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When a parent engages in prolonged and untreated drug abuse, their children are invariably the primary casualties. In addition to vulnerability to the immediate physical health risks of prenatal drug use, children of drug-addicted parents are robbed of the love, support, stability, and sense of home to which every child has a right. As opioid addiction continues to escalate, more and more children are immediately falling victim to the dangers of heroin and prescription painkidrug-addiction/painkiller/llers before they even take their first breaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of babies born with opioid withdrawal syndrome (from mothers who abused painkillers or heroin while pregnant) has quadrupled over the past fifteen years. A previous study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicated a 500 percent increase from 2000 to 2012. Even if babies manage to escape the dangers of drug-addicted parents during infancy, they are often deeply affected as they grow up.

A Tragically Common Problem

Growing up with drug-addicted parents can and often does have a lasting impact on children, following them well into adulthood. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that nearly nine million children ages seventeen years or younger are living in households with at least one parent who had a past year substance use disorder (SUD). An estimated 12 percent of children in this country live with a parent who is dependent on or abuses alcohol or other drugs. Each and every one of these children is at heightened vulnerability to daily and long-term maltreatment, including abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) indicates that parental substance abuse is frequently reported as a reason for removal, particularly in combination with neglect.

Immediate Impact (Health and Quality of Life)

The consequences of parental drug and alcohol abuse show up in practically every aspect of a child’s life, from their physical health to their grasping of social norms to their ability to form healthy relationships with their peers and their ability to trust adults, and so on.

Some of the common short-term issues that children with addicted parents face include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor health, stemming from less frequent doctor’s appointments and overall lax attention to medical care.
  • Declining academic performance, stemming from domestic dysfunction and lack of parental involvement.
  • Social isolation due to inability to interact.
  • Poor hygiene and lax grooming habits.
  • Trust issues because of abuse or neglect.
    economic hardship.

Each child will display different signals, depending upon the scope and severity of the problem. Some children are very good at hiding family dysfunction even at a very young age. These immediate factors can create long-term adversity that can ultimately form a child’s worldview to impact their decision-making well into their adulthood.

Into Adulthood: Long-Term Impact

Children of drug-addicted parents are very often exposed to things to which no child should ever have to bear witness, whether it’s domestic violence, overdose of a parent or a parent’s friend, incarceration of a parent, or any other trauma. Exposure to these factors can and very often does create long-term challenges when these children reach adulthood. Data from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids indicates that children of addicted parents are more likely to experience depression in adulthood. Multiple studies, including a recent survey from the University of North Carolina, indicate that compared to their peers, children of substance abusing parents show increased rates of anxiety, depression, oppositional behavior, conduct problems, and aggressive behavior, as well as lower rates of self-esteem and social competence.
Perhaps the most tragic element of parental substance abuse is its often-cyclical nature and how it is often handed down to the child. Among countless other findings, SAMHSA reports that children of alcoholics are as much as four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves, compared to children living in sober families. The agency also reports that parental SUD unequivocally puts children at higher risks of illicit drug use.

Addressing the Comprehensive Needs of Children of Addicted Parents

Although children living with drug-addicted parents engage in similar struggles, each child’s care needs are unique and should be treated as such. There are multiple and increasing resources for children either looking to get their parents help or just looking for a semblance of normality amidst the chaos of their dysfunctional home lives. If you’re a child living with an addicted parent, it’s critical that you realize it’s not your fault. Internalizing your parent’s substance abuse will only cause you added grief and potentially create long-term future mental health issues. You don’t have to take on this problem by yourself. If you have questions regarding drug-addicted parents and the effects on children please feel free to contact one of our treatment specialists anytime.

Resources:

The post Drug-Addicted Parents and the Effects on Their Children appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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Taking drugs and abusing alcohol is very harmful to any individual, but for pregnant women struggling with these issues, it can be dangerous for not only yourself but also the child you are carrying in your womb. Women that abuse these substances have an increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage, stillborn birth or other serious complications.  Continue reading to learn more about the dangers of drugs and pregnancy.

While taking medications is not dangerous in and of itself, it is the combination of certain medicine and the addition of alcohol that can cause harm to the body and the baby. It is always best to avoid alcohol at all costs and to talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking while you are pregnant.

What Happens to the Baby When I Take Certain Substances? Cigarettes

When you smoke a cigarette, you are directly harming the child’s brain development as it blocks the oxygen delivery to the unborn child. It is proven that the effects of nicotine associated with smoking a cigarette are higher for the fetus than for the mother. Babies that are around cigarette smoke have been known to develop lung issues of all types as well as problems with their hearing and eyesight.

If you are pregnant, you need to stop smoking immediately to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, but you also need to avoid areas where cigarette smoke is present. Exposing an unborn child to cigarette smoke increases their risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and can cause a lower birth weight for the child.

Alcohol

Taking even one sip of alcohol while pregnant can harm your unborn child. Miscarriages and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are direct results of taking just one drink. While some people might like to think they can control the amount they consume, taking only one sip opens the door to potentially harming your child. The best way to not get in this situation is to avoid alcohol altogether. As much as doctors try to convince women that this is a dangerous habit while pregnant, there are over half a million women that have admitted to drinking while pregnant. Don’t be one of these women!

Cocaine

The women that use cocaine in their pregnancies are typically known not to take time to handle proper prenatal care, so the results on pregnancy are difficult to gather. Several of the known side effects of using cocaine while pregnant include dizziness, migraines, seizures, and separation of the placenta from the fetus.  Clearly, drugs and pregnancy are a dangerous combination.

Marijuana

Marijuana use while trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and throughout breastfeeding can lead to childhood cancers, premature birth, low birth weight, and other developmental issues. Many people think that using this substance is safe and will help you to relax and feel better, but it is, in fact, very harmful to your unborn child and should be avoided at all costs.

Painkillers

Unless they are prescribed by your doctor avoid painkillers as they can cause fluid to build upon your baby’s brain. The effects of many painkillers are very similar to that of using heroin, and can severely impact both the mother and the child. Drug and pregnancy can create an addiction in the mother but also the child once they are born.

What Are the Treatments for Drugs and Pregnancy?

Treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is available for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. The earlier you get help and stop abusing these substances, the more likely you are to have a healthy pregnancy. Treatments vary depending on what you need help with, but all of your medical needs must be addressed and handled by your OBGYN doctor. Keeping your baby doctor in the loop on what you are doing will help ensure that you are getting the proper prenatal care you are needing.

Drug addiction is a serious matter and needs to be taken care of as early in the pregnancy (or before conception) if at all possible. One thing pregnant women need to remember is that whatever effects the drugs or alcohol have on you, they are much higher for your unborn child and it can be dangerous in a lot of situations.  If you are unsure about the effects of drugs and pregnancy, avoid using any substance until you know the facts.

Not all medications are considered to be unsafe for pregnancy, but it is always wise to double check with your healthcare provider as soon as you know you are pregnant to ensure that the medications you are currently taking are safe for both you and your child for the next nine months of pregnancy. To keep from getting in a bind with substance abuse, stay away from people who have a negative impact on you by exposing you or your child to substances that can cause lifelong effects on the baby.

The post Drugs and Pregnancy: Pregnant Women and Drug or Alcohol Abuse appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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Drug and alcohol-related fatalities and suicides increased at a record pace of 11 percent in the last year.  To translate that number into actual individual deaths, it amounts to 142,000 American lives that ended at a rate of about one every four minutes. This number is the highest ever recorded, according to the CDC. To put it into a different perspective, this number is higher than the number of Americans who died in all U.S. wars since 1950 combined.  As we read these statistics on drug-related deaths, one more person will have died from overdose or suicide resulting from substance abuse.  

In 1999, the number of alcohol or drug-related deaths or suicides totaled 64,591.  The number more than doubled to 141,963 in 2016, according to the CDC.  Let’s take a look at the numbers according to the substance involved:

  • Synthetic opioids (fentanyl):  19,400 deaths
  • Heroin:  15,500 deaths
  • Natural or semisynthetic opioids (morphine, codeine):  14,500 deaths

Note:  These numbers include all genders, age groups, race/ethnicities, geographic regions and urban and rural communities.

Are We Facing a Worst Case Scenario with Drug-Related Deaths?

If drug-related deaths follow the trajectory of the past decade, they could reach 1.6 million over the next decade.  This projection comes from a report issued by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Well-Being Trust (WBT). The 2017 report was titled “Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy.” However, the significant increase in deaths in 2016 put the country well past the worst case scenario.  At this rate, the number of fatalities could top more than 2 million in the coming decade.

Drug-Related Deaths Affect U.S. Life Expectancy Projections

LIfe expectancy projections dropped in 2015 for the first time in decades.  It fell again in 2016. Major contributing factors in this decline include three public health crises. For instance, deaths from unintentional injuries and suicide increased, while preventable deaths decreased.  This decrease in life expectancy falls mostly on young Americans who are most affected by the opioid crisis.

To gain a better perspective on the percentages of change in drug or alcohol-related deaths from 2015 to 2016, you may find the following facts useful:

  • From 2015 to 2016:
    • Alcohol-related deaths increased by 11% per 100,000 among 18 to 34-year-olds.
    • Drug-related deaths increased by 29% per 100,000 among 18 to 34-year-olds.
    • Suicide deaths increased by 10% per 100,000 among 0-to 17-year-olds.

The above percentages were selected because they depict the most considerable amount of change in the designated period and age groups.  More information is available here.

Another four minutes have passed.  

The Need for Increased Funding to Address the Drug Epidemic

The 2017 TFAH report also calls for a comprehensive approach to the drug epidemic.  It calls for a focus on prevention, early identification of issues, and effective treatment. The data provided in their 2017 report reinforces the need for additional funding at the national, state, and local levels.  The funding will aid in addressing the opioid epidemic, increases in alcohol abuse, and other drug and suicide addictions or deaths.

An Addict is Not the Only Victim of Addiction-Related Problems

Of course, we want to help as many addicts as possible.  But, in the process, we need to remember the other victims of addiction and find ways to help them put their lives back together.  Unintentional victims of addiction are those who have an addict in their home, or who have been robbed or injured by an addict. Additionally, we need to remember the innocent children who have been harmed or neglected by addicted parents.  

Not only are individuals affected by an addict’s behavior, but the effects also extend to have an impact on the community as well.  Also, the U.S. Government spends billions of dollars every year on drug treatments, law enforcement, incarcerations, hospitalization, and burials due to drug-related crimes.  Policymakers must rethink how they respond to the needs of people who have been directly or indirectly affected by substance abuse.

If you would like more information about drug-related deaths, contact us today.  Also, we can help you choose a treatment program for yourself or a loved one if needed.

The post 4 Minutes Ago Another Person Died from Drug or Alcohol-Related Causes appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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While researching addiction treatment programs, you will find hundreds of choices. Among the variety of treatment methods offered, you’ll see the terms evidence-based addiction treatment or scientifically-sound addiction treatment programs. Let’s take a look at what these terms mean in the context of addiction treatment so you’ll have a better understanding about the significance of this type of program.

Finding the right treatment program is a confusing process, at best. The last thing you need is a long list of industry lingo that you don’t understand.  Ultimately, the most effective treatment programs for yourself or a loved one are evidence-based, scientifically-sound programs that are proven to provide positive outcomes for long-term recovery.

What is Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment?

The differences between evidence-based and research-based treatment are slight.  It is difficult to distinguish between the two terms.  But, the differences affect treatment programs in several ways.

Evidence-based addiction treatment programs are based on previously observed effects and results. If the program is based on positive results observed with previous patients, this is known as evidence-based (EBP). For example, a number of people enter a specific program and are successful in recovery.   Therefore, the program is successful based on the evidence.

What is Research-Based Addiction Treatment?

Research-based treatment programs are slightly different from the above. A program based on research means that someone observed the program and the outcome and then formulated, measured, and tested the results. This study determines whether the outcome can be classified as predictable. With research-based treatment, scientifically sound studies show the treatment to be more likely to have the same outcomes.

It’s interesting to note that in obtaining research-based results, evidence-based reasoning is part of the process.

What is the Meaning of Scientifically-Sound Treatment?

The American Educational Research Association defines scientifically-sound research as having the following attributes:

  • Utilizes systematic, objective, and rigorous methods to obtain knowledge
  • Applies logic and evidence-based reasoning
  • Research that provides reliable results
  • Uses controls to verify authenticity of results
  • Data analysis methods are appropriate
  • Repeatability of results, peer review, and ability to build on findings

With these processes in place, research-based programs are reliable enough to depend on. Addiction treatment experts seek research-based modalities that are based on scientifically sound processes.

How EBPs Apply to Addiction Treatment

In an article from the National Institute of Drug Addiction, research-based treatment is most likely to result in long-term recovery. Of course, addiction is a chronic disorder that requires long-term management.  For this reason, the evidence-based addiction treatment and research-based treatment help a person learn to manage their addiction. Treatment begins with detox and continues with behavioral therapy and other strategies. This level of treatment is most effective when applied in an inpatient program.

Some facilities use the terms research-based and evidence-based addiction treatment interchangeably.   The following questions are helpful if you need more information about the facility:

  1. Is your program based on outcomes or on current research?
  2. Where do you obtain your research results?
  3. Are you up-to-date on the most current studies regarding treatment?
  4. How do you determine your success rates?
  5. Are your treatments proven and medically supported?
  6. Is your program comprehensive and customized to each patient?

Substance abuse treatment programs address specific aspects of addiction and the consequences affecting the individual, their family, and society. Research indicates that the skills gained in cognitive-behavioral approaches remain with the individual after treatment.

Finding Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment Programs

Only about 10% of the substance abuse treatment facilities in the U.S. use evidence-based and scientifically sound treatment approaches. Part of this is due to the fact that this is a relatively new field.

If you are searching for the best evidence-based addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us today. One of our representatives will be happy to talk with you and answer your questions. We can also recommend a treatment program that is right for your needs.

The post What is Evidence-Based, Scientifically-Sound Addiction Treatment? appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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When you’re struggling with anxiety and drug addiction, you may wonder if they are connected. In fact, you may ask yourself if the depression or anxiety is the cause for the drug addiction. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “those with anxiety disorders may find that alcohol or other substances can make their anxiety symptoms worse. And they are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol or other substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives than the general population.” Understanding this fact is essential, and so is keeping some considerations in mind.

Know the Statistics on Anxiety and Drug Addiction

While your situation is not exactly the same as another person’s, knowing the statistics of the general public can help you to understand how possible it is that your depression or anxiety is leading to your drug addiction. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also provides the following statistics and facts on the issue:

  • “About 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression have an alcohol or other substance use disorder, and about 20 percent of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or mood disorder.”
  • “Alcohol or drugs often cause panic attacks, and having a panic disorder is a risk factor for relapse among people with a substance abuse disorder.”
  • “PTSD and substance abuse commonly occur together.”

This information cannot give you an actual diagnosis. These notes show that connections can exist, but they don’t in every scenario. Also, you have to speak with your doctor and mental health professional to obtain a diagnosis for your specific circumstances.

Understand Triggers

While you will receive a diagnosis only from professionals, it is important to recognize that while your anxiety and drug addiction may not be caused by a mental disorder, some aspects of the condition might act as your triggers. Triggers can lead you to abuse drugs.

For example, you might have specific situations that make you feel extremely anxious. As a result, you use drugs because you feel as though the drugs help to eliminate your anxiety. When you are depressed, you may respond in the same manner. Therefore, depression and anxiety could potentially act as triggers for your drug addiction.

Realize the Reverse is Possible

Right now, you may feel that your depression or anxiety is causing you to abuse drugs and has, as a result, led to your addiction. Keep in mind that the reverse is possible too. In other words, your drug addiction may lead you to feel anxious or depressed in certain scenarios or for a majority of the time. While the two may be connected, it could be in a way that is opposite of what you think. Working with professionals can help you to determine which issue is causing the other.

Evaluate Your Medications

When people think of drug abuse, they often imagine illegal drugs that are traded in transactions on the streets. However, addictions to medications are possible. For example, your doctor may have prescribed you medicine to treat your anxiety or depression. It is possible that you have started to abuse this medication. If that is the case, you must speak to your doctor about the issue. You may discover that a different form of treatment is available or that you can begin to take a medication that does not lead to addictive tendencies.

Seek Assistance

Trying to combat these various issues by yourself can prove overwhelming and challenging. When you seek the assistance of professionals in the field, you can seriously increase your chances of succeeding.

By procuring therapy and treatment, you can also discover if and how your depression or anxiety is connected to your drug addiction. Whether they are related or not, you can receive treatment for both. By the time you are finished with the program, you can have a seriously improved perspective on life and yourself.

Express Honesty

Seeking treatment can bring all sorts of feelings to the surface. In fact, you may feel as though you want to express openness and honesty about only one of the issues, either the anxiety or depression or the addiction when you’re at first meeting with representatives from different rehab programs.

Keep in mind that hiding information prevents you from obtaining the help that you need. An excellent treatment facility is going to offer you assistance and guidance; the professionals are not there to judge you. When you are honest about your situation, you can get started on the best treatment plan for your needs as soon as possible.

However your anxiety and drug addiction started, you can obtain assistance. The only way to know for sure which caused the other is to obtain professional help and to work with the experts.

The post Is Depression or Anxiety Causing Your Drug Addiction? appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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When a loved one returns home after rehab, those first few days or weeks are the most crucial.  Many recovering addicts leave rehab with high expectations and are eager to prove themselves. But, if they are in an environment that doesn’t support their efforts, relapse is likely.  It’s important for friends and family members to educate themselves about what to do and not do when a loved one returns home from rehab. Helping a loved one recover involves a delicate balance of support, trust, compassion, and encouragement.  Knowing what to expect during this transition period can help everyone manage the ups and downs more effectively.

When a Loved One Returns from Rehab

When someone leaves the structured, secure environment of a rehab facility, they may feel insecure and vulnerable. To help your loved one adjust to the outside world, have everyone sit down together and agree on some ground rules, goals, and responsibilities for the entire family.  No one wants to rearrange their entire life, so it’s a good idea to try to maintain the daily routine as carefully as possible.

Some family members find it difficult to be supportive and realistic at the same time.  Hoping for the best and fearing the worst seems like a reasonable approach, but it can have unintended consequences.  Having specific goals to achieve can help everyone understand what is expected of them and eliminates the stress of wondering what’s going to happen.

Helping a Loved One Recover Takes Patience and Tact

It’s easy to cross the line between being cautious and being overbearing. Sometimes, being observant and concerned can be misconstrued as being nosy and pushy.  For a recovering addict, it can cause unneeded stress if they think they’re being watched or judged.

According to addiction treatment specialists, these are some things to avoid when a loved one returns home after rehab:

  1. Avoid repeated comments or suggestions about how he or she should spend their time.
  2. Don’t keep reminding your loved one about the hurt they caused the family.
  3. Don’t make choices for your loved one.  He or she needs to make their own mistakes and learn from them.  
  4. Don’t ‘clean up’ behind your loved one.  In other words, don’t try to protect him or her from the consequences of their behavior.
  5. Don’t doubt everything your loved one says.  He or she needs to earn your trust but may give up if you seem unsure of their honesty.
  6. Don’t forget to give encouragement and support.  Pay attention and give praise for small accomplishments as well as big ones.  
  7. Don’t smother your loved one.  He or she needs space to try making good choices on their own.
  8. Don’t invade the person’s privacy.  You might think you’re “proactive” by checking your loved one’s phone, car, wallet, or bag.  But, it will be perceived as a breach of trust and can do a lot of damage to the relationship.

Family members should try not to take on the responsibility of being a savior to their recovering loved one.  It’s hard to keep a distance and let them work things out for themselves, and you don’t want to see them relapse, but you can only do so much to prevent it.  You can’t be with your loved one every minute of the day. Give yourself a break and realize you can be loving and supportive without being overly watchful.

Tips for Rebuilding Trust and Resolving Past Issues

Another way of helping a loved one recover is to attend family therapy sessions. These meetings can help everyone in the family understand the challenges your loved one is going through. The sessions will also give you tips for rebuilding trust and resolving past issues. Talking in a group about pent-up emotions is a great way to heal as a family.

If you would like more information about helping a loved one recover, please contact us today.  One of our representatives will be available to assist you any time, day or night.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

The post What NOT to do When a Loved One Returns Home from Rehab appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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Almost every 15 minutes in the U.S. a baby is born withdrawing from opioids.  Let that fact sink in for a minute.  If you aren’t shocked yet, then consider this: between 2009 and 2014, the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) increased 123 percent.  In 2009 the number of babies with NAS was 13,655.  The number rose to 30,445 in 2014. These babies withdrawing from opioids didn’t have a choice.  In essence, they became addicts before they ever had a chance to live and breathe one day outside the womb.

Exposure to drugs before birth causes infants to be born with NAS.  In most cases, the mother abused codeine, morphine, oxycodone, or heroin while pregnant.  The drug then travels through her blood to the placenta where it passes to the fetus through the umbilical cord. Other drugs that can cause NAS include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

Effects of NAS Can Last a Lifetime

Some of the more immediate effects of NAS can include low birthweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces), breathing or feeding problems, and seizures.  These babies usually have to remain in the hospital longer after birth than healthy babies.

The more lasting effects of NAS can include congenital disabilities that can change the shape or function or one or more of the baby’s body parts.  Most congenital disabilities cause overall health problems, physical development issues, and compromised functioning. Many of these children must attend specialized schools to get the amount of care and attention they require.

Babies Withdrawing from Opioids Suffer Intense Discomfort

Each baby responds differently to opioid withdrawal.  The symptoms they endure can begin right after birth or within a few days or weeks.  Some of the most common symptoms babies with NAS experience are:

  • Tremors, shakes, twitching, tight muscle tone
  • Convulsions, seizures
  • Excessive crying, fussiness
  • Poor feeding, poor sucking reflexes
  • Slow weight gain
  • Rapid breathing, stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Fever, sweats
  • Vomiting, diarrhea

Imagine coming into the world only to find this level of suffering right after you arrive?  It’s almost too much to comprehend. Fortunately, several treatment protocols are in place that can minimize the symptoms.

What Kind of Treatment is Available for NAS?

The following procedures are used to test babies for NAS:

  • NAS symptoms receive a score based on severity.  This score determines which treatment method the baby needs.
  • Testing the baby’s first bowel movement (meconium).
  • Testing of the baby’s urine.

Treatment for NAS includes the following:

  • Medication to treat or manage withdrawal symptoms.  This medication can include substances that are similar to the drug used by the mother.  Over time, as symptoms diminish, the dosages can be decreased accordingly. Some of the medications used in this treatment are morphine, buprenorphine, and methadone.
  • Intravenous fluids are given to keep a baby from becoming dehydrated from diarrhea or vomiting.  
  • High-Calorie baby formula is used to introduce extra calories to help the baby grow properly.  

On the positive side, most babies withdrawing from opioids who receive these treatments get better within five to thirty days.

During treatment for NAS, a baby also needs to be comforted and to feel nurtured.  Some of the things they enjoy include:

  • Being swaddled in a blanket.
  • Skin-to-skin contact (known as kangaroo care).
  • Dimly lit, quiet atmosphere.
  • Breastfeeding.

The best preventative for NAS is for women to quit using drugs before they get pregnant.

What to Do if You are Abusing Drugs and Become Pregnant

If you are abusing drugs, try to quit now before you become pregnant.  If you find out you are pregnant before you stop drugs, let your doctor know which drugs you are using. It’s vital that you get treatment before your baby becomes a victim of your drug abuse behaviors.  

If you would like information about what can be done for babies withdrawing from opioids, call our toll-free number today.

The post Babies Born Withdrawing From Opioids:  What You Should Know About NAS appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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When you’re struggling with anxiety and drug addiction, you may wonder if they are connected. In fact, you may ask yourself if the depression or anxiety is actually the cause for the drug addiction. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “those with anxiety disorders may find that alcohol or other substances can make their anxiety symptoms worse. And they are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol or other substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives than the general population.” Understanding this fact is important, and so is keeping a number of considerations in mind.

Know the Statistics on Anxiety and Drug Addiction

While your situation is not exactly the same as another person’s, knowing the statistics of the general public can help you to understand how possible it is that your depression or anxiety is leading to your drug addiction. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also provides the following statistics and facts on the issue:

  • “About 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression have an alcohol or other substance use disorder, and about 20 percent of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or mood disorder.”
  • “Alcohol or drugs often cause panic attacks, and having a panic disorder is a risk factor for a relapse among people with a substance abuse disorder.”
  • “PTSD and substance abuse commonly occur together.”

This information cannot give you an actual diagnosis. These notes show that connections can exist, but they don’t in every scenario. Also, you have to speak with your doctor and mental health professional to obtain a diagnosis for your specific circumstances.

Understand Triggers

While you will receive a diagnosis only from professionals, it is important to recognize that while your anxiety and drug addiction may not be caused by a mental disorder, certain elements of the condition might act as your triggers. Triggers can lead you to abuse drugs.

For example, you might have certain situations that make you feel extremely anxious. As a result, you use drugs because you feel as though the drugs help to eliminate your anxiety. When you are in a depressed state, you may respond in the same manner. Therefore, depression and anxiety could potentially act as triggers for your drug addiction.

Realize the Reverse is Possible

Right now, you may feel that your depression or anxiety is causing you to abuse drugs and has, as a result, led to your addiction. Keep in mind that the reverse is possible too. In other words, your drug addiction may lead you to feel anxious or depressed in certain scenarios or for a majority of the time. While the two may be connected, it could be in a way that is opposite of what you think. Working with professionals can help you to determine which issue is causing the other.

Evaluate Your Medications

When people think of drug abuse, they often imagine illegal drugs that are traded in transactions on the streets. However, addictions to medications are possible. For example, your doctor may have prescribed you medication to treat your anxiety or depression. It is possible that you have started to abuse this medication. If that is the case, you must speak to your doctor about the issue. You may discover that a different form of treatment is available or that you can begin to take a medication that does not lead to addictive tendencies.

Seek Assistance

Trying to combat these various issues by yourself can prove overwhelming and challenging. When you seek the assistance of professionals in the field, you can seriously increase your chances of succeeding.

By procuring therapy and treatment, you can also discover if and how your depression or anxiety is connected to your drug addiction. Whether they are connected or not, you can receive treatment for both. By the time you are finished with the program, you can have a seriously improved perspective on life and yourself.

Express Honesty

Seeking treatment can bring all sorts of feelings to the surface. In fact, you may feel as though you want to express openness and honesty about only one of the issues, either the anxiety or depression or the addiction when you’re at first meeting with representatives from different rehab programs.

Keep in mind that hiding information prevents you from obtaining the help that you need. A good treatment facility is going to offer you assistance and guidance; the professionals are not there to judge you. When you are honest about your situation, you can get started on the best treatment plan for your needs as soon as possible.

However your anxiety and drug addiction started, you can obtain assistance. The only way to know for sure which caused the other is to obtain professional help and to work with the experts.

The post Is Depression or Anxiety Causing Your Drug Addiction? appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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Almost every 15 minutes in the U.S. a baby is born withdrawing from opioids.  Let that sink in for a minute. If you aren’t shocked yet, then consider this: between 2009 and 2014, the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) increased 123 percent.  In 2009 the number of babies with NAS was 13,655.  In 2014 the number rose to 30,445. These babies withdrawing from opioids didn’t have a choice.  They became addicts, in a sense, before they ever had a chance to live and breathe one day outside the womb.

NAS happens because the baby has been exposed to drugs before birth.  In most cases, the mother abused codeine, morphine, oxycodone, or heroin while pregnant.  The drug then travels through her blood to the placenta where it passes to the fetus through the umbilical cord.  Other drugs that can cause NAS include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

Effects of NAS Can Last a Lifetime

Some of the more immediate effects of NAS can include low birthweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces), breathing or feeding problems, and seizures.  These babies usually have to remain in the hospital longer after birth than healthy babies.

The more lasting effects of NAS can include congenital disabilities that can change the shape or function or one or more of the baby’s body parts.  Most congenital disabilities cause overall health problems, physical development issues, and compromised functioning. Many of these children must attend specialized schools to get the amount of care and attention they require.

Babies Withdrawing from Opioids Suffer Intense Discomfort

Each baby responds differently to opioid withdrawal.  The symptoms they endure can begin right after birth or within a few days or weeks.  Here are some of the most commonly seen symptoms babies with NAS experience:

  • Tremors, shakes, twitching, tight muscle tone
  • Convulsions, seizures
  • Excessive crying, fussiness
  • Poor feeding, poor sucking reflexes
  • Slow weight gain
  • Rapid breathing, stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Fever, sweats
  • Vomiting, diarrhea

Imagine coming into the world only to find this level of suffering right after you arrive?  It’s almost too much to comprehend. What can be done to help these babies and ease their withdrawals?  There are treatment protocols in place that can minimize the symptoms.

What Kind of Treatment is Available for NAS?

A baby can be tested for NAS by using the following procedures:

  • Points are given for each NAS symptom depending on the severity.  The score is used to determine what treatment method the baby needs.
  • Testing the baby’s first bowel movement (meconium).
  • Testing of the baby’s urine.

If it is determined that the baby has NAS, the following treatments can be administered:

  • Medication to treat or manage withdrawal symptoms.  This medication can include substances that are similar to the drug used by the mother.  Over time, as symptoms diminish, the dosages can be decreased accordingly. Some of the medications used in this treatment are morphine, buprenorphine, and methadone.
  • Intravenous fluids are given to keep a baby from becoming dehydrated from diarrhea or vomiting.  
  • High-Calorie baby formula is used to introduce extra calories to help the baby grow properly.  

Most babies withdrawing from opioids who receive these treatments get better within five to thirty days.

During treatment for NAS, a baby also needs to be comforted and to feel nurtured.  Some of the things they enjoy include:

  • Being swaddled in a blanket.
  • Skin-to-skin contact (known as kangaroo care).
  • Dimly lit, quiet atmosphere.
  • Breastfeeding.

The best preventative for NAS is for women to quit using drugs before they get pregnant.

What to Do if You are Abusing Drugs and Become Pregnant

If you are abusing drugs, try to quit now before you become pregnant.  If you find out you are pregnant before you stop drugs, let your doctor know which drugs you are using. It’s vital that you get treatment before your baby becomes a victim of your drug abuse behaviors.  

If you would like information about what can be done for babies withdrawing from opioids, call our toll-free number today.

The post Babies Born Withdrawing From Opioids:  What You Should Know About NAS appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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When a loved one returns home after rehab, those first few days or weeks are the most crucial.  Many recovering addicts leave rehab with high expectations and are eager to prove themselves. But, if they are in an environment that doesn’t support their efforts, relapse is likely.  It’s important for friends and family members to educate themselves about what to do and not do when a loved one returns home from rehab. Helping a loved one recover involves a delicate balance of support, trust, compassion, and encouragement.  Knowing what to expect during this transition period can help everyone manage the ups and downs more effectively.

When a Loved One Returns from Rehab

When someone leaves the structured, secure environment of a rehab facility, they may feel insecure and vulnerable. To help your loved one adjust to the outside world, have everyone sit down together and agree on some ground rules, goals, and responsibilities for the entire family.  No one wants to rearrange their entire life, so it’s a good idea to try to maintain the daily routine as carefully as possible.

Some family members find it difficult to be supportive and realistic at the same time.  Hoping for the best and fearing the worst seems like a reasonable approach, but it can have unintended consequences.  Having specific goals to achieve can help everyone understand what is expected of them and eliminates the stress of wondering what’s going to happen.

Helping a Loved One Recover Takes Patience and Tact

It’s easy to cross the line between being cautious and being overbearing. Sometimes, being observant and concerned can be misconstrued as being nosy and pushy.  For a recovering addict, it can cause unneeded stress if they think they’re being watched or judged.

According to addiction treatment specialists, these are some things to avoid when a loved one returns home after rehab:

  1. Avoid repeated comments or suggestions about how he or she should spend their time.
  2. Don’t keep reminding your loved one about the hurt they caused the family.
  3. Don’t make choices for your loved one.  He or she needs to make their own mistakes and learn from them.  
  4. Don’t ‘clean up’ behind your loved one.  In other words, don’t try to protect him or her from the consequences of their behavior.
  5. Don’t doubt everything your loved one says.  He or she needs to earn your trust but may give up if you seem unsure of their honesty.
  6. Don’t forget to give encouragement and support.  Pay attention and give praise for small accomplishments as well as big ones.  
  7. Don’t smother your loved one.  He or she needs space to try making good choices on their own.
  8. Don’t invade the person’s privacy.  You might think you’re “proactive” by checking your loved one’s phone, car, wallet, or bag.  But, it will be perceived as a breach of trust and can do a lot of damage to the relationship.

Family members should try not to take on the responsibility of being a savior to their recovering loved one.  It’s hard to keep a distance and let them work things out for themselves, and you don’t want to see them relapse, but you can only do so much to prevent it.  You can’t be with your loved one every minute of the day. Give yourself a break and realize you can be loving and supportive without being overly watchful.

Another way of helping a loved one recover is to attend family therapy sessions. These meetings can help everyone in the family understand the challenges your loved one is going through.  The sessions will also give you tips for rebuilding trust and resolving past issues. Talking in a group about pent-up emotions is a great way to heal as a family.

If you would like more information about helping a loved one recover, please contact us today.  One of our representatives will be available to assist you any time, day or night.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

The post What NOT to do When a Loved One Returns Home from Rehab appeared first on A Forever Recovery.

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