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If you’re thinking about attending a treatment program or rehab facility, you’re making the right choice. Professional help can give you or your loved one the tools to learn how to cope with cravings, develop new skills, and unlearn behavioral traits caused by addiction. In short, professional help can break the cycle of addiction giving your family a second chance.

However, it’s crucial that you take the time to research and find a facility that meets your needs, can offer the treatment and support you need as an individual, and that will offer value and quality services. Taking the time to interview and ask questions before choosing a rehab facility will give you room to make the best choice for your or your loved one’s needs. These 7 questions are a great place to start.

1. Do You Accept My Insurance?

Residential and outpatient treatment can each be expensive medical costs. Many insurance programs will help you to cover part or all of the cost of treatment. While your insurance shouldn’t be the only factor you consider, it is likely an important one. Consider contacting your insurance company upfront to discuss your options and what they cover or how much they cover, and then ask for a list of rehabilitation facilities they cover in your area. You can also directly contact a rehab facility to check if they accept your policy before choosing the facility.

Should this be a deal breaker? If your insurance doesn’t support any options that you think will meet your needs, it shouldn’t be. But if your insurance doesn’t cover your rehab of choice, consider looking into sponsorships or grants to help you attend the treatment rather than paying for everything out of pocket.

2. Are You Licensed? What About Staff?

Not all rehab facilities offer the same quality care. It’s crucial to check to ensure that your facility is licensed as are the staff. Some rehab facilities will offer access to registered nurses and counselors or psychologists. Others will have little training and no real basis of medical care to offer you the support you need. Specifically ask about doctors, therapists, and registered medical staff in residence.

You don’t need every staff member to be a medical professional, but you do need to know that professional assistance is available if you need it. This is especially true during detox and when seeking out therapy.

3. What Amenities Do You Offer? Why?

Many treatment facilities offer a bare-bones experience that is sometimes little better than staying in a hostel or dorm room. While more affordable, these offerings don’t give you anything to do and may result in further boredom and triggers for your addiction. Checking for locations you will enjoy, amenities such as sports and classes, and offerings like fitness and nutrition courses will not only keep you entertained and comfortable during your recovery, it will help you to learn skills that will help you stay sober once you leave. However, it’s also important to know why. For example, if a treatment center offers horseback riding is it part of the program or optional? What about with a swimming pool? Many treatment facilities use recreational activities as mandatory elements to include fitness and nutrition therapy, which will benefit you over the long-term. Others make them optional and purely amenities.

4. What are Social Conditions Like?

In some cases, you may be housed with a roommate for the duration of your stay. While this works for some, many people also need time alone and to themselves. Depending on what you prefer or are comfortable with, it is important to know what you’re getting and why. Communal living is very often an important part of recovery, so you will be sharing meals and social space at the very least.

Most rehab facilities will offer shared rooms, although some have private rooms available, with mandatory shared activities and meals. Some will also have mandatory group therapy, which is intended to help you learn from others, to get support, and to make friends. In some cases, you may be following an Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step treatment module during the program, which means that a large portion of treatment will be social.

5. Do You Have Detox Facilities?

Withdrawing from substances is difficult and often dangerous. While some substances cause little more than a crash and cold or flu symptoms, many create a risk of seizure, panic attacks and extreme anxiety, and even heavy paranoia. In the case of drugs like meth, these symptoms can last for months – causing users to relapse simply to abate symptoms.

Detox is one of the first steps of recovery, but many people can’t do it alone, and it may be dangerous to do so. If you or your loved one is still addicted, getting help from your treatment facility is a significant improvement over facing the risks alone or eventually detoxing in a hospital after going to the emergency room. Most importantly, many recovery centers offer personalized detox support with a physician and prescription medication to ease symptoms and ease anxiety so that you can start to heal.

6. What Programs Do You Offer? Why?

Most treatment facilities work to offer numerous treatment options, but it’s crucial that you know what’s available and why you should take it. Most drug dependence treatment includes two phases, pharmaceutical and psychological – where you are first taken through detox and then given cognitive behavioral or another type of therapy to help you work past behavioral issues contributing to addiction. Other facilities will offer much more comprehensive treatment, with family therapy, nutrition and exercise therapy, skills and relationship building, and social or group support to help you tackle every aspect of addiction. The best treatment centers offer a custom or personalized treatment program following intake.

Discussing what’s on offer or what you’re actually getting will allow you to make the best choice for your needs, because you will have a better idea of what treatment is at that facility and why.

7. What’s Included in the Assessment?

Most treatment facilities will perform an initial assessment upon intake and an additional assessment after detox. This assessment is intended to diagnose your mental and physical health problems, determine the extent of the addiction, and help to match you to a treatment program. A basic option will simply assess addiction and the extent of it. A good program will assess your mental and physical health to look for nutrition and health disorders as well as co-occurring mental disorders like PTSD, trauma, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia which could contribute to your addiction and affect recovery.

If you know that you’re getting a comprehensive assessment as well as follow-up assessments, you know that your treatment facility will work to help you with everything that shows up in the assessment.

Professional help can be a crucial element in recovering from addiction, but it is important that you seek out quality care from qualified medical professionals. Asking the right questions in advance ensures that you know exactly what you’re getting. And, just like with any other medical treatment, you need to know that your caretakers are qualified, experienced, and licensed.

If you or a loved one is looking for modern and effective treatment programs, please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for more information. We are to help and happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors.

The post 7 Questions to Ask if You’re Thinking About Going to Rehab appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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When I was in my addiction, no one would have ever called me a people pleaser. Like most addicts, I was anything but. My life revolved around getting and using. Everything else was secondary, and by extension, everyone else.

So when I got sober and started working the 12-step program, step 4 hit me hard. I put 100% into my apologies, but the guilt stayed with me, regardless of how well they were received. And when they weren’t, I was devastated.

In retrospect, there were some people in my life who took advantage of my guilt, the ones that held onto the hurt and anger I caused them for so many years. Some believed that I owed them more than an apology; others wanted payback. All of them played me like a fiddle.

Every time my counselor pointed these things out to me, I took all the blame. It didn’t matter what she said because my guilt held me in check.

Then one day she called me out. She said that she believed that it wasn’t just my guilt over my past that made me feel so powerless. It was also that I simply didn’t want to go through any more unpleasantness, so I gave into whatever demands people made of me.

Okay, so what, was my response. I mean, could she really blame me for reacting that way? How would she feel if she had done everything she could to make amends with these people, and they just persisted on squeezing her emotionally dry?

She had a simple answer at the ready; she said she would simply say no.

But how could I possibly say no when I am still trying to show them that my apology is real and that I am sincere about my recovery?

She explained that my sincere apology, one apology, was enough. I don’t owe anyone the rest of my life. Sure, some people may be hesitant at first, but as time goes by in my recovery, those folks who sincerely want to be my friend will be a true friend.

She also told me that every time I say yes when I really want to say no, I am actually hurting myself. While saying yes might seem like self-care at the moment, a way to avoid confrontation, it’s not a healthy form of self-care.

So that was it then? I am in a no-win situation?

Thankfully, my counselor had an answer for that, too. She explained that I had an equal amount of power in this situation. By saying yes all the time, I am telling those other people that when they say jump, I am always going to say how high.

It was time to start changing my role in these relationships. As a people pleaser, I have fallen into a passive role while others take the aggressive one. The first change I had to make was to learn how to be assertive.

This starts with remaining respectful and taking full responsibility for my current actions, not the past, and learning how to deal with the fallout when I say no.

As you start saying yes to yourself, you will be practicing genuine self-care, and you will find yourself getting stronger, able to deal with others anger and disappointment.

As I learned to put this into practice, I found myself weeding out the truly toxic people from my life while gaining respect from others.

Assertiveness was the key to developing genuine relationships in my life. It is the greatest gift I have ever given.

If you or a loved one wants to achieve a long-term sobriety, check out our Aftercare Program. Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for more information. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available now.

The post Am I a People Pleaser in My Recovery? appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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Formerly classified as a low-risk drug, Gabapentin is quickly gaining national attention as it rises in popularity for recreational use. In 2016, Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, was the 10th most commonly prescribed drug in the nation, by 2017, it ranked 5th. But, with numerous states issuing warnings for rising rates of abuse, Gabapentin is increasingly being linked to addiction and abuse – potentially putting users in danger. With euphoria like highs, the drug is popular with opiate users, but with far different and potentially more dangerous side-effects and withdrawal.

But, while prevalent, most people still don’t know what Gabapentin is or what it’s for. Unfortunately, with the drug sweeping the nation, and increasingly popular with opiate abusers, it’s crucial that you know what it is, what it does, and what side effects the drug causes. If you or a loved one is using the drug, stopping suddenly can be dangerous, so it is crucial to take the right steps when dealing with Gabapentin abuse and addiction.

What is Gabapentin/Neurontin

Gabapentin or Neurontin is a drug used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and various neuropathic disorders including epileptic seizures and restless leg syndrome. The drug first appeared in 1993, and was available as a generic in 2004. Today, Gabapentin is commonly prescribed for treating seizures and epilepsy (one of the most common drugs), but also for off-label uses like treating hot flashes, comorbid anxiety, alleviating itching, treatment in addiction recovery, and orthostatic tremor.

Gabapentin achieves all of this by interacting with the GABA receptors in the body, interacting with voltage-gated calcium channels, and modulating the production of enzymes in the brain. This works to create a sedative effect, leading to its increasing promotion as an alternative to opiates for long-term pain. But, like other sedatives, gabapentin is being abused.

An Increasing Pattern of Abuse

In a standard dose of 1,800-2,400 mg, Gabapentin causes mild sedation and relaxes nerve-related disorders. In higher doses, that same sedative effect can cause a euphoria-like experience similar to that caused by opiates, making Gabapentin a leading choice for replacing opiates for abusers. One study showed that about 1/5th of opiate users included in the study also abused gabapentin when given the chance. Other studies show that between 15 and 22% of total opiate abusers also abuse gabapentin, compared to 40-60% of patients with a gabapentin prescription, and less than 1% of the total population. So, abuse is significant, both among users with a prescription and those without.

While not linked to the same habit-forming tendencies as opiates, most gabapentin abusers are already opiate addicts, and use the drug to prolong their substance use disorder – keeping up a high, even when they can’t get a drug of choice. Gabapentin also poses significant risks over long-term use, both because of the fact that it and its side effects have been poorly studied and the fact that side effects can worsen over time.

Gabapentin Side Effects

Gabapentin causes numerous side-effects, namely dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, edema (swelling), and tremors or shaking. The drug has also been linked to increased suicidal thought and behaviors, which has been reflected on the packaging since 2009. Over long-term use, the drug could also cause an increased risk for tumors – although the risk in clinical trials was small. While health problems are low-risk under normal, prescribed use, many abusers take a significant number of Gabapentin pills to increase the high – therefore increasing their risk over time.

Dosage increase also puts users at risk for potential overdose, which can be fatal. Users experience extreme drowsiness, blurred vision, sedation, and may slip into a coma or die. Overdose is a very strong risk when large quantities of the drug are combined with other drugs or with alcohol.

Can Gabapentin be Used to Treat Addiction?

Gabapentin is sometimes recommended for treating alcohol use disorders. However, the drug has only been FDA approved for the purpose of treating seizure disorders and for neuropathic pain. This means that any use of Gabapentin for alcohol use disorder treatment is off-label – not recommended by the manufacturer. However, several studies have shown that Neurontin has been effective in reducing cravings and side effects during alcohol withdrawal, which means that the drug may eventually be used to help reduce symptoms during alcohol detox. Until further studies prove that it is effective, you should not attempt to use Gabapentin to aid withdrawal unless prescribed by your doctor as mixing the two may cause a fatal overdose.

Why Gabapentin?

Gabapentin does not easily cause dependency, does not cause euphoria when taken at the recommended dose, and is relatively safe when taken according to prescription. So, why do so many people use it recreationally or abuse it? Most doctors agree that availability is the key factor. Until 2017, most doctors weren’t aware that Gabapentin could be abused, or that patients were abusing it. Patients could easily fill prescriptions for hundreds of pills and request more on demand, or fill prescriptions at numerous pharmacies, without the same high level of security found with filling prescriptions for opioids. As a safer alternative to opiates for long-term pain for neuropathy, most pharmacists also felt relatively easy about handing it out. Unfortunately, it is easy to abuse.

Most also see Gabapentin as safer, because it isn’t a controlled substance. Being caught with an unprescribed bottle of Gabapentin does not result in legal ramifications, unlike with opiates.

Getting Help

While gabapentin is not typically highly addictive, most users are opiate abusers or psychologically dependent on the drug. Users who regularly and problematically seek out drug highs and sedation often need help, including physical detox and behavioral therapy.

Gabapentin detox is typically crucial, because abruptly stopping the drug can cause seizures. Going cold turkey without medication to reduce the symptoms can be dangerous. A medical detox program can help by giving you support and motivation as you are slowly weaned off the drug to prevent strong side effects. Recovering addicts can then move into traditional treatment, either inpatient or outpatient, to receive therapy and assistance, take part in group therapy and support, and receive aftercare to prevent relapse.

Gabapentin is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the nation, but doctors are quickly becoming aware of the drug’s danger. On its own, Gabapentin has a low potential for abuse, but is often sought out by addicts hooked on opiates and other types of pain pills. As a result, hospitalizations and ER visits for Gabapentin, especially in combination with opiates, has increased by over 90% since 2008.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, thelp is available. A treatment center can help you detox safely and then move you into therapy to treat the underlying issues and effects of your addiction. Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available now.

The post What is Gabapentin? appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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Whether you’re in the early stages of recovery and anxiety is one of the symptoms of your withdrawal, or you’re experiencing anxiety as you move further along your journey to recovery, getting treatment for it can be daunting. If you do go to a doctor for treatment, you will likely be exposed to addictive drugs, like benzodiazepines, which can trigger your addiction. While you may be given another, less addictive, solution instead, seeking out medication can be intimidating when you’re so recently clean or sober.

Luckily, there are many things you can do about anxiety without getting medication for it, and many of them will be recommended by your doctor before starting a treatment course.

1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the most common treatments for anxiety, both in clinical and non-clinical settings. Nearly any kind of exercise will relax the body, improve endorphin production, and increase blood circulation throughout the body, while tiring you out. Each of these factors contributes to relaxation which will help you to cope with anxiety.

In the short and long term, exercise also forces you to focus on what you are doing rather than thinking about things you are anxious about. It forces you to develop discipline, which improves your thinking patterns. And, for most people, exercise works to boost self-esteem, which also reduces anxiety. Multiple studies have linked exercise to short-term boosts in emotional well-being and happiness, allowing you to be happy rather than focusing on problems.

Exercise can greatly benefit anxiety in a number of ways. Doctors recommend that you exercise regularly and for a minimum of 20 minutes per day to see results. Best of all, exercise can also benefit your recovery by helping you to reduce stress, improving your health, and producing dopamine and serotonin which will help you to feel better.

2. Nutrition

If you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, chances are that you are suffering from some form of nutritional deficiency. Substance use causes damage to the gut, causes most of us to develop poor eating habits, and may cause digestive issues that limit nutrition absorption. Unfortunately, nutritional deficiencies can and will cause you to get anxious. Even not eating regularly or eating a great deal of sugar can cause your body to respond with anxiety as your blood sugar spikes. Some studies also show that magnesium deficiency can mimic anxiety.

You should try eating well, eating healthy food regularly, and try to balance your diet so that at least 80% of what you’re eating is good for you. In most cases, it’s not a good idea to take supplements unless your doctor recommends them to you, simply because having too much of a nutrient can do as much damage as it can do good. If you’re concerned, you can ask your doctor to test your blood to determine nutrient levels.

3. Learn Stress Management Techniques

There are dozens if not hundreds of stress management techniques, but most of them are based on the simple principle of focusing your attention on the here and now instead of ‘being in your head’. For example, most mindfulness and breathing techniques force you to pay very close attention to your body and what you are doing.

Stress management techniques like mindfulness, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, tai chi, and exercise can all help you to relax and destress. They can also teach you the discipline to help you control what you are thinking about, and may give you something to do when you start to feel anxious that will prevent your anxiety from worsening.

4. Building Stress Reducing Routines

Most people are stressed by things to do, time pressure, negative emotions, money, feeling inadequate, waiting on others, etc. Whether your anxiety is a result of temporary withdrawal or a more permanent part of your personality, you can seek relief in activities that are the opposite. For example, many people find that performing household activities, working with their hands, and doing things they enjoy like sports is a great way to de-stress.

For example:

  • Cleaning your home
  • Learning a musical instrument
  • Creating a relaxation ritual like meditating and then taking a bath
  • Playing sports
  • Learning a craft or artistic hobby

The idea is that if you can dedicate time to do something you enjoy, and you can spend that time simply relaxing and doing that thing or focusing on it, you can give your brain a break, de-stress, and come back in better shape.

5. Get Enough Sleep

While anxiety can cause poor sleep, poor sleep can also cause anxiety. It is in your best interest to develop a regular sleep schedule, get up and go to bed at the same time every day, and work to ensure that you get 7-8 hours of sleep each day. In most cases, not getting enough sleep changes how your brain produces neurotransmitters, slowing dopamine and serotonin production, and causing side effects such as lowered focus, reduced attention span, irritability, and anxiety.

If you have trouble sleeping, consider creating a night-time ritual, switching off devices at least an hour before bed, and working to relax before you get in bed.

6. Clean House

You may have heard something along the lines of “a cluttered home is a cluttered mind” but you might not know that there’s actually a grain of truth to the saying. People working and living in areas that are uncluttered and clean tend to have more focus, stress less, and be less anxious than those in a cluttered environment.

You can start out by getting rid of things you don’t need, setting aside time each day to clean up your space, and keeping your home and workplace as clean and neat as possible. Tidying up can seem like a chore at first, but if you’re not used to it, you will build habits quickly.

7. Identify Your Triggers

Just like addiction, anxiety has triggers. Unfortunately, they don’t always make sense and you might not always be able to identify them. But, by working to identify what makes you anxious, you can work to develop coping mechanisms or to avoid that thing altogether. For example, many people get anxious in traffic jams or when waiting in lines. Triggers can also relate to past events. Someone who had a traumatic past may become anxious when things relating to that trauma are near. This can be as simple as a person who causes anxiety or as indirect as a song that was playing at the time something bad happened.

Consider writing down your triggers or working with a psychologist to determine the triggers for your anxiety.

8. Take Care of Yourself

If you are hungry, tired, always upset, or otherwise not taking care of yourself, you will be more anxious than if you take care of yourself. Taking care of your clothes, staying clean, eating healthy meals regularly, and getting enough sleep will boost your health and your self-esteem, both of which will help you to feel better and be less anxious.

9. Take Time Out

Life is often stressful, especially if you’re recovering from a substance use disorder. Giving yourself time off to rest and relax is important if you want to stay healthy. That may mean unplugging devices over the weekends, taking time out to do sports or other activities you love, or taking time to relax in other ways.

If your anxiety persists or worsens, or you experience severe anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks, you should see your doctor and a therapist. You may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy or anxiety medication and a medical professional can help you to determine the best option for your needs and your health. A psychologist will also be able to help you determine if your anxiety is the result of anxiety, your substance use disorder, or PTSD or another disorder, so that you can approach and treat it properly. While it’s understandable that you want to avoid medication if possible, your health should come first.

Hopefully these 9 ways to cope with anxiety without medication will help so that you can get back to focusing on your recovery, anxiety free.

Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available now.

The post 9 Ways to Cope with Anxiety without Medication appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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Following an exercise program, like walking every day or going to the gym, is a common New Year’s resolution. In fact, weight loss, health, and fitness are the most common themes for New Year’s resolutions, and with good reason. Exercise makes you feel better, increasing blood flow to stimulate the muscles, producing endorphins which naturally reduce stress, and often comes with the additional perk of making our clothes fit just a little bit better.

No matter what the reason behind your New Year’s resolution to exercise, it’s probably a good thing to start. And, if you’re in recovery, it will help you to stay clean or sober in numerous ways. Exercise is probably a bit better for you than you realized, and hopefully the following information about how exercise improves your recovery will help you stick to your new exercise plan.

Does Exercise Really Help with Addiction?

You probably know that when you don’t get enough exercise, you start to feel bad. Exercise is a natural and crucial part of the body’s operating mechanism, it’s designed to move and to do. No matter your age or weight, your muscles need to be used, and your body knows that. Exercising helps the muscles to release chemicals like lactic acid, to grow, to digest protein and fats, and to stimulate the nervous and intermuscular systems. When you work out, run, walk, do yoga, go dancing, or anything else that involves movement, your body produces endorphins including serotonin and dopamine. You might recognize these as the ‘happiness drugs’, and likely the drugs that your brain produces and is primarily craving when you’re addicted.

So, exercise can make you feel better, can improve your mental health, and can make you happier. All of that will improve your approach to addiction and your ability to stay clean or sober without you ever losing a single pound.

Exercise to Destress

Stress is one of the number-one causes of substance-seeking behavior. It’s also one of the most well documented contributors to addiction and to relapse. But, exercise can help. While exercise is not a miracle cure for stress, it produces endorphins that relax your brain while lowering the blood pressure, and increasing blood circulation throughout the body. Exercise can greatly help to reduce stress and even reduce anger . That’s a big deal for a recovering addict, because stress can push you over the edge into relapse.

You know best when you’re stressed, so if you can plan to exercise when you know you’re most stressed, like when you come home after work, or before you go home, you can burn off stress and reduce the temptation to use or drink to destress.

Exercise to Fight Cravings

The average craving lasts 15-20 minutes. That’s it. In that time, millions of people slip up and reach for a drink or purchase and use drugs. You may have done so yourself, and that’s okay as long as you keep moving forward. Psychologists often recommend that you find something to do when cravings hit. If you’re at work, it’s obviously harder to exercise, but if you’re at home, there’s a lot you can do. A 20-minute yoga routine, or a kickboxing workout, or a bike ride. If you can keep yourself occupied, and stay focused on something instead, you can make it through.

Exercise also works to reduce cravings in other ways by producing tiny doses of endorphins that make you happy and relaxed. This will help you to feel satisfied and will take the edge off the cravings.

Exercise to Occupy Your Time

Boredom is a surprising but deadly trigger for many of us. If you have nothing to do and don’t know what to do, you will get lonely and bored. It’s an unfortunate pitfall for recovering addicts, who are often left with a significant amount of time on their hands and no real idea of how to fill it. In recovery, we often don’t have as many friends as we used to, may not have hobbies or may have let them slip to the side, and otherwise just have a lot more time than we’re used to.

Exercise is a great way to occupy your time with something that will make you feel better. If you don’t get out much, try going to a gym or a sports club where you can be around other people and exercise with them. Yoga, group sports, and team activities are all great ways to get social interaction and exercise in at once.

However, you should also be careful not to overextend yourself. If you’re exhausted and alone, you’ll have more trouble saying no if cravings hit.

Exercise to Build Your Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is a problem faced by millions of addicts, both as a cause and a result of addiction. Many people who struggle with self-esteem issues are more likely to use drugs or drink alcohol as a social lubricant, just to feel normal or to be okay in a public place. Once hooked, drugs and alcohol force you to change your image of yourself to either hide your addiction from yourself or account for it in some other way. This often results in massive damage to the ego or self-esteem, which can be difficult to repair.

Good self-esteem is crucial to being healthy and happy, and exercise can help. By boosting your image of what you can do, building discipline, and building healthy routines, you can improve your self-esteem and start being happier with yourself and your choices.

Exercise to Improve Your Health

If you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, you likely did a lot of damage to your health. Drugs and alcohol inhibit the cardiovascular system, damage the gastrointestinal tract, and often cause us to make poor nutritional and health decisions. Following an exercise program will help you to recover from that damage, which will put your body on the right track to staying clean and sober.

Tips to Make Exercise Part of Your Recovery

There are two major pitfalls to starting a new exercise program, taking it too fast and setting long-range goals.

Taking it Slow – If you’re not accustomed to exercise, don’t think that you can get up and go to the gym for four hours and be okay afterward. It’s important to pace yourself, start out slow, and increase what you’re doing bit by bit each day. This will also help with motivation, because if you aren’t in pain from overdoing it the day before, you’ll have more to look forward to.

Setting the Right Goals – If you set a block goal, you’re going to fail. For example, “Go to the gym every single day”. If you fail once, you’ve failed completely. But, you can set shorter goals, which you can achieve. Studies show that the most effective goals include short-term milestones in combination with a long-term goal. So, if you were going to the gym, you could start out by saying you want to exercise for four hours in your first week, with an end goal of exercising consistently throughout the whole year or a goal of losing/gaining an achievable amount of weight. You can also set weightlifting goals, running goals, or other milestones, which will help you to stay motivated and inspired as you meet and pass them.

It’s also important to try to do something fun. If running isn’t your thing, there’s no sense in forcing yourself to get up and do something you hate every morning when there are thousands of exercises you can try and maybe enjoy. Try dancing, or yoga, or parkour, or kickboxing, or any of a dozen other exercises. If you’re in a big city, chances are there are hundreds of specialized options you can look for and join. If you’re in a less urban area, you will have fewer choices, but you might be surprised at how much is out there.

Exercise can be an extremely valuable addition to your recovery, and it will help you to improve your health, reduce cravings, and improve your happiness.

Good luck with your New Year’s exercise program.

Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available now.

The post How to Make Your New Year’s Exercise Program Part of Your Recovery appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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My mother. Those are the only two words in the English language that have the ability to paralyze me emotionally. I never know exactly what she is going to say, but I do know that we can’t get through a single conversation without her backing me into a proverbial corner and pushing every button I’ve got.

The verbal abuse started when I was about ten. She had a very specific image of who she wanted me to grow into, a mini-her of sorts, and when my personality went in another direction, she was constantly questioning my intentions and criticizing me. Fiercely independent by nature, I fought back, and we behaved more like squabbling siblings than mother and daughter.

Shortly after I turned 13, I discovered weed, and it’s ability to quell my anxiety. Soon, it was part of my daily routine, and I was high every day by the time she came home from work. Having never developed healthy coping skills, I smoked weed every day, and I always made sure I was high whenever I went to family gatherings.

When I was 20, the father of my unborn child left me, because I refused to quit smoking when I got pregnant. Thankfully, my daughter was born healthy, but once she was old enough to understand, she resented both the time and money my addiction demanded.

Fast-forward to the present. I have been sober for ten years, and my daughter and I are rebuilding our relationship. But the rest of my family? Forget about it.

Between mother’s button-pushing, my sister’s holier-than-thou attitude, and my step-dad’s stern judgement, I still seize up with dread whenever the family gets together. In fact, it seems to get worse every year. I had to figure something out other than gritting my teeth to bear it.

I had always taken a hard line approach with my sobriety. In my family, you sucked things up. That’s what was wrong with me in the first place; I was weak when I wanted to be strong, so I hadn’t really asked anyone for help or advice.

That had to change.

I didn’t really feel comfortable talking to anyone about my feelings, so I started by researching on the internet. Soon, I was reading success stories and learning all sorts of coping skills. Within a week, I attended my first NA meeting.

The time to prepare ourselves emotionally is before we attend the family event or dinner. This is what has worked for me:

  • Learn How to Detach – As long as I cared way too much about my family’s opinion of me, I was putty in their hands. By reeling my heart back in, I was able to look at them more objectively and remember that they have their own imperfections to worry about. They’re not qualified to judge me, so what they say really doesn’t matter.
  • Don’t Take the Bait – Once you have detached, it will be much easier to see the dangling carrots they put in front of you for what they are – invitations to conversations that are geared to trap you. The temptation to make them see the truth eases when you realize that they don’t want resolution.
  • Have a Plan – Even well-meaning, unsolicited advice can be stressful. Prepare to smile and suggest you continue the conversation another time. Or, you can excuse yourself to take an important call and then proceed to contact a pre-designated support person.

Staying sober around your family is possible, and the rewards are well worth the effort.

Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available now.

The post How to Deal with My Family and Stay Sober appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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Whether you’re spending time with family or on your own, the holidays can be daunting for anyone in recovery. On top of the normal cravings experienced by recovering addicts, you’ll have to face the added pressure of the idyllic family life, of almost everyone drinking, and endless parties which you likely can’t attend. All of this can pile up to leave you feeling sad, lonely, and left out. It might feel like you’d give anything for a drink, or like this one time won’t hurt, after all, it’s Christmas, right?

Even a positive Christmas can leave you feeling like you want to celebrate and party – and that’s even more dangerous. While you’re likely on your guard about feeling unhappy and stressed, fewer people realize that they’ll relapse when happy. Unfortunately, most people actually relapse when experiencing something good, like a promotion, buying a new home, or having a great Christmas with friends and family.

Preparing yourself, staying on your guard, and ensuring that you’re enjoying yourself without alcohol are the best steps you can take to ensure your sobriety. Most importantly, sober doesn’t mean that you won’t have fun.

Decide How to Cope

The holidays will be full of alcohol, triggers, cravings, and even people telling you to drink. Family members might slip up and offer you a drink, might leave you to go a bar, might order alcohol at a restaurant, and you might find yourself having to say no to something you really want. You’ll also have to face a lot of triggers, like other people drinking, alcohol in front of you, people you used to drink with, invitations to go drink, having a good time, and stress.

Planning how to cope with all of the triggers that will come up will help you to handle them more easily when they do happen. You should consider writing down a list of triggers, deciding on actions you can take, deciding what you can do in case cravings hit, and if you can, asking someone to be your sober buddy you can call when you need to.

Attend Sobriety Meetings

No one really thinks of a sobriety meeting as fun, but it can be a valuable part of your holiday period. Taking a few hours to attend a sobriety or AA meeting will give you the perspective to remind yourself why you are staying sober, will give you good examples to follow, and will likely give you something or someone to be accountable to.

If you aren’t part of a sobriety group or are traveling, nearly all AA groups allow you to join as a guest member. Just look up the group online, email or call them, and ask if you can attend.

Go to Sober Parties

Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be having fun. A sober party is a great way to socialize and have fun. While many of us are accustomed to using alcohol as a social lubricant to make us feel less awkward and more social, you don’t need it to have fun. Consider hosting your own party and inviting friends and family. You really only need a few things for a great party:

  • Music – Try to choose playlists that don’t include alcohol themed songs
  • Food – The more fun the better, consider having attendees bring something to contribute
  • Drinks – Get creative with alcohol-free mixed drinks, mocktails, and other fun beverages rather than just plain soda. Or, if you feel like you might sit around wishing you had alcohol in mocktails, consider serving beverages like cocoa and coffee that don’t normally include alcohol.
  • Games – Entertainment is a must. You can play anything from card games to Twister to taking turns at Mario Kart, but make sure you have something. Group games like quiz style games and card games are almost always a hit.

That’s it. The only other important element is to remind attendees that there is no alcohol allowed.

Bring Your Own Beverages

Chances are you will be invited to a variety of holiday parties and the hosts won’t always be considerate of your needs. You can decline if you think alcohol will be there or you don’t think the host will respect your desire not to drink. If you want to go or should go, you should also bring your own beverages so you know you have something fun and non-alcoholic to drink. Just make sure you bring something you actually enjoy.

Take Care of Yourself

The holidays are a period when we often spend a lot of time busy and stressed. You might go from not eating anything at all to overeating at a dinner party, might exhaust yourself putting up lights or decorations, or cleaning before family comes over, and you might be stressed from clashing with family members with opposing viewpoints.

Taking the time to take care of yourself is important for managing stress and cravings. This means ensuring that you eat plenty of nutritious food including fruits and vegetables and eat regularly throughout the day. You should also get exercise or go the gym every day, but don’t exhaust yourself. Taking care of your space and keeping it clean and tidy will also help you to feel better.

Plan to Do Things You Enjoy

One of the biggest caveats of being happy is that it often requires work. If you want to do things that make you happy, you often have to plan and make time for them yourself. Consider things you like to do, invite people to join you, and go out and do them, as long as they’re sans alcohol of course. For example, shopping, cooking together as a family, decorating a tree, skating, dancing, hiking, ice fishing, or anything else you like.

If you want to have fun, you have to plan time to do things you like. And, if you do that, you will make yourself happier and therefore more able to resist cravings when they hit.

The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone in recovery, but you can make it without slipping up. Just keep your motivations to stay sober in mind, keep yourself on track by attending group meetings, and make sure you’re taking care of yourself and having fun.

If you aren’t part of a sobriety group, please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to assist you and provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available today.

The post How to Stay Sober and Have Fun Over the Holidays appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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Most people have at least a passing acquaintance with Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used to treat severe and chronic pain in the United States. Fewer are aware of its dark history of abuse on the streets, both used for injection by addicts and used to cut other more expensive drugs by dealers.

Fentanyl is typically available cheaply compared to opioids like Heroin and cocaine. While usually manufactured overseas in China, its potency means that it’s easy to import in smaller batches, making it easier and therefore more cost effective to hide. As a result, it’s been used to cut Heroin for nearly a decade, reducing costs for dealers, while improving the potency and addictiveness of the drug. Fentanyl-lacing is also linked to overdoses in anywhere from 11-40% of all heroin-overdose deaths, simply because at as much as 100x the strength, heroin users often overdose.

Now, Fentanyl is increasingly found in non-opioid drugs, primarily in cocaine. This often-deadly mixture is sold to unsuspecting users, many of whom are casual users going to clubs or parties. As a result, Fentanyl-related overdoses are on the rise, with a more than 540% increase in 3 years.

If you or a loved one use, you should be concerned.

Fentanyl Used to Cut Other Drugs

In June of 2017, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a warning after finding that 37% of drug overdose-related deaths in New York during the year involved a mix of cocaine and fentanyl. Since then, Fentanyl-laced cocaine has been found in other states, including Tennessee. Some officials estimate that nation-wide, Fentanyl-laced drugs are related to nearly 11% of all non-fentanyl drug overdoses, despite fentanyl lacing affecting less than 1% of total cocaine sold.

Why? Drugs like fentanyl are frequently cut into drugs without the user’s knowledge, and at up to 100 times stronger, fentanyl and its analogues must be used with caution. Some fentanyl analogues are even stronger than fentanyl itself, which can cause overdoses at even tiny doses. Users who believe they’re taking cocaine will ingest up to a gram a night, but even a few hundred micrograms of fentanyl can push them over the edge into overdose.

Fentanyl Responsible for 20,000 Overdoses in 2016

In 2016, 64,000 people died of a drug overdose. At a 22% increase over 2015, that number is extremely high – but with 22,000 deaths related to fentanyl, most of the blame lies on one drug. Comparatively, 15,400 people died of a heroin overdose in the same period, and 7,660 from methamphetamines. Fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths have increased by 540% since 2014 largely due to an increase in street and illicit usage, as opioids like morphine and OxyContin become more difficult to acquire. Rising prices also lead many to seek out cheaper alternatives, and at up to 100 times the strength of morphine, fentanyl offers addicts a cheaper high.

However, buying drugs like Fentanyl on the street is dangerous. Many dealers sell Fentanyl as well as its analogs like 3R and 4S, which can be 30 times as potent as fentanyl itself. Taking a safe dose of these drugs can be impossible with fatal dose sometimes as low as 160 micrograms.

Why Would Dealers Cut Fentanyl into Cocaine?

There are few reasons for a drug user to cut fentanyl into cocaine, as the highs are extremely different. Cocaine users are looking for a rush of energy and euphoria, opioid users are typically looking for relaxation and euphoria. But, while users don’t purposely add fentanyl to cocaine, dealers may be.

Authorities have speculated a variety of possible reasons for lacing cocaine and other non-opioid drugs with fentanyl, including addiction, improving potency, and simple carelessness. For example, fentanyl is significantly more addictive than cocaine. Once hooked, users are much more likely to become return customers, increasing profits for the dealer. This is highly speculative of course, as no dealer has admitted to lacing cocaine for this reason.

The other large possibility is that dealers are simply lazy. They sometimes sell multiple types of drugs, cutting and portioning substances on the same surface without cleaning in between. This could result in significant fentanyl contamination, as a dose of a fentanyl analogue can be extremely tiny. This is also much more likely for most dealers who are typically users themselves and not criminal masterminds.

How Big is the Risk?

37% of all drug related deaths in New York in 2016-2017 involved cocaine laced with fentanyl or users who had both substances in their blood. Despite that, the risk on a national level is significantly lower. Most dealers have no motivation to cut their cocaine and cocaine users are not looking for a fentanyl high.

However, fentanyl-laced drugs are becoming increasingly prevalent around the country. If you or a loved one uses, it is a risk. Statistically, less than 0.5% of all cocaine is laced with fentanyl. If even 1% of cocaine were laced, deaths across the nation would be significantly higher. But the risk is still there, as is the risk of other toxic substances such as strychnine.

Learning to Use Naloxone

If someone you love uses opioids or is exposed to opioids through drug use, the best overdose prevention is acquiring and learning to use Naloxone. Getting them to follow basic safety procedures, like testing drugs before using, not passing drugs around, and not using alone can also greatly reduce the risk of overdose or increase the risk of someone responding in a lifesaving way should something go wrong.

Naloxone is available fairly cheaply, and can slow or stop an overdose so that the user has time to get to a hospital. In most states, Naloxone can be acquired at a pharmacy, without a prescription. You may also be able to seek out training at a local Department of Health, or a drug safety organization in your city or county.

Getting Treatment

Any drug use is harmful and potentially fatal. The increasing prevalence of opioids like Fentanyl in non-opioid drugs increases the risk of overdose, but even without that risk, drugs are dangerous, expensive, and often detrimental to emotional and physical health. If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder, there is help.

An opioid addiction treatment center can provide the necessary medical support to guide you through detox, followed by counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy. Most modern treatment centers also take an approach that helps users to rebuild their life, working on behavior, skills, nutrition, exercise, and relationship or family health – so that a recovering addict has the support in place to be happy and successful without their drug.

Drug use, even casual use, can kill, and getting help and getting clean will make your loved one’s life better. Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available today.

The post Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine is Killing Users Across the United States appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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Opiates are a class of drugs derived from opium and most frequently used as either a painkiller or a recreational drug. However, like other opioid-class drugs, they are highly addictive and can be difficult to put down, even if you have a drug test or screening coming up.

Whether you or a loved one are about to face a drug test, you’re wondering how long drugs stay in your system for health reasons, or you just want to know, there are a lot of factors involved. Considering the specific type of drug, the frequency of use, and other details are important, and most people metabolize slightly differently.

What Factors Affect Opiate Metabolizing? 

All opiates are naturally derived from specific alkaloids in the opium or Chinese poppy. However, the strength, longevity, and effect of each of these alkaloids are different, meaning that different types of opiates will stay in your system for more or less time. However, there are also many other factors to consider:

  • Metabolism – Drugs are metabolized based on how quickly the body digests and uses them. This varies per individual.
  • Body Mass – A larger person will typically metabolize more quickly. Similarly, a very muscular person will metabolize more quickly than someone with less muscle.
  • Body Fat – Opiates are lipophilic, meaning that they tend to deposit into fat. This is a natural process of the body, where chemicals and hormones (the body naturally produces its own opiate alkaloids) are stored in fat when levels are too high in the body and then are released back into the body when levels go down. This means that someone with a higher body fat ratio will retain opiates in their system for far longer than someone who is very thin.
  • Age – Metabolism slows down with age, so a 20-year-old will metabolize opiates much more quickly than a 60-year-old.
  • Kidney and Liver Health – The kidneys and liver are responsible for actually filtering the opiate out of your system. A well-functioning kidney and liver can complete this process much more quickly than one damaged by substance use or other problems.
  • The Drug and its Purity – The stronger the drug and the longer it’s half-life metabolism, the longer it will take to leave the system.
  • Water Intake – Water is a crucial part of the process of flushing toxins and waste out of the body. Someone who drinks a lot of water will flush remaining chemicals from the bladder much more quickly.
  • Opiate Usage – A heavy opiate user may find that they have very built-up in their system, and will take significantly longer to deplete and leave the system.

There are many other factors that affect how long opiates stay in your system, including the drug, the acting length, and the type of drug test.

Equianalgesic Table and Comparative Strength

The Equianalgesic table compares the rough equivalence of one drug to another. It’s typically used to determine an appropriate dose, and was originally constructed based on a safe dose of oral morphine. However, the chart isn’t always correct, because some substances become stronger with consecutive dosing. For example, the strength of tramadol increases with continued use, because its active metabolite accumulates in the body.

Comparing common opiates to 10mg of morphine gets the following results:

  • Diamorphine (Heroin) – 2.5 mg
  • Codeine – 67-100 mg
  • Fentanyl – 0.1 mg
  • Methadone – 3.33 mg
  • Hydrocodone – 10 mg
  • Oxycodone – 6.67 mg

So, different types of drugs can be considerably stronger than others, and may show up in urine and hair follicles considerably longer than others. For example, diamorphine shows up in the urine for up to 7 days after last use, which is longer than the average 2-3 days for most opiates. However, because heroin has a very short half-life it only shows up on saliva tests for about 5 hours and in blood tests for about 6.

Drug Half-Life

Drug half-life or elimination half-life is the period of time between when a drug enters the system and when its volume in the body is reduced by half.

What this means is that over the period defined in the half-life, the drug’s presence in the system depletes by half. Then, because it likely continues to metabolize at the same rate, it will likely continue to reduce at the same rate.

So, using diamorphine, or heroin as an example, you can consider how long the drug would stay in your system. Heroin has an average half-life of about 34 minutes. If someone were to take a dose of heroin, the body would metabolize it accordingly.

  • 34 minutes to ½ strength in the body
  • 68 minutes to ¼ strength in the body
  • 102 minutes to 1/8 strength in the body
  • 138 minutes to 1/16
  • 172 minutes to 1/32
  • 206 minutes to 1/64
  • 240 minutes to 1/120

While this is an oversimplification and actual metabolizing will depend on the body, it gives you a good idea of how the process works and how substance levels deplete in the body.

However, drugs like heroin permeate the blood-brain barrier, which means that they can affect the system after the minimum effective dose is reached.  Heroin wears off when it reaches the minimum dose required to give an effect, after about 4.5 hours. Detectable levels would remain in the blood for about 6 hours. This is also important, because if you take a drug test and say that you took a substance about a week ago, the doctor will know when you’re lying.

Common opiates have a half life of about:

  • Diamorphine (Heroin) – 2-3 minutes biological, 34 minutes intravenous
  • Codeine – 2-3 hours
  • Fentanyl – 10 minutes- 4 hours
  • Methadone – 8-59 hours
  • Hydrocodone – 3-4 hours
  • Oxycodone – 2.4.5 hours
Duration of Action

Finally, you have to consider the duration of action. A drug that is intended for extended release will stay in the system for considerably longer than a fast-acting drug. For example, Oxycodone, which has a half-life of an average of 3.5 hours stays is detectable in the blood for 24-48 hours, but in the saliva for up to 4 days. Morphine is detectable in the blood for about 12 hours and in the urine for about 3 days, and hydrocodone can be detected in the urine for about 4 days.

Almost all drugs can be found in the hair for up to 90 days after the last usage.

Most opiates can no longer be detected in the blood, saliva, or urine after 4 days, others are gone within 7 days. If you have a slow-release drug intended to last 24-48 hours, it will last significantly longer. If someone uses frequently, the level of opiates will also build up faster than the body can metabolize, meaning that it takes longer to leave the system. So, there are a lot of variables that affect the actual length of time opiates stay in your system.

If you or a loved one is struggling with opiate abuse, you’re not alone. An estimated 4 million Americans are addicted to opiate drugs. But, there is help. You are protected under HIPAA should you choose to take time off work to seek out opiate addiction treatment, where you can detox from opiates and learn how to live and enjoy your life without substance use.

Please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available today.

The post How Long do Opiates Stay in Your System? appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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I envy so-called normal people. There are days when I just want to ditch the responsibility to stay sober. You know, kick off my shoes and party with rest of my colleagues at Happy Hour on a Friday.

While the rewards from making that choice are obviously short-term, temptation is always poking me in the side, especially after a rough day.

Most of the time, I can fight off the temptation fairly easily now. After all, I have been sober for nearly a year, but there is always going to be that one weak moment that could trip me up for the rest of my life.

I needed a contingency plan. Here is what I’ve come up with:

1. It’s Just Not Worth It

All relapse really is, is a temporary diversion, a post-poning of the inevitable, because we can only hide in the bottom of a bottle until we take that last swallow. At that point, we still have to deal with whatever the trigger was this time, and now we are facing it while we are impaired.

2. This, too, Shall Pass

It is important to remember that everything in this life is temporary; nothing lasts forever. This is a good time to reflect on other hardships we have successfully endured. Look at all those life changes we had no idea we could make it through, yet here we are, safe, happy, content, and maybe even a little wiser for it. All those challenges have passed, and this will, too.

3. I Got Sober for a Reason

Lots of reasons, actually. In fact, if I took the time to list all of them, the temptation will have probably passed by the time I finished! Part of getting sober is learning to love yourself and that love reminds me each and every day of all the happiness sobriety has given me and my loved ones. Going back to those dark days of active addiction is simply not an option for me.

4. Hangovers

I will never forget how awful they were or how much I don’t miss them! The only thing worse than feeling like you have the flu is knowing it’s not the flu combined with the fact that no one cares. I remember going into work feeling like death, and my supervisor was so disgusted with me that she gave me extra work to do.

5. Shame

Relapse carries a stigma even greater than the addiction itself, because now you are viewed by others as being weak and selfish. Most critical, though, is the opinion you have of yourself, which is often times a reflection of what others see in your choices.

6. Mirror, Mirror

When I was drinking, I thought I looked great. The constant consumption of alcohol dulled all of my senses including sight and smell. Then one day, I was scrolling through some old pictures, and I got to one that absolutely horrified me. I couldn’t have been more than 26, but I looked at least 40. It was embarrassing to look at, and just thinking about it has proven to be an excellent deterrent.

7. What About Tomorrow?

It always shows up sooner than we think it will. Relapse is a guaranteed ticket to regret as soon as we open our eyes in the morning. Now you’ve got two issues, whatever problem that led you there and how awful you feel about it and because of it.

Everyone’s sobriety journey is different, however. It is not necessary to memorize mine. Create your own, and see how far you can fly.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a possible addiction to alcohol, or you just have questions, please contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available today.

The post Seven Things to Tell Yourself when You want to Drink appeared first on Lighthouse Treatment Center.

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