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Since the opioid crisis was only just recently declared a national public health emergency toward the end of 2017, most people seem to believe that the rising rates of overdose were a recent development in America. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The history surrounding the rise of the opioid crisis is pretty extensive. In fact, opioid abuse and addiction have been a problem in the United States dating as far back as the 1860s— it was just never publicized as an epidemic until the 2000s.
Opioid Use in Early American History
During the whole of the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, medics on the battlefield sidelines used morphine as an anesthetic. Since morphine a potent opioid with some of the most addictive properties of any drug, many American soldiers become physically dependent on it even after the Civil War ended.
Later on, in 1898, the Bayer Company began to produce and market heroin as an alternative to morphine for chronic pain management. At the time, heroin was believed to be less habit-forming and less harmful, so it was used in medicine and was even commercially distributed. Cocaine was also used in medicine during this time. In fact, between the two, cocaine is still used in medicine today; it’s classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act and is only used in liquid form in hospitals or surgical centers.
Prescriptions for these kinds of drugs weren’t in effect until the end of 1914, when Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Act. This industry-changing act required practicing doctors to write prescriptions for narcotics— like opioids and cocaine. This act also required drug distributors and manufacturers to register with the Treasury Department and pay taxes for their products. It wasn’t until a full decade later that the production and sale of heroin were officially banned in America by the Anti-Heroin Act.
The Roots of the Nation’s Greatest Drug Epidemic
During this time, combination opioid drugs were introduced into America’s pharmaceutical market. These particular drugs were short-acting painkillers which utilized other ingredients like acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Examples include Vicodin and Percocet, which provide pain relief for between four and six hours.
In Boston, a physician created a database that recorded the effects of different drugs prescribed to hospitalized patients. This database reported that a small percentage of those treated with opioids developed an addiction. Later, the New England Journal of Medicine published a one-paragraph letter summarizing the findings of this database called “Addiction Rare in Patients Treated with Narcotics.” However, these findings were not an accurate representation of opioid addiction since the study only examined a particular population: hospitalized patients who were closely monitored by medical staff. As a result, the information provided in the letter was misinterpreted in the pharmaceutical industry as proof that opioid drugs were non-addictive and safe for commercial consumption outside of hospitals.
Despite the proven addictiveness of oxycodone, the medication OxyContin— which is a long-lasting painkiller with oxycodone as its active ingredient— was approved for prescription use by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Afterwards, this drug was heavily marketed by pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma as a safe alternative to combination opioids like Vicodin and Percocet.
The FDA approves the medication Actiq for chronic pain management in cancer patients. Before this, the active ingredient of this medication, fentanyl, was highly restricted. This is because it fentanyl is a synthetic opioid with a high potential for overdose, even with prescription use. In fact, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin.
According to the Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services of Tennessee, by the 2000s, prescription opioids were overprescribed to the point where they became the top substance abused by people receiving treatment at detox facilities and halfway houses. Additionally, opioid overdose deaths, both from prescriptions and illicit drugs like heroin, have quadrupled since 1999.
As the addictive properties of opioids become more apparent to medical practitioners, many pharmaceutical companies were warned to change their marketing strategies to advertise the risks associated with opioid use. One of these companies was Purdue Pharma, the same company that contributed heavily to the OxyContin over-prescription trend from 1995 onward. The FDA sent a letter of warning to Purdue Pharma regarding their misleading advertisements for OxyContin, stating that promoting the drug “without disclosing [its] potential for abuse [or its] potentially fatal risks… is especially egregious and alarming in its potential impact on the public health.” Purdue Pharma responded to the letter in a public statement saying that they “do not believe that the ads will mislead physicians about the safety risks of OxyContin.” This would later become a federal case that brings the full extent of the opioid crisis to light.
Four years after their response to the FDA’s letter, Purdue Pharma was sued by several state governments for their misleading OxyContin advertisements, which promoted the drug as a safer, non-addictive alternative to other medical opioids. This federal lawsuit charged both the company and three of its executives with criminally “misleading and defrauding physicians and consumers.” Purdue Pharma and the executives all pleaded guilty to the charges and paid a collective $634.5 million in both criminal and civil fines— one of the most substantial pharmaceutical payouts in history. Months later, Purdue Pharma faced another court case in Kentucky and paid another $24 million in compensation for damages caused by the widespread OxyContin abuse in Appalachia.
Opioid Overdose Deaths Rise and State Lawmakers Demand Justice
During this time, the FDA approved an “abuse-deterrent” form of OxyContin and other opioid preparations that could not be crushed, making snorting or injection impossible. In time, the reformulation of OxyContin decreased its misuse by 36%. However, the new uncrushable OxyContin likely triggered the concurrent 42% increase in heroin use. Overall, abuse-deterrent opioids proved to be of little value since people were still able to find ways to abuse opioids and perpetuate the increasing number of addiction cases.
Operation Pilluted, a sting operation that lasted 15 months, came to a close when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested a total of 280 people across the states of Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. These arrests included 22 doctors and pharmacists. The operation was created in response to the increased trafficking and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs, and focused largely on health care providers who were distributing suspiciously large amounts of opioids. Operation Pilluted turned out to be the largest-ever prescription drug bust in DEA history.
The First Signs of (Potential) Progress
After Operation Pilluted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a set of strict guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain management. Healthcare professionals were encouraged to prescribe acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and over-the-counter painkillers instead of opioids.
In March, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to establish the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. A few months later, in July, the White House panel responsible for examining the opioid epidemic released a report and implored Trump to declare the crisis a national public health emergency. He did not officially do so until October, after a long delay, claiming “we can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”
Make 2018 a Productive Year in the Fight Against Opioids with TTC
A significant part of combating the opioid crisis is helping those who have already been affected by it. At The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches, our staff of trained medical professionals and counselors can help sufferers of opioid addiction become sober and rebuild their lives. If you or someone you know has developed an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids, please call us at (866) 295-6003. All calls are confidential.
Oil has always been a valuable resource in the United States, but its production was moderately limited before the Bakken Oil Boom in North Dakota. The Bakken Oil Boom refers to a period between 2006 and 2015 when the Bakken Formation— a massive rock covering roughly 200,000 square miles of the Williston Basin subsurface— became a new source of oil and gas. During this time, oil production in North Dakota skyrocketed, making it the second largest oil supplier in America (behind Texas). Today, North Dakota produces over a million barrels of oil per day. While this has yielded major economic success, it has also brought about consequences that no one was expecting.
After companies began extracting oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region, the resulting oil boom created tens of thousands of new jobs. In fact, graduates right out of high school could secure six-figure salaries in the oil production industry without much difficulty. By December 2011, North Dakota’s statewide unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, the lowest in the country even today. Additionally, more than 2,000 North Dakotans with mineral rights to oil-rich land became millionaires because of the Bakken Oil Boom.
North Dakota reaped as many consequences as it did benefits from the Bakken Oil Boom. As time passed, oil production rates began to decrease, resulting in an extreme drop in prices— and perhaps the worst market crash this generation has ever seen. Many oil companies in North Dakota were left struggling or entirely bankrupt by 2016. Still, troubles began even before that.
Given the drastic increase in available jobs, the Bakken Oil Boom attracted thousands of oil workers to North Dakota. This resulted in a massive population spike that put a lot of strain on the small towns and counties. For example, Williston, North Dakota had a population of about 12,000 before the oil boom and more than 20,000 after its peak. Some surrounding areas’ populations doubled.
The Oil Boom Consequences Leak into Montana
North Dakota was not the only state affected by the sudden influx of oil production. Since the Bakken Formation lies beneath both North Dakota and Montana, small towns on the other side of the state border were also affected. Bainville, Montana is one example.
As the population in North Dakota border towns like Williston began to grow, the strain of expansion and economic toll affected neighboring towns across state lines. So, small Montana border towns like Bainville started to experience the adverse effects of the boom while others on the North Dakota side— where the majority of the oil wells and tax revenue lies— saw profits.
In response to this rapid expansion, many communities in both states struggled to create more housing, schools, new wastewater facilities, and other necessary infrastructures. The swelling populations and the pressure to accommodate them brought about an abundance of debt, social problems and radical increases in countywide crime rates— especially drug crime.
A Large-Scale Surge in Drug Crime Across State Lines
The Bakken Oil Boom brought about an economic side effect that no one was expecting: an immense surge in drug crime. With the success of the oil boom and the resulting influence of “big money” over small towns, drug cartels began crawling out of the woodworks to traffic a wide variety of illicit substances, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Dealers found creative ways of smuggling and trading drugs in the small towns of North Dakota and Montana undetected; one method involves transporting liquid meth in the windshield wiper reservoirs of cars.
In addition to the rise in drug crime, other more violent crimes became more and more frequent as well. This included domestic abuse, human trafficking, and homicide. These and other forms of crime became stagnant even after the decline in oil production around 2015. Even worse, law enforcement resources became limited as a result of the oil boom’s economic strain on small towns.
With six different counties to protect along and across the North Dakota-Montana state line, local law enforcement had been struggling to keep up with the sudden spike in crime rates. Watford City, North Dakota has seen one of the largest and fastest escalations in police service since the Bakken Oil Boom. In 2006, before the oil boom, the town’s police station only received about 40 calls for service; in 2014, around the height of the oil boom, it received a staggering total of 7,414 calls. During this span of time, the number of law enforcement officers in the town’s station more than quadrupled to make up for the rise in crime.
A Booming Drug Trade in Meth
Of all the drug crimes that have occurred so far as a result of the oil boom’s economic roller coaster, meth-related crimes seem to be the most common. Crime data collected at the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office shows that there were a total of 1,958 statewide arrests related to both amphetamine and methamphetamine use in 2016— a significant increase from the 434 drug crime arrests that took place just four years earlier. The numbers have only continued to rise since then.
Both local and federal offices estimate that about 90% of the drugs that are trafficked and sold in North Dakota— especially in Native American tribal reservation areas— come from other states or possibly even countries, like Mexico. The rise in drug crime became so extreme that, by 2015, the FBI set up shop in North Dakota with a brand new office to assist local law enforcement.
Today, the joint effort between the federal government and state police continues to battle both drug crime and organized “white collar crime” in the Bakken region of North Dakota.
Addiction Recovery at The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches
While the rates of drug crime have remained constant even after the decline of oil production and profitability, we can only hope that the continued efforts of local and federal law will keep civilians safe and dealers behind bars. It is important to remember, however, that the criminals are the people who traffic illicit substances and exploit others for profit— not the people who are struggling with substance addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance addiction as a result of the drug crime brought on by the Bakken Oil Boom, please call The Treatment Center at (855) 295-6003. Our qualified staff of professionals have years of industry experience and are more than prepared to help you build a personalized treatment plan to fit all your physical and psychological recovery needs. You do not have to be a Florida resident to enter our treatment program. For more information, talk to one of our admissions counselors. All calls are confidential.
Alex Michael Azar II, the former president of the American branch of Eli Lilly & Co. pharmaceuticals, was sworn in on Monday, January 26th as the new Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. Azar, who was President Donald Trump’s first choice for the position, will be replacing the former HHS Secretary Tom Price. Tom Price resigned late September of 2017 amid allegations of chartered flight misuse and blame for the failure of ACA reform. Trump insists that with Azar at the helm, the prices of previously inaccessible prescription drugs will plummet, giving more people the chance to utilize medications they need. Still, there is a lot of controversy surrounding Azar’s ascension into the position of HHS Secretary; a man of Big Pharma will now be advising the president on matters of general public health and welfare.
The Job Description of HHS Secretary and Azar’s New Responsibilities
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a cabinet-level agency in the executive branch of the federal government. Its mission is to enhance and protect the well-being of all Americans by providing effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.As the new head of Health and Human Services, Azar will handle a budget of more than $1.1 trillion to oversee the operations and uphold the policies of the department’s eleven operating divisions:
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
Administration for Community Living (ACL)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Indian Health Service (IHS)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
As the Secretary to manage the FDA, Azar will also be responsible for regulating the pricing and distribution of prescription drugs— including those produced by Eli Lilly & Co., his former employer.
Azar’s Questionable Track Record of Setting Drug Prices
During his campaign as a presidential candidate, Trump had promised lower drug prices. So far, the White House has taken little measurable action to make this happen. Again, when Trump announced his nomination of Azar to be the next HHS Secretary, he boasted Azar’s plans for implementing better healthcare and lower, more affordable drug prices. However, Azar has been widely criticized for his role in raising prescription drug prices during his time as Lilly USA’s president, which only ended in January. During his ten years with the pharmaceutical company, Azar saw the price of insulin triple. In 2016 senators requested the Department of Justice investigate manufacturer conspiracy to raise insulin prices high, including Eli Lilly in a class action complaint. In 2010 the company had previously been fined in Mexico for similar behavior.
As the HHS Secretary, Azar must shift gears entirely. Many prescription drugs cost far too much for most middle-class Americans, and a major part of Azar’s new job is to change that. There are many methods he could employ to make medications more affordable for the masses. Ideas that have circulated Capitol Hill include:
allowing private citizens to purchase their prescriptions abroad
giving insurance programs like Medicare room to negotiate prices with the prescription drug manufacturers whose products are covered by their plans
keeping the interactions between drug companies, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers disclosed publicly to reduce private dealings
While these and similar options would be an effective means of reducing prescription drug prices, there is warranted skepticism that Azar would pursue any of them as they are tougher on the bottom line of Big Pharma. Instead, Azar is more likely to apply less-effective methods of price reduction that are pharma-friendly. Many are doubtful that his past advocacy against regulation will change with his new position as HHS Secretary.
The Controversy Surrounding Azar’s Appointment to HHS Secretary
The general public has been asking for federal intervention for lower drug prices for years, and now the demands for it are at an all-time high as premiums and prescriptions soar. So, the appointment of a Big Pharma insider as the new HHS Secretary is nothing short of controversial. Trump’s decision to appoint Azar as the new HHS Secretary is unexpected, but not unsurprising given his preference for corporate insiders. Still, what inspired the choice for a pharmaceutical executive to oversee departments regulating the pharmaceutical industry? Who, many say has been directly responsible for keeping prescriptions affordable for years. The reasons may be traced back to campaign contributions and personal ties.
Eli Lilly & Co.’s American branch has had deep ties to the Trump administration dating back to the start of the election campaign. In 2016 alone, this company has spent almost $5.7 million on lobbying Congress and putting pressure on the Human Health and Services department for favorable regulations. The company’s current CEO, David Ricks, has also very publicly supported Trump’s repeatedly proposed (and recently signed) tax plan, and was one of the first business leaders to meet with Trump following his inauguration in January of 2017. Vice President Mike Pence also has direct ties with Azar dating back to his time as governor of Indiana, where Eli Lilly & Co.’s American branch is headquartered. It’s clear that Azar’s appointment as HHS Secretary follows a very favorable relationship with the administration including Eli Lilly & Co. advocating for the Trump campaign and policies. This all brings much scrutiny to Azar’s merits.
Objections and Concerns from Others in Office
These details have not gone undetected by others in office. In fact, several Democratic senators were very vocal about opposing Trump’s nomination of Azar for the vacated position of HHS Secretary. Perhaps the most vocal was the Committee on Finances’ Senator Ron Wyden, who openly accused Azar of inflating drug prices during his time as President at Eli Lilly & Co., stating with confidence that there was plenty of evidence to suggest he was correct. Many others took his side on the matter.
Fellow Senator Bernie Sanders expressed similar concerns in a press release, stating:
“The nomination of Alex Azar, the former head of Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations, shows that Trump was never serious about his promise to stop the pharmaceutical industry from ‘getting away with murder.’ The last thing we need is to put a pharmaceutical executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services.”
What Does This Mean for the Fight Against the Opioid Crisis?
At a White house ceremony President Trump charged the new HHS Secretary with the following remarks: “He will help lead our efforts to confront the national emergency of addiction and death due to opioids and I think we’re going to be very tough on the drug companies in that regard and tough on doctors in that regard, because what’s going on is pretty incredible,”
One of the biggest and arguably most critical government responsibilities that now falls on Azar is leading the general public out of the wide-reaching opioid addiction epidemic that has gripped communities across the country. Given Azar’s past of running a very successful pharmaceutical company, combined with the Trump administration’s lack of measurable action thus far— many are skeptical the opioid crisis will be a priority for the new HHS Secretary.
The crisis is worsening with inaction; Azar’s newfound position of power within the White House may offer more protection for Big Pharma, a driving force behind the continuance of the opioid crisis. With roll-backs of government oversight and shifts in protection from consumers to businesses, the same trends should be expected for the pharmaceutical industry. For now, the future is uncertain, but it’s hard not to imagine the worst: Azar’s appointment as HHS Secretary could mean a deepening crisis as it is inadequately addressed, coupled with less affordable access to addiction treatment.
You Can Always Count on The Treatment Center for Help in Your Recovery
Whatever happens within the walls of the White House, rest assured that our policies for helping those in need of addiction treatment will never change. At The Treatment Center, we’ve helped thousands of people recover from addiction, even during the height of the opioid crisis. We can help you, too. If you have any questions about our programs or services, please give us a call at (855) 899-5065.
An intervention is a group discussion between an addict, their friends, and their family. Interventions are not confrontational, but rather a show of love and support. Most of the time, interventions follow a specific structure that is led by a specialist. Formal interventions only become necessary when individuals with substance use disorders refuse to acknowledge their problem (addiction) and their urgent need for help.
When to Intervene for a Loved One
Denial is a mindset that breeds inaction. It may be challenging for you to approach a loved one who you suspect is struggling with addiction when denial is plaguing you both. Here are some common signs of substance addiction to look for when determining if experimentation has become addiction.
You know you mean well by trying to address the issue, but that doesn’t mean your concerns will be well-received. That’s when it’s time to consider staging an intervention.
How to Stage an Intervention
Stage One: Planning the Intervention
Contact an Intervention Specialist to Help You
If you’re planning an intervention, the first thing you should do is enlist the help of an intervention specialist. Intervention specialists, or interventionists, are experienced in addressing the needs of both the addicted individual and their loved ones during an intervention. Their job typically consists of:
developing strategies with the group in preparation for the meeting
keeping everyone comfortable and calm during the session
helping everyone encourage the addict to enter treatment
escorting the addict to a treatment facility once the intervention has ended
Having a specialist present when the intervention takes place will help your addicted loved one (and everyone else) break the cycle of denial. If a formal intervention is going to be done there should always be an interventionist present. Interventions are most successful when a specialist is there to supervise.
Gather Others to Join Your Intervention Group
Once you’ve contacted an intervention specialist for help, you’ll both be able to put together the intervention group. Some people who might help convince your loved one to start rehab might include:
brothers and sisters
spouses or partners
close family members
The specialist you work with should always be part of the intervention strategy, including the intervention guest list. The specialist should approve the people you plan to invite. This ensures the comfort and safety of everyone involved. Remember, the intervention and all its people should be focused on your addicted loved one. If anyone in your social circle is self-centered, hostile, or unsupportive, they should not be part of it.
Learn What You Can About Your Loved One’s Addiction
Every addiction is different, so learning more about your loved one’s problem before the intervention will give you and the intervention party a better sense of how to navigate the conversation. The intervention specialist can help you prepare. The more you educate yourself about addiction and its effects, the higher your chances of convincing your loved one to get help.
Write and Rehearse Intervention Letters with the Group
No intervention is complete without letters from family and friends. Typically, the people at the intervention will take turns reading their letters to the struggling addict during the meeting. These letters allow each member of the intervention group to express their concerns in a thoughtful, organized way. The purpose of writing letters and reading them at the intervention is to help elicit a “moment of clarity” for the addict.
How to Write an Intervention Letter
There isn’t a right or wrong way to craft an intervention letter. Expressing your feelings in your letter, whether they’re positive or negative, is perfectly acceptable as long it’s done in a calm, non-confrontational way.
Most successful intervention letters can be broken down into four sections and steps:
Open Your Letter with Compassion and Love You should always start your letter off on a positive note. This will keep you, your addicted loved one, and the intervention party at ease. Make it clear that your relationship with your loved one is important to you, and that you’ll be supportive no matter what. Doing this will lower your addicted loved one’s defenses, leaving him/her more open to what you and the group have to say.
Continue Your Letter with How Their Addiction has Hurt You Your loved one should know how his/her substance abuse has affected you and others. After all, addiction is a disease that hurts more than just the addict. Be careful not to patronize— the last thing you want is to make your loved one feel attacked. Instead, use specific examples of how the addiction has caused harm to others. Doing this can help your loved one overcome denial and become more willing to address the addiction.
Show That You Understand Your Loved One’s Addiction and Want to Help At this point in your letter, you should be able to apply what you’ve learned about addiction in your assertion that your loved one needs treatment. The intervention specialist and the group will back you up. If you feel comfortable, you can share facts about your loved one’s substance of choice, the effects it has on various areas of health, and the long-term consequences of continued use. It’s not a mandatory part of the letter, but sharing this information might help your loved one make a more informed decision about getting treatment.
End Your Letter by Asking Your Loved One to Consider Treatment You should always conclude an intervention letter with encouragement. In your closing statement, you can present your addicted loved one with the different treatment options you’ve researched with the intervention specialist. Ultimately, the decision to enter treatment should be up to your loved one, but a bit of coaxing from the group won’t do any harm.
Stage Two: The Intervention Itself
Choose a Meeting Place and Time for the Intervention in Advance
The setting for the intervention is of vital importance— it can make or break your success in convincing an addicted loved one to get help. The general unspoken rule of choosing the intervention space is pretty simple: it has to be familiar, neutral, and calm. If the intervention comes across as threatening, the addicted person won’t be comfortable. The meeting time is also essential; it should always be during a day and time of the week that the addicted loved one is sure to be sober. As for the meeting’s duration, most interventions last between 30 to 90 minutes. They can be shorter or longer, depending on the group size and the addicted loved one.
Don’t Expect Smooth Sailing
Chances are, the intervention won’t be perfect. It’s impossible to predict how things will play out when your loved one is finally confronted. There’s always the chance that your addicted loved one will be unwilling to cooperate and/or refuse treatment. Still, having the intervention specialist there will help keep the peace. After all, these specialists are trained to keep interventions as calm and productive as possible. However, if your loved one’s reaction to the intervention puts anyone in danger, don’t hesitate to call the police. Addiction is powerful— it can bring out anger and violence, even from a good person.
After the Intervention
The ultimate goal of the intervention is to get your loved one into rehab for addiction treatment. At the end of the intervention, your loved one must make a decision: seek professional help or refuse treatment. If your loved one decides to enter treatment, the intervention specialist will typically help pick the best, most appropriate treatment program. If your loved one refuses addiction treatment, the group must be ready to change his/her mind. Refusing to enable addictive behavior and denying any financial support may seem harsh, but both are effective ways of getting the point across that addiction is not welcome in your life. This may be the best way for an addict to agree to treatment.
Tips from The Treatment Center
A poorly planned intervention will not only be unhelpful, but it may make things worse for everyone involved. To ensure a successful intervention, enlisting the help of a specialist is essential. At The Treatment Center, we highly recommend getting an intervention specialist involved to convince your loved one that it’s time for treatment. If for some reason you are not able to have a specialist present for the intervention when it takes place, another equally valid option is to consult a counselor for planning and strategizing. If you have any questions or would like more information about how to stage an intervention for a loved one, please call The Treatment Center at (866) 295-6003 or contact us using a form here. All calls and form submissions are confidential.
Recovery from addiction is long and tedious. The individuals working through their substance abuse disorders experience a number of changes both during and after treatment. Most of the time, these changes reflect a pattern that has since become a model for the addiction recovery process: the Transtheoretical Model, also called the Six Stages of Change.
An Overview of the Transtheoretical Model (A.K.A. The Six Stages of Change)
The Transtheoretical Model (the Six Stages of Change) was developed and published by James O. Prochaska, Ph.D. and Carlo DiClemente, Ph.D. This biopsychosocial model offers a unique insight into the process of purposeful behavior adjustments and reformation of poor habits— like substance abuse, for example. Rather than focusing only on specific aspects of change (i.e., social influences, biological factors, etc.), the Six Stages examines and includes elements from other similar theories to create a comprehensive outline of general changes that focus more on the “big picture.” In fact, the Six Stages model of behavioral change:
Incorporates information gathered from over 35 years of scientific research and observational studies
Utilizes the results of research that had a budget of over $80 million in grants
Was constructed after the co-developers examined the results for over 150,000 research participants
Is used by behavioral science professionals all over the world
Aside from addiction recovery, the Six Stages also apply to a variety of other perceivably negative behaviors. The flexibility of this theory’s application is what gave it its name: transtheoretical. Still, it’s most often used to examine cases of substance abuse and recovery. In William Morrow’s Changing for Good, Prochaska and DiClemente outline their model and break it down into the six titular stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination.
Stage One: Pre-Contemplation
During the first stage of Prochaska’s and DiClemente’s model, people with substance use disorders will typically make excuses— or deny their addiction entirely. Those who get stuck in this stage may be fully aware that their addiction is a problem, but may also try to justify their choices to continue to reap the “benefits” (i.e., the desired effect) of their drugs of choice. Still, the transition into the next stage of change usually occurs when the people struggling with addiction begins to feel shame, embarrassment, or guilt.
Stage Two: Contemplation
The second stage of change is where someone with a substance use disorder comes to realize that the addiction is a problem. However, people at this stage don’t take action quite yet. Instead, they weigh their options about how to address their substance abuse— or whether or not they even should. Commitment to change may not happen just yet at this stage, but at the very least, people struggling with addiction may start researching addiction treatment options for themselves.
Stage Three: Preparation
The third stage marks the actual initiation of change for people struggling with substance use disorders. This is the stage where people truly begin to show commitment by making the decision to quit drugs, stop drinking, and get professional help to develop a long-term treatment plan. As the name of this stage suggests, people looking to conquer addiction take the time to prepare for treatment and plan their next move. Then they take action.
Stage Four: Action
The fourth of the Six Stages of Change marks the beginning of specific adjustments to a person’s lifestyle during ongoing addiction treatment. This stage encompasses the bulk of the addiction recovery process and lasts up to six months. During stage four, those affected by addiction will receive treatment, which may include but is not limited to:
Stage four is over when those in treatment achieve initial sobriety. Once that happens, the people in addiction recovery move on to stage five: maintenance.
Stage Five: Maintenance
The maintenance stage happens immediately after initial treatment has ended. Usually, during this stage of change, people in addiction recovery will stay committed to their newly achieved sobriety by receiving encouragement and support from others at home and during meetings. Additionally, those in recovery may choose to continue their progress in outpatient treatment or additional counseling outside of group meetings. Typically, the maintenance stage will typically last anywhere from six months to five years, although forms of support should continue throughout the addict’s life. It all depends on the individual, the treatment plan, and the new routine. In any case, people that have reached this point of the Six Stages of Change in addiction recovery are motivated to stay sober— and they now have all the tools to make that possible. After about five years of continued abstinence, the chances of relapsing diminish to practically none.
Stage Six: Termination
The sixth and final stage of Prochaska’s and DiClemente’s model marks the ultimate goal for anyone in addiction recovery: termination. When people in recovery reach this stage, they no longer feel threatened their substance use disorder. They still have to be mindful of triggers, of course, but all in all, the urge to use or abuse substances has vanished completely. Life at this point in addiction recovery is happy and addiction-free. From this stage going forward, people in recovery continue to practice maintenance of their sobriety and new, healthy habits with little to no chance of relapse.
Relapse During the Six Stages of Change
While the model seems straightforward in its layout of the addiction recovery process, it’s important to keep in mind that relapse is still entirely possible at any point during the Six Stages of Change. Relapse is a common occurrence in addiction recovery, but this does not negate the progress of those who are sober or working to get sober. The people who do relapse during addiction recovery can bounce back by returning to treatment, learning from the experience, and moving on. Remember, addiction is a chronic disease, and just like any other chronic disease, the risk of relapse will always be there. Still, the chances of relapse will decrease with diligence and continued abstinence.
The Treatment Center Can Aid in the Six Stages of Change in Addiction Recovery
Everyone experiences the Six Stages of Change differently, which is why individualized care is so necessary for the addiction recovery process. At The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches, all of our patients receive with treatment plans and services that fit their individual needs. If you have an addiction and would like more information about the programs we offer, please call us at (855) 899-5065. All calls are confidential.
Holding an intervention isn’t an easy task, even with help from a specialist. An intervention needs to be handled with just the slightest bit of caution if you want it to turn out successful. Preparing in advance by writing and practicing an intervention letter is one way to strengthen the effectiveness of your group’s confrontation of your addicted loved one. No intervention is complete without letters from friends and family.
Why Are Intervention Letters Necessary?
There are several reasons why letters to the addict have become an integral part of any intervention. Writing letters ahead of time will allow you to:
Establish and Practice Your Tone Having a script to follow— one that you wrote in a clear state of mind— will help you get your point across when the time comes to share your thoughts and feelings with your addicted loved one. Even if you get upset, hurt or even angry during the intervention itself, the supportive and positive tone you want to convey will still come through in the letter.
Organize Your Thoughts and Keep Your Composure at the Intervention Emotions are sure to run high during the intervention. Everyone will be distressed, distraught, distracted, and emotionally disorganized. It can be difficult for anyone to stay on track with what to think, feel, and say in such high-stress situations. So, having an intervention letter ready to read will give you something to focus on. Ultimately, you’ll stay grounded and level-headed if you have an intervention letter written out.
Have a Voice— Even When You’re Not There Intervention letters are especially handy for people who can’t make the meeting. They can pass along their letters to the rest of the group to read on their behalf at the intervention. All in all, intervention letters provide a way for everyone in the addict’s immediate circle to get involved even if they can’t actually attend the intervention when it takes place.
The Standard Structure of an Intervention Letter
There are several different ways you can go about writing your intervention letter. Still, the basic layout is mostly the same. It doesn’t matter if your loved one is struggling with drugs or with alcohol. In any case, the critical components of any intervention letter typically include:
stating why you’re attending/holding the intervention
expressing your main concerns about your addicted loved one
giving examples of how the addiction impacted your own life
discussing what you enjoyed about your relationship with your loved one before the addiction
asking your addicted loved one to consider treatment
Intervention letters are not meant to attack or blame the addict. Instead, they are intended to represent your hope for your addicted loved one’s health and future. The best intervention letters are short, sweet and to the point— and they usually follow this formula:
Start Off Your Intervention Letter with Support and Understanding
Be honest and speak from the heart. Starting your letter off on a positive note will keep your addicted loved one at ease and help set the tone for the rest of the intervention. You should make it clear right away that your relationship with your addicted loved one is important to you. You should also use your letter’s intro to express why the intervention is taking place, why you and the rest of the group are there, and what you want for your addicted loved one— the best.
Continue with Examples of How Your Loved One’s Addiction has Affected You
Once you establish that you’re approaching your addicted loved one from a place of love and respect, you should continue your letter with a few examples of how your loved one’s addiction has hurt you. These examples can include anything from emotional pain to financial stress. Up until this point, your loved one may not have even been aware that the addiction was doing any harm to others; and after hearing the first portion of the intervention letter, your loved one will most likely be more open to what you have to say.
This section of the letter should be very carefully thought out and well-phrased. Try your best to stay calm and keep your emotions in check. Also, be sure to be careful about the wording you use in your intervention letter. Using any judgmental or patronizing language will make your loved one feel attacked. Remember, the point of an intervention is to express concern and encourage treatment.
Make it Clear that You Recognize Your Loved One’s Addiction as a Disease
You should have learned more about your loved one’s addiction before the intervention during the preparation stage. At this point in your intervention letter, you can apply what you’ve learned to stress why your loved one needs treatment. Addiction is a disease— and like any disease, it can be treated.
This section of the letter will probably be the most technical. After all, sharing facts about substance abuse, as well as the kinds of short- and long-term effects it would have on a person’s health, could turn out to be a very useful tactic for convincing your loved one to seek treatment. This kind of information will help your loved one make a more informed decision about how to move forward at the end of the intervention.
Conclude Your Letter by Encouraging Your Loved One to Get Help
This is how every intervention letter should end. In your closing statement, you should present different addiction treatment options that you feel may help your loved one. These could include suggestions from the intervention specialist, programs or services you’ve researched on your own, or both. Hopefully, your loved one will consider one of the options presented. If not, you’ll have to stand your ground. Make it clear that if your loved one refuses treatment, there will be severe consequences. It may feel like you’re giving an ultimatum, but you’re not; you’re asserting that you only want what’s best for your addicted loved one.
For More Information, Contact The Treatment Center
Just about anyone can write a good intervention letter, but writing a great one requires you to be open, loving and supportive. The care you show in your letter might mean the difference between a life of sobriety or continuing the struggle of addiction for your loved one. If you are staging an intervention for someone you care about and would like more information about planning, letters, and what to expect, the counselors at The Treatment Center are more than happy to help. Call us today at (866) 295-6003. All calls are confidential.
A stigma is a set of, often negative, beliefs that a society holds about a particular topic or group of people. Although any subject can be stigmatized, one of the most common topics people think of when they hear “stigma” is addiction. It’s not surprising that the topic of addiction is ripe with misconceptions and stereotypes. However, not many people seem to realize the impact these stigmas have for those who are struggling with addiction.
The WHO’s Definition of Stigma
Stigmas are typically considered harmful because they are hardly, if ever, based on truth. Rather than perpetuating facts, stigmas are fueled by presumptions and generalizations. When something (or someone) is stigmatized, this often results in the following public responses:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled stigma (as it pertains to health) as one of the leading contributors to health-based discrimination and human rights violations. In cases of substance use disorders, the disproportionately negative perceptions that the public has about addiction can have profound effects on those suffering from it.
The Addiction Stigma in the United States
Today, over 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Yet, only 2.5 million people (11% of those with a substance use disorder) ever receive professional treatment. This shocking statistic can be seen as a result of the stigma of addiction. The stigma of addiction and being labeled an addict causes even additional adverse effects, beyond impeding treatment.
The Effects of Stigma on Those with Substance Use Disorders
The stigma of addiction may make it hard for those affected by it to seek treatment, but it can also make addiction worse. The blame that the public places on those struggling with addiction generates fear, guilt, shame, and hopelessness— all of which take a heavy toll on mental and emotional health.
In 2014, the Journal of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research published a study linking substance abuse with the development of mood disorders. This study revealed that when people struggling with addiction suffered social rejection or discrimination, they began to show signs of depression, anxiety, or both.
That same year, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study regarding public attitudes toward two distinct and equally stigmatized groups of people: those with mental illness and those with substance use disorders. The results were surprising— the majority of the people surveyed had a more negative attitude toward those with addiction than those with mental illness. Additionally, most of the people surveyed asserted that those with substance use disorders shouldn’t have as much access to things like insurance and employment.
Why Exactly is Addiction Stigmatized?
The most substantial reason why addiction is stigmatized is because most people don’t understand it. It is human nature to fear (and stigmatize) what we don’t understand, and when it comes to addiction, most people don’t see it as the disease it is. In fact, more than 76% of Americans believe that substance addiction is nothing more than a moral problem. However, the idea that people who struggle with substance use disorders choose to continue using drugs and alcohol is wrong.
Since addiction changes brain chemistry, those who develop a dependence on a substance— illicit or otherwise— have no choice but to feed the addiction. After all, the addicted brain tricks the body into needing drugs or alcohol. Addiction, then, is rightfully classified as a chronic disease. Even so, most people fail to recognize substance abuse disorder as a disease, and those with other chronic health conditions don’t usually face the same stigma.
Factors of Addiction That Perpetuate the Stigma
Although the general public seems to be gaining a better understanding of most chronic mental health conditions, most people still perpetuate misconceptions about addiction. The reasons why stem from many factors, including our laws regarding drugs, the language we use regarding addiction, and the high relapse rates among those with substance use disorders.
Disproportioned Anti-Drug Laws and Sentencing
Not every drug is illegal. Alcohol is widely considered socially acceptable (when consumed in moderation), and drugstore medications can be prescribed to just about anyone. When it comes to illicit drugs, however, our attitudes toward them can be traced back several decades.
The U.S. government has always been vocal about illicit drug use, and even today it continues to promote anti-drug messages. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, our nation’s “war on drugs” doesn’t do much to encourage people to seek help. In fact, the strict laws surrounding illicit drug make it out to be as immoral as other criminal activities like violence and prostitution.
Additionally, the punishments for drug-related crimes make it difficult for people in recovery to reintegrate into society. As a result, even the people who served time for drug-related misdemeanors like possession have a more difficult time finding employment, receiving welfare benefits, and other things needed for long-term sobriety.
The Words We Use
Language plays a significant role in any stigma, but especially in addiction. The negative words and hurtful labels we use when talking about addiction carry a more substantial impact than they often realize. Using stigmatizing language can prevent people who need treatment from reaching out for help. Some of the more common terms that feed the addiction stigma include:
Even the words “addict” and “addiction” seems to carry a negative connotation since it’s become so tainted by stigmatization.
The High Relapse Rates of Addiction
Unfortunately, addiction is a chronic disease that has one of the highest rates of relapse. Even after receiving treatment, those in recovery may still relapse at least once.
The fact that relapse in addiction recovery is considered commonplace is one of the primary reasons why addiction is so stigmatized. There are other conditions with high rates of relapse— like diabetes— but because most people don’t fully understand addiction, they often blame those in substance use recovery for their conditions.
Breaking the Stigma
Anyone can be guilty of perpetuating the stigma of addiction; strangers, friends, family, and even healthcare providers. What makes this especially dangerous is the epidemic levels of drug overdoses in the United States today. Drug overdoses have overtaken every other form of accidental death. In order to reduce the number of national drug overdose deaths, we have to encourage more people with substance use disorders to receive treatment— and we can only do that by putting an end to the stigma against addiction.
The #NoMoreShame Initiative at TTC
The Treatment Center created the #NoMoreShame campaign to help the recovery community break the stigma of addiction. Our staff, patients, alumni, and supporters work hard to spread awareness for the general public and to offer hope for those who are still struggling.
There are several methods of reducing the addiction stigma that have been proven to be effective.
Steps you can take:
using non-stigmatizing language instead of harmful labels
doing research and raising awareness about what drug dependency is and how it works
forming thoughts and opinions about addiction based on evidence and facts
offering support, kindness, and compassion to people with substance use disorders
listening to people with substance use disorders and their loved ones without judgment
treating everyone with respect and dignity— even the people struggling with drug dependency
The #NoMoreShame initiative and all its methods have already spread across the United States. We’ve also gathered support from the UK, Canada, South Africa, and many other countries! With so many people raising awareness and sharing their own stories on social media, The Treatment Center is proud to be a part of the movement that’s reshaping the way we think about substance use disorders.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with a substance use disorder, call The Treatment Center at (844) 310-9546. We believe in you, and we’re more than happy to help you achieve lifelong sobriety. For more information about how to get one of our #NoMoreShame bracelets, click here!
The first step is always the hardest to take. This is especially true for those in addiction recovery. Your first day sober is one of the most challenging days you’ll have throughout your journey to lifelong sobriety, especially if this step is taken alone. The struggle of powering through withdrawal symptoms while making so many changes to your life all at once can be overwhelming and is why self-detox without professional help suffers from a higher relapse rate. You might be feeling scared, unprepared, or even lonely, and understandably so. But despite all this, you must remember that the first day sober will be the worst of it. As you push forward, staying sober generally becomes easier with each passing day, if you build yourself a proper support system for your recovery. Due to the chemical dependence addiction creates, we strongly urge you to consult a physician about your own detox. A residential facility will always provide more comprehensive, comfortable and safe care than an at home detox. Here are some things to consider when making it through your first day sober, whether at home or at an inpatient facility.
You Made the Right Decision
The first day of being sober isn’t an accurate representation of what the rest of your life will be. In fact, you’re probably going to feel miserable. During the very early stages of addiction recovery, your cravings and withdrawal symptoms will be at their worst. Your body and your mind will constantly be fighting the urge to relapse. This struggle may feel agonizing, but it’s important to remember that it’s all temporary. Once you’ve made it past the worst of the first day, each day after that will start to get progressively easier— there will be obstacles and learning your triggers will be very important to continue your sobriety, but it will all lead to your ultimate goal of becoming healthy again. So, don’t let your discomfort on the first day dissuade you from pushing forward. Getting sober was the right decision.
You Are Allowed to Feel Whatever Feelings May Come
Your first day sober will probably be subject to a rollercoaster of different conflicting feelings. One common trait that all drugs and alcohol share is the distortion— or downright repression— of certain emotions. So, being sober for a full day after years of keeping yourself numb through substance abuse is probably going to bring out feelings that you might not be entirely prepared to face. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is allow yourself to feel so you can continue to heal and move forward. Remember; this, too, shall pass.
You Should Take Things as They Come, One Day at a Time
It’s easy to get swept up in your guilt about the past and your worries about the future when overcoming an addiction. This happens to almost everyone in addiction recovery. This is why one of the most critical aspects of recovery is adopting the “one day at a time” mentality. By focusing on the here and now, you can make it through your first, second, thirtieth or one-hundredth day sober.
You Are Encouraged to Participate in More Recreational Activities
Getting sober leaves you with an abundance of free time you might not have ever realized you had. Your first thought might be, “what do I do now?” It’s vital that you find healthy ways to fill this newfound time on your hands because boredom is one of the most dangerous triggers in addiction recovery. Letting your mind wander too freely could lead to thoughts of past substance abuse, which could easily bring about cravings. This is why taking up new hobbies, or revisiting old ones you know you enjoy, is so necessary for addiction recovery— especially on the first day. Keeping your mind and body busy with activities like arts and crafts, reading, or sports is a healthy distraction from any first-day struggles you may be experiencing.
You Could Volunteer Your Time to Help Others— And Yourself
One of the most effective ways to stay sober, even past the first day, is to volunteer your time to a good cause. Taking the time to help others is an excellent aid in your mental and emotional recovery from addiction. After all, human nature dictates that doing good makes you feel good. Volunteering opportunities that might help you grow as a person and be happier during your recovery include raising awareness about addiction and recovery, volunteering at your local church, participating in the next big food drive or anything else that allows you to actively help others. In any case, doing something good for someone else’s benefit is a great way to shift your focus away from your own struggles— and away from any cravings that you may have.
You Need to Take Better Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself goes beyond just getting sober. In fact, it’s a significant part of staying sober after the first day. The restoration of your emotional and mental health is dependent on how you treat yourself during the transition from addicted to sober. If you put yourself down to punish yourself for your past mistakes, your mind won’t catch up with your body during the healing process.
So, instead of spending your first day of sobriety berating yourself, do something therapeutic. It could be anything— a hot bath, a trip to the spa, curling up with a good book, or just chatting with a friend over the phone—just as long as it’s calming and safe.
You Are Not Alone
Your first day sober and the journey onward can feel like an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it may be in your best interest not to spend your first day sober by yourself. Instead, you could spend it with your support group, your sponsor, a therapist or a loyal friend. These are the people that will always support you and your sobriety. You’re not as alone as you think.
You Can Get Sober and Stay Sober with Help from TTC
Making the decision to stop abusing substances is hard, but making it through the first day sober is always going to be harder. Still, don’t be discouraged. There are millions of people every year who receive treatment for addiction and end up healthier than they’ve ever felt before. At The Treatment Center, that’s all we want for you. Our expert staff can help you get sober and prepare for the struggles ahead so you can stay sober. For more information about our personalized programs and services, please call us at (866) 295-6003. All calls are confidential.
The Christmas season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it doesn’t come without its pressures— especially for people who are still in the early stages of addiction recovery. In fact, Christmas is ripe with relapse triggers, probably more so than any other time of the year.
The Most Common Relapse Risks of Christmas
A relapse trigger is anything— whether it’s a person, a place or even a memory— that brings back unwelcome thoughts or feelings about addiction for you. Triggers, when left unaddressed, can lead you to resume addictive behaviors. Twelve relapse risks, in particular, make Christmas the most horrible time of the year for people in addiction recovery.
Anxiety and Stress
Stress is one of the most common addiction relapse triggers that anyone at any stage of recovery can experience. However, stress tends to skyrocket into anxiety during the Christmas season, for a variety of reasons. With so much shopping, preparation and finances for you to keep track of, the stress of keeping up with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season may very well trigger a relapse. You can avoid this by keeping in touch with your sponsor and other members of your support group during the holidays. Doing this will keep you calm and grounded.
Busy Schedules and an Overwhelming To-Do List
This particular trigger is one that can snowball into other triggers, like anxiety. If you use an addiction recovery program that includes a personalized schedule as part of your treatment, any substantial deviations from your established routine can pose a significant risk to your progress. Getting swept up in the mayhem that comes with Christmas and prioritizing your to-do list over your treatment plan can trigger a relapse if you’re not careful. Remember to make time for yourself and keep your recovery as your top priority.
Benjamin E. Mays once said, “The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency.” This idea is especially true in addiction recovery. Complacency, or feelings of over-confidence, is a too-comfortable state of mind that very often leads to relapse, even outside of the holidays. While there’s nothing inherently wrong about being confident about your progress, it’s important to stay objective and focused on your recovery. Turning all of your attention to the demands of the Christmas season— and away from group meetings or counseling— may compromise your sobriety. So, don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. Stay on top of your treatment plan, even during Christmas.
Depression and Loneliness
This may come as a surprise, but depression always seems to spike around the holidays. Christmas may be a time to spend with family, friends and loved ones, but for some, it can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is especially true for people in the early stages of recovery who are still in the process of making amends with their loved ones. Remember, addiction is a disease that affects the whole family, not just the person addicted. Relationships that were damaged by addiction are going to need time to heal. So, if some of your relationships haven’t been mended yet, Christmas might feel lonelier than it should. This is a trigger that should be addressed sooner rather than later. If you’re still at odds with your loved ones in the early stages of your recovery, just remember that you’re not alone; your support group, your counselors and your sponsors will all be there to support you.
Exhaustion is a severely underrated relapse trigger. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), exhaustion is an especially dangerous relapse trigger because it demands relaxation and limits your willingness to refuse a substance that offers it. For example, if you are exhausted from cooking, cleaning, hosting parties, attending parties, and working extra hours to add to your holiday shopping budget, your first thought might be to unwind with a glass of wine or a couple of muscle relaxers. If you find yourself in this position, reach out to your support group. Christmas is exhausting, but don’t let it compromise your hard work to stay sober.
Excuses and Enabling
Making excuses is one relapse trigger that can be easy to get tricked into during recovery. While it does tie into other triggers you may face alone— like anxiety, exhaustion, and complacency— there may also be times during the holiday season where others may try to make excuses for you to get you to use again. You may hear things like “it’s just one drink” or “come on, it’s a party,” and unfortunately, the people in recovery who spend time with these kinds of enablers are more likely to relapse— especially around Christmas. The best way to avoid this trigger is to plan ahead. Rehearse thoughtful responses and prepare to say no.
Every family Christmas comes with drama, which is easily one of the worst relapse triggers. Being trapped in a space with people who stress you out is challenging, even if it is for Christmas. This, coupled with the likelihood that alcohol (and maybe some other addictive substances) will be made available at parties does a lot to threaten your sobriety. The best way to avoid relapsing during family conflict is to prepare a relapse prevention plan for yourself ahead of time. Use the healthy coping skills that you learned in rehab and be sure to reach out to your sponsor if you need to.
Finding financial stability can be a challenge for anyone, but people in early recovery tend to have a particularly hard time with employment, legal issues, and other money-centric issues as compared to others. Financial difficulties, especially around the holidays, can very easily cause feelings of stress, guilt, and shame— all of which are acute addiction relapse triggers.
One relapse trigger that most people don’t stop to consider is romance. Whether you’re just starting a relationship or just getting out of one, the feelings associated with love tend to intensify around Christmas; and if left unchecked, they can spiral into other triggers that might threaten your sobriety. The best defense against this is to follow your relapse prevention plan.
Like depression and loneliness, self-pity rears its ugly head during Christmastime for a variety of reasons. In a lot of cases, people who pity themselves during Christmas do so out of the false belief that they didn’t accomplish as much as they would have liked in the past year. For people in recovery, self-pity can take many forms. You might feel bad that your recovery is taking so long. You might think that your treatment plan isn’t working. You might even beat yourself up for having become an addict in the first place. But it’s important to remember that pitying yourself is one of the worst things you can do at any point in the recovery process. Self-pity and other self-destructive feelings are detriments to your mental and emotional health that can easily trigger a relapse if you’re not careful.
Shame or Guilt
When you’re surrounded by the people you’ve wronged, you might feel guilty or ashamed of what addiction has done to you and your loved ones. While anyone might feel the same way in your position, these types of emotions do more harm than good. Guilt and shame are notorious for pushing recovering addicts back into the habit of substance abuse. So, instead of dwelling on the past, focus on moving forward. The best way to battle these negative feelings is to make amends with those you’ve hurt— and what better time to do that than Christmas?
Recovery is an ongoing process that shouldn’t be prioritized below anything— not even Christmas. The holiday season is already ripe with addiction relapse triggers. The best way to avoid them is to keep up with your treatment plan.
TTC Is Here to Help You Get Through the Relapse Risks of Christmas
Christmas isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year. For people in addiction recovery, it can be one of the more stressful times. If you or someone you care about is struggling to maintain your addiction treatment and relapse prevention plan this holiday season, call The Treatment Center at (866) 295-6003. We’re here to help you stay sober so you can enter the New Year with both a clean slate and a clean bill of health.
The Treatment Center is very excited to be hosting the 2017 Boca Bowl. At TTC, our staff of professionals and our seasoned alumni are proud to promote good, clean fun for Florida residents and out-of-towners alike during the holiday season— and what could be more fun than college football? This year, we invite you to join us for the kickoff as our very own Florida Atlantic Owls face off against the visiting Akron Zips in what will surely be one of the biggest games in Boca Bowl history. The game begins at 7:00PM at the Florida Atlantic University Stadium. Box office tickets can be purchased here. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us for more information about the event. Remember to show your support by wearing your team’s colors! Go Owls!