Addiction and Loneliness

loneliness-and-addictionIf you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction this article will cover a perspective proven through clinical studies that you must not miss. Society in general has led addicts to feel ashamed of the insidious affliction they suffer from, and the stigma can contribute to both addiction and loneliness. Addicts cause pain and confusion in themselves and anyone that truly deeply cares for them.

What Does Loneliness Look Like?

Loneliness may not be the same for everyone. The Huffington Post explains, “Being lonely is more of a state of mind and that state of loneliness can change on a dime if one so desires.” Loneliness in addiction can look like:

  • Disconnection from others
  • Little to no interest in relationships
  • Feeling depressed and anxious
  • Thinking there is no one to talk to
  • Believing there is no hope
  • Feeling like no one cares

A History Of Failure

A little over a century ago this country made the decision to ban and make illegal nearly all drugs.  They instituted punishments as an incentive to deter people from abusing these substances.  This makes sense on a basic level of thinking, but the issue is that it is clearly not working, as shown in this chart. In my experience When something doesn’t work, you either have to fix it or throw it away.

overdose-death-stats

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Adapting To The Environment

In the early 1920s there were some interesting experiments conducted regarding addiction. They took a rat, placed it in a cage on its own and put two water bottles, one with Cocaine laced in the water and one containing fresh water.  The rat drank the cocaine water until it overdosed and died. Bruce K. Alexander, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University conducted some similar experiments but added some new variables. He made a “rat park” with cheese, tubes, toys, and most importantly friends!  In this rat park he put the same two types of water bottles, one with cocaine laced water and one with pure water.  The following observation was astonishing. The overdose rate amongst the rats dropped to 0 percent.  Most rats didn’t even touch the cocaine water, and the ones that did stopped before overdose. Professor Alexander questioned, “What if addiction is not about being hooked on chemicals but it is instead an adaptation to your environment?”

The message to be heard here is that humans want to bond and connect. If our self-esteem is low, or we have been beaten down emotionally, we will naturally feel a desire to bond with something other than people.  This could look like food, gambling, drugs, sex, television, shopping…really anything that makes us feel okay for a short period of time and provides relief. Therefore, it is counterproductive to punish addicts, remove them from society, label them felons, make them unemployable, shun them, etc…it just perpetuates the cycle.

Finding Solutions To The Drug Problem

In 2000, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe with 1 percent of their entire population being hooked on heroin.  Portugal decriminalized all drugs and set up social programs to help drug addicts reintegrate back into society. They took all the money they were spending on housing, feeding, arresting, and policing these addicts and put it into social programs where they would set drug addicts up with jobs and pay half their salary for the year, thus incentivizing companies to hire them and affording the addict the opportunity to reconnect with people and find a sense of purpose. Fifteen years after these programs were set in motion the addiction rate is down 50 percent, overdose is down, HIV rates have gone down drastically in addicts, and in EVERY addiction study shows massive decreases.

Hopefully one day our society can catch on and be this progressive and in the solution.

Helpful Tips to Overcome Loneliness and Addiction

  • Build a social network from the ground up. We addicts are intelligent people; we can see who is healthy and working on themselves and who is not – stick with the winners and you will become one.
  • Find someone that you can trust that understands addiction and talk to this person VERY REGULARLY about your feelings of loneliness, anger or whatever it is that you’re experiencing
  • Volunteer work and support groups such as 12-step fellowships are great places to make new healthy connections this will take time and attendance and may not happen right away so you have to keep going.
  • I want to reiterate the importance of cutting out negative connections – not all connections are good connections.
  • Make friends and family a priority in your life.  When you’re down and out it’s not going to be your online “friends” there that save your skin; the real connections that you make will be there for you when you need them the most.
  • Commit to people and make a plan to show up for them and then follow through with that plan!

Contact Us

Pathfinders Recovery Center
Scottsdale, AZ
pathfindersaz.com
info@pathfindersrec.wpengine.com
(855) 728-4363

*This blog post was authored by Lawrence Briggs, Director of Operations at Pathfinders Recovery Center. Ph: 480.320.0752

How to Travel Safely in Early Recovery

HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY IN EARLY RECOVERY

traveling-in-recovery

How to Avoid a Relapse for You or a Loved One

Traveling during recovery is scary for many addicts making the changes necessary for a healthier lifestyle. You aren’t used to leaving the safe, comfortable environment you’ve build for yourself during this time. Your routine will have to be temporarily changed and there will likely be new challenges you face that wouldn’t happen at home,

We’ve created a guide for those looking to still enjoy life and all that it has to offer while staying sober. Here are our tips on traveling safely in early recovery:

Use a Sober Companion if Possible

A close friend of mines grandfather just passed away. He is early in recovery and known to relapse every time he visited his hometown on the east coast. I had the honor and privilege to go with him back east and be there for him and his family in a time of grief. We went to various restaurants and AA meetings. It turned out to be a safe, and good (as far as circumstances would allow) time and we both stayed sober. Not everyone will be able to afford this luxury but if at all possible I highly recommend bringing someone healthy with you!

Schedule Accountability Calls

Set up a time each day that you’re going to call a healthy sober individual that you trust. Talk to them openly and honestly about anything going on in your head while on your trip. They will be glad to help you and this will make a HUGE difference for your chances of staying sober!

Attend Meetings Along The Way

Prior to leaving for a trip I highly recommend calling the local inter-groups and 12 step resources for the area you plan to travel to. Get a realistic meeting schedule that you can commit to and stick to it. They will be more than happy to help you (It’s what they do to ensure their own sobriety!)

Keep A List Of Phone Numbers In Your Wallet Or Purse

You never know what could happen while traveling, you could lose your phone, break it, forget it somewhere, it could get stolen or it could be as simple as your battery died and you forgot your charger. Print or handwrite a list of all your sober networks phone numbers, the intergroup for the area you’re in and make sure you keep it somewhere safe like your purse or wallet. I love technology but batteries can be a real issue!

Avoid places where people will be using drugs and drinking if possible

This is so important and gets over looked a lot of the time. There is going to be times where it’s unavoidable, say you’re going to a close friend’s wedding and everyone there loves to get loaded. Well that doesn’t mean you need to be around while anyone’s doing drugs in a hotel room or going the a bar after the big moment. Be mindful and keep yourself out of questionable situations at all cost the best you can! Really check your motives before deciding where and how to spend your time, and once you are there I would highly recommend making the time spent about other people not yourself!

Quick Travel Tips

  • Continue your normal routine as much as possible (journaling, meetings, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Have a plan for what activities you’ll do throughout the day
  • Be aware of trigger symptoms
  • Prepare to say NO to uncomfortable situations
  • Connect to loved ones back home

pathfinders-recovery-center

If you get into a tough spot, don’t be afraid to walk out of anywhere you’re at and pick up your phone and start calling EVERYONE that you can in your sober network.

What To Look For In A Substance Abuse Treatment Center

I have been in the treatment industry for 5 years now and one thing I have learned is that like most things, when looking into treatment options you are going to find both good and bad. I am writing this post so that you know what to look out for when deciding on treatment and how to find the program that is right for you or your loved one. The following are a list of things to look for and to ask yourself.

What Life Skills do you teach the individual?

This is number one on my list for a reason. Any inpatient treatment center can lock someone in their facility for 30 days and force an addict to abstain for a month. That can help in the beginning, but what about when the doors are unlocked and they have to go out into the real world? There has to be a focus on practical application and how to live a sober life outside of the safe space that inpatient treatment creates. It’s important to look for a program that addresses the following issues – how to get a job, how to be accountable/responsible, how to budget your finances, how to communicate effectively, how to keep yourself and your personal areas clean etc… Things that may seem basic to some, can be a challenge and feel strange to an addict who has neglected these areas of their life. Any treatment program worth considering will understand how crucial this is, and not only teach these life skills, but create opportunities for them to be practiced often.

Avoid unrealistic promises and statistics

pathfinders recovery center, pathfinders arizona, pathfinders recovery, substance abuse treatment, drug abuse treatment, opiate treatment center, drug addiction treatment, alcohol addiction treatment, best rehab, top rehab in the us, best addiction center, get help today, heroin addiction help, meth detox arizona, heroin detox arizona, heroin addiction arizona, heroin addiction new jerseyThe truth is that there is no “one size fits all cure for addiction.” In fact, there is no cure at all. Statistics on success have little to no real value in this industry as far as I can tell. Each individual has the sole responsibility to gain and maintain knowledge about themselves and take the actions required to change their own life. Every person is responsible for their own recovery and happiness. A treatment program is responsible for equipping clients with life skills, providing guidance as a recovering addict carves a new path for themselves, and to hold clients to a higher standard than they have held themselves to in the past. If a program claims, “We have a 90% success rate!” they are selling you, not guiding you. Do your homework and remember that while there are no guarantees, there are endless possibilities for someone who commits to their recovery.

Make sure you understand features and benefits of the program.

  • What do they really offer? (Request a full program overview)
  • Do they teach about nutrition? (Do they talk about more than just mental health? A healthy diet and lifestyle makes a huge difference!)
  • What are their therapy modalities? (What approaches do they use? What is the background and skill set of the Therapists and Staff?)
  • Who are the owners and to what extent do they play a role in this facility? (If you can’t get the owner on the phone, or if you’re told you or your loved one will likely not meet them, I strongly recommend you look for another facility. You want access to the people in charge of treatment.)
  • How long is the program? (It varies, but in my experience it takes a minimum of 90 days to really impact someone’s chances of lasting recovery!)
  • How much does it cost? (Every program is different. You want to choose a State licensed treatment center, but they are not the most low-cost option. However, Health insurance can greatly reduce or eliminate this financial obligation!)
  • What are the refund policies if your loved one leaves early? (Do not put any money on the line without having a clear understanding of a program’s refund policies!)
  • To what extent is the family dynamic addressed? (This is a major component of long-term success after treatment.)
  • To what extent and how is the family involved? (How specifically does the program plan to help heal damage that addiction creates to the family system?)
  • What if my loved one relapses? (If a program tells you they will kick them out right away, or there is no consequence here…do yourself a favor and find another facility. This should be handled on a case-by-case basis as each addict and each situation is unique.)
  • What is your aftercare strategy? (This is crucial to lasting sobriety! What exactly happens after treatment? How long does the program stay involved? Do they help facilitate short and long term goal planning for once treatment is over? What after care options do they offer and how do they go about implementing these?)

Get all this down and look at it. Make sure you’re going into this armed with the facts and with both eyes open.

Contact Us

Pathfinders Recovery Center
Scottsdale, AZ
pathfindersaz.com
info@pathfindersrec.wpengine.com
(855) 728-4363

*This blog post was authored by Lawrence Briggs, Director of Operations at Pathfinders Recovery Center. Ph: 480.320.0752

 

5 Healthy Beliefs to Stay Sober

Getting sober, or breaking any addiction for that matter, is the most challenging thing a person will ever have to do. The overwhelming compulsion to numb out by using substances is among the most powerful thoughts we will ever face. Most addicts, including myself, end up feeling hopeless and trapped with no way out. If you would have asked me seven years ago if my life would have rocketed into the amazing life that it is today, I would have said that it was ‘impossible’ or told you t‘you’re crazy’. Nonetheless, here are some belief systems I adopted early in my own recovery (7 years ago) that helped me to get started on the right foot!

If I keep existing (not living) the way I have been- I will continue to ruin my life.

I have worked with nearly 1,000 individuals on their addiction issues and a common thread is that their life has been getting worse while they act in these addictive behaviors. Some have gone further down thepathfinders recovery center, pathfinders arizona, pathfinders recovery, substance abuse treatment, drug abuse treatment, opiate treatment center, drug addiction treatment, alcohol addiction treatment, best rehab, top rehab in the us, best addiction center, get help today, heroin addiction help, meth detox arizona, heroin detox arizona, heroin addiction arizona, heroin addiction new jersey scale than others; and this means little. You hit your bottom and hopefully you stop digging the hole. Hitting bottom can look different for different people; losing things of monetary value by various means including: getting robbed, misplacing possessions in some altered state of mind, pawning your (and other peoples) possessions and lending things to the wrong person that will never return it (not everyone is kind like you are). Gradually the addict starts losing the things that can’t be replaced (i.e. day after day spent running and time wasted making no progress towards any meaningful goals, losing the respect of their loved ones, respect for themselves and the feeling of uselessness, craving community and happiness.)

I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

Willingness…where does it come from? In my experience, it comes from two places. One scenario is the fear of continuing to live life the way you have been living. The waking up sick, the lying to yourself and your loved ones, the in and out of jail and the all-around miserable existence your life has probably turned into after years of active addiction. When you finally have your “ah-hah!” moment of clarity, like some of us do, you see the error in these ways and are granted what we call “the gift of desperation”. Through this ‘gift’, you become willing to do whatever it takes to change and develop an honest belief that your life must and will continue to get better if you stay steadfast on the road to recovery. As with most things in life, the beginning of recovery is the hardest; I equate it to jumping off of a cliff without knowing that you will have a safe landing. It is the stuff that faith is made of…

I’m willing to receive and follow the directions and suggestions of a mentor.

Once you decide that you really want to change your life (this goes for people with time in sobriety as well), you must be honest with yourself. This stark self-evaluationpathfinders recovery center, pathfinders arizona, pathfinders recovery, substance abuse treatment, drug abuse treatment, opiate treatment center, drug addiction treatment, alcohol addiction treatment, best rehab, top rehab in the us, best addiction center, get help today, heroin addiction help, meth detox arizona, heroin detox arizona, heroin addiction arizona, heroin addiction new jersey is one of the hardest thing to do. Yet there are several simple questions to ask yourself to help gauge where you really are: ‘what I am doing with my life that is working for me? Am I happy? Am I pursuing my dreams? Do I feel excited about what my future holds?’ If you cannot answer yes to these questions, chances are you are off the path of what you’re meant to be doing. I have never, in my entire career, met an addict that can answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions. Therefore it stands to reason that the way of the addict doesn’t work. Addiction is the worst trick in the world; it starts off as a fun, beautiful experience and turns into the darkest monster one could imagine. Choosing a mentor is about finding someone who is living the life you want live, someone who not only knows what you want first hand, but someone who ‘has been there and done that’.   A mentor’s practical experience is invaluable, this goes with anything in life- but especially when trying to overcome addiction. When choosing a mentor, the trust factor is critical. You need to be willing to be open and honest with them. You could know everything in the world, but without the action behind the knowledge you’re like a rocket that has failed to launch, a ship without a rudder. Action is the fuel and rudder to achieving your goals.

I CAN do this, recovery is a real possibility for me.

Most addicts believe we will fail and mask this belief with an outward attitude of “I don’t even care” but deep down they know they are wasting their potential to do great things with their lives for themselves, their loved ones and want better. We isolate and are prone to negative judgment from ourselves and the world, so it’s our first inclination to believe society is right that we are trash, burnouts, failures or all around scumbags. Here is the catch though, MANY others have changed and lit the path for me and others suffering. If millions of other people can do it…so can you. There is a plethora of options for those who suffer: support groups, literature, meetings, therapy modalities, and so much more. Please feel free to call me anytime to talk about them (see contact information below).

We have everything to gain by working our WAY OUT of the addicted life and everything to lose by staying stuck in the addiction!

I lost a lot throughout my addiction, monetarily yes, but the things that hurt the most were the things money couldn’t buy.pathfinders recovery center, pathfinders arizona, pathfinders recovery, substance abuse treatment, drug abuse treatment, opiate treatment center, drug addiction treatment, alcohol addiction treatment, best rehab, top rehab in the us, best addiction center, get help today, heroin addiction help, meth detox arizona, heroin detox arizona, heroin addiction arizona, heroin addiction new jersey Some examples of the lengths we are willing to go to during an active addiction is: breaking the law, selling our possessions, stealing from anyone including those who love us. We lose our self-love, self-respect and self-acceptance as well as the respect of our communities and loved ones. Getting and staying sober gives us the opportunity to not only get these things back, but to own them on a much deeper and real level than we have ever experienced before. Today I own a home, have a career, a son, a beautiful partner and own my own small business. The best feeling in the world is helping another addict achieve their goals and looking myself in the eyes and loving that man in the mirror. I used to be a slave to a substance and today, I am freer than I’ve ever been spiritually and mentally…no matter how hopeless you feel these things are possible for any of us! Keep the hope and put one foot in front of the other!

Contact Us

Pathfinders Recovery Center
Scottsdale, AZ
pathfindersaz.com
info@pathfindersrec.wpengine.com
(855) 728-4363

*This blog post was authored by Lawrence Briggs, Director of Operations at Pathfinders Recovery Center. Ph: 480.320.0752