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Almost everyone can recall a time when they’ve come in contact with an anti-drug campaign message. For many, these campaigns have little to no influence on their decision to use or abstain from drugs. As anti-drug campaign budgets grow, so do overdose rates in Americans. After almost five decades of failed anti-drug campaigns, what gives? Why are they missing the mark?

  1. A Spotty History

In order to understand the far-reaching, modern-day implications of the anti-drug campaign initiative, you should explore the context of its conception. The infamous War On Drugs exponentially increased government spending and resource allocation to drug enforcement in 1971. At the time, 84 percent of the country agreed with President Nixon that drugs were public enemy number one. For two decades the public accepted and supported the War On Drugs until the public began realizing how ineffective it was.

The War On Drugs transformed with the next presidency, Ronald Reagan, to become known as “Just Say No,” which sought to educate youth about the dangers of recreational drug use. During Reagan’s administration, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which required mandatory minimum sentencing for drug use. As we move into modern day, the general attitude toward the War On Drugs is tepid compared to the growing positive attitudes towards rehabilitation and prevention, not criminalization. Because anti-drug campaigns have proved ineffective in many ways, focusing on recovery and the roots of addiction can be forward thinking. Acknowledging and analyzing the reasons why people turn to substances can help prevent a large epidemic.

    Speak to an addiction Intake Coordination Specialist now.
    352.771.2700What to expect when I call?

    Seeking addiction treatment can feel overwhelming. We know the struggle, which is why we're uniquely qualified to help.

    Your call is confidential, and there's no pressure to commit to treatment until you're ready. As a voluntary facility, we're here to help you heal -- on your terms. Our sole focus is getting you back to the healthy, sober life you deserve, and we are ready and waiting to answer your questions or concerns 24/7.

    Speak with an Intake Coordination Specialist now.352.771.2700
  1. Lack of Research

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent in an effort to understand more acutely how to craft effective anti-drug messages. According to anti-drug campaign expert Michael Slater, research suggests the most effective campaigns are those that tap into young adults’ independence and making their own decisions. Despite the amount of time and resources dedicated to understanding what messages will enact attitude and behavior changes, anti-drug campaigns continue to be based on anecdotal evidence.

You may recall the anti-drug ad comparing your brain to an egg, declaring your brain on drugs is like a scrambled egg. For many, this campaign ignores the recommendations of empowering young people to claim their independence by separating themselves from the pressures of drug use. Rather, it provided them with comedic material to mock. In order to craft effective and educational messages, research must be at the center of the conversation, keeping the proper target audience’s best interest at heart.

  • Who do they want to hear these messages from?
  • How do they want to receive those messages?
  • What medium do they want to see the messages on?

Anti-drug campaigns must prioritize research and work in tandem with people from the communities they are targeting

  1. Problematic Narratives

A common misconception is that we need to get dealers off the street to stop the opioid epidemic. This is an oversimplification of the issue at hand. In the late 1900s painkillers were advertised as non-addictive. Since then, up to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids misuse them, according to the National Health Institute.

However, the narrative surrounding opioids continues to reflect a story where these substances come solely from run-down, poor neighborhoods. While a large portion of synthetic opioids come from the streets, that is not the whole story.

The conversation needs to shift from a message that resembles a chastising parent to a relatable narrative that frames substance use disorder as a disease that can and should be treated.

If you struggle with addiction and don’t understand why, call The Recovery Village and learn more. If you feel ready to take a step towards a healthier, happier life, The Recovery Village offers long-term healing. Contact a representative 24/7 to learn more.

The post 3 Reasons Why Anti-Drug Campaigns Miss the Mark appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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The popular and respected health website WebMD.com has named the epidemic of opioid abuse as its top health news story of 2017.

The publication is not alone. Healthline and Consumer Reports have also devoted considerable attention to the crisis of opioid addiction in America, and Forbes included it in its top three healthcare stories of the year.

There is no mystery why so many news sources are devoting so much attention to opioid misuse. The latest figures show that in 2016, there were more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, and most of them were caused by opioids. What is more, opioids were also a factor in many non-opioid overdoses that year.

Why Is It Considered a National Crisis?

You have seen the numbers rise year over year for a long time now. So why is so much attention being directed at opioid misuse as 2018 begins? Perhaps the main reason is that the crisis is behind the decline in overall life expectancy in the US. Two years of declining life expectancy in a row, which is what Americans are on track for right now, are almost unheard of in the US. The last time such a phenomenon occurred was after the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Even at the peak of the HIV crisis of the 1990s, AIDS “only” caused 40,000 deaths annually.

Drugs Involved in Overdose Deaths in 2016

The drugs involved in overdose deaths in 2016, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse were, from most to least prevalent:

  • Synthetic opioids except for methadone
  • Heroin
  • Natural and semi-synthetic opioids
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methadone

The greatest increase in overdose deaths in 2016 was the result of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, which were responsible for over 20,000 deaths. The year from 2015 to 2016 represented an exceptionally sharp increase in drug overdose deaths. What is more, opioid involvement in overdoses of cocaine and benzodiazepines has increased sharply between the years 2012 through 2015.

One of the Biggest Health Crises in a Century

The last major narcotic epidemic traced its origins to the treatment of wounded Civil War soldiers.

Though the current level of opioid misuse is unprecedented, the US has dealt with a major opioid crisis before. Approximately a century ago, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Act in an attempt to criminalize abuse of painkillers. That opioid epidemic originated during the Civil War, when morphine was used to ease the pain of injured soldiers.

During that time smoking opium was also fairly common, as was the use of laudanum for problems like ordinary menstrual cramps. All of it was perfectly legal in an era of patent medicines, but the solutions of 100 years ago (simply criminalizing use) will not be enough to address today’s opioid crisis. Today’s opioid epidemic has multiple, often tangled roots, and law enforcement and court systems know from experience that arresting people does not “cure” addiction.

What Must Happen to Turn the Tide?

Addiction treatment is the key to slowing the momentum of the opioid scourge, and ultimately turning it around. Though most people recognize opioid abuse disorder as a disease, there is still a lingering sense that moral culpability is somehow involved, and that often prevents people from seeking help. Furthermore, it may prevent law enforcement and court systems from reaching out to addiction treatment services regularly. Court systems that do offer diversion into opioid addiction treatment tend not to direct addicts to medication-assisted treatment, which is considered the gold standard for treatment of opioid misuse.

The year is new, and there is hope that by the end of 2018, there may be light at the end of the opioid abuse tunnel. This can only happen if addiction treatment becomes as important as restricting opioid prescriptions. When people who are addicted to prescribed painkillers no longer have access to them, they often acquire the drugs illegally, or transition to using heroin, where purity has no guarantees, and dangerous additives like fentanyl and carfentanil have been found.

Addiction treatment programs are available for people who are caught in the seemingly impossible trap of opioid misuse. Holistic approaches to addiction treatment, along with the use of medication-assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine helps people break the chains of addiction and live productive, happy lives. If you are dealing with opioid addiction or want to know more about addiction treatment, we encourage you to contact us at any time. We are ready to listen and offer help today!

The post WebMD Recognizes Opioid Abuse as Top Health News of 2017 appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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The Recovery Village by Olivia Pennelle - 3d ago

My anxiety can get so bad that I sometimes feel like I have a brick on my chest. It’s a beast I’ve suffered with my entire life. Some of my earliest memories include a tight chest feeling, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. As a teenager, I got terrible panic attacks that frightened me so much that I cried with fear of what was happening to me. This level of anxiety was one of the many reasons I used substances. It was my excessive substance use that led to substance use disorder. Getting sober revealed my continuous suffering with anxiety disorder as well as the need to find a way to cope and remain in recovery.

Speak to an addiction Intake Coordination Specialist now.
352.771.2700What to expect when I call?

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Your call is confidential, and there's no pressure to commit to treatment until you're ready. As a voluntary facility, we're here to help you heal -- on your terms. Our sole focus is getting you back to the healthy, sober life you deserve, and we are ready and waiting to answer your questions or concerns 24/7.

Speak with an Intake Coordination Specialist now.352.771.2700
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are five major types of anxiety: generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder. There are millions of people in the U.S. — approximately 18 percent of adults — who have some form of anxiety, which can be progressive and worsen over time. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty thinking
  • Chest pains
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilating
  • Overwhelming self-consciousness
  • Nightmares
  • Panic
  • Fear of leaving home
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal stress
Why Do We Get Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger. It’s a physiological process designed to keep us safe, known more commonly as the fight-or-flight response, which is the body’s response to a perceived attack or threat. The response floods the body with hormones and neurotransmitters — such as adrenaline and cortisol — which prepare your body to fight or run.

But anxiety alone isn’t the problem; the problem is with an anxiety disorder, which is triggered with no real danger present. There are several contributory factors to anxiety disorders, such as stress, genetics, and poor habits and coping skills. For me, it’s stress, social anxiety, and the inability to cope with my environment — as well as excessive caffeine. Taking away my coping mechanisms — booze and drugs — left me with an almost paralyzing level of anxiety. It affected my work, relationships and quality of life.

How Do You Cope With Anxiety in Recovery?

It’s important to note that feelings of anxiety are entirely normal in certain situations. These include before stressful events, such as an interview, a wedding, or going on vacation. Good mental health is key to keeping anxiety under control. Over time, with research and medical help, I have developed several strategies to help me cope with my anxiety so that I’m able to function in my everyday life. These strategies can help ease your anxiety, whether you have it in response to an event that might cause anxiety, or an everyday instance:

  • Exercise: This not only improves your overall mental state, but it also burns off the stress hormone adrenaline and relaxes your body.
  • Meditation: This calms your nervous system and relaxes the body. I always feel relaxed, calm and centered after a meditation.
  • Mindfulness: Try standing with your bare feet on the ground, breathing slowly and deeply. Imagine all the anxious energy going into the earth. This sense of connectedness will bring you into the present moment and help you to feel more grounded.
  • Self-care: Getting at least eight hours sleep, drinking lots of water, stopping smoking, and limiting caffeine (or cutting it out altogether) help tremendously.
  • Eating well: Consuming foods high in …
    • B vitamins help the nervous system (avocados, almonds, oats)
    • Vitamin C (kiwi, blueberries, citrus fruits) help to protect and repair cells
    • Omega-3 (salmon, walnuts, eggs) have been shown to keep stress hormones under control
    • Magnesium (spinach, dark chocolate, leafy greens) also help regulate stress hormones and create a calming effect in the body
    • Tryptophan (turkey, pumpkin, oats) produce serotonin, which promotes tiredness and calmness
  • Therapy: Talking with a professional about anxiety can be helpful to uncover any psychological issues leading to anxiety, and help you develop effective coping strategies.

If you need help managing anxiety while recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, contact The Recovery Village today. Representatives are available to discuss your concerns and assist you in finding the help you need.

The post How I Manage My Anxiety appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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Getting sober was one of the hardest things I’ve achieved in my life. What I didn’t expect was for it to reveal a long-standing history of mental illness. I had thought my depression was just a symptom of substance use disorder — a particularly bad comedown or the effects of using substances for years.

It takes the first few months – perhaps even the first year – for your brain chemistry to even out. All of that drug and alcohol abuse causes a lot of damage to your brain and hardwired it to seek pleasure-releasing substances: caffeine, nicotine, food, sex, gambling, etc. It also explains why we feel like we’re playing a game of Whack-a-Mole: We put down one substance only to develop a new reliance on another substance or behavior. Once we realize that common rite of passage for most people in recovery, we can stop blaming ourselves and can get help for the underlying illnesses.

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352.771.2700What to expect when I call?

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Your call is confidential, and there's no pressure to commit to treatment until you're ready. As a voluntary facility, we're here to help you heal -- on your terms. Our sole focus is getting you back to the healthy, sober life you deserve, and we are ready and waiting to answer your questions or concerns 24/7.

Speak with an Intake Coordination Specialist now.352.771.2700

In my case, I revealed long-standing mental illnesses: depression and anxiety. I’ve had them my entire life and recovery showed me that it was actually the reverse of what I had thought — the mental illnesses caused me to self-medicate. My substance use disorder had not caused mental illness, although it certainly exacerbated my symptoms.

I wasn’t one of those people who was on a pink fluffy cloud when I first got sober. Even though I was grateful to be sober and to not have hangovers, I was not bouncing around happy, joyous and free. I was depressed, lethargic, exhausted and couldn’t stop eating, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. I was suffering from a severe depression. The advice my sponsor gave me was to keep up my recovery program: meetings, step work, group coffees, checking in regularly, service, and light exercise – then see what happens.

Despite everything I did, I still felt the same way and it appeared to only get worse.

It was at that point that I saw my doctor. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had gone to my doctor earlier. People in meetings are not qualified to give medical advice – even the AA and NA literature state that we sometimes need to seek outside help (sadly, many people in fellowship don’t follow that guidance). My doctor immediately took action and helped formulate a medical plan.

After seeing my doctor, and following her guidance and medication, I felt better after just a few weeks. I often wonder if I had gone earlier if I wouldn’t have had to feel so terrible those first few months of recovery. I guess that’s why I feel so passionately about sharing my experience today.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of managing mental health in recovery. If I feel mentally unwell, my recovery activities slip: I go to less Refuge Recovery meetings, I reach out to my friends less, and I am more isolated. It can lead to me sinking into a deeper depression. As a matter of principle, I ensure that I undertake the following activities to keep my mental health in check:

  • I exercise regularly
  • I get outside even if it is just for a few minutes each day
  • I journal my thoughts and feelings
  • I check in with another person in recovery
  • I see my doctor on a regular basis and I take her advice – following through with the actions she prescribes
  • I eat omega-rich, and serotonin-producing foods (oily fish, walnuts, turkey, yoghurt, dark chocolate)
  • I drink lots of water
  • I have regular therapy
  • I attend yoga.

As it happens, these activities also improve my well-being in recovery. Bonus! Over time, my mental illness have become mental health and, consequently, I live a pretty enjoyable life in recovery.


If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder and mental illness, The Recovery Village can help. With centers throughout the country, The Recovery Village offers comprehensive care for co-occurring disorders so you can get to the root of addiction. Call today to learn more.

The post The Importance of Looking After My Mental Health in Recovery appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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There are certain topics that cause people to get uncomfortable when discussed. This is especially true if those individuals don’t have any true knowledge of or first-hand experience with the topic. When we’re dealing with issues surrounded by stigma and negative connotation, it can be easy to avoid talking about them all together, but that doesn’t mean we should. One “uncomfortable” topic involves mental illness and how the power we attach to names, labels and diagnoses related to mental illness can have harmful consequences.    

Speak to an addiction Intake Coordination Specialist now.
352.771.2700What to expect when I call?

Seeking addiction treatment can feel overwhelming. We know the struggle, which is why we're uniquely qualified to help.

Your call is confidential, and there's no pressure to commit to treatment until you're ready. As a voluntary facility, we're here to help you heal -- on your terms. Our sole focus is getting you back to the healthy, sober life you deserve, and we are ready and waiting to answer your questions or concerns 24/7.

Speak with an Intake Coordination Specialist now.352.771.2700
The Power of Words

We live in a world where a label can make or break your reputation. The same applies to a diagnosis; the technical term can create or eliminate opportunities, depending on the amount of knowledge someone has about it. But we shouldn’t allow words to put people into categories they didn’t ask to be put in. We must be willing to see that a diagnosis does not define a person; it’s a small piece of someone who is learning to survive, despite their struggle.

Words like “depression,” “borderline personality,” “obsessive compulsive” and “PTSD” are just a few diagnoses that can cause hushed reactions, but they are also very relevant and need to be discussed. Yes, words are powerful, but we give them power only when we allow them to define who we are. Those who don’t truly understand what it’s like to battle mental illness can learn from those who do, the ones who live with it and have the best words to explain it.

Tell Your Story

What better way to have the final say than by openly talking about your struggles, mental illness and diagnosis? When you make the decision to share your story with the world, you get the opportunity to shed a light on a dark subject. By addressing what others are avoiding, and putting a name to your pain, shame and struggles, you can set yourself free from the stigma that often keeps people in the shadows.

Showing others that it’s okay to speak up lets them know there’s nothing to be afraid of. By talking about what makes us human, we’re showing others that we all struggle in some way. None of us are perfect, and a diagnosis doesn’t make you less of a person than anybody else.

How a Diagnosis Allows You to Heal

It’s important that we never let something like a diagnosis hold us back from pursuing other callings. It can often be difficult to hear that you have a weakness of some sort, because sometimes the hard part is accepting what you can’t change. Asking for help of any kind is challenging enough as it is, so to be told you may always need that help can be a tough pill to swallow.

When we can get past the word/diagnosis, we can learn what it means, and we can begin taking the proper steps to heal. It may always be a struggle that sticks with us, but it can be something we learn to cope with so well that it just becomes a small part of our lives, and not the whole thing.

The post Your Diagnosis Doesn’t Define You appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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Has anyone ever accused you of playing too many video games or spending too many hours each day in front of the game console?  If gaming has a negative impact on your life, there is a chance that it might be considered a mental disorder along the same lines as drug addiction.  While it has not done so yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that it will include “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in 2018.

What Are the Characteristics of Gaming Disorder?

In its beta draft of the ICD-11 codes that will be released this year, the WHO classifies “gaming disorder” under the category of “disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors.”  Further details indicate that gaming disorder will be listed alongside gambling disorder, which may involve either online or offline behavior.

The ICD is a guide that includes codes for diseases as well as signs and symptoms of those diseases that can be used by researchers and medical providers to diagnose and track a disease.The new guide suggests that abnormal gaming behavior should be evident for a period of at least 12 months prior to diagnosis, but that this period can be shortened if the symptoms are severe. The symptoms include:

  • Impaired control over gaming (duration, frequency, intensity)
  • Gaming given an increased priority
  • Continuation of gaming or even escalation despite negative consequences
Why Gaming Addiction and Drug Addiction Often Occur Together

There are only a few studies that look at the link between gaming and drug addiction, but the results are not encouraging.  The journal Comprehensive Psychiatry has the most notable study, which found that the area of the brain that regulates the desire to use drugs and play video games is the same. In essence, both activities release the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain, which leads the user or gamer to repeat the activity for additional rewards.

Yale University also released a study in 2011 that revealed some health risks linked to high levels of gaming.  The study primarily looked at the habits of adolescents and found that approximately 4.9 percent were unable to cut back on their gaming time. It was this same group that that also had other issues such as depression, school problems, cigarette smoking, and drug use.

If you or any of your loved ones are struggling with addiction, you can seek addiction treatment to begin recovery.

Where to Turn For Quality Addiction Treatment

Some are unhappy about gaming disorder being given an official classification while others believe that it is a good thing because it opens up opportunities for more specialized addiction treatment. Those suffering from a gaming disorder, including loved ones, may not have been taken seriously in the past when the fact is that any sort of addiction can impact relationships, jobs, education, finances, and health.

If you or any of your loved ones are struggling with an addiction, The Recovery Village can help.  Contact us now to speak with an addiction specialist about how a comprehensive addiction treatment program can be tailored to fit your specific needs.You do not have to suffer a moment longer. Begin your recovery journey today.

The post World Health Organization Considering Gaming Disorder as Mental Condition appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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Have you ever found yourself in a relationship headed nowhere, but you still convinced yourself that you’d never find anyone else if you walked away? I have been that person in multiple situations, and even though I’m not proud of that, I am proud that I eventually learned the lesson I needed to learn: I have always been allowed to walk away from anything or anyone who was toxic for me.

Speak to an addiction Intake Coordination Specialist now.
352.771.2700What to expect when I call?

Seeking addiction treatment can feel overwhelming. We know the struggle, which is why we're uniquely qualified to help.

Your call is confidential, and there's no pressure to commit to treatment until you're ready. As a voluntary facility, we're here to help you heal -- on your terms. Our sole focus is getting you back to the healthy, sober life you deserve, and we are ready and waiting to answer your questions or concerns 24/7.

Speak with an Intake Coordination Specialist now.352.771.2700
Acknowledge That Manipulation Is Not Love

Anytime you feel like you’re doing something out of obligation or fear, it may just be because the person you love has manipulated you to believe that you’re wrong by doing anything else. That by doing as they say and following their “rules,” you’re handing them the power, even though you may have no idea you’re being influenced. People with this set of skills are good at what they do for a reason. They can convince you that their manipulation is love. They can make you believe that without them, you’d feel less than and unworthy, but in reality, the opposite is true.

By standing up for yourself and recognizing when you’re being taken advantage of, you regain control — and hopefully, the momentum — you need to realize the relationship has been based on manipulation, not love. These patterns and tendencies are not easy to break, but it can be done. You must first realize that you’re allowed to leave this kind of abuse.

Don’t Assume You’ll Be Alone Forever If You Leave

One of the biggest fears of people who are thinking of walking away from a manipulative relationship is that they’ll never find anyone else. It’s a strange fear, but when you’ve been constantly abused by someone who claims to love you, you can start to believe that’s how you deserve to be treated. It can be even harder to walk away when your partner’s manipulative behavior shows after you fell in love with them. When your mind becomes poisoned by bad treatment, you can easily justify staying in something that you should be quickly running away from. This is why it’s not easy to just walk away.

Although there may still be battles to face when you finally do end the relationship, embrace the change, because being alone in the next season might be exactly what you need. But don’t assume you’ll be alone forever.

Change the Way You Look at “Leaving”

Perhaps you’re afraid to walk away because of the uncertainty about the next step. Instead of seeing it as the end to something, see it as an opportunity for growth, self-love, and eventually, the relationship you never knew existed. Those of us who know what it’s like to stay in a toxic relationship know just how warped the mind can become, so even the thought of leaving can cause panic and anxiety. If this is the kind of emotion that surfaces when you consider leaving, it may be a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship.

When you find someone who has good intentions for you, wants to treat you right, and shows you what you were missing all along, you’ll never have to wonder if you should leave them behind. They’ll never make you question your worth, and most importantly, they’ll never make you question their behavior. Love based on fear is NOT love at all, and it’s a sure sign that you should leave the relationship. Remember, you are allowed to do so, and the sooner you do, the better.

The post How To Leave a Toxic Relationship appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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Shame is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. It’s a emotion we experience when we feel less than, belittled, unworthy, embarrassed, incapable, or unlovable. Everyone experiences it throughout their lives, and whether shame makes or breaks a person is up to them.

I’m here to tell you that your shame is nothing to be ashamed about. If used as a tool for growth, a certain amount of shame can be healthy — you just have to be careful that you don’t allow shame to define who you are. It’s important to remain vigilant, and notice when shame starts to become toxic instead of constructive.

Speak to an addiction Intake Coordination Specialist now.
352.771.2700What to expect when I call?

Seeking addiction treatment can feel overwhelming. We know the struggle, which is why we're uniquely qualified to help.

Your call is confidential, and there's no pressure to commit to treatment until you're ready. As a voluntary facility, we're here to help you heal -- on your terms. Our sole focus is getting you back to the healthy, sober life you deserve, and we are ready and waiting to answer your questions or concerns 24/7.

Speak with an Intake Coordination Specialist now.352.771.2700
The Plus Side to Shame

Not all shame is bad. Sometimes, shame is just the realization you needed about something to snap us out of a bad habit you’ve developed. Sometimes, it’s the nudge you need in the right direction. If you choose to listen to it instead of ignoring it, shame can motivate you to want more for ourselves, and to stop procrastinating on the tasks you know you need to work on. Shame gives you an opportunity for positive change if you let it steer you instead of hinder you. It is important to at least acknowledge that the shame is coming from somewhere. Once you admit that there is shame in the first place, you can finally begin to heal the parts of yourself that are holding you back.

The Toxic Side of Shame

When you internalize your shame, and start to let it define you, you create an unsteady foundation for yourself. This makes you more fragile, and more likely to act out in self-destructive ways. When shame turns toxic, you’re much more likely to battle addiction, depression, eating disorders and suicide.

All of this can be prevented by doing the necessary work it takes to heal your shame. Shame can convince you that your worst thoughts and feelings are true. If there is a silver lining to toxic shame, it’s that you can rewire your thought process and the way you internalize your shame.

It’s critical to remember that shame is not who you are, and your worth is not measured by the negative thoughts shame may convince you are true. To heal, you must face what you want to run from, because you can’t keep running forever.

Coping with Shame

Shame thrives on your fears and it shows up in your life when certain situations and experiences cause you to feel inadequate. But you can remove shame’s power when you allow yourself the ability to make mistakes, accept your flaws and shortcomings, and confront what initially provoked the painful emotions within you.

There are a handful of ways to acknowledge your shame so you can begin to heal from it:

  • Write down the things that make you feel shameful
  • Choose someone to confide in and talk to them about your feelings
  • Find a professional therapist who can help you understand your shame

To heal your shame, you have to rewire your thought process. I am by no means saying that this is simple; I’m just reassuring you that it can be done if you are willing to get honest with yourself, and commit to the changes it will require. To heal from anything — including addiction — we must first address it, understand it, and learn how to move forward without it.

The post Feeling Shame is Nothing to Be Ashamed About appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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The December 2017 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics published a study of maternal substance abuse and infant outcomes in the state of Massachusetts from 2003-2010.

It was no surprise to learn that babies born to mothers with substance abuse disorders had more health problems and were likelier to be born prematurely or at a lower birth weight. Doctors and the general public have known about the potential effects of maternal drug and alcohol use on developing fetuses for decades.

Despite increased knowledge of the effects of substance abuse on unborn babies, however, rates of drug use among pregnant women went up from 2003 through 2009. The greatest increase in usage rates was for opioids, and there is little reason to believe that rates have fallen since 2009, considering that opioid use has increased since then.

Potential Effects of Maternal Substance Abuse on Babies

Use of drugs and alcohol by pregnant women is associated with numerous adverse outcomes for their children. Babies are more likely to be born pre-term, and those carried to term are likelier to have low birth weight. During gestation, babies of mothers with substance abuse disorders are likelier to experience intrauterine growth restriction, and once they are born, they are at higher risk for cardiac, respiratory, neurological, and feeding problems, and they have higher infant mortality rates than babies born to women without substance abuse disorders.

Mothers with Substance Abuse Disorders Often Have Fewer Resources

The pregnant women who are likeliest to have substance abuse disorders are also likely to be younger, to have completed fewer years of education, to be unmarried, and to be without health insurance. In other words, the very women and children who could benefit most from access to prenatal care are often ones who have the least access to it.

Finally, there is the uncomfortable fact that the numbers assessed by the recent study were self-reported numbers, so there isn’t really a way to know if they’re accurate. It’s safe to say, however, that people are likelier to report they don’t have a substance abuse disorder when they do have one than the other way around.

Why Pregnant Women May Refuse to Seek Help

Fear of criminal charges may keep some pregnant women with substance abuse disorders from seeking medical care.

It is not always lack of resources that keeps pregnant women from seeking the prenatal care they and their babies need. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia consider the use of drugs during pregnancy as child abuse, and 23 states and the District of Columbia require healthcare professionals to report suspected prenatal drug use. Only 19 states have created or funded drug treatment programs for pregnant women, though some states prioritize placement of pregnant women in treatment programs.

In a nutshell, many women refuse to seek prenatal care for fear of being arrested or having their children taken away from them. The result is higher risks to babies and less chance of pregnant women with substance abuse disorders receiving the treatment they need.

Asking for Help Can Lead to Caring Assistance

Having seen firsthand how criminalizing drug use during pregnancy turns women away from care for themselves and their unborn babies, many doctors are fighting back on behalf of their pregnant patients. Some states have rolled back enforcement of laws related to drug use during pregnancy, and pregnant women can safely participate in monitored, medication-assisted treatment for withdrawal from opioids.

Pregnant women with substance abuse disorders should not fear going to jail if they reach out for help with their addiction. The few states that still enforce laws targeting pregnant women with addictions often drop charges against women who complete treatment programs.

Reaching out for help with substance abuse can be frightening under any circumstances, and doing so while pregnant can be particularly upsetting. However, there are resources available to help pregnant women get the help they need so they and their babies can be healthy and happy. If you are pregnant and have a substance abuse disorder, please reach out. Help is confidential, and you can be directed to the best care for both your addiction and your pregnancy. We encourage you to contact us at any time if you have questions or need to talk about your unique situation.

The post Maternal Substance Abuse Disorders Put Babies at Risk appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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Opioid addiction has become such a severe problem in American that it is now labeled an epidemic. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlights how the crisis has impacted virtually every segment of our society. There are some programs in place to address these issues and, fortunately, there is also addiction treatment available for those who are struggling with opioid addiction.

How Serious is This Country’s Opioid Epidemic?

The HHS used a tool provided by the Centers for Disease Control as well as data from the National Survey on Drug abuse to come up with the following figures for this nation’s opioid epidemic as of 2016:

  • 11.5 million people misused prescription painkillers
  • 2.1 million people had an opioid use disorder
  • Over 42,200 deaths involved opioids
  • $504 billion in economic costs

Since 1999, the volume of prescription drugs prescribed and sold in the U.S. has increased nearly fourfold. Each day in this country, 44 people die due to prescription drug overdoses. Many healthcare providers have been found to be overprescribing these drugs. Even as the federal response to the prescription opioid epidemic kicked in, the rates of heroin and synthetic overdose deaths have soared.

As of 2016, 170,000 Americans used heroin for the first time, and there were close to 1 million who reported using the drug. Heroin use among young adults has more than doubled in the past decade, and 45 percent of heroin users report that they have also been addicted to prescription painkillers.

Fentanyl abuse has also swept the nation over the past several years. This synthetic opioid is often illicitly manufactured and brought in from outside the U.S. The drug is 80 times more powerful than morphine and is so fast-acting that it has been responsible for a growing number of opioid overdose deaths, with more than 20,000 in 2016 alone.

What Plans and Programs Have Been Put in Place to Address This Crisis?

The HHS has recommended and helped to coordinate several programs and initiatives meant to address the opioid addiction crisis in the U.S. Among them are:

  • Overdose Response. The increased availability of Naloxone can reduce opioid-related overdose deaths.
  • Drug Courts. Instead of punishing addicts for their use, drug courts have diversion programs that provide addiction treatment options instead of jail time.
  • Clinician Resources. Education and tools for medical providers can help reduce prescription drug abuse and the overprescribing of dangerous medications.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines addiction treatment programs with medications to treat opioid abuse and behavioral therapy.

What Addiction Treatment Resources Are Available If You Need Help?

Opioid addiction may very well be the most serious health crisis that our country has faced in a generation. While there are some programs in place to address these pressing issues, there remains much to be done before this epidemic is under control. Fortunately, if you are suffering from an opioid use disorder, there is addiction treatment available right now.

The Recovery Village offers focused and compassionate substance abuse treatment services that include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and family therapy. If you cannot stop using opioids on your own, you are not alone. Contact us now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about how our programs can help you find freedom from drug addiction.

The post Is the Opioid Epidemic the Greatest Health Crisis of Our Time? appeared first on The Recovery Village.

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