Addiction Aftercare

What is Addiction Aftercare?

Addiction aftercare is an important part of ensuring long-term sobriety.

Sobriety does not always begin and end in an addiction treatment program.

Long-term sobriety requires a long-term commitment.

This is where addiction aftercare comes in. When you complete an addiction treatment program, you may be anxious about what happens next.

When you choose Pathfinders’ luxury treatment center, we will help you find guidance and support long after your program is complete.

Choosing Pathfinders means choosing long-term sobriety and incredible peace of mind.

Addiction Aftercare Pathfinders - A group of individuals that has completed treatment is taking part in a group therapy session at a reputable rehab center for addiction aftercare to ensure they stay on the path of sobriety

Addiction Treatment and Addiction Aftercare

There are many options available to you when it comes to addiction treatment programs and addiction aftercare programs, .

Whether you have completed a residential inpatient program, outpatient program, or a supplemental treatment that landed somewhere in between, you may not feel ready yet to face your sobriety alone.

During your addiction treatment, you learned how to build healthy support systems, habits, and coping mechanisms. You learned how to manage your addiction and avoid relapse.

But, what happens when you feel unprepared to face these tasks alone? You choose not to.

Professionals in addiction health care have long sworn that remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.

Research in this area shows us that most people will need at least three months in treatment to reduce or stop their drug use significantly.

They take it a step further to ensure that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.

Whether your addiction treatment program lasted 30 days or one year, the support and guidance you receive only stop there if you let them.

Addiction aftercare is ideal for those who need help enforcing their sobriety, building effective support systems, and participating in recovery groups that will help keep you on track.

 

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Why is Addiction Aftercare is Often Necessary?

As you likely know by now, addiction is a chronic illness. This is not something to hide or be ashamed of.

Addiction is chronic the same way diabetes is.

Removing the stigma from your addiction will help you reevaluate your need for continued care.

Addiction, whether it is drugs or alcohol, is lifelong.

There is no quick fix or cure.

The good thing is that addiction can be effectively managed and treated with comprehensive care and long-term support.

There is no shame in admitting that you are not ready to face your sobriety alone.

This is the reason why addiction aftercare was created.

We want you to have access to medical, physical, and emotional support, guidance, and ongoing maintenance for as long as you need it.

We will help you manage your disorder so you can maintain your sobriety and good health.

Maintaining your sobriety and health can also improve all other aspects of your life.

As you progress through addiction aftercare, you may notice that you have naturally developed better communication skills, relationships, and financial habits.

 

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Addiction Aftercare vs. Other Addiction Treatment Programs

During your initial addiction treatment program, you have gone through the detox, withdrawals, and the early learning stage.

You have developed a deeper understanding of your addiction and the underlying factors that contribute to it.

You have used therapeutic and holistic techniques to improve your mental and physical health.

Achieving sobriety in your addiction treatment program is a major accomplishment to be celebrated.

But, it is not one that should later bring you fear.

Once your program ends, you should not feel like you have to move forward alone from here.

Addiction Aftercare Settings

Addiction aftercare is simply the next logical step after you achieve initial sobriety.

It can be done in an inpatient setting, intensive outpatient, or traditional outpatient setting.

12-step programs are some of the most common addiction aftercare services.

In any setting, addiction aftercare can help you find support in a safe and comfortable environment, and make it easier to avoid relapse.

It comes as no surprise that patients who participate in addiction aftercare programs often experience lower relapse rates than patients who do not.

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get the care you need.

We will tailor your addiction aftercare program to best meet your unique needs and circumstances.

Addiction Aftercare Pathfinders - A man who has completed his initial addiction treatment is now participating in addiction aftercare by virtually holding a one-on-one counseling session with an experienced rehab facilitator to help him stay free from addiction

 

Recovery Groups

When you are working toward long-term sobriety and a healthy, fulfilled life, seeking addiction aftercare in recovery groups can help in various ways.

Participating in addiction management in group settings helps you hold yourself accountable. You will also be able to swap stories with others on the same journey and learn from their experiences.

This may feel strange or uncomfortable for addicts starting their original addiction treatment program.

But, you are likely used to group settings by now. In recovery groups, you can benefit from a supportive environment, receive encouragement and advice, and maintain anonymity if you choose.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two of the most common examples of these groups. They provide social and complementary support to other addiction treatments.

In these types of settings, you can continue to develop effective strategies for dealing with stress and managing your condition.

Common Problems After Addiction Treatment

The same way that your original addiction treatment program did not rely on a singular technique; your addiction aftercare program will not, either.

Addictions often come with ongoing, systemic issues.

Maintaining your sobriety will include overcoming barriers and hurdles after your program ends.

You may have trouble finding a job or home. You may face distressing legal troubles, as well.

The stress and worry that stem from complications like these can be significant triggers for substance abuse.

Avoiding relapse will require a dedicated, long-term approach.

Addiction aftercare can help.

 

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Treatment Methods Used in Addiction Aftercare

Depending on your needs, you may have access to many of the following:

  • Career guidance and support
  • Legal guidance and support
  • Support through life transitions like relocations, job changes, and family problems
  • Ongoing case and addiction management
  • Substance monitoring
  • Life coaching and effective goal setting
  • Relationship and support group building
  • Academic support for those furthering their education
  • Support and guidance with budgeting and general financial planning

Addiction aftercare focuses on providing help, encouragement, guidance, and advice on maintaining sobriety and building the life you want.

Many people who have struggled with addiction do not have these same types of support systems at home.

We are here to fill in the gaps.

You have everything you need within you to build the life you choose.

Let us help you work through all of the other details and set you firmly on the path to finding it.

Paying for Addiction Aftercare

Most major insurance providers help in covering the cost of addiction treatments.

At Pathfinders, we accept most major insurance providers to make it easier for our patients to get the care they need and deserve.

If you are unsure of your coverage, call our addiction counselor to get an insurance verification.

They are always available to help.

If you do not have insurance, they will be happy to discuss each of your treatment and payment options to work out what is best for you.

 

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Pathfinders’ Addiction Aftercare

Pathfinders Recovery Center offers luxury addiction treatments that meet a variety of needs.

We have received the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.

We are proud to have committed ourselves to provide comprehensive care throughout each stage of the recovery process.

Whether you completed your initial program here or elsewhere, our addiction aftercare is open to you.

We are here to help you achieve a sober life so you can reach each of your long-term goals.

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.
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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.

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!

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!

 

10 Defeating Attitudes in Early Sobriety and How To Combat Them

Getting sober is one of, if not the hardest thing that us addicts will ever have to do. The journey to long term recovery is a hard one, often bumpy and filled with difficult personal and emotional challenges. Here are some thoughts and belief systems that commonly come up for us amongst early sobriety to be aware of, watch out for, and discard when they creep in!

1. The Non Sober People Are More Fun

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Addicts in general, myself included spend our time trying to do WHATEVER we can to “feel good” in the moment.  Sometimes life is not going to feel good and that is when we do not know how to handle it. That being said, the guys and gals that are goofing off, not working on themselves and acting out in negative self-defeating behaviors may appear to be having more fun…but talk to them when they relapse, get arrested, or end up back in treatment or at a 12-step meeting getting another new comer chip and ask yourself if that looks like fun? No judgement here, the thing is nothing changes until something changes and you must do things you have never done to get where you have never been period – simple as that.

2. I Am Not Ready To Be Sober Yet

You have hit your bottom once you have quit digging. Some people lose everything, die, get locked up ect…some other people end up realizing it much quicker and don’t lose much but can see where their life is heading and make the effort to change it quicker. So please don’t let your mind give you this excuse, it’s not true!

3. This Won’t Work For Me

Here is the thing…how can we know something that we don’t know…we can’t. Just because my mind is telling me that I know something does not mean it’s true. Find a mentor that has been where you’ve been and be open minded to having a new experience. Do what they say and great things will follow.

4. I’m Unique and Worse Than Everyone

This one always gives me a laugh because I can relate so strongly. Almost every addict I’ve had the pleasure of working with at one point or another experiences this thought. I have found out that I am not special or different and when I look for similarities instead of differences I can relate to some people I would never have expected to be able to.

5. I can do this on my own

In my experience this was not true. However, I will say if you truly believe that you can give it a try. If it doesn’t work, then try a treatment center and entering into a 12-step program.

6. Thinking The Answer is on the Outside, Not on the Inside

I need to quit smoking, get a job, enroll in college…TODAY !”. Relax, Rome wasn’t built in a day and we have to crawl before we can walk. You do not have to conquer all of your problems today. Keep it simple and make small realistic goals for yourself and overtime the upheaval and redemption of your life will be astonishing! Give yourself some time to really work on you in the beginning the rest will follow.

7. I Don’t Deserve A Better Life

This is not true for anyone – ever. Period. There is a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us. Take it easy on yourself, learn to forgive and love yourself. This is a process that is difficult and takes time but I promise you can do it and we will love you until you love yourself!

8. Nobody Cares About Me Anyway

I felt this way coming into recovery and what I found was the exact opposite. It was amazing how many people put their hand out to help me when all I did was simply become willing and ask for the help.

9. I’ve Tried Everything And Nothing Has Worked

No one has tried everything. There are variables to consider here. For instance, something I may have “tried” could work if I changed my perspective, applied myself and engaged in it with an open mind if I was closed off the first time. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective.

10. I will control my use… it will be different this time!

If you are really an addict or alcoholic your own experience is the best test here.  Did you ever “just do one”?  Were you able to easily stop all substances at once at any time without any difficulty?  If you’re truly an addict or alcoholic all you have to do is be honest with yourself and reflect on your experience to see that this not true.  You’re not alone here we have all fallen victim to this way of thinking and it keeps us in addiction much longer than necessary.

Addiction and Loneliness

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

What Does Loneliness Look Like?

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

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

A History Of Failure

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

overdose-death-stats

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Adapting To The Environment

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

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

Finding Solutions To The Drug Problem

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

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

Helpful Tips to Overcome Loneliness and Addiction

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

Contact Us

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

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