Friday, January 12, 2018

Protecting Your Recovery: Cigarettes, Relapse, and Zombies

Maintaining a program of addiction recovery is not an easy task, to be sure; one’s disease is always looking for an opportunity to resume control. Relapse prevention is the watchword of the addiction treatment industry; committed to helping people achieve lasting recovery. There are things that people can do to mitigate the risk of relapse, such as staying away from dangerous environments and practicing the principles of recovery in all one’s affairs. However, there is one suggestion that many recovering addicts and alcoholics either question or choose to ignore; the recommendation to quit smoking or using tobacco products at the onset of recovery.

You only have to attend a few recovery-related meetings to realize that a lot of individuals hold on to the habit of smoking. Cigarettes are addictive to be sure, but in some cases maintaining the practice could be chalked up to being one of the last bastions of a person’s disease. Such people know that their cigarettes despite gilded packaging, are in fact trying to kill them, slowly. The habit persists in spite of the warnings and a noticeable detriment to people’s health.

Whatever the reasons for continued use are, any justification for maintaining cigarette use is not backed by reason. What’s more, studies indicate that tobacco use leads to an elevated risk of relapse. Maybe the health risks don’t concern you, but returning to the depths of despair hopefully will lead to a course correction. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got 30 days sober or 30 years, you don’t want your hard work to go up in smoke.


Promoting Health Paradoxically

Some of you may remember when CVS Pharmacy put the kibosh on selling tobacco products. While they cited promoting healthy behaviors as a driving force in the decision to can cigarettes and their ilk, there were financial incentives for making the switch. After all, if health were the motivating factor CVS would have quit selling alcohol too, they did not. Nevertheless, ceasing tobacco sales was a healthy move, and maybe one day only a few places in the country will sell cancer sticks.

CVS’s decision to go smoke-free wasn't echoed by other major pharmacies, leading anti-smoking advocates to push the issue. If you were in Washington D.C. filling a prescription at Walgreens flagship store a couple of days ago, you probably thought you were on the set of "The Walking Dead." However, the humans wearing zombie garb were not trying to eat the pharmacy's clientele, instead they were hoping to encourage the chain to stop selling cigarettes, The Huffington Post reports. Protesters are at odds with a company promoting health while simultaneously peddling death. Remember, cigarettes are still one the nation’s leading causes of preventable death.

"Simply put, tobacco and pharmacies don’t mix,” said Robin Koval, CEO, and President of Truth Initiative. “Our zombie protest underscores that while Walgreens continues to drag its feet on removing tobacco products from its shelves, more people are getting sick and dying from tobacco-related diseases."

Walgreens company leaders will meet in Arizona for its shareholder meeting next week; you can bet cigarettes will be a topic of serious discussion.


Protect Your Recovery

Those of you in recovery still smoking are strongly encouraged to seek assistance in the name of your program. Please talk to your doctor or pharmacists about smoking cessation products and their efficacy. Research shows the using patches or drugs like Chantix have the most significant success when used in conjunction with behavioral therapies.

If quitting proves too challenging to manage on your own, Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat can assist you in your effort to manifest the dream of lasting recovery.

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year’s Eve Addiction Recovery

New Year’s Eve is synonymous with heavy alcohol consumption. People always drink more on major holidays, but the end of the year is a time when people really let loose. That may not mean anything to the average person, but to individuals in recovery, the final hours of the year are trying. We cannot stress enough the importance of staying close to your support network in the twilight of 2017; relapse is a regular occurrence during this particular holiday.

Naturally, you’d like to start the new year on a positive note, so you’ll want to take certain steps to ensure that’s the case. Those of you in your first year of recovery will want to double your efforts by way of meetings, prayer, and meditation. If you make a point of getting to at least one meeting this Sunday, you’ll be exponentially less likely to find yourself in a situation dangerous to your recovery. It’s quite common for people to attend multiple meetings on major holidays, and with that in mind, meeting houses hold “alcathons;” that is, round the clock meetings from 12 AM to 12 AM the following day.

If you get to a meeting in the morning and again in the evening, and stay close to your support network in between, you position yourself to make it through the day without incident.


Addiction Doesn’t Observe Holidays

New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday, and most people will not be working on Monday; however, one must continue working their program on both days. Just because you have a respite from a job, doesn’t mean you get paid time off from working a program of recovery. Always keep in mind that your disease is ready to strike the second you become complacent about your program. One must remain ever vigilant in keeping their condition at bay.

Cured is not a word in the recovery lexicon; we can only manage use disorders, which are a severe mental illness, through continued spiritual maintenance and a commitment to adhere to the principles of recovery. With that in mind, please treat the coming holiday as you would any other day in recovery. Stick to your usual routine as best as possible; any single deviation could be a slippery slope toward relapse. If you usually pray and meditate in the morning, do so on Sunday. If you attend a specific meeting on a regular basis, be present during the holiday.

Your support network is in recovery too, which means that they will want to stick close to you, just as you will to them during the holiday weekend. Together, you will be better equipped to resist the temptations of the festivities happening all around you. It’s easier to manage cravings when you are in the company of people who are also working to improve their lives. Regular check-ins with your sponsor or recovery mentor are of the utmost importance, as well. What’s more, be sure to have your phone charged and the ringer on (provided you are not in a meeting); you never know, a fellow member might reach out to you for assistance.


Together: We Stay Sober

Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat would like to wish you a happy, safe, and sober New Year’s Eve. All of us are pulling for your continued success, and together with your peers, you can bring in 2018 on a healthy footing. If you find yourself struggling, pick up the phone and reach out for help. The helping hand of recovery is always there for you.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Misusing Sedatives Increases Risk of Substance Use Disorder

Prescription painkillers, or opioids of any kind for that matter, are often used in conjunction with other narcotics, such as benzodiazepines. People drawn to opiates, like heroin, are inclined to use sedatives and tranquilizers, i.e., Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. When people mix the two families of drugs, a synergistic effect takes place; meaning, the drugs amplify the euphoric feelings of one or both drugs. What’s more troubling, drug synergy increases the risk of overdose, as well.

Doctors prescribe sedatives and tranquilizers to treat anything from anxiety to insomnia. The class of drugs is effective in treating those conditions, but use comes with inherent risks, such as dependence, addiction, and overdose. One need not even mix benzodiazepines with opioids to experience an overdose, but when opioids and “benzos” are combined the dangers are far higher.

The general public doesn’t hear much about sedative abuse in the news, the result of the opioid addiction epidemic taking the spotlight. However, people prescribed drugs like Xanax (alprazolam) should be fully aware of what can happen when these drugs are used and abused. With that in mind, new research suggests that misusing prescription sedatives and tranquilizers puts people at risk of abusing more problematic drugs down the road, MedicalXpress reports. The findings were published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.


Riding a Wave of Sedatives

Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Nursing's Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health analyzed data from almost 35,000 American adults, according to the article. They examined people using sedatives after a one-year period (Wave One) and again after a three-year period (Wave Two). The findings, at first glance, seem promising; however, a closer look reveals concerning results which call for preventive efforts.

The researchers considered misuse as taking:
  • Too much of the medication.
  • A drug longer than prescribed.
  • Medication for reasons other than intended.
  • Someone else's prescription (nonmedical use).
The research showed that 76 percent of participants misusing sedatives and tranquilizers during Wave One stopped by the time they got re-interviewed, three-years later. Unfortunately, 45 percent of those who abused such drugs during Wave One, had developed a use disorder involving other substances by Wave Two, predominantly involving alcohol, marijuana, and opioids.

"We have to retrain clinicians to think differently," said lead author Carol Boyd, professor of nursing and women's studies. "Most drug users are not single drug users. They misuse several substances and often co-ingest them. This puts misusers at risk for overdose, and even death. We must remember that sedatives and tranquilizers contribute to overdose, especially when mixed with alcohol and opioids."


Safer… But Still Addictive and Deadly

Drugs like Xanax, the researchers point out, are Schedule IV medications; they are considered less addictive as other drugs such as opioids. However, less addictive doesn’t mean nonaddictive; the risk of abuse and addiction is high, and patients should be made aware. What’s more, detoxing from benzodiazepine addiction can be problematic; without medical supervision, people attempting to abstain are at risk of potentially fatal side effects.

If you or a loved one is misusing any form of sedative or tranquilizer, we strongly encourage you to seek help—immediately. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we can help you safely detox from narcotics and start you on the road of lasting addiction recovery. Please contact us today, recovery is possible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, we give thanks for all that is good in our lives and ask our higher power for guidance. Gratitude is paramount to long-term recovery, and we must take stock of the people who have helped us up to this point. None of us in recovery made it where we are today on our on, we all had help. If you completed an addiction treatment program, then several people at the center helped you achieve the goal of living life on life’s terms. Those of you who continue your efforts daily by way of going to meetings, working with a sponsor, and extending your hand to newcomers—know that without your family in recovery you would have already used alcohol or drugs.

While Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks to those who’ve assisted your efforts, it’s also a time that requires vigilance. The snares and traps of addiction seem to rise from the depths of our minds more profoundly during important holidays. After all, certain days of the year center around sentiment and emotion, two things that can disrupt one’s program. People in recovery can go through the whole year without thinking about using, only to find an overwhelming desire to use bubbling up during the holidays.

We could compile a list of reasons why people if they are going to relapse, often do so during big holidays; although, it’s more salient to discuss how to get to the other side of the holidays without picking up drugs or alcohol. It’s worth noting, if you’ve gone through treatment and work a program, then you already have tools at your disposal that can assist you. What’s more, there are several people in your life today, undoubtedly, who are committed to supporting your efforts for recovery.


Recovery Support Network

Are you traveling somewhere for Thanksgiving? Those who answer “yes” to that question have hopefully drafted a plan-of-action for keeping your recovery intact this Thursday. You’ve made a list of meetings to attend and schedule a time each day that you are away for talking with your sponsor. Having a schedule in place is a commitment, in effect, which holds you accountable to something other than yourself. Sticking to the plan will give you a sense of accomplishment and strengthen your effort to abstain, while away from home.

Those of you staying local this Thursday should also have a plan established for continued recovery. Even though you have plans to spend time with family, you’d be wise allowing some time for going to a meeting, or several meetings if you are in early recovery. Making a point to be present at your home group at some time over the course of Thanksgiving will help protect your program from jeopardy. In recovery, going to meetings is vital; just because it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean our addiction took a vacation. The disease is just around the corner waiting patiently for your return.

Treating tomorrow like you would any other day of the year is beneficial, as well as staying close to your support network. Even if you’ve been in the program only a short time, there is probably select individuals who you have made a bond. People, like yourself, committed never to feel the way they felt in active addiction, again. Ask them what they are doing tomorrow; you may find that they need your support more than you theirs. In recovery, we have a responsibility to each other. Again, we all help each other stay on the miraculous path of recovery.


Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

At HVRC, we would like to wish each of you in recovery a happy Thanksgiving; for those of you who completed our treatment program, we’d like to share how grateful we are to be a part of your recovery. Holidays too shall pass. Please remember what you’ve learned along the way and stay close to your circle of support; if you do that, there is no reason why Thanksgiving can’t be a beautiful day.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Prescription Opioids Should Be A Last Resort

prescription opioids
Doctors rely heavily on prescription opioids for the treatment of pain, and for a good reason, they work. There is no other form of medication which dulls pains quite like opioids, but that doesn’t mean doctors must turn to opiates as a first resort. Given the state of opioid addiction in America, physicians should only turn to narcotic painkillers after all other options are exhausted.

One way to reduce American reliance on opioids is to offer patients alternative means of managing pain. Naturally, there will always be instances when prescription opioids are the right call; however, more times than not a non-narcotic alternative can be just as effective. What’s more, non-opioid alternatives don’t carry the risk of addiction.

In the United States, the majority of the more than 2 million people with an opioid use disorder began the perilous road of addiction using painkillers. In many instances, physicians prescribe drugs like OxyContin and Percocet for acute pain caused by an injury of some kind. Such people went to an emergency room and were prescribed opioids. When sprained ankles progress to substance use disorder, something’s got to give.


Opting Out of Prescription Opioids

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the belief that prescription opioids are not the only solution to pain. In fact, a new study shows that a cocktail of ibuprofen and acetaminophen provided relief relative to opiates for acute pain patients, The Los Angeles Times reports. The researchers published their report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research involved 416 patients suffering from acute pain stemming from a variety of injuries. While 20 percent of participants had a bone fracture, others were treated for minor injuries like sprained ankles.

Patients who received the two non-addictive, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs reported pain relief on par with participants who received prescription opioids. Emergency room doctors treating acute pain with prescription opioids was one of the driving forces of the addiction epidemic, according to the article. Interestingly, and despite the ever-mounting death toll linked to painkillers, this kind of study was a first. While Dr. David Clark, a Stanford pain medicine specialist, was not a part of the new study, he said the research, “could shape practice really very profoundly.”

“I would have thought that people who came to an ER with pain that could be managed with just pills wouldn’t be given opioids,” said Clark. “The fact that investigators thought the question needed to be answered is sort of an indicator of how oriented we are to using opioids for pain, even when simpler and safer approaches might work just as well.”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If an injury led you to prescription opioids and subsequent misuse, you might meet the criteria for an opioid use disorder. Reliance on these types of drugs regularly results in addiction and overdose. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we can help you manage your disease and show you how to live a life of recovery. Please contact us today.