How to Stage an Intervention

Seeking Help for a Loved One

Someone you love struggles with an addiction—and their behavior is spinning out of control. Perhaps you avoided confronting your friend because their drug of choice drives them into irrational fits. Now, though, you know without a doubt that they are placing their life at risk. Now, you want to know how to stage an intervention.

You are making a smart move by seeking help for your loved one. If your gut instinct tells you that the time to step in is here, then listen to it! Drug addiction and alcoholism are deadly diseases.

Before beginning, we want to give you a glimpse at how pervasive addiction is in America today.

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The Toll of Addiction

Here are two eye-opening statistics from drugabuse.gov that highlight the importance of crisis intervention, as related to drug and alcohol abuse.

The cost of substance abuse is staggering. In the United States, it costs over $740 billion in combined health care, lost wages, and losses due to crime.

More importantly than the finances of addiction are the human losses due to overdoses. In 2018 alone, 67,367 Americans perished from a drug overdose.

These figures are frightening, but they should also motivate you to step in and advocate for your loved one. Remember, they are unable to help themselves right now. Even if your loved one just started using substances and has not spiraled out of control—yet—the time for early intervention is right now!

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What is Intervention

You probably know the term, but you now you ask yourself some questions. What is intervention? What does intervention mean, exactly?

Let us Define Intervention

So how do we define intervention? We describe the intervention defined as the intentional interference with someone’s behavior to alter their course and prevent them from harming themselves or others.

Here is an example that illustrates the genuine need for an intervention realistically.

Pretend your friend needs an alcohol intervention. You knew she drank socially, but it escalated recently. Now, you witness her passing out or drinking and driving. You fear that she will cause a crash and kill herself or another motorist. Worse yet, your friend seems to be deceiving herself, convinced that she still has control of herself.

Clearly, this person needs behavioral intervention to change the course of her actions.

As a responsible, sober person, you want to prevent that nightmarish outcome from becoming a reality. You find treatment for her at Pathfinders Recovery Center. But first, you need to convince her to attend a program. In short, you need an intervention.

Furthermore, there are two ways you can time interventions: early intervention and crisis intervention. Take a look at these intervention meanings.

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Early Intervention:

In early intervention, people who know and love your friend see them destroying their life by making poor decisions like abusing alcohol or drugs.

Perhaps they still hold down a job, attend school, and care for their kids. However, you see them unraveling one piece at a time. You predict it will be a matter of time before they unhinge entirely from reality.

The early intervention seeks to get this person the recovery program that they need before they slide any further into the rabbit hole of addiction.

Crisis Intervention:

On the other hand, your friend might already be exhibiting behaviors that are out of hand. They might have been fired from a job and went on a binge, been arrested for driving under the influence, or even lost custody of their children. And in the very worst cases, they might not care if they live or die.

They ease the pain of these events by diving even deeper into their addiction. These circumstances are dire and require crisis intervention asap.

How to Stage an Intervention

We know that you want to know how to stage an intervention out of care and concern for someone you love. However, let us be clear—you are targeting the behaviors of the person, you are not attacking them personally.

Thus, keep in mind this term: Behavioral Intervention Plan as you walk through the stages of planning to intervene. Alcoholics and drug addicts are emotionally-charged, unstable, and lack self-esteem. They often know that they are damaging their relationships.

The problem is, they do not know how to stop.

So if they feel that you are insulting them, you will lose them before you even start! This reason is why behavioral interventions are best handled by professional interventionists, not friends or family members.

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Behavior Intervention Plans

How to do an Intervention for a Drug Addict

Here are the main steps in coordinating a behavioral intervention for a drug addict.

1 – Identify the Need for an Intervention

Customarily, a close friend or family member puts the idea of staging an intervention on the table. They reach out to other people in their friend’s life to ask them to agree to attend the meeting and confront their special someone who is struggling.

2 – Retain a Certified Interventionist

A successful behavioral intervention requires a delicate balance of open, frank discussion about the impact of the person’s addiction on your relationship and an expression of your growing concern.

The interventionist is the mediator who can lead that discussion in a fair, impartial, compassionate, and non-judgmental way. This professional knows how to read body language, spotting the signs when someone is about to walk out of the intervention meeting, and conflict resolution.

In other words, this is the person who knows how to stage an intervention—this step is crucial.

3 – Set a Place, Date and Time for the Intervention

Find a host for the intervention. Try to schedule it for a timeframe when your loved one might be sober—when they first wake up in the morning, for example.

Make sure that all participants will arrive early and know what to do. This extra time allows you to decide who speaks first, where each person will sit, and even who greets your loved one at the door and guides them into the meeting.

Your interventionist will provide clearer insight and be able to help you plan for success.

4 – Have a Plan in Place

Before you confront your loved one, have a plan in place. They might never have considered treatment. In fact, they might be unaware that they even need help until you ask them to get help! If you are intervening on your spouse or child, check with the insurance provider and have treatment centers in mind ahead of time.

5 – Script the Intervention

You should carefully write out what you plan to say to your loved one during the behavioral intervention. This preparation prevents you from making any off-the-cuff remarks during the intervention; this is not the time to blow it!

    • You want to affirm, first, that you love them, and you are intervening out of love. Example: I need you to know that I love you, but I am afraid for your safety.
    • While you are confronting them, remember to focus on their poor behaviors. Give specific, relatable examples of how their behavior creates undesirable impacts on you. Example: The cost of your legal fees caused our family to file for bankruptcy.
    • Also, script one or two ways in which you will support them in their recovery.Example: I will seek treatment for my enabling actions by attending Nar-Anon meetings.
    • You should also set reasonable boundaries to let your loved one know you will neither enable their behaviors. Example: I will no longer bail you out of jail or pay for your attorney’s fees.

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How to do an Intervention for an Alcoholic

Next, we look into how to stage an intervention for an alcoholic. The steps involved are the same as those in how to stage an intervention for a drug addict. Of course, the main difference will be shifting focus to the negative behaviors of abusing alcohol instead of focusing on drugs.

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Final Thoughts on How to Stage an Intervention

Now that you know how to stage an intervention, it is up to you to help your friend or loved one get the help that they need so badly. Whether or not they recognize it right away, you are performing an incredible act of kindness.

How Addictive is Kratom? This is What You Should Understand

How Addictive is Kratom – It can Replace an Opiate Addiction.

Kratom is a hope-inspiring substance for many struggling addicts.

It can help life-long opiate addicts quit their painful addictions and save their lives. It’s safer, more natural, and above-all-else a smarter choice than most opiates.

But kratom is an addictive substance itself. Sometimes it merely replaces one addiction with another.

Like any other drug, it’s not without its drawbacks!

This begs the question: How addictive is kratom? And what do you do if you find yourself addicted? Keep reading to find the answer.

How Addictive is Kratom - Supplement kratom green capsules and powder on brown plate. Learn about the treatment options for Kratom at Pathfinders in Arizona.
Supplement kratom green capsules and powder on brown plate. Herbal product alt-medicine kratom is opioid.

Why Do People Use Kratom?

Kratom is meant to be used as an alternative to opiates. People suffering from opiate addiction sometimes turn to kratom to get off the more deadly opiate.

The drug provides similar effects and gives users relief from withdrawal symptoms in a safer way.

Kratom is more natural than a processed opiate like heroin. Its leaves can be eaten, brewed, or taken in pills. This makes it easy for anyone to take.

Some doctors are wary when it comes to recommending kratom, though.

Some patients get carried away with kratom and end up replacing their opiate addiction with it, rather than using it to ween themselves into sobriety.

While kratom is natural, it still gives a user the same effects as opiates, meaning it’s just as tempting for a seasoned addict to abuse.

How Addictive Is Kratom?

Taking any mind-altering drug, including kratom, changes the brain’s natural chemistry.

Kratom fills opioid receptors in the brain, giving users a rush or high similar to heroin.

Like other opiates, your body can become used to these highs and start to crave them. The brain adjusts to the opiate and comes to expect them.

Without giving the brain what it wants, a user can experience symptoms of withdrawal and adverse effects on their health.

Some symptoms of kratom withdrawal include:

  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • aggression
  • aching muscles
  • jerky movements

Measuring “how” addictive a substance is is difficult, and really depends on the person. Some people have more addictive personalities than others.

Although, no matter what your personality, addiction can happen to anyone.

Kratom addiction is on the rise. Kratom is openly sold in most states. This means curious teens can easily buy it for recreational use rather than for opiate recovery.

It should not be assumed that kratom is any less addictive than any other opiate. It’s simply better for you, and less likely to be tainted or end a user’s life.

With any drug comes the risk of addiction, whether it’s something common like caffeine, or more uncommon like kratom.

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What Makes Kratom Addictive?

Kratom is addictive for the same reason any opiate is. Opiates offer a user euphoria, relaxation, and psychoactive effects. They give the user a high that is hard to find in other drugs.

If a user suffers from depression they may become especially hooked on the feeling that opiates give. Opiates tend to mask pain both physical and mental, which is a desirable state for many.

Kratom is an interesting opiate. In lower doses, it offers stimulating and energizing effects. In higher doses it relaxes the body, making you sleepy, euphoric, and relaxed.

This means users can get addicted to kratom as either a stimulant or a relaxant. Other opiates are much harder to control on this level, giving kratom an interesting up-side for opiate lovers.

Many people start using kratom on a doctor’s recommendation. In this case, the doctor will usually tell the patient what dosage to take. But this isn’t always the case, and not everyone follows orders.

Some people will start using kratom on their own to deal with their addiction, or simply for recreational purposes. This is always more dangerous, as the user is given no solid guidelines.

There is no doctor to monitor how the user is adjusting to the drug or to recommend a safe dosage.

Like any other drug, kratom is addictive because it feels good to take. Plus, it’s cheaper than opiates, natural, widely legal, and more versatile.

Can You Overdose on Kratom?

There have been several reports of kratom overdoses. The majority of these overdoses involved mixing other drugs, such as cocaine, fentanyl, and alcohol.

Because of this, it’s uncertain how much of a factor kratom was.

However, a small number of kratom overdoses only involved the use of kratom. This could have been due to the user dosing too high, or buying a laced product.

Buying kratom for recreational use always runs the risk of ingesting unknown, harmful substances.

So, while you’re not likely to overdose on kratom, the official stance is unknown. More studies must be put into the subject, and more cases must be investigated.

Always be careful where you buy your kratom from, and only purchase from designated dealers with trusted backgrounds.

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How Many People Use Kratom?

Kratom use has risen in recent years. The drug remains legal in many states and countries and is fairly easy to get hold of.

Because of its abuse factor, some places have made it illegal, including Indiana, Wisconsin, and Vermont.

There has been a push to make kratom a schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 is where the most addictive drugs are placed, including heroin and other opiates.

At the moment, kratom remains unscheduled. When it was announced that it might be scheduled there was a large outpouring of people who disagreed with the proposition.

Over 140,000 people signed a petition and got the proposition shot down.

To date, there are an estimated five million people who regularly use kratom. that’s a large portion of the population.

Many of these people use it to stay off worse opiates, and taking it away from them would risk throwing them back into their previous addictions.

The Signs of Kratom Addiction

Like any other addiction, the signs for kratom addiction can be subtle to the user but obvious to outsiders.

Signs and symptoms of addiction can vary greatly from person to person and be difficult to pinpoint. However, some of them show more than others.

How Addictive is Kratom - A man who looks tired and unkept looks into the camera. The 1st sign of kratom addiction is a change in appearance and reduction in hygiene.
A man who looks tired and unkept looks into the camera.

Dependency on kratom is the most obvious sign. If you feel the need to take kratom right once the effects have worn off, you could have a dependency.

If not getting the drug soon after its effects are gone causes irritation, mood swings, or discomfort, you could be addicted.

Spending more money than you can afford to on kratom is a sign, as well as a change in physical appearance. This means drastic weight loss or gain, or a reduction in personal hygiene.

One should also look out for irregular sleep patterns.

If you feel like you’re taking too much kratom, chances are you’re right. If your friends tell you they’re worried about your kratom use, that’s another reason to check yourself.

There’s a big difference between casual use and addiction, and it eventually shows itself.

How Is Kratom Addiction Treated?

There is no proven best way to deal with kratom addiction. But there are steps you can take to move away from addiction.

The first step is usually to decrease your use. If you’re used to taking large doses of kratom, start weaning yourself off.

Take smaller and smaller doses each time and your body will become less dependant on high doses.

The next step is to detox your body. Stop taking kratom and get all traces of the drug out of your body. Some medications can help accomplish this, as well as certain foods.

If the addiction is at an aggressive stage, rehab may be necessary. Rehabilitation centers don’t discriminate based on drugs.

Many will take kratom users just as readily as alcohol and heroin users, and help them find the environment they need to quit.

Behavioral therapy is also a big help in dealing with kratom addiction. Behavioral therapy targets a person’s triggers for addiction and looks to stop them.

It looks to rid a patient of their relapse triggers and let them know they don’t need the drug anymore.

If you suspect a loved one of being addicted to kratom talk to them about it. They may not see the signs or may be unwilling to accept them.

Intervention is an often necessary first step in squashing an addiction, even if it is an uncomfortable one.

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Addiction Happens

The simple answer to the question “How addictive is kratom?” is this: Just as addictive as any other opiate.

Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Kratom has its upsides, but it also has its downsides.

Like any other substance, it’s important to moderate your use and fight against dependance.

If you or someone you love may be addicted to kratom, get the help you need.

Talk to them, seek rehab, and get the drug out of your system. You’ll be happy you did it in the end.

If you’re looking for a trusted rehabilitation center, see what we can do for you. Contact us with any comments, questions, or concerns.

We’d be happy to help.

8 of the Most Addictive Drugs to Stay Away From and Ignore

Learn the Most Addictive Drugs

A government report showed that about 64,000 people died due to drug overdoses in 2016.

Drug abuse has led to several adverse implications among young and older adults.

Other than death, addiction to drugs can alter your brain chemistry and cause financial, legal, and health issues.

The side effects of drug abuse are not new to users. In fact, many have tried to ditch drug abuse to no avail.

Most of the abused drugs lead to addiction, making it harder for users to survive without them.

The extent of addiction to drugs varies. Here’s a comprehensive list of seven of the most addictive drugs that you need to know.

Most Addictive Drugs - Photo looking down on a table with an assortment of the most addictive drugs including Pills, Heroin, Cocaine and Alcohol.
alcohol, drugs, pills on a wooden background

1. Heroin

If you didn’t know what the most addictive drug in the world is, there you have it.

Heroin ranks as the most addictive substance, scoring 3 out of the maximum, three. Heroin is derived from opium poppy extracts.

Heroin is an opiate, mostly sold as a brownish or whitish powder. Users commonly smoke, swallow, or inject heroin into the veins.

The drug increases dopamine levels when taken. The activated opioids receptors produce a good-feeling sensation, relaxation, and blocks pain.

Users get into a dreamy state when heroin’s euphoric effects subside.

Heroin has extreme withdrawal symptoms, which make users continue using the drug.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, severe bone and muscle pain, uncontrollable movements, and restlessness.

Despite ranking as the most addictive, heroin is reported to be the second most dangerous drug due to the damage it has on society and the individual.

If you’re recovering from heroin addiction, you need to know how to stay away from common relapse triggers. Once you identify these relapse triggers, remaining sober won’t be such a struggle.

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2. Cocaine

When listing the most addictive drugs, cocaine is almost in the same category as heroin. Up to 14,000 Americans succumbed to cocaine overdose in 2017.

This was a 34% increase from the previous year. Clearly, cocaine’s popularity has been increasing in recent years.

Cocaine is a white crystal powder. Users inject, smoke, or rub the powder on their gums.

Crack cocaine has slight differences from the regular cocaine; it has a high potent nature, making one feel the effect more quickly than the typical variant.

Using cocaine gives users an intense euphoric feeling. The drug triggers the brain to produce dopamine, which makes one feel high.

With constant use, the body becomes tolerant of cocaine, and one has to increase the dose to achieve the desired excitement, happiness, and high energy.

As the drug continues to wear off, users experience anxiety, anger, and depression.

As a resultant, users become dependent on the drug. Continued snorting of cocaine can lead to a constant runny nose, swallowing difficulties, nosebleeds, and loss of smell.

3. Nicotine

The use of tobacco involves chewing, sniffing, and smoking products that have nicotine. Tobacco products that contain nicotine include cigars, cigarettes, bidis, and hookah products.

A significant number of teenagers and adults smoke these products.

Administering nicotine in the body leads to the release of endorphins.

While the surge is incomparable to other drugs, increased use raises dopamine levels in the user’s body. Long-term exposure to nicotine prompts the brain to seek more of this drug.

Nicotine is amongst the addictive drugs that kill. It narrows the arteries and hardens the arterial walls, which can lead to a heart attack.

Besides the cardiovascular effects, nicotine increases the risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory conditions.

When one tries to quit smoking, withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, and anxiety can be a hindrance.

The symptoms are severe, and users often relapse. Besides, nicotine products are easily accessible, which makes their addiction common.

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4. Alcohol

Global alcohol consumption per capita is projected to increase by 17% within the next decade.

Despite the rising cases of alcohol-related disorders, more adults are taking alcohol without flinching. Alcohol is in the category of the most addictive drugs, not only in the US but also globally.

The use of alcohol in a social setting makes it seem less harmful as compared to other hard drugs.

Yet, it increases the risk of liver diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disorders. Alcohol alters one’s judgment, which prompts users to engage in risky behaviors such as explicit sex and drunk driving.

Consumption of alcohol increases dopamine levels, which gets users excited. However, continued use ultimately leads to dependence.

The extreme withdrawal systems such as severe headaches make alcoholics to fall back.

If you’ve been experiencing withdrawal symptoms or can’t go a day without alcohol, it’s probably time to go to rehab.

The willpower to check into rehab isn’t always present. But if you have several troubling signs, going to rehab will give you better control of your life.

Most Addictive Drugs - Photo of several alcoholic drinks in glasses of all sizes and types. Alcohol is one of the most addictive drugs.
Photo of several alcoholic drinks in glasses of all sizes and types.

5. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is one of the highly addictive psycho-stimulant drugs. Despite being illegal, thousands of people use it for the euphoric effects. Meth raises the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.

Meth users inject, ingest, snort, or smoke this illegal drug. The intense rush and euphoric high can last up to 24 hours. The effects of meth last more than cocaine.

Methamphetamine can be made using available ingredients, which means it’s cheaper. Some of the street names for this drug include crystal, chalk, ice, speed, and rank.

Meth has high neuro-toxicity, which can have damaging effects on the serotonin and dopamine neurons in a user’s brain.

This toxicity further increases when a person combines the drug with opiates, cocaine, and alcohol. Regular use of methamphetamine might lead to irreversible functional and structural changes in the body.

When you follow the steps to overcome addiction, you can be free from this highly addictive drug. However, it is essential to acknowledge that meth addiction is one of the most difficult drug addictions to treat.

Support from family and friends can go a long way in the process of recovery.

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6. Barbiturates

Barbiturates are in a category of drugs referred to as sedative-hypnotics. While the drug is typically in the form of a pill, users inject it in its liquid form.

These drugs were initially used to decrease anxiety and induce sleep in the 1960s.

However, an incorrect dosage can be dangerous. In extreme cases, overdosing on barbiturates can cause death or coma.

When used minimally, the drug can cause euphoria. Barbiturates are highly addictive.

Fortunately, these drugs are rare, unlike in the past. Doctors have replaced the prescriptions with benzodiazepines, which play the same sedative-hypnotic role. The latter is safer than barbiturates.

Continued use of barbiturates can cause tolerance development. Abuse of this drug might lead to an overdose. A coma, dilated pupils, shallow breathing, and clammy skin are some of the overdose signs you need to observe.

Discontinuing barbiturates exposes a person to a myriad of side effects.

Some of the notable withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, psychosis, and seizures. If untreated, barbiturates lead to circulatory failure, hypothermia, and death.

7. Methadone

Methadone is under the category of opioids. When analyzing some of the most addictive drugs, opiates rank first in this category.

This drug has been highly effective in treating extreme pain.

Besides, some doctors use it to treat heroin addiction. You can take methadone as a liquid, powder, or tablet.

While doctors prescribe this methadone in some cases, people still take it illegally by injection.

Constant use of this drug can cause addiction. Some of the side effects of methadone include hallucinations, light headedness, breathing difficulties, and chest pains.

Your body might adapt to the calming effects of methadone. When you get to the drug tolerance stage, addiction might be imminent.

It is advisable to seek medical help if you find yourself taking more methadone than what’s recommended.

8. Cannabis

Cannabis, also known as weed or marijuana, is another common addictive drug.

This drug is a mixture of dried stems, leaves, and flowers of the Cannabis Sativa plant. People using cannabis smoke it via a pipe or as a cigarette.

Weed induces the central nervous system, leading to the production of sensations such as mild euphoria, wrong perception of time and space, relaxation, and increased appetite. Cannabis is addictive. Yet, eleven states have legalized its recreational use.

One of the behavioral symptoms of cannabis includes losing interest in activities that you previously enjoyed. Withdrawal from friends and secrecy are other signs of cannabis addiction.

Declining performance at work and school can also result from consistent use of weed.

Cannabis addiction leads to physical symptoms such as dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, poor coordination, fatigue, and lack of attention.

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Most Addictive Drugs Have Several Withdrawal Symptoms

Drug users trying to reform often face extreme withdrawal symptoms.

With such relapses, doing away with most addictive drugs isn’t usually easy.

If you have a friend or family member who’s deep in addiction, supporting them can help a great deal.

It would be best to walk with such people through rehab so that they can transform.

Some of the long term implications of these drugs are fatal. Rehabilitation can save a soul.

Do you need an addiction counselor?

Contact us today.

Our team of qualified medical staff will walk with you or your loved one until you recover.

This is What You Need to Know About Quitting Cold Turkey

What is Better Quitting Cold Turkey or Slow Over Time?

Do you struggle with an addiction? Do you want to quit, but just can’t find a way? Do you wonder if it’s better to do it “cold turkey” or slower over time?

The most difficult addictions to overcome, in order of difficulty, are nicotine, opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, and cocaine.

The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health looked at how many individuals used tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs.

The report showed that about 164.8 million Americans over the age of 11 stated they had used in the past month.

You are not alone in your fight to become sober. Once you quit, you will still have to find the strength to remain sober. Continue reading to learn about “going cold turkey” to overcome an addiction.

Cold Turkey - Hello I Am ... Name Tag Words "Going Cold Turkey" in black marker.
Going Cold Turkey Hello Name Tag Words 3d Illustration

“Quit Cold Turkey” Meaning Defined

When did this phrase “quitting cold turkey” start? The earliest known use of this phrase was in The Daily Colonist newspaper in 1921. This phrase describes the abrupt stopping of an activity that’s considered harmful.

It may have originated from the phrase “talking cold turkey”. This described a time when a person was direct and blunt.

Another explanation is that cold turkey is a quick dish to serve. There’s no need to spend time cooking. Thus, it’s an abrupt meal to serve.

Today, when you quit cold turkey, it means you stop a harmful habit immediately. There’s no weaning down period.

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Benefits of Quitting Cold Turkey

A 2016 study comparing quitting smoking slowly vs. cold turkey. It was published in The Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study participants were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 quit abruptly and Group 2 decreased smoking by 75% over 2 weeks before they quit.

Both groups used nicotine supplements during and after quitting. At 4 weeks, 39.2% of Group 2 remained abstinent compared to 49.0% of Group 1. At 6 months, 15.5% of Group 2 were still abstinent while 22.0% of Group 1 remained smoke-free.

This study concluded that stopping cold turkey lead to longer success with quitting smoking.

The Difficulty with Going Cold Turkey?

The hardest part of stopping the use of an addictive substance is managing withdrawal symptoms.

The effects may last weeks, months, or even years. Each person has a different experience and coping mechanisms.

Withdrawal symptoms depend on the substance and length of addiction. It’s important to understand that this only describes the physical symptoms.

Other emotional and behavioral triggers accompany addictions.

Opioids or Opiates

Withdrawal symptoms often last 72 hours to about 5 days.

They include:

  • Aching muscles
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Teary eyes and runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trouble sleeping and frequent yawning
  • Diarrhea and stomach cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Goosebumps on the skin
  • Dilated pupils and blurry vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

After about a week, these physical symptoms decrease.

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Benzodiazepines

When stopping benzodiazepines, many people experience “rebound” symptoms. This often begins between 1 and 4 days of stopping use.

Depending on how often and how much you used, symptoms can last up to 10 days.

Rebound symptoms include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Increased anxiety and tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Stiffness or pain in muscles
  • Cravings
  • Tremors in hands

Severe addicts may experience hallucinations, seizures, psychosis or psychotic responses, and/or suicidal ideation.

Cocaine

Withdrawing from cocaine can make you feel so weak that you don’t feel like doing normal activities. Symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness, irritability, and agitation
  • Generalized discomfort
  • Strong cravings to use cocaine
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anhedonia which means not being able to feel joy or pleasure
  • Upsetting, dramatic, vivid dreams
  • Increase in your appetite
  • Decrease in motivation
  • Feeling sleepy much of the time
  • Decreased libido or sexual desire
  • Difficulty concentrating

Some people also have headaches and other physical symptoms. Some severe cases experience suicidal thoughts, hostility, and paranoia.

Cocaine Withdrawal Occurs in Three Stages

“The Crash” occurs in the first several hours to days. People feel severe depression, exhaustion, restlessness, and irritability. They may even think about suicide.

The second stage of withdrawal lasts one to 10 weeks. The person’s mood and ability to function improves. Yet they feel bored and lack pleasure.

They often experience cocaine cravings, irritability, low energy, inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbance. At this point, there’s a high risk of relapse.

The last stage, extinction, includes extreme cocaine cravings the come and go. People also experience mood swings during this phase which can last up to six months.

The length and amount of cocaine use impact the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. For most people, withdrawal symptoms last between one and two weeks.

Alcohol

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Often, alcohol withdrawal symptoms manifest in the following timeline.

In the first 6 to 12 hours after stopping alcohol, the person may feel agitated, anxious, shaky, and nauseated. They may also have headaches and vomiting.

In the following 12 to 24 hours, they often experience disorientation, hand tremors, and seizures. The symptoms increase after 48 hours without alcohol.

Symptoms include seizures, insomnia, high blood pressure, and hallucinations. They may also have a high fever with excessive sweating and delirium tremens.

Withdrawal usually stops in 5 days but may continue longer for some people.

The severity of withdrawal depends on the frequency, amount, and length of time of a person’s addiction. Other medical problems can also increase symptoms.

Cold Turkey - A man is exercising in his home. He has stopped drinking cold turkey and uses exercise to get past the withdrawal.
A man is exercising in his home.

Strategies for Coping During Withdrawal

There are steps you can take to help overcome withdrawal symptoms. Each person is unique and responds differently to withdrawal and coping mechanisms.

Following is a list of strategies to try when undergoing withdrawal:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Ask your practitioner about medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
  • Avoid being around people who are using your addictive substance
  • Stay away from places or situations that act as triggers for your addiction
  • Talk with your practitioner before you take any other medications
  • Plan a daily schedule that involves engrossing and distracting activities

The most important point is to have a support system when you quit. Don’t try to do it alone.

Support After Quitting Cold Turkey

Johan Hari, a British journalist said, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection.”

Addiction often drives a wedge in healthy relationships. This leads to increased isolation, anxiety, and depression.

The addicted individual spends more time with people engaged in the same destructive behavior. Soon, it feels like they have no other options.

Thus, one of the keys to addiction recovery is to reconnect with positive people. Engaging in groups of recovering addicts provides a bond with others facing the same struggle to stay sober.

These relationships provide the following.

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Accountability

One of the hardest steps in recovery is not taking that first drink or drug.

Once the individual leaves rehab, it’s important to stay in contact with counselors or peers. This provides support to help you stay sober.

Prevent Loneliness

Many recovering addicts may have lost their former community groups. Family and friends may not want them around anymore.

Sponsors and peers can relieve feelings of loneliness that could lead to a relapse.

Increased Hope

Participating in a rehabilitation program provides education to help you stay sober. They also teach coping mechanisms including how to avoid and cope with triggers.

They also celebrate successes and provide a sense of hope.

Maintain Positivity

Many former addicts have a poor self-image and lack self-confidence. Counselors and sponsors can help change those negative inner monologues.

They help individuals identify and redirect these thought processes.

Learn New Ways to Have Fun

For many addicts, their perception of having fun involved using the addictive substance.

Rehab programs develop new interests and skills that increase joy in people’s lives. When choosing to have fun, the addict must make choices that don’t act as triggers.

Increased Social Confidence

For many people who have experienced addiction, they don’t feel socially competent. In the past, they used the addictive substance as a buffer to manage social anxiety.

It’s important to work on improving social interaction skills without using a “crutch”.

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Are You Ready to Fight Your Addiction?

Are you or someone you know struggling with an addiction?

Are there conflicting opinions about whether going cold turkey or gradual withdrawal is better?

It may be time to talk with professionals at an addiction center.

Pathfinders Recovery Center provides effective, well-researched, cutting-edge addiction treatment.

For the past 25 years, we have focused on helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. We work with any other disorders you may have along with the addiction.

An important part of our care involves help transitioning back into society. There’s no instant cure.

We understand that ongoing support is imperative.

Our center believes that each person adapts, changes, and progresses in different ways and at different times.

You will experience a fun, safe, loving, and peaceful environment. All interactions are strictly confidential.

This atmosphere facilitates healing and develops connections.

Contact us today to ask questions about our program.

What’s a Sponsor in Recovery and What are the Benefits of Having One?

What’s a Sponsor do for Addiction Recovery?

If you’ve done any reading about addiction recovery, you’ve probably run across the idea of sponsors.

These are especially popular in Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, where the system is built to work with the help of a sponsor.

But what’s a sponsor, and what do they do?

A sponsor can be many things and can be crucial to your recovery.

From helping you find the resources you need to giving you home and motivation when you most need it, they can make your recovery easier and more successful.

Read on to learn more about what a sponsor is and how they can help you in recovery.

What's a Sponsor - Hand Writing Journey To Recovery with a marker over transparent board. Using a sponsor after treatment increases your odds to stay sober.
Hand Writing Journey To Recovery with a marker over transparent board

What’s a Sponsor?

Before we dive into all the benefits a sponsor can bring, let’s talk about what a rehab sponsor is. A sponsor can be many things: guide, cheerleader, confidant, accountability partner, and more.

They’re your mentor on the journey to sobriety, someone who has gone down that road before you and can help you along the way.

When you have questions about the recovery process, you can ask your sponsor. If an issue that you don’t feel comfortable discussing in a group comes up, you can talk to your sponsor about it.

When you’re tempted to relapse, you can call them and help find a different, healthier way to deal with what you’re feeling.

What Is a Sponsor Not?

There are a few things, however, that a sponsor is not. For that relationship to work well, there have to be a few boundaries drawn.

For one thing, a sponsor is not a spouse, romantic partner, or longtime friend; to successfully work with you, your sponsor needs to have a degree of separation from your life.

Your sponsor is also not your therapist, although you should work with a therapist during your recovery.

A therapist is there to help you get to the root of your problems and learn healthier coping mechanisms.

Your sponsor is there to help you stick to those new coping mechanisms and implement the tools you’ve learned in therapy in your life.

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How to Be a Sponsored

There are a few things you can do as someone who is sponsored to make sure you get the most out of the relationship with your sponsor.

For one thing, always show up to meetings with your sponsor.

If you’re going to beat addiction, you need to make it a priority in your life, and committing to showing up to meetings with your sponsor is a good way to do that.

Make sure to talk to your sponsor about their boundaries. Yes, they are there to help you when you need it, but they have to live their own life, too.

Ask them what times are okay to call, what to do during the times they can’t take calls, and what subjects they prefer to keep off-limits.

Get Shared Experience

Talking about addiction with someone who hasn’t experienced it can be difficult.

You may worry that they’re judging you, and even if they aren’t, there are things about that experience that they just can’t understand.

Having a sponsor who has been down the same road you have can help to fill that gap.

Talking about traumatic experiences with someone who understands can be very helpful, and your sponsor can provide you with that opportunity.

They know first-hand what it’s like to be an addict and just how challenging recovery can be. When they tell you you’re doing great, you can trust them, because they know the challenges you’re overcoming.

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Share Hope

In addition to sharing experiences, your sponsor can also share hope with you.

Yes, they’ve been down the same road as you, but they’re also further along the path.

They’re living proof that there is a way through and that things will get better with time.

It’s easy to say that things will improve, but when you’re fighting your way through withdrawal or recovery, you can’t always see that.

Your sponsor is living, tangible evidence that yes, things are hard right now, but they do get better. They can tell you when things will start looking uphill and keep you motivated to keep fighting.

Get Sympathy

Sometimes, however, what you need to hear isn’t, “Things will get better soon.”

Sometimes, where you are is so miserable that you just need someone to acknowledge that misery. Your sponsor can do that, too, and with more authority than anyone else in your life.

Your sponsor has fought the same fights and been through the same things you have. They know how hard recovery can be, and they can sympathize with you.

Just having someone acknowledge and validate the things you’re struggling with can make them easier to deal with, somehow.

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Find Accountability

During those tough times, you may be tempted to give up on the fight. Relapse is common among addicts precisely because of this reason.

Previously, drugs have been how you coped with bad times, and now you’re not only coping with the struggles of life, but also the challenges of recovery, and all without your usual coping mechanism.

Your sponsor can help keep you on the straight and narrow and give you a reason not to relapse.

Just knowing that someone will be checking in on you, will be disappointed if you fall off the wagon, and will be proud of you if you persevere can be enough to keep you going.

It’s also a lot harder to ignore the negative consequences of giving in to your addiction if you have to tell someone about it later.

Get Resources

No one goes through recovery alone; it’s too much of a struggle, and you need too much support.

A lot of that support may come from your loved ones, your recovery group, and your sponsor. But you may need additional resources and support outside of those people.

Your sponsor can help you find the resources you need to stay sober. They’re familiar with the rehab system and they know what options you have available to you.

They may be able to get you everything from books to read to inspire you to stay sober to contact information for doctors who have experience working with addicts.

What's a Sponsor - A group is taking karate lessons. In recovery it is recommended you find hobbies to keep yourself busy.
A group is taking karate lessons.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

When you’re in recovery, stepping outside your comfort zone is very important. For too long, your comfort zone has been taking refuge in drugs, hiding from something in your life.

Now that you’re getting sober, you need to push your boundaries and find new ways to handle the bad things that come up in your life.

Your sponsor can help you to push outside of that comfortable cocoon.

They may be able to suggest new hobbies that can fill the hole in your life that drugs used to fill, or they may encourage you to go to therapy and start confronting challenging ideas about your life.

They can push you to be the best possible version of yourself so your recovery becomes a quest for self-improvement.

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Get Motivation

There are going to be times on your journey to sobriety when you feel like quitting.

You’re going to feel like you don’t have anything left to fight with, like you’re fighting a losing battle that’s never going to stop.

You’re going to want to give up, give in, and let your addiction wrest back control of your life.

During these times, your sponsor is there to stand beside you and give you the motivation to keep fighting. They’ll remind you why you quit in the first place and help you see how far you’ve come.

They’ll help you see the amazing things sobriety has brought to your life and get you back on your feet, ready to keep going into another day.

Avoid Pitfalls

Because your sponsor has been down this road already, they know what the recovery pitfalls are.

These are the things that tempt you and make relapse more likely. Knowing what these dangers are before you pass them can help you stay in recovery.

Your sponsor may recommend that you get involved in an activity that fills up your evenings so you don’t find yourself at loose ends. They may recommend avoiding certain things or sending out certain messages to your family before gatherings so you minimize temptations.

They may also know when things are likely to get hard and give you resources to deal with those bad times.

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Find a Sponsor

Knowing the answer to the question, “What’s a sponsor?” can help you have a more successful recovery.

Your sponsor is there to cheer you on and give you a preview of what’s coming down the road. They can get you the resources you need, provide motivation when it’s lacking, and keep you accountable through your recovery journey.

If you’d like to start on your road to sobriety, come see us at Pathfinders Recovery Centers.

We have programs for everyone from alcoholics to heroin addicts, and we can help you find the support you need.

Contact us today to start on your road to recovery!

The Long Term Effects of Drug Use: How Cocaine Impacts the Body

Long Term Effects of Drug Use

In the United States today, there are more than 1.5 million cocaine users over the age of 12.

Most of us know cocaine is tremendously addictive and can have some nasty short-term side effects.

But what happens when you take this drug for years on end?

The long-term effects of drug use can be far worse than the short-term effects, as bad as those are.

Ranging from paranoia to psychosis to brain damage and death, people who use cocaine for years are facing a number of dangerous health conditions.

Read on to learn more about cocaine and the long term effects of drug use.

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Set of different drugs – powder and pills and a syringe on a black background

What Is Cocaine?

We’ve all heard of cocaine, but before we get too far into the long- and short-term effects, let’s talk about what cocaine actually is.

Cocaine is a stimulant that comes from the coca plant, a species that’s native to South America.

You may have heard of it by the names coke, snow, rock, blow, or crack.

Cocaine comes in a few different forms, though the one most of us are familiar with is the white powder.

It may also show up in a solid rock crystal form.

Some cocaine users may snort the powder form of the drug, while others dissolve it in water and inject it into their veins; still, others heat up the crystal form and inhale the smoke.

Immediate Effects

When you take cocaine, your body releases high levels of dopamine, a hormone that’s linked to the pleasure and reward centers in your brain.

This extreme euphoria is what we call a high. And because cocaine is a stimulant, you may also get a rush of energy from taking the drug.

Immediate side effects of cocaine can include intense emotions, including happiness, anger, or paranoia.

You may experience extreme sensitivity to sensory input, including touch, sound, and visual cues. And you may notice that you aren’t hungry on your usual schedule.

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Addictive Potential

Because of the massive dopamine release cocaine causes, it’s extremely addictive.

Our brains are hard-wired to do things that activate those pleasure centers in our brain; under normal circumstances, that may include exercise, interacting with loved ones, eating something sweet, or petting an animal.

But when you get that high from cocaine, your brain automatically wants more of that rush.

In addition to this intense pleasure, cocaine also makes the parts of your brain that handle stress extra-sensitive. So when you aren’t taking the drug, you feel even more miserable and stressed, making you crave that high even more.

You may start pursuing that high over even basic necessities like food, relationships, and other natural rewards.

Higher Tolerance

One of the major effects of long-term cocaine use is that you build up a tolerance to the drug.

The more of it you take, the more resistant your brain becomes to that rush of dopamine. This means that in order to get that same high, you have to take more and more cocaine.

Over time, the amount of cocaine you have to take to feel the same pleasure can become fatal.

Meanwhile, your stress pathways are becoming more and more sensitive, making you feel like you have to have the drug to live. And to a degree, this can be true; withdrawal from cocaine can be extremely dangerous and even toxic without medical intervention.

Temperament Changes

In addition to the short-term effects, long-term cocaine use can start to cause side effects of its own. One of the first noticeable signs can be a change in temperament.

As those stress pathways become more and more sensitized, you may notice a change in your temperament. As your cocaine use increases, you may notice that your temper is on more of a hair trigger than usual.

You may find yourself getting irritated at smaller and smaller things throughout your day. You may also have trouble settling to one particular task as you become more restless.

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Panic Attacks

This irritability can start to spill over into paranoia as time goes on. You may feel like everyone’s out to get you or you’re about to be attacked at any moment.

Your paranoia may even be related to your addiction, as you worry that people around you may know that you’re using cocaine. That paranoia can turn into full-blown panic attacks as time goes on.

In order for an episode to qualify as a panic attack, it must include at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Accelerated heart rate or palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like you’re choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying.

You may also experience limited-symptom panic attacks that include fewer than four of these symptoms.

Long Term Effects of Drug Use - He has been doing cocaine for so long the long term effects of drug use are getting worse every day.
A man sits on the couch after snorting some cocaine.

Psychosis

In some extreme cases, long-term cocaine use can lead to full-blown psychosis. Psychosis is an often-misused term, so let’s take a moment to look at what it means.

Psychosis is a mental disorder that’s characterized by a loss of touch with reality. This can be as limited as believing the world is hiding dangerous secrets and you’re the only one who sees them.

It can also be as extreme as having full-on auditory and/or visual hallucinations. Psychosis from cocaine use can be dangerous, as you may start to act on those false beliefs. You may harm yourself or others during these delusions.

Loss of Nasal Function

In addition to the mental and emotional side effects of cocaine, you’ll also experience some physical side effects. To some degree, this depends on how you use the cocaine.

For instance, if you mostly snort cocaine, you’ll start to notice a loss of nasal and sinus function. You may notice first that your sense of smell is diminishing or that you’re getting nosebleeds more frequently than usual.

Your septum may start to get irritated, and you may have a runny nose all the time. You may also start to have problems swallowing and experience some hoarseness.

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Lung Damage

If you smoke the rock crystal form of cocaine, your physical side effects will be less nose-based. Instead, you may start to see damage to your lungs. This can come in part from the damage that results from smoking any substance, but smoking cocaine can cause specific damage.

If you have asthma, smoking cocaine will make it worse. You may find that you’re short of breath, especially after something like jogging for a short distance or going up a flight of stairs.

You may develop a chronic cough, and you could even develop eosinophilic pneumonitis, a disease whose symptoms can include fever, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and even death.

Infectious Diseases

If you inject cocaine, you’re inviting a whole host of problems related to using dirty needles. One of the most notorious of these is human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, a disease that destroys your white blood cells.

HIV can also lead to auto-immune deficiency syndrome, a chronic condition that can be life-threatening if not treated correctly.

In addition to HIV and AIDS, you’re also putting yourself at risk of catching Hepatitis C. Hep C is the most dangerous form of hepatitis and can cause serious liver damage or failure.

The worst part is because Hep C doesn’t have many outward symptoms, you may not know you have it until it’s far too late and your liver is beyond hope.

Heart Damage

Cocaine use in any form can also cause serious damage to your heart and your cardiovascular systems. Your heart becomes inflamed with long-term use of the stimulant, which can make it harder for your heart to pump.

This can lead to tears in your aorta, as well as a host of other issues. Long-term cocaine use puts you at a much higher risk of stroke and seizures.

You may experience ulcers as your gastrointestinal tract struggles to get enough blood. And you might see bulging or bleeding in your brain, as well as several other forms of permanent brain damage.

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Learn More About the Long Term Effects of Drug Use

The long term effects of drug use, and cocaine use, in particular, are serious and can be deadly.

At best, you can expect a long road struggling to break free of the addictive power of the drug. At worst, you could experience a painful death or a lifetime of brain, heart, liver, and lung damage.

If you’re struggling with a cocaine addiction and you would like to break free, come see us at Pathfinders Recovery Center.

We can help you through the withdrawal process and get you started on a path to a healthier, addiction-free life.

Contact us today to take the first step to freedom.

Is it Possible to Live a Completely Sober Life?
This is What to Know

Live a Sober Life with Benefits

When it comes around to Friday or Saturday night, many of us have a routine.

We come home from work, get dressed up, and head out for a good time with friends.

Or maybe we sit down to dinner with a bottle of wine or a couple of beers, or maybe we go over to a friend’s house and smoke a joint.

Alcohol and drugs are so ingrained in our culture that living a completely sober life seems impossible.

But not only is this possible, but it can also come with some amazing benefits. Read on to learn more about how to live a sober life and what great things it can bring you.

Sober Life - Female hand rejecting glass with alcoholic beverage on blurred background. Pathfinders in Arizona has an Alcohol Rehab program to help you live a sober life.
Female hand rejecting glass with alcoholic beverage on blurred background

Have Honest Fun

Let’s start off with a simple answer to the question: sober living is possible, and it can bring a number of amazing benefits with it. For one thing, once you’re living sober, you’ll start to have more good, honest fun.

In our culture, there is an idea that you have to be drinking to have fun, but that simply isn’t true.

Think about all the amazing things you could be doing when you’re spending time in a bar, getting high, or drinking at home.

If the sun’s up, you could explore national parks or local museums, and at night, you and your friends could try different cuisines, go see local shows, or have a game night at home.

And best of all, unlike when you’re drinking or using drugs, you’ll remember every bit of fun.

Learn Healthy Coping Mechanisms

In our society, when things go wrong, people tend to turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. Everything from media to friends tells us that the response to a bad day at work is to have a stiff drink.

At the end of the week, we blow off steam and release some stress by tossing a few back or getting high with our friends.

But none of these coping mechanisms is healthy, and none of them get to the root of the issue. When you’re sober, you turn to healthier coping mechanisms like exercise, meditation, journaling, spending time with friends, and attending therapy.

And think about how much better it would feel to wake up on a Saturday morning, not hungover and crawling to the bathroom, but refreshed and ready to strap on your running shoes and go for a jog.

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Find Your Real Friends

One of the big barriers to sobriety for many people is a concern that they’ll lose their friends. After all, if you’re sober, it’s hard to hang out with friends who only hang out in bars or get high.

And since you can’t make lifestyle choices for anyone else, you may not be able to ask them to start doing something else.

We won’t deny that you may lose a few friends during your journey to sobriety. But here’s the good news: you’ll discover who your true friends are along the way, and you’ll have deeper and more genuine relationships with those people.

You become like the five people you spend the most time with, and once you start spending time sober, you’ll discover people who lead you to a better lifestyle.

Set Your Priorities Straight

When you’re using drugs, alcohol or otherwise, your priorities in life become warped. That substance starts to act like gravity, and your need for it pulls everything in your life out of perspective.

You may find that you aren’t where you want to be in your relationships, your career, or your personal achievements.

Once you start living sober, you can set your priorities back in line. You no longer have that substance demanding your time and resources, so you can start looking with fresh eyes at what you want in life.

You can rediscover what’s truly important in life and take steps to make that a priority in your daily routine.

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Discover New Opportunities

Drinking or getting high puts you in a haze in your life, and you may find that you’re missing out on some amazing opportunities. Maybe you’re stuck in a dead-end job because you can’t manage to go above and beyond in your performance.

Maybe you’re in a relationship that’s going nowhere because you can’t see how you could get anything better.

But once you’re sober, those doors start to open back up again. You have more energy and resources to put into doing the best work you can at your job, and you discover that you don’t have to stay in that toxic relationship.

You can begin to move onto better things in your life without the distraction of substance use weighing you down.

Become Financially Free

One of the consequences of drug use we don’t think about very often is the financial impact. Drinks are expensive, and drugs no less so.

You may be spending a lot of your money every week on alcohol or drugs, and that means you have a lot less money to spend in the important areas of life.

Imagine how much money you would have at the end of a year if you took the money you’re spending on drinks or drugs and put it into a savings account.

How long would it be until you could make a down payment on a car or go on a nice trip? How much longer until you could pay off all your debt or buy a house?

Sober Life - A man living the sober life does yoga in the desert. Since he has become sober he takes care of himself and enjoys the things around him.
A man does yoga in the desert.

Learn to Love Yourself

Oftentimes, when we’re drinking or using drugs, it’s because we don’t feel like we’re able to cope with life on our own. We may feel weak or unloved, and so we use these substances to cope.

And if you’ve tried getting sober in the past and failed, that may be weighing on you as proof that you aren’t good enough.

But as with every other area of your life, once you’re sober, you’ll be able to see yourself more clearly. You’ll start to see all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and the beauty you live in each day.

You’ll also be able to take pride each day in the fact that you’re making the best choices for your life and your health.

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Help Others Around You

Once you’re on the path to sober living, you’ll also be gifted with a tremendous opportunity: the chance to help others around you.

For one thing, you’ll have more resources to contribute to things like volunteering or donating to charities if you wish. But you can also act as a role model to others working to get sober.

When you’re getting sober, you may have a role model or sponsor who helps you along the way. This person serves as an inspiration and a guide through the toughest parts of your journey.

And eventually, you may be able to play that role for someone else, helping them to unlock their best life.

Take It One Step at a Time

So how do you go about pursuing all these benefits of the sober life? One of the big tricks is to take things one step at a time.

If you’re dealing with an addiction, consider seeking treatment and help with both the withdrawal process and the steps to come.

From there, take things one little step at a time. However long you think you can go without drinking or using drugs, do that, and then tackle the next section of time.

This may mean taking things one hour at a time, but if you string enough consecutive hours together, eventually, you have a lifestyle of sobriety.

Find New Hobbies

When you’re getting sober, you may suddenly find that you have a ton of time on your hands. During the time you used to drink or get high, you’re now at loose ends.

And it’s very important to fill that time or it can become easy to slip back into old habits.

Pick up some new hobbies to fill that extra space in your life. For some people, this means working out, and for others, it’s volunteering.

You may get involved with a D&D game in your area or start learning woodworking or cake decorating or start attending improv or ballroom dance lessons in your area; pick something that sounds fun to you, and roll with it!

Be Kind to Yourself

Most of all, during this time, you need to be kind to yourself. Remember, one of the goals of getting sober is to feel better about yourself. And there may be setbacks during this time, but it’s never too late to get up and try again; in fact, you’ll be stronger for doing so.

Take time out for self-care during this time in your life. Reward yourself for hitting certain milestones, and don’t beat yourself up if things go off the rails for a bit.

Surround yourself with people who support you, and do your best to be good to yourself on your journey to sobriety.

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Learn How to Live a Sober Life

Living a sober life can be a challenge, but it’s one that’s more than worth the effort.

You’ll find yourself more fulfilled, happier, more connected, and better off than when you were drinking or using drugs.

Find the support you need, and be gentle with yourself as you journey down the path to a sober life.

If you’d like to start on your sober living journey today, reach out to us at Pathfinders Recovery Centers.

We treat a variety of addictions, ranging from alcoholism to heroin, meth, and prescription pill addictions.

Contact us today to start on the path to living a better life.

Everything You Need to Know About Overdose Prevention Toolkits

More than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2017. More than half of those deaths were due to opioids.

Every day we read another article about someone dying from opioid abuse. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and beloved celebrities like Prince, and most recently Demi Lovato, are falling victim to these drugs.

Which is why the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) has recently released updates to its Overdose Prevention Toolkits. These toolkits are helpful for overdose prevention.

They can save someone’s life. But first, you need to understand what these toolkits are for and how to use them properly.

Keep reading to learn about overdose awareness and how to use the opioid overdose kit.

Facts About Overdose Prevention

Part of the problem when dealing with opioids is that those who do not use or abuse these drugs aren’t aware of what the signs of an overdose are. Recognizing the signs in a timely manner can help save someone’s life. Let’s go over the signs now.

Signs of an Overdose

One way to promote overdose prevention is by sharing the common signs of an overdose. Since people rarely die immediately from an overdose, there’s usually time to help save a life by knowing how to respond.

When in doubt, call 911.

If someone has lost consciousness or is unresponsive to outside stimuli, it’s a good chance they’re overdosing. Check to see if their breathing is slow, shallow, erratic or has stopped altogether. A limp body is also a sign they’re overdosing.

A slow, erratic or not there pulse is also a sign someone is in distress and needs immediate help.

Listen for the “Death Rattle”

In some cases, the person may be awake, but if they are unable to speak, it’s a sign they could be overdosing. Listen for choking or a gurgling noise that sounds similar to someone snoring, this is known as the “death rattle”.

Those with lighter skin, their skin tone may turn a bluish purple. For those with darker skin, their skin tone may appear ashen or grayish. In either case, their face will be pale and/or clammy. Check their nails and lips to see if they’re turning purplish black or blue.

Another sign of an overdose is vomiting.

Signs Someone is High on Opioids

Seeing someone high on opioids or heroin-based drugs can seem very scary to those who don’t abuse drugs. But if you’re worried someone is getting too high, it’s important not to leave them alone.

If this happens to you, monitor their breathing and keep them awake by walking them around.

To help you recognize the signs of opioid abuse, check their pupils. Their pupils will be contracted and look smaller than normal.

Their muscles may be droopy and it’s difficult for them to walk or function properly. They may start passing out. Their speech may be affected and slurring is possible.

Check to see if they appear to be scratching at itchy skin or if they start passing out but then respond to you shaking them or reacting to a loud noise.

If you feel you are out of your depths with helping someone you believe is overdosing, call 911 and ask for help.

Those Who are Most at Risk

Addictions don’t happen overnight. And those who are addicted often hide it well from others. Part of overdose awareness is understanding who is most at risk. Let’s take a look.

Long-Term Pain Management Users

Many people rely on opioids to manage their long-term pain. When used correctly, opioids are very helpful. Unfortunately, when used in the long-term, it can easily lead to overuse.

As the body builds up a tolerance, some people may begin to take more to get the same type of relief they were previously.

Others who are receiving opioid medication regimens are at a higher risk for incomplete cross-tolerance.

Abuse Drugs or Have a History of Drug Abuse

Those who have a history of substance abuse are also at high risk for overdosing or abusing opioids. And those who are currently abusing illicit drugs also have a higher risk of overdosing.

What the Opioid Overdose Kit Does

The opioid overdose kit was created to help 911 First Responders, medical personnel, and the public deal with the opioid crisis. The more all of us understand how dangerous opioids are and that we can all help, the more lives we can save.

If you believe you are witnessing someone have an overdose or if you believe you are overdosing, do not wait. Call 911 immediately. First responders are trained in overdose prevention.

However, First Responders are the last tool in preventing an overdose. Physicians and the support of friends and family can help prevent abuse in the first place. Keep reading to learn how.

How Prescribers Can Prevent Opioid Abuse

It’s incredibly important for physicians who prescribe opioids to their patients to carefully monitor the patient for the entire duration of them taking the drugs. Physicians should first ask the patient if there is a history of drug abuse.

State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

To help combat opioid abuse, many states have developed a prescription drug monitoring program. This way, a physician can check to see if a patient is being prescribed other medications from another doctor.

Choosing the Appropriate Medication

Part of overdose awareness is having the physician make choices on what type of medication is most appropriate based on a few factors.

First, the severity of the problem should be taken into account. Doctors should err on the side of caution rather than prescribing strong drugs for minor issues.

The doctor also needs to take into account how well the patient is able to take their medications properly. Those on opioids long-term should be closely monitored with follow up appointments.

The doctor needs to take into consideration the likelihood of the prescribed drug becoming a risk factor for the patient. Some drugs aren’t as habit-forming as others.

Educate the Patient

Every physician should carefully explain the effects all prescribed medications will have on them. Patients need to understand the likelihood of abusing the drugs and how to ask for help if they find they are becoming more dependent on them.

All patients should fully understand the risks and benefits of any medication they are prescribed.

And those patients who are taking a high-risk medication or are at a higher risk for abuse, a physician should consider prescribing Naxolone in the event of an overdose.

When to End the Prescription

In some cases, it’s necessary to end the prescription because the patient is showing signs of abuse. Here’s how to recognize those signs.

If the patient is caught altering or selling their prescriptions or has engaged in doctor shopping, it’s time to stop the behavior. And if a patient is consistently running out of their medication too early or they are threatening a physician, it’s time to get them the help they need.

How Yourself and Others Can Help

When someone is abusing drugs, it’s important for everyone to get involved to aid in overdose prevention. The opioid overdose kit helps friends and family spot the warning signs and provides them with information on appropriate actions to take.

All drugs should always be kept in a safe place away from children and animals. If possible, keep your prescription narcotics in a locked space so that other family members aren’t tempted.

If you are on opioids that are prescribed by your doctor, only take the medicine as it’s been prescribed by your doctor.

Mixing your prescription drugs with alcohol or other drugs is dangerous. It’s very easy to overdose when too many substances are in your body. Do not mix your drugs.

When someone in the family is taking an opioid, or other strong prescription drugs, it’s very important that everyone knows what the signs of an overdose are. Everyone in the household should also know what steps to take in case of an overdose.

Always properly dispose of any unused medications. It’s not safe to leave them lying around.

What is Naxolone

Naxolone, otherwise known as Narcan is an extremely important part of the opioid overdose kit. This drug is the antidote to an opioid overdose as it reverses the effects of the opioid.

However, Naxolone does not act as an overdose prevention when a person has taken benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin or Xanax. Naxolone also won’t work against barbiturates like Florinal or Seconal.

And Naxolone won’t work if the person has taken stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine. However, if the person mixed other drugs along with an opioid, it is possible that Naxolone will work.

Side Effects and Dangers of Naxolone

There are many possible side effects of Naxolone. It’s also possible to experience side effects of opioid withdrawal after being administered Naxolone.

Immediately call 911 or your physician if you’ve been administered Naxolone and experience things like chest pain or fast heartbeats. Naxolone may also cause vomiting, sweating, and a severe headache.

You may experience convulsions or slow breathing. It’s also possible to experience an allergic reaction to Naxolone.

Get Help Today

The most tragic part of overdose prevention is that most overdose deaths can be prevented. Overdose awareness needs to continue so that everyone knows the warning signs.

The stigma of seeking out help needs to be removed. Everyone deserves to be supported and feel safe.

If you or a loved one needs help, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us today and we’ll help you find out how much of your rehabilitation process is covered by your insurance.

Understanding the Opioid Epidemic in Arizona

The United States as a whole is facing a health crisis of epic proportions. More and more Americans are becoming addicted to – and dying from – opioids. Not one American state goes unscathed. Arizona, in particular, has slowly taken a big hit over the last decade. The opioid epidemic in Arizona now claims the lives of two people each day. The state has begun to collect data regarding opioid abuse. And recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield invested $10 million to reduce opiate misuse. But despite the efforts, many Arizonans are still misinformed about the state-wide epidemic. To help, we’ll explore everything about Arizona’s opioid crisis in this article.

Let’s begin!

When Did the Opioid Epidemic Begin?

The opiate epidemic is a recent phenomenon that has slowly been in the works since the 1990’s. But the presence of opiates in the United States dates as far back as the country’s foundation.

Early History of Opiates in the United States

It’s believed that opium first came over along with the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. Back then, people used the opium poppy for the same reasons that doctors prescribe them today. Opiates have long treated pain, diarrhea, coughing, and also works as a sedative.

addiction treatment, heroin addiction treatment, dual diagnosis treatment center in arizona, cooccurring disorders treatment, meth detox scottsdale arizona, meth rehab arizonaBy the 19th century, Americans used opium to treat a wide range of medical issues. Doctors prescribed morphine to dying patients suffering from cancer.

Medics also used morphine as an anesthetic. It’s probable that medics administered morphine during the Mexican-American War. It’s also likely that physicians who settled in Arizona brought over opiates. Patented medications for teething and menstrual cramps began to contain opium. After the Civil War, the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, introduced heroin on the national market. Following this, heroin became widely used as a medicine into the early 20th century.

20th Century Stigmatization

In the early 1900’s, the federal government outlawed opiates in all its forms. Doctors could only prescribe them in medically necessary situations.

But even so, physicians during this time were vastly limited when it came to prescribing them. They were also limited when it came to treating opiate addiction. Despite all this, drug abuse continued to increase across the United States. During Prohibition, opiate users were further stigmatized. The concept of “junkie” came into being during this time.

The Rise of Prescription Painkillers

recovery center in scottsdale, recovery center in arizona, recovery center in phoenix, addiction treatment center, dual diagnosis recovery center, dual diagnosis treatment, heroin addiction help, get sober todayAmerican physicians continued to fight for the right to prescribe opiates. Soon after, the federal government began to recognize the medical value of opiates. By the 1960’s, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and other synthetic opiates came into being. Recreational opiate and heroin use skyrocketed during this time. Fears of prescribing opiates arose once again.

But despite all this, the prescription painkiller market surged – and continues to. Even though opiate addiction is now at an all-time high, it’s a problem that our nation has faced for over a century.

Why & How Did the Opioid Epidemic Happen?

Medicine and science have never been as advanced as it is today. We understand how to treat many diseases and conditions a lot better than we used to. However, our understanding of how to treat pain is still extremely weak. And to a large extent, the opioid crisis that our nation and the state of Arizona faces results from this.

Doctors Don’t Understand Pain Treatment & Management

It’s estimated that 100 million Americans live with chronic pain.

With such a big number as this, physicians would seem to have a better understanding of treatment. But that is, unfortunately, not the case.

Doctors only receive about 9 hours of education about pain over the course of medical school. To make matters worse, the federal government doesn’t adequately fund pain research. In fact, the National Institutes of Health only spend 1% of its budget ($358 million) per year on pain research.

Many doctors don’t understand how addictive opiates can be. They don’t understand how to wean their patients off them. Many patients wind up misusing their prescriptions, becoming addicted as a result.

Do Physicians Over-Prescribe Opiates?

It was once believed that American physicians under-prescribed opiates for pain treatment. Because of widespread stigmas against opiates, many doctors continue to fear to prescribe them. But that’s not to say that physicians aren’t over-prescribing them, either.

Many Americans in need of relief don’t have enough access to painkillers. Only about 5% of chronic pain patients have prescriptions for painkillers. But to a larger extent, Americans may have too much access to prescription opiates.

It’s known that some pharmaceutical companies have vigorous lobbying and marketing campaigns. Physicians are often the target of these marketing ploys.

In 2016, doctors prescribed 431 million painkillers. This was enough for every Arizonan to have a 2.5 week supply.

And again, many doctors don’t understand how to adequately treat patients with opiates. As of 2016, more than 70% of overdose fatalities occurred among patients who became addicted while treating their chronic pain. In Arizona, 4 out of 5 new heroin users start because of prescription painkiller misuse.

Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover Alternative Medicine

The opioid overdose epidemic has caused many pain patients to turn to other forms of therapy.

We’ve all heard of physical therapy and alternative therapy, like acupuncture and chiropractic. These forms of therapy yield great results in the treatment and management of pain. But many people suffering in pain are unable to afford them.

Certain health insurance policies may cover acupuncture, biofeedback, massage therapy, and chiropractic care. But as of 2007, Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket for alternative medicine.

This figure is likely much higher today. With high health insurance premiums, many Americans are unable to afford alternative medicine. In Arizona, 17% of residents are still uninsured as rates continue to increase for the insured.

Heroin as a Cheap and Dangerous Substitute

Millions of Americans not only suffer from chronic pain. Many of them are unable to obtain and afford adequate treatment. And many who take prescription painkillers find themselves prone to addiction.

As a result of these factors, many people have turned to heroin for relief.

Heroin and prescription painkillers are all derived from opium. Heroin is specifically derived from morphine while painkillers come from codeine. Despite the slight variations, heroin has the same – if not, a more powerful – effect as painkillers.

Heroin is not only a substitute for painkillers. It’s cheaper and easier to obtain.

In fact, a bag of heroin costs less than a pack of cigarettes. This means that in Arizona, a bag of heroin can cost anywhere from $5-$8.

Most heroin in the United States comes from Mexico. With Arizona right on the Mexican border, heroin is readily available on the streets.

Opioid and prescription overdoses in Arizona have increased in the last few years. But since 2016, heroin overdoses have tripled in Arizona.

Where Are Overdoses Occurring in Arizona?

Opiate overdoses have occurred in both urban and rural Arizona. But some areas are more ravaged by overdoses than others.

A concentration of overdoses has occurred all over the Phoenix metropolitan area. The northeast parts of the Tucson metropolitan area has also experienced many.

The cities of Buckeye, Flagstaff, and Kingman – and all surrounding areas – have also had high overdoses.

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic in Arizona

The opioid crisis has been in the making to become an epidemic since the 19th century. American physicians continue to prescribe painkillers without a firm understanding of them. Nor does the medical community understand how to provide adequate pain treatment.

With rising healthcare costs, many people addicted to painkillers are turning to heroin.

Many Arizonans wonder what is being done to address the opioid epidemic in Arizona. Here’s how the state is fighting the epidemic as of now.

Naloxone

In 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared opioid overdoses a public health emergency. Since then, the state has integrated Naloxone as part of its efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

Slow breathing occurs with opiate use. But when someone overdoses, their breathing can stop altogether. It can also be near impossible to wake someone up while they’re overdosing.

Naloxone, otherwise known by its brand name, Narcan, is a narcotic blocker. When administered, it reverses the effects of opioids. It comes in the form of injections and nasal sprays.

The state of Arizona has trained emergency personnel on how to administer Narcan. Recently, Narcan became available at CVS stores across Arizona.

Narcan is by no means a cure for the opiate epidemic. However, it is an antidote that is saving more lives every day across the United States.

Arizona Opioid Emergency Action Plan

Since the declaration of Arizona’s opioid crisis, opioid overdose cases have decreased.

Statewide overdoses began to decrease after the implementation of new prescription guidelines. This decreasing trend also coincided with the state’s surveillance reporting system.

The Opioid Action Plan came into enactment in September 2017. The action plan aims to increase patient and public awareness as prevention methods. The plan also improves prescription practices and access to treatment facilities.

The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act took effect in April 2018. This law enforces limitations on prescription opioids.

Under this law, physicians can no longer dispense prescriptions themselves. Physicians who prescribe opiates must take routine education courses on opioids. Pharmacies are also required to check into the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.

Seeking Help for Opioid Addiction

Huge strides in the fight against opioid addiction have occurred in Arizona. But the opioid epidemic in Arizona is still alive and well, much like it is in the rest of the United States.

Still, there is hope for the future of Arizonans affected by opiate addiction.

Do you or someone you know suffer from heroin or painkiller addiction? A healthier and sober future is possible, and the Pathfinders Recovery Center is here to help.

To learn more about how we can help you at our Scottsdale, AZ facility, contact us today!

 

The Stigma Of Addiction: How Do I Break It?

What is Alcoholism?

In 1956, alcoholism was classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. The definition of a disease is “a quality, habit, or disposition regarded as adversely affecting a person or a group of people.”

The AMA’s conclusion is fitting to say the least. Today, alcoholism is a part of a much larger epidemic – the disease of addiction. Unlike physical ailments, alcohol addiction has become a serious societal issue, one plagued by stigmas and stereotypes. People often say, “Addicts are weak, they just need to toughen up and quit,” or, “Addicts are liars, burnouts and waste of space,” and “Addicts are bad people and criminals.”

All too often these types of judgmental statements are spoken. The purpose of this article is to give the reader a glimpse into what it is like to be an addict.


How Alcoholism Starts

stigma-of-alcoholismOutside circumstances vary drastically, but internally most addicts, including myself, have similar experiences although it can often feel like they’re the only one.

You’re introduced to a substance, you try it, and you like the way it makes you feel. In the beginning the substances make you feel euphoria, and for the potential addict, you just want to do it again. It’s a slow and gradual decline of one’s power of choice and into dependency.

 


Becoming An Addict

beginning-of-alcohol-addictionAs time goes on our tolerance for the substances gets greater. Leaving us needing more of our drug of choice in order to become intoxicated. So, what does any motivated addict do at this point?

More drugs and alcohol of course.

A non-addict may be able to anticipate what might happen if they continue down this path and decide to turn it around. This isn’t so with the real addict from our experience. What we see is delusions crop up, and from this altered reality we are able to find justifications for our actions.

Here is an example: a close friend of yours approaches you and says, “I think you should slow down with partying. I’m worried about you and you do not seem like yourself lately.” The non-addict’s thought process might lead to some introspection like, “Are they right? Am I getting carried away? Maybe I should take it easy for a while.” An addict on the other hand may say, “They don’t know what they’re talking about! I’m fine and if they can’t accept me for who I am, then I don’t need them in my life.” This defensiveness and sometimes anger comes quickly when someone challenges them or they think they may lose their drug, which is one reason so many addicts become alienated from the people in their lives. This cycle goes on until you have reached the no man’s land of dependency.


Active Full Blown Addiction

Once an addict has reached the stage of full-blown dependency, it is incredibly difficult to stop. When I was using, you could have given me a lie detector test and I would have been telling the truth when I said I believed to my core that there was no chance that I could stop.

The physiological make-up of my body had changed. This is true with all addicts. As a person in long term recovery, I wanted to get clean for years before I was actually able to make it stick. Allow me to emphasize the important part of that statement. I wanted to get clean for years.

When an addict feels like they can’t stop using, they often feel ashamed, weak and like a failure. Having the world say the same and worse, contributes to an addict’s need to detach from those feelings on some level, so they just keep using. Punishing and condemning addicts, bad mouthing them and judging them will never help this problem. It doesn’t help the addict, nor does it benefit the world as a whole as society continues to perpetuate the cycle. What is needed is an educated society that understands the issue and its complexities, and how best to approach it.


The Recovery Process

Since the founders of Pathfinders Recovery Center have been in recovery we have found that addicts, and people in general for that matter, are capable of great things. The same men and women that come from dark, selfish, and lonely pasts are now selfless and caring, with a unique compassion for their fellow man. One in ten adult people in this nation are struggling with some form of addiction, and only one in ten of those people get help. These statistics are staggering. This disease does not discriminate. There are politicians, lawyers, policemen, doctors, pilots, therapists, and all other professions. We are your neighbors, your friends, your pastor, and your child’s school teacher. Before judging and condemning addicts, please remember that these people you are talking about are sick. Very sick. The power of choice is more than likely no longer in their grasp. They need compassion and understanding. They need help, and to be shown there is a way out.

For more information and the science behind each chemical’s effect on the body view our earlier blog posts or contact a Pathfinders Recovery Center founder directly at (855) 728-4363.