other 12-step programs.

American Psychological Association summarized following as hallmarks of 12-step programs:

  • admitting that one cannot control one’s alcoholism, addiction or compulsion;
  • recognizing a higher power that can restore sanity;
  • examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);
  • making amends for these errors;
  • learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
  • helping others who suffer from the same alcoholism, addictions or compulsions.
sowhatis a 12stepprogram

12 step programs offer fellowship, shared experiences, support and hope for recovery in a confidential setting.

Many 12-step and AA meetings will group people by age segment (any by sex, and by newcomers versus longstanding members). A young teen or adult will probably hear about a circumstance much like their own if they get in a group that is more a reflection of them, as opposed to a group with lots of adults.

Here are a few characteristics of the program, which probably need to coincide with other programs or support:

  • No one in the group has to speak up. The point is to listen and have an open mind
  • Anonymity is an important “spiritual foundation”
    of the program. And no one uses last names.
  • Groups tend to be spiritual, but not religious fellowships – People refer to a “higher power” not to Christ, or Alla, or other spiritual entities
  • There is no professional counseling, and no one recommends any. More experienced members lead the meetings. If people want advice off-line, they can stay afterwards to ask questions
  • It is free. Contributions are requested
  • Individuals are encouraged to seek a sponsor
  • Teens and parents can find meeting schedule and find books that are enormously helpful here:

www.al-anon.alateen.org for teens

www.alanon.org for parents

Other helpful organizations:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Homepage

Al-Anon / Alateen

Homepage

Find a Meeting (US & Canada)

Cocaine Anonymous (CA)

Homepage

Find a Meeting

Narcotics Anonymous

Homepage

Find a Meeting

Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA)

Homepage

Find a Meeting

Gamblers Anonymous

Homepage

Substance Abuse and a DUI or MIP

i Aug 9th No Comments by

If you need to pay bail, then arrange to pay, or get a bail bondsman to pay, so you can get your child home and stabilized. If it’s not the first time, let your child figure it what to do this time. Watching that unfold will enlighten you about the extent of the problem – is this a bump in the road, a chronic habit, or a bigger problemiss?

Call the number on the citation and get a copy of the police report, to see what exactly happened and whether other stuff went on. This could take 2-3 days. You will need to go to the jail to get the report. But get it, because you need to know what really happened.

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DUI or MIP for substance abuse can help families identify extent of a problem and accelerate a recovery path. Photo: Library of Congress.

Get an attorney for your child or request a court assigned attorney. Everyone has a right to one. If you hire one, get a specialist, a litigator who has handled this sort of issue before, preferably in the county or court system in which it is assigned. Expertise helps save a lot of time.

Comply with a lawyer’s advice. First time offender statutes work in your favor, if you think your kid will abide by the statutes.

Show up in court, and early. The court system can be punishing to anyone who wastes its time. Tell your child to address the judge yes or no, “your honor” and to look presentable. It matters.

If the incident was reported to your child’s school, schedule a meeting with the school counselor and your child immediately. Make the school your friend. Believe it or not, school administrators are potential advocates for your child, unless he has been a repeat offender – in which case, they might feel your problem is beyond their expertise.

J. Tom Morgan wrote an excellent book called Ignorance Is No Defense, about the laws in Georgia impacting teenagers. It is an excellent overview of what every teen and parent needs to know.

 

IOP or In-Patient Substance Abuse Programs

i Aug 1st No Comments by

So you have found a program. And you are aware that it is time to pile in the car and get to an intensive outpatient center (IOP) or inpatient program. It’s time to get real answers, for your unique, specific crisis. Understanding what different programs offer is critical to knowing that your child or loved one will get the help that they really need. Here are some questions that will help you differentiate programs, along with suggestions for what else you should expect before sending someone you care about to an IOP.

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Over 17,000 substance abuse recovery programs or centers exist nationally. Asking the right questions will help find the best solution. Photo: Shutterstock

15 Questions for an IOP or In-Patient Program

  1. How long is the program, and what is the optimal stay?
  2. Is treatment gender and age specific?
  3. Do you have a psychiatrist on staff to prescribe medication, if necessary?
  4. What is a typical day here? Is it a lock-down place?
  5. Can I meet or talk to my child’s assigned therapist?
  6. Is it primarily a group setting? Or individual?
  7. Will he/she attend AA or Narc-anon while he’s here?
  8. Is 12-step a part of this program?
  9. Does he/she get assigned an individual therapist? How often?
  10. What sort of aftercare do you provide, or recommend?
  11. What kind of outcomes reporting do you perform?
  12. Do you offer needs-based financial support? If so, how would I qualify?
  13. How do I communicate with my child while he’s there?
  14. How else are families involved?
  15. How will I know if he/she is getting better?

Another Tip – Walk Around the Facility

It’s OK. A lot of recovery centers are for-profit. A lot are not. Many do not offer outcomes reporting or track for them. But they should be able to provide family references to contact.

Detailed learning for parents can be found at The American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry website.

This site also has another great resource of questions to ask a program or facility which can be found at this link.

 

Alcoholism Assessment. Is the Problem You, Your Child, or Both?

i Jul 26th No Comments by

Alcoholism and substance abuse is a family disease. Because of this, you should assess yourself AND your teen. It could be very informative and enable you to understand just how a problem evolved and whether hereditary traits exist. Here is a terrific “about my drinking” self-assessment by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that helps you to determine the degree of a problem. Anyone can take it on line, anonymously.

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Determine who really has an alcohol abuse issue. You? Your loved one? Both? Credit: Shutterstock

Face the Facts so you can act.

Thinking there’s no way this could happen to me is a dangerous mindset. The sooner parents realize how prevalent these issues are, including mental health issues, the faster they can face up to the potential reality that a teen needs help. Here is a snapshot from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA, 2014:

  • An estimated 24.6 million individuals aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users in 2013, including 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17. In 2013, 60.1 million individuals aged 12 or older were past month binge drinkers, including 1.6 million adolescents.
  • Of the estimated 22.7 million individuals aged 12 or older in 2013 who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem, 2.5 million received treatment at a specialty facility.
  • In 2013, about 1 in 10 adolescents (10.7 percent) had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Among adolescents with MDE, 38.1 percent received treatment or counseling for depression in the past year.
  • In 2013, nearly 1 in 5 adults aged 18 or older (18.5 percent) had a mental illness (i.e., “any mental illness,” or AMI) in the past year; 4.2 percent had a serious mental illness (SMI); and 3.9 percent had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.
  • In 2013, 1.4 percent of adolescents had co-occurring MDE and substance use disorder (SUD); 3.2 percent of adults had co-occurring AMI and SUD; and 1.0 percent of adults had co-occurring SMI and SUD

Here are some other great guides that will help you.

Intervention Guide – this is the best online alcohol abuse assessment tool, from Drugfree.org. And it is available online and can be downloaded anonymously. Click Here for access to this resource