Drug Intervention: Formal or Informal?
Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Addiction recovery specialists recognize two types of drug intervention. There are formal interventions, which involve a high level of organization and planning; and there are informal inventions, which usually occur when a perfect occasion to have a talk arises unexpectedly.

In both cases, an intervention should occur whenever you feel the time is right. If your instincts tell you that a loved one is endangering himself or others with his drug habit, then it’s time to have a drug intervention as soon as possible. But even if your loved one hasn’t reached the dangerous stages of addiction, it’s never too early to show your support and make your feelings known.

Formal interventions

Formal interventions usually happen after family and friends have tried multiple other options to get the addict to stop abusing. Although a formal intervention is often thought of as the last resort, there’s no reason to wait until your loved one has gone off the deep end. As soon as you think it’s become a serious problem, start thinking about a drug intervention.

There are different formats that a formal intervention can take, but they usually involve having the addict’s loved ones gather at a set time and place to collectively and lovingly confront the addict about her habit. Many formal interventions are conducted with the aid of a trained professional. In fact, this is the preferred method, as poorly planned interventions can do more harm than good.

Informal interventions

An informal intervention may occur at any time and with no advanced notice. Some loved ones of addicts find themselves forced into this situation when an emergency arises or the addict becomes mean, self-destructive, or belligerent. In some situations, you have no other choice but to reveal your strong conviction that things have gone too far.

Of course, there are times when an informal intervention is to be avoided. For example, when the addict is high, he may not see the wisdom of the intervention. Also, an informal drug intervention should be avoided when there’s any danger that it will put the addict over the edge emotionally. Play it safe by having the talk in a warm, non-confrontational way. If you can recruit anyone to help you on short notice, all the better.

Prescription Drug Treatment on the Rise
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Prescription drugs are one of the most abused categories of substances worldwide, so it is not surprising that the demand for prescription drug recovery treatment is currently on the rise.  This includes opiate drugs sold under the names OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Lortab as well as anti-anxiety drugs sold under the names Xanax, Valium and Librium.  These and other prescription drugs are now more widely abused than illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

The rise in the demand for prescription drug treatment was recently documented in a report compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  The report included a breakdown of treatment trends for the nearly 2 million people who were admitted for alcohol and drug recovery treatment in 2009.  Opiate drugs accounted for 21 percent of all admissions.  Out of all opiate admissions, 33 percent were for prescription drugs – up from 8 percent in 1999.  What is alarming about this type of addiction is that it often happens to regular people (housewives, business men or women) who are prescribed medication for pain management.  People on these prescribed medications often do not initially abuse them, and instead, a chemical reaction caused by the medication can trigger drug abuse.

The increase in opiate prescription drug treatment can be attributed in large part to the epidemic of painkiller abuse.  Lynn Webster, a director for the American Academy of Pain Medicine, links the explosion in prescription painkiller abuse to a desire on the part of physicians to effectively treat pain. Over the past decade, many doctors mistakenly believed that opiate painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin were safe and non-habit forming.  The rise in demand for prescription drug recovery has since proven this belief to be naïve.

Many people who abuse prescription drugs will begin to build a tolerance for the drug, meaning that it will take a larger quantity of the drug to achieve the desired effect.  In addition to taking more than the recommended dosage, prescription drug abusers often change the form of the drug, such as crushing or dissolving a pill to make it easier to snort or inject.  This delivers the effects of the drug to the bloodstream more quickly but also increases the risk of addiction and overdose.

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is treatable.  For some drugs, medically-supervised detox is required in order to taper down intake of the drug without serious medical consequences.  For other drugs, the abuser can enter a drug recovery treatment program without detox.  Recovery from prescription drug addiction requires commitment and effort.  For many people, a long-term residential drug recovery program works best.  A residential program provides a safe environment where drug-dependent individuals can concentrate on recovery.

Heroin Detox and Rehab
Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that impacts individuals, families and society as a whole.  Besides addiction, some of the consequences of heroin abuse include an increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV/AIDS and an increase in violence and crime.  Use of this opiate drug has grown in the U.S. since the 1990s, creating a pressing need for heroin detox and rehab.

Fortunately, heroin addiction is a chronic disease that can be successfully treated.  Because the physical withdrawal symptoms are extreme, cessation of heroin use should take place in a detox and rehab facility.  Sweating, muscle aches, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal.  These symptoms increase in intensity for the first 48 to 72 hours, then may plateau and continue for 7 to 10 days.  Heroin withdrawal is rarely fatal, but it is so acute that it has a high failure rate when attempted without professional support.

A heroin detox and rehab facility can help control withdrawal symptoms with medication and medical support.  Methadone, a synthetic opiate that eliminates withdrawal symptoms and blocks the effects of heroin, is the most common pharmaceutical used for heroin addiction.  Other medications such as buprenorphine are also used for heroin detox and rehab.  The best detox and rehab programs strive to provide a safe and humane environment where heroin withdrawal can be undergone with minimum symptoms and complications.

Detoxification is not a treatment for addiction, but it will help a recovering addiction adjust to a heroin-free state.  The National Institute on drug abuse reports that the most effective post-detox treatment for heroin addiction is a residential treatment program that lasts from 3 to 6 months.  A heroin treatment program will address the psychological effects of withdrawal.  Cravings for the drug will continue long after the physical effects are gone.  Because cravings can be worse when the period of addiction has been longer, treatment for heroin addiction is most effective when it occurs in the early stages of abuse.

Heroin detox and rehab programs deal with addiction on multiple levels.  There should be some level of personalization in order to effectively treat each individual case of addiction.  Besides physical withdrawal, the psychological and emotional issues must be addressed.  Treatment programs that provide medication as well as one-on-one therapy, group sessions and exercise provide the best environment for overcoming heroin addiction and gaining necessary skills for living heroin-free in the real world.

What to Expect During the First 30 Days at a Rehab Center
Monday, August 15th, 2011

If you are considering entering a rehab center for drug or alcohol addiction, or if you have a loved one who needs treatment, one of the biggest questions is what to expect during the first weeks of rehab.  While each rehab center has a unique set of practices and procedures, most of them follow a common format.  Here is an overview of what you can expect to happen during the first 30 days of rehab.

Intake Interview and Assessment

The first step in rehab treatment is a comprehensive interview with the person who is being admitted.  The information obtained from this initial assessment will allow the rehab center to determine the best treatment program.  The rehab center's staff will ask for a medical history and details about the patient's addiction.  Medical tests such as urinalysis or a blood test may be performed.

Detoxification

Most forms of addiction require a period of medically-supervised detoxification.  The goal is to wean the patient from the physical effects of the abused substance and to remove all traces of the substance from the patient's body.  Because withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening, some rehab centers require a patient to undergo detox in a hospital or clinic before being admitted for treatment.

Substance Abuse Treatment

Following detoxification, the substance abuse treatment phase begins.  During the treatment phase, a rehab center will use a variety of methods to address the problem of addiction.  One-on-one counseling and group therapy are the most common forms of treatment.  Some treatment programs center on the 12-step model, while others are based on cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of therapy.  The recovering addict must learn to recognize the triggers of substance abuse and adopt coping skills that will allow him or her to resist relapse.  Many rehab centers also offer occupational therapy and exercise programs to engage patients who are fighting the cravings of addiction.

A patient's type of addiction, frequency of use and length of addiction will determine the duration of rehab center treatment.  Addiction experts recommend at least 30 days for inpatient rehab treatment; rehab center stays of 60 to 90 days are often required.  During the early weeks of treatment, visits from family and friends may be restricted.

Rehab Aftercare

The most important thing to remember about the first 30 days of rehab treatment is that it is the beginning of a lifelong journey.  When a recovering addict or alcoholic leaves a rehab center, a plan for aftercare treatment should be discussed.  Aftercare therapy and support will help avoid relapse and maintain long-term sobriety.  The family of the person in recovery should also receive follow-up counseling to help them understand their loved one's addiction and to educate them on the best ways to support sobriety.

Family Involvement in Drug Recovery
Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Drug abuse is a problem that affects more than the individual drug abuser.  Everyone in the abuser's life can be impacted, from co-workers to friends to members of the community.  The abuser's family is especially vulnerable to the effects of his or her drug abuse and it is the family that is most interested in seeing the abuser undergo treatment for drug recovery.  Often a member of the abuser's family will initiate drug recovery treatment by staging an intervention.

Drug addiction completely alters an addicted individual, making him or her unrecognizable to loved ones.  Watching the downward spiral of addiction, family members experience a wide range of conflicting emotions that may include anger, disappointment, frustration, concern, fear and betrayal.  They may have a strong desire to cut all ties with their addicted loved one.

An integral part of the drug recovery process is putting back together the pieces of a life that was shattered by addiction.  The family should play an important role in supporting the recovering drug abuser.  This usually requires mending broken relationships and re-establishing a sense of trust.  Many treatment programs provide family therapy to help members of the family learn more about their loved one's drug dependency and to address their own issues that may be related to the problem.

There are three main goals for family therapy during drug recovery:

(1)   Help the family understand the nature and extent of their loved one's addiction.

(2)   Create or strengthen a family support system that will aid in their loved one's drug recovery.

(3)   Provide treatment for family members for emotional and psychological damages caused by the addiction.

Family therapy will help family members develop coping mechanisms through group therapy sessions, educational lectures and one-on-one counseling.  The family will learn that there is no cure for drug addiction and that drug recovery is an ongoing process.  By providing love and support, they can help their loved one avoid relapse and continue to progress on the road to recovery.


Detox and Rehab FAQs
Monday, August 1st, 2011

What are detox and rehab?

Detox is the process that cleanses the body of a substance that has been abused.  It begins when an addicted person stops using the abused substance continues until the most serious physical symptoms of withdrawal have abated.  Rehab refers to a rehabilitation treatment program that follows detox.  It may consist of outpatient counseling sessions several times a week or involved a residential treatment center where a recovering addict lives for several weeks or months.

How long do detox and rehab take?

Because each case of addiction is individual, there is no standard timetable for detox and rehab.  In general, rehabilitation should be thought of as at least a year-long process.  This doesn't mean that a recovering addict must stay in treatment for an entire year, but he or she should have access to treatment resources for that period of time.  Once a year has passed, addiction recovery should be thought of as a life-long process.

Do detox and rehab really work?

Detox and rehab work best for addicted individuals who are committed to recovery.  There are many forms of treatment and some have higher success rates than others.  The best programs will provide a safe and humane environment for detox and rehab and equip the recovering addict with coping skills that can be used on a daily basis to avoid relapse.

What's the best way to find a detox and rehab program?

There are a variety of ways to locate detox and rehab programs.  The Internet is a powerful tool for searching for treatment programs and finding out more about them.  Medical professionals and addiction support groups are good sources for treatment program recommendations.  When you've found a program that you're interested in, visit the facility and find out more about their detox and rehab procedure.

Do detox and rehab only work when a person wants help?

It's best to approach addiction treatment with an open mind, but that's not always possible.  Many people enter a treatment program unwillingly following an intervention by family and friends.  They experience a life-altering change following detox and are able to that successfully complete rehab treatment.

Alcohol Detox: One Family’s Story
Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

People who have never seen someone undergoing alcohol detox have no idea how severe the symptoms can be.  This is especially true of delirium tremens, which is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens is most common in people who drink the equivalent of 7-8 beers on a daily basis for several months and in people who have been drinking heavily for 10 years or more.

I recently interviewed a married couple who shared the story of their experience with alcohol detox and delirium tremens.  Ann and Steve (not their real names) are the parents of two teenage boys.  Shortly after the birth of their youngest son, Steve became anxious and began to increase his alcohol consumption.  Soon he was consuming 2 six packs of beer per day and getting up in the middle of the night to drink wine.  He stopped eating regular meals and his personal hygiene suffered.

Steve had previously been very athletic and health-conscious, so Ann was naturally concerned about the change in his behavior.  She finally talked him into making an appointment with their family doctor.  The day before his appointment, Steve decided to stop drinking.  Over the next few hours he became increasingly agitated.  He became extremely pale, his hands began to shake and he was nauseous.  Suspecting that Steve was going through severe alcohol detox, Ann took their children to a sitter's house.   When she returned, his condition had worsened.  He had been vomiting and now he had dry heaves.  He decided that a glass of wine would help "calm his nerves."  As he stood up to go to the kitchen he emitted an involuntarily yell and fell to the floor in a grand mal seizure.

Ann recognized what was happening and did what she could to keep Steve from harming himself during the seizure, which lasted just a minute or so but seemed longer.  She then called the doctor's office and was told to get Steve to an emergency room as soon as possible.  Steve was in a dazed state, but with a neighbor's help Ann was able to get him into their van.  (Later she would wonder why she had not called 911).  He lay on the floor during the short drive to the hospital and was unconscious by the time ER workers placed him on a gurney.  In the emergency room, Steve suffered three more grand mal seizures.  Based on comments made by ER personnel, Ann knew his alcoholism was life-threatening situation.

Steve was admitted to the hospital and given medication to help him sleep.  When Ann returned the next day, he was sitting up in bed and talking.  He was far less agitated but was delusional, referring to the hospital as a school and the nurses as teachers.  He remained delusional for the next 24 hours and Ann began to wonder if he had suffered irreversible brain damage.  By the next day he was more rational and though in a weakened state was ready to be released.  Before Steve left the hospital, his neurologist told him that his alcohol detox had nearly been fatal.  If he wanted to see his sons grow up he would have to stop drinking immediately.  The doctor's words affected Steve deeply.  He successfully completed alcohol treatment and has remained sober for more than a decade.

The Role of Stress in Alcohol Substance Abuse
Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Substance abuse studies have found that many people use alcohol to cope with the stress of modern life.  The demands of work, family and finances can be unrelenting, especially for people who have little social support.  Natural disasters and other tragic events in the news add another layer of stress.  Using alcohol to relax and "get away from it all" can be safe in moderation, but attempting to deal with chronic untreated stress by drinking can lead to alcohol substance abuse.

Alcohol Substance Abuse and Early Childhood Experiences

Researchers have found that there appears to be a link between a drinker's early childhood experiences and the use of alcohol to deal with stress.  Exposure to traumatic experiences in infancy and childhood may shape an individual's stress response and contribute to a predisposition for alcohol substance abuse.  The relationship between stress and alcohol abuse is even more marked when healthy coping mechanisms and a strong social support system are not present.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, children and teenagers who experience trauma from violence or a disaster have a greater change for developing drug or alcohol substance abuse problems later in life.  Early intervention for depression and anxiety can help reduce the risk of substance abuse.  The Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that about 20 percent of Americans who have been diagnosed with an anxiety or depression have a drug or alcohol substance abuse disorder.  Ironically, the symptoms of one disorder can worsen the symptoms of the other.

Stress and Alcoholism Relapse

While there is no evidence that stress alone will lead to alcoholism, stress can be a factor in alcoholism relapse.  Recovering alcoholics who suffer a relapse will often cite chronic stress as the reason that they began drinking again.  One way to avoid this type of relapse is by meeting with other recovered drinkers and creating a network of support.

Getting help for an alcohol substance abuse problem will not eliminate problems related to stress and anxiety.  Both problems should be treated at the same time in order to reduce the chances of alcohol abuse relapse.

Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Alcohol plays an important role in our culture.  From winding down after work with a drink to enjoying a bottle of wine with dinner to toasting a special event with champagne, alcohol is a constant presence in many people's lives.  Because drinking is so familiar, it may not be obvious when someone's use of alcohol has crossed the line from a fun social activity to alcohol substance abuse.

Experts in alcoholism draw a distinction between alcoholism (also known as alcohol dependence) and alcohol substance abuse.  For alcoholics, every aspect of life is affected by their drinking, including relationships, work, finances and health.   Despite the enormous difficulties in their lives caused by alcohol, they continue to drink.  Those who are described as alcohol substances abusers are in an earlier stage of the disease.  Their alcohol use has some self-destructive aspects, but they have some control over the problem and are able to set limits on their drinking.

Many alcohol substance abusers are at high risk of becoming alcoholic. Some alcohol abusers move into alcoholism following a crisis or life-changing event, such as divorce, loss of a job or death of a loved one.  For other alcohol abusers, the shift to alcoholism is gradual.  They begin to drink more as their tolerance for alcohol increases or they start to spend more time focusing on drinking.

Anyone who drinks needs to be aware of the warning signs of alcohol substance abuse:

  • Taking risks with alcohol.  This may include drinking and driving or mixing alcohol with prescription drugs.
  • Ignoring responsibilities and commitments. Due to drinking or a hangover, responsibilities at work, home or school are neglected.
  • Continuing to drink despite problems.  Even though relationships are suffering, the drinker does not change his or her behavior.
  • Needing alcohol to relax. Alcohol once made the drinker feel good, but now is needed to avoid feeling bad.

Alcoholics also exhibit these signs, but in addition they have developed a physical dependence on alcohol.  They need alcohol to function on a daily basis and have a physical urge to drink.  They have developed a tolerance for alcohol, which means that over time they have to increase the amount of alcohol they drink to feel the same effects.  When they stop drinking, they experience physical withdrawal symptoms.  Even if they want to stop drinking, it may not be possible.

There are a wide variety of treatment programs available for alcoholics and alcohol substance abusers who recognize that they have a problem.  Outpatient treatment programs, residential rehab and 12-step support groups are just a few of the options for recovery.  The most important step on the road to recovery is reaching out for help.

The Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal
Friday, July 15th, 2011

When a heavy drinker attempts alcohol detox by quitting cold turkey, he or she can experience a variety of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms may range from minor problems like shakiness and insomnia to more severe symptoms including delirium tremens and seizures.  While detox may seem like an intimidating option, rest assured that doctors in inpatient rehab are very skilled at administering medications that make the detox process safer as well as easier to endure.

Doctors make a diagnosis of alcohol withdrawal when two or more of the following occur within a few hours or a few days after drinking has stopped:

  • Insomnia
  • Hand tremor
  • Heartbeat greater than 100 beats per minute
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Anxiety
  • Agitated movement
  • Grand mal seizures

According to the Association of American Family Physicians, alcohol detox can effect long-term changes on neurons in the brain, especially when a drinker undergoes detox more than once.  Recurrent detox episodes are believed to increase alcohol cravings.  It is also believed that withdrawal and detox will become progressively more serious each time it is experienced.

Many people who are undergoing alcohol detox and withdrawal can be treated as outpatients, but severe cases require hospitalization.  When severe symptoms of delirium tremens are present, especially hallucinations and seizures, a doctor should be consulted immediately.  The U.S. National Institutes of Health reports that the mortality rate for delirium tremens is approximately 15%.  Another reason for consulting a doctor during severe alcohol detox is that there is always a chance that what appear to be alcohol detox symptoms are actually indicators of another medical condition, especially if seizures occur more than 48 hours after the last drink was taken.

The goals of treatment for alcohol detox are to help the patient safely complete alcohol withdrawal and to prepare the patient for immediate treatment for alcohol dependence.  Depending on the patient's condition, medication may be administered to lessen the severity of alcohol detox symptoms.  Treatment of withdrawal symptoms alone will not address the underlying disease of addiction or help the patient achieve long-term abstinence from alcohol.


12-Step Alcohol Rehab Centers
Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The 12-step program for addiction is the oldest and most common form of treatment.  It has been adopted by many alcohol rehab centers for both outpatient and residential inpatient treatment.  The program originated more than 70 years ago when it was developed for Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith.  This widely-used form of alcoholism treatment combines fellowship with a set of principles known as the 12 steps to help recovering alcoholics maintain sobriety.

The 12-step philosophy is based on these principles:

  • Admitting that you are powerless in the face of addiction.
  • Recognizing that there is a Higher Power that can help restore your sanity.
  • Turning your life over to the Higher Power.
  • Examining your life and making amends for past errors.
  • Continually working towards your own and others' recovery.

The concept of support is key to 12-step programs.  It takes the form of support groups that assist in the recovery process and individual sponsors who provide one-on-one guidance.  A sponsor is a successfully recovered alcoholic who acts as a mentor and is available in times of crisis to help a recovering alcoholic avoid relapse.  Rehab centers that use a 12-step program use support groups throughout the treatment process.

Some alcohol rehab centers combine a 12-step approach with other treatment options which may include personalized individual counseling and family therapy.  Holistic treatments like yoga, meditation and nutritional counseling are also provided to help recovering alcoholics develop new life skills and coping mechanisms.

Many recovering alcoholics join Alcoholics Anonymous following release from a rehab center that utilizes a 12-step program.  They are assigned a sponsor and continue with group support sessions at Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.  Studies show that following up rehab center treatment with a program like AA increases the chances of maintaining sobriety over the long term.

What to Look for in a Residential Rehab Facility
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Choosing to undergo residential rehab treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction is a life-changing decision.  The next step is finding a residential rehab facility.  Family members or friends are often the ones who select a residential rehab facility for a loved one who is suffering from addiction.  In order to get the most effective treatment possible, it's important to find a residential program that is the best fit for the individual who will be undergoing treatment.

Residential rehab treatment requires a full-time commitment.  Participants live at the treatment facility (hence the name 'residential') for a period that may vary from several weeks to several months.   Being comfortable in the surroundings is an important part of addiction recovery.

These are some of the things to look for when deciding on a residential rehab facility:

How is detoxification handled?

Detoxification, which is the process of physical withdrawal that occurs when an addict abstains from drugs or alcohol, may take place in the residential rehab facility or in a nearby medical facility.  Make sure you are comfortable with how detoxification is handled before choosing a treatment program.

Where is the residential rehab facility located?

Some people travel out of state for rehab treatment, while others stay closer to home.  Research residential rehab facilities in your area and decide if it makes more sense to relocate for rehab.  The main reasons for relocation are usually a lack of facilities near the patient's home or the need to remove the patient from a negative environment.

Are there lifestyle or disability issues that will affect treatment?

It is important that a rehab patient feels comfortable in his or her surroundings.  There are religious residential rehab programs as well as programs with a gay or lesbian focus.  If the patient has co-occurring disorders, such as clinical depression as well as substance abuse, a facility that treats both disorders should be chosen.

What is the patient's legal status?

People who are entering residential rehab under court order may be limited in their choice of facilities.  The patient's legal status should be disclosed to residential rehab administrators before treatment begins.  Some treatment programs will not accept clients who are under court order, while others specialize in treating these individuals.

Making a Final Decision

The best way to make a final decision about residential rehab is to visit each facility that you are considering.  This will allow you to tour the facility and interview counselors and administrators in person. Find out about post-detoxification counseling and the program's success rate.  Check the patient-to-counselor ratio and ask about counselor credentials.  It's also a good time to discuss the final cost of treatment, your level of insurance coverage and a schedule for payment.



The Path to Alcohol Recovery
Monday, June 20th, 2011

Alcohol recovery is a life-long journey.  It begins when a drinker admits that he or she has a problem with alcohol and needs help.   Many people decide to stop drinking after an intervention by family and friends, or they may have experienced a traumatic event like a DUI arrest or an alcohol-related blackout.  Whatever the cause, a desire to become free from alcohol dependence is the beginning of the path to alcohol recovery.

Like diabetes and other chronic medical conditions, there is no cure for alcoholism.  Instead, it must be managed throughout a recovering alcoholic's lifetime.  The first step in alcohol recovery is detoxification, which is the term used to describe the psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms that can occur when a drinker abstains from alcohol.  For heavy drinkers, detox may be very difficult or even life-threatening and should only be attempted under a doctor's supervision.  The detox process can take up to two weeks, but it is only the beginning of alcohol recovery.

The next step on the path to alcohol recovery is treatment through an outpatient program or residential rehab.  To be effective, an alcohol treatment program must help the drinker break the cycle of alcohol dependence.  Successful treatment programs address the body, mind and spirit of the alcoholic in order to heal the physical and psychological craving for alcohol.  There is no quick fix for alcohol dependence, and most alcohol recovery programs last for at least 30 days.

Effective alcohol treatment programs use both individual counseling and group therapy to explore the causes of the drinker's unhealthy behavior and to break down feelings of isolation that alcohol dependence can bring.  The treatment program should help the drinker identify the triggers and stressors that lead to drinking.  It must also address other emotional and mental health conditions that have contributed to alcohol dependency, including depression, anxiety or trauma.  Following alcohol recovery treatment, the recovering alcoholic should be equipped with the necessary skills to avoid relapse.

The final step in alcohol recovery is aftercare, which is the term used for counseling that continues after recovery treatment is completed.  Aftercare helps ease the transition to a sober lifestyle.  It is also important for the family of a recovering alcoholic to receive aftercare counseling so they can help their loved one adjust to life after alcohol.

Undergoing alcohol recovery treatment helps those who are dependent on alcohol to recover their health and heal damaged relationships.  It provides hope and a new direction, allowing them to continue on the path of an alcohol-free life.

When is it Time for a Drug Intervention?
Monday, June 13th, 2011

Friends and relatives of a person who is abusing or addicted to drugs often wonder if a drug intervention is in order.  The purpose of a drug intervention, which is a meeting between a drug abuser and people that the drug abuser can trust, is to confront a drug abuser about his or her behavior.  When is it time for a drug intervention?  The best time is when drug abuse is having a negative impact on the health and well-being of the abuser and on people who depend on and care about the abuser.

Waiting too long to plan a drug intervention can have catastrophic results.  Left untreated, drug abuse can become addiction and addiction can lead to overdose.  It may seem judgmental to step forward and confront a drug abuser or addict, but statistics show that most drug abusers and addicts will not seek treatment on their own.  Substance abuse puts an individual into a state of denial that blinds them to the crisis they are creating for themselves and their loved ones.

It's important to consult a drug intervention professional before initiating an intervention.  A professional interventionist can evaluate the situation and determine whether an intervention is in order.  Drug intervention is a serious process that should be initiated only under professional supervision.  When attempted without an interventionist, there is a risk of alienating the drug abuser and completely breaking down the lines of communication.

A professional drug interventionist will help determine who should be involved in the intervention – it may an entire group of family members and friends or just one or two.  Once it has been determined who will participate in the drug intervention, the interventionist can counsel everyone in preparation for the event.  Besides serving as the event organizer, the interventionist is an unbiased observer who can help everyone stay calm and focused.  Based on past experience with other drug interventions, the interventionist will know how to handle each individual drug abuse situation.


Crystal Meth Rehab, Detox and Recovery
Sunday, June 12th, 2011

The DEA classifies crystal meth as a Schedule II controlled substance, which puts it at the same risk level as morphine and cocaine.  This means that crystal meth has a high potential for abuse leading to severe physical and psychological dependence.  Long-time crystal meth users suffer damage to all of the major systems of the body, as well as undergoing psychological changes that may include delusions, paranoia, violence and psychosis.  Due to the severity of these effects, a comprehensive crystal meth rehab program must address both the physical and psychological effects of crystal meth addiction.

The first step in crystal meth rehab is detox, which begins with total abstinence from crystal meth as well as from alcohol and other illicit drugs.   Rest and relaxation in an inpatient crystal meth rehab facility will help ease the transition from detox to therapy and recovery.  The detox experience can be intense, encompassing depression, insomnia and hallucinations.  Crystal meth changes how the brain experiences pleasure by releasing the chemical dopamine into the brain and damaging the dopamine receptors.  Other drugs also release dopamine, but methamphetamine does such at a much higher rate – up to four times higher than other stimulants like cocaine.  The damage to dopamine receptors can be reversed, but it takes time for the brain to heal itself.  Until the receptors regrow, the recovering addict will have difficulty experiencing pleasure without the drug.  To decrease depression and avoid the chance of relapse early in the crystal meth rehab process, an anti-depressant is often prescribed.

Once detox has been completed, the next step in crystal meth rehab involves treatment of the psychological effects of addiction.  The recovering crystal meth addict must cope with cravings for the drug.  Unhealthy behaviors must be eradicated and the personal problems that led to addiction should be dealt with.  In a successful crystal meth treatment program, the recovering addict is assisted in moving beyond the issues associated with crystal meth addiction and beginning a new life free of drugs and alcohol.

Drug Intervention Tips
Friday, June 10th, 2011

A drug intervention is never easy, but with the help of a professional interventionist and some careful planning, it can be one of the most important events in the life of a drug addict.  If not conducted correctly, an intervention can alienate the addict and may cause them to drop out of contact.  To avoid some common pitfalls here are some useful drug intervention tips to review if you are considering a drug intervention.

First and foremost, contact a professional interventionist.

A professional interventionist should be contacted to organize and guide the entire process.  The interventionist will evaluate the extent of the addict's problem and determine who should be present for the drug intervention.

Seek a safe place for intervention.

A drug intervention should be held in a safe, neutral environment.  It may be a familiar home or a public place, but it should be private.  Choosing a familiar location will help make everyone feel comfortable and protected during the intervention event.

Stay calm during the intervention.

Emotions can run high during a drug intervention.  The addict will deny there is a problem and try to make those who are intervening feel guilty.  Both the addict and those involved in the intervention are likely to express anger and resentment.  Be prepared for emotional outbursts and try to stay as calm as possible.

Follow through after the intervention is complete.

When a drug intervention is successful and the addict agrees to enter treatment, it is critically important that treatment begin immediately.  The interventionist will probably recommend that the addict go directly from the intervention meeting to a rehab facility.  Once treatment is started, family and friends should provide emotional support.  If the intervention is not completely successful and the addict does not agree to treatment, then consequences which were discussed in the intervention need to be carried out.

If an intervention fails, do not give up.

It is not uncommon for an initial drug intervention to be met with resistance on the part of the addict.  Denial runs deep among individuals who are addicted to drugs.  It may take repeated interventions to break through and change the addict's mind about treatment.

The drug intervention process has been proven to succeed because it confronts a drug addict with the impact of his or her behavior while at the same time showing that people care and want to see the addict get treatment.  A drug intervention is a life-affirming first step on the road to recovery and rebirth.  If you have a friend or loved one who has surrendered to addiction, drug intervention may be the only solution.


One Family’s Journey to Crystal Meth Rehab
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Drug addiction is a secret that many families find too painful to discuss.  There is also a strong sense of shame, especially for parents of young adults who have become addicted to deadly drugs like crystal meth and who refuse to seek treatment.  Journalist David Sheff put aside this shame in 2008 and wrote a memoir called Beautiful Boy about his son Nic.  Sheff, who Time Magazine listed as one of the most influential people of 2009, described how he and his family struggled with Nic's addiction and eventually convinced him to enter crystal meth rehab.

Sheff went public with his family's story in order to help other people who need crystal meth rehab.  "I realized the power of telling a story like this because if opens the doors to other people," said Sheff in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.  "It gives people permission to discuss it."

Nic's problems may have been triggered by his parents' divorce while he was still in elementary school.  His father thought he was a happy child, but by the time he was in middle school he had started drinking and was smoking marijuana every day.  As a teenager he used LSD, ecstasy and cocaine before trying crystal meth at age 18.  Like so many people who eventually need crystal meth rehab, Nic became addicted the first time he tried it.  A feeling of euphoria that lasted for hours was followed by a painful crash as the effects wore off.  After that, he used meth daily to avoid the pain of crashing.

Although Nic's parents knew he was in trouble, they were in denial about the extent of his crystal meth addiction and his need for rehab.  Before long Nic left home and began living as a meth addict on the streets, supporting his habit by dealing drugs and stealing.  According to Nic's father, "Methamphetamine stole his soul.  Our lives descended…into what can only be described as hell."

Nic agreed to enter crystal meth rehab only after experiencing meth-induced psychosis and being hospitalized for an overdose.  He has found that recovery is an ongoing process and that relapse is part of the journey to sobriety.  Now in his late twenties, he is more aware of the effect of his addiction on his parents and siblings and he has returned to rehab each time he relapsed.  Nic Sheff has also authored a book about his addiction entitled Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines.  Both David Sheff and his son Nic hope their story will other families who are on the journey to crystal meth rehab.


The Face of Crystal Meth Addiction
Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Crystal meth is one of the most addictive drugs sold on the street.  Because of the powerful euphoric high that the drug produces, many people become addicted the first time they try it.  Users of crystal meth often say that the drug boosts their self-confidence and makes them feel more attractive and desirable.  The reality is that without crystal meth treatment, users of the drug suffer a quick deterioration in appearance.  More than any other illicit drug, crystal meth addiction can be seen in the faces of those who use it.

Methamphetamine causes shrinkage of the blood vessels, reducing the flow of blood to all parts of the body.  After heavy crystal meth use, the vessels can be destroyed and tissue damaged.  Without crystal meth treatment, the body loses much of its ability to repair itself.  Slow-healing acne and sores appear on the skin.  The condition of the skin is worsened in many addicts by obsessive picking caused by a common delusion that there are bugs under the skin.

Crystal meth users quickly develop a condition known as "meth mouth" which is characterized by broken, stained and rotting teeth.  It has been proven that because crystal meth is smoked it destroys the teeth more quickly that other types of meth and that damage can occur in as little as three months of use.  There are several theories about the causes of meth mouth.  Some drug experts believe that the chemicals found in crystal meth erode the protective enamel coating from the teeth and that a combination of poor diet, bad hygiene and tooth-grinding leads to broken and rotted teeth.  It is also known that crystal meth inhibits the body's production of saliva, leading to further tooth decay.

Crystal meth is a stimulant the gives users a feeling of energy and suppresses the appetite.  Initially this may seem like a good way to lose weight, but without crystal meth treatment an addict will soon appear aged and gaunt.  Addicts feel more confident and desirable as a side effect of the drug, but ironically the drug is actually destroying their looks.  Before and after photos of crystal meth addicts show shocking changes in a matter of months.  Although many users experience an increased sex drive after smoking the drug, without crystal meth treatment their ability to perform and their desirability are severely impaired.

The Effects of Chronic Alcoholism
Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

When alcoholism is left untreated, all of the major organs and systems of the body can eventually be affected.  The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization define alcoholism as a disease.  This is because it has identifiable signs and symptoms that have a biological basis.  Without alcoholism rehab treatment, the disease will follow a predictable course and have a predictable outcome.  Alcoholism is recognized as the third leading cause of death in the U.S.  Because many alcohol-related deaths go undetected, the rate could actually be even higher.

The early physical changes from alcoholism are in a drinker's appearance.  The hands may shake if too much time passes between drinks.  Because alcohol disturbs REM sleep, the drinker may become nervous and irritable.  The skin may take on a jaundiced appearance, indicating the early stages of liver damage.  Poor circulation caused by alcoholism can cause the tips of the fingers to swell and the nose to increase in size and become red.

Over time, alcohol damages the brain.  It impairs short-term memory and may lead to blackouts and seizures.  Sleep disruption can lead to long-term insomnia and nightmares.  Delirium tremens symptoms which occur during alcohol withdrawal include extreme agitation, convulsions, seizures, delusions and hallucinations.

As alcoholism progresses, the gastrointestinal tract can be impacted.  Poor digestion, nausea, vomiting and recurrent diarrhea are signs of alcohol's affect on the stomach and intestinal tract.  Drinkers who avoid alcoholism rehab treatment may experience chronic abdominal pain and after a decade or more of heavy drinking may develop pancreatitis.  Bleeding ulcers and cirrhosis of the liver also occur in chronic drinkers who avoid alcoholism rehab.

The cardiovascular system can be damaged by chronic alcohol abuse.  In the early stages, heart palpitations are common.  Anemia and slow blood clotting are additional symptoms of how alcoholism can damage the cardiovascular system.  About 3% of alcoholics who resist alcoholism rehab develop heart disease and experience congestive heart failure.

The earliest symptoms of alcoholism are behavioral rather than physical.  Because alcoholism is a progressive disease, behavioral problems are eventually eclipsed by physical maladies.  If alcoholism is diagnosed and alcoholism rehab treatment is sought in the early stages, most of the serious medical problems described here can be avoided.

When to Call a Teen Interventionist
Monday, May 30th, 2011

One of the most common symptoms of addiction is denial that a problem exists.  This is true of drug addiction as well as alcohol dependency and compulsive unhealthy behaviors like gambling.  Teenagers who are suffering from addiction are just as likely as adults to deny that they need drug treatment.  Parents and other family members often feel they are causing more harm than good when their pleas and arguments seem to fuel the teen's destructive behavior.

Teens who are abusing alcohol or drugs often have trouble in school, including failing grades, truancy and discipline problems.  They may lose interest in sports and hobbies that they previously enjoyed. They may be associating with an undesirable peer group.  When questioned about their behavior, they often become defiant and verbally abusive.  This defense mechanism leaves parents walking on egg shells when in the teen's presence.

Rather than feeling helpless in the face of teen addiction, family members should seek the help of an interventionist who specializes in teen intervention and recovery.   The intervention process begins with an evaluation of the situation by the interventionist, followed by the formulation of a plan of action.  A teen interventionist will help the family plan and carry out a meeting where the facts about the teen's unhealthy behavior are honestly and respectfully presented.

In families with a history of drug or alcohol dependence, it is usually difficult for parents to talk to their teenage child about his or her addiction.  The teen may try to change the focus of the conversation to the parents' behavior or, if the parents have also abused alcohol or drugs, may call the parents hypocrites.  An interventionist can work with the parents to prepare for these accusations and to convince the child that the parents' mistakes should not be repeated.  Although the goal of the intervention is to confront the teen, it must be done in a non-threatening manner.  By carefully explaining how the teen's actions are harming both the family and the teen, it is possible to break through his or her shell of defensiveness.  Once the teen's defenses are dropped, it will be easier to discuss treatment options.

There is a common myth that an addict must hit "rock bottom" before recovery can begin.  This is a dangerous assumption when it comes to teenagers, for whom bottoming out may mean a lifetime of addiction or an early death.  An intervention can help a teen avoid the negative consequences of hitting rock bottom.  An experienced teen interventionist can provide insight and guidance at each stage of the intervention process, helping the teen gain freedom from addiction and a new chance at life.

Symptoms that Indicate a Need for Alcoholism Rehab
Friday, May 27th, 2011

For many people, drinking alcohol is a social activity that adds to life's enjoyment.  When alcohol consumption is limited to about 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, it can be enjoyed with few negative consequences.  Unfortunately, a large segment of the population finds it difficult to drink in moderation.  According to the National Institute of Health, over 17 million adults in America abuse alcohol or are alcoholics.  There are also millions of Americans who indulge in binge drinking, a habit that can have serious health and safety consequences.

If you've ever wondered if you or a loved one is a candidate for alcoholism rehab, these four symptoms can be used as a gauge:

  • Do you crave alcohol and feel a strong compulsion to drink?
  • Are you unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink?
  • Are you becoming increasingly tolerant to the effects of alcohol and do you need to drink more to feel alcohol's effects?
  • When you stop drinking, do you experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, shakiness, nausea and anxiety?

The presence of any of these symptoms indicates that a person is experiencing problems with alcohol consumption.  If more than one symptom is present, it is highly likely that alcohol is causing serious disruptions in an individual's life.  In either case, a doctor should be consulted about the negative effects of drinking and the options for alcoholism rehab should be discussed.

Alcoholism is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.  Alcohol abuse can cause serious harm to all of the major systems in the body.  It can damage the liver, kidneys, heart and brain and can lead to birth defects during pregnancy.  Medical research has linked heavy drinking to certain forms of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon.  Alcohol consumption also increases the risk of vehicle and work-related injuries and deaths.

The importance of alcoholism rehab is directly related to the fact that most alcoholics need help to stop drinking.  The craving for drink that alcoholics experience is an actual physical craving, similar to the body's need for food, drink and sleep.  Abstaining from alcohol can be just as difficult as abstaining from eating.  For heavy drinkers, alcohol withdrawal symptoms require medical treatment and supervision, both of which are available with inpatient alcoholism rehab.

Admitting that alcohol is a problem is never easy, but since alcoholism is a progressive disease that worsens over time, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.  There are a wide variety of alcoholism rehab programs available.  Thanks to the wealth of resources available online, it is easier than ever to find an alcohol treatment program that is an ideal fit for an individual's resources and condition.