By Jose Hernandez You may have completed a treatment program, finished detox or even have some time in recovery under your belt. You possibly even had a relapse prevention plan in place. However life-long sobriety from alcoholism and addiction is contingent on the daily maintenance of...

By Jose Hernandez If you’ve been through any type of treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism, you’ve probably heard the term cross addiction. What is cross addiction? Cross addiction occurs when the addict or alcoholic gives up one addiction and trades it for another. For example; a heroin...

Let’s face it; any way you look at it detoxing is not an easy thing to do. Whether you’re coming off cigarettes, sugar, alcohol or crack who wants to do go through the intense cravings, the sweaty nights of lying awake, chills or the flu-like symptoms that can make you want to crawl up in a hole and die? I have experienced all of the above and really hope I never have to go through it again.

In the early nineties when I got clean and sober, after having used for years, it took a while for the fog to lift. However, when it finally did, I had a profound realization that was crystal clear, ‘I wanted to help other addicts and alcoholics get clean as well’. After taking a series of required courses I got a job as a counselor in a local detox center at Brotman Hospital.

Many individuals engage in self-destructive behaviors. These can include addictions, gambling, eating disorders and other problems. Often, the person is not aware of how serious the situation is, since the mental health problem that they have is clouding their judgment. For example, a person with anorexia is quite literally unable to see just how thin they are – they see themselves as fat despite all evidence to the contrary. People with addictions, be it to substances or to certain behaviors, also fool themselves into thinking that they can quit at any time, that they have full control or that they are just having fun. These types of issues severely affect the person's ability to think critically in relation to the problematic situation.

Twenty. That’s how old my daughter was when she never woke up one day. Oxycodone. The pill slowed her heartbeat, it stopped, and before anyone could revive her, she died. My heart was broken. That was eleven years ago.

The drugs didn’t define who she was. Stephanie was a vibrant young woman who loved helping others; art, music and animals comforted her when she felt depressed. Since she was so young and away at school, we were shocked she was experimenting with drugs. My family has survived with faith, hope and love. The support was overwhelming for a tragedy that has become an epidemic. Young people get addicted to opiates every day. There are many places with skilled people who can help them survive. I’m proud of the hard work my daughter did with a talented team once we realized she needed more support than what we could give her. She wasn’t lucky enough.

By Andrew Finley, M.A., MFT

The official definition of an intervention is “an orchestrated attempt by a group of people to intercede on behalf of a person whose behaviors and habits are damaging their life, sanity and health as well as the lives and well-being of those around them.” This person, who shall hereafter be referred to as the Identified Patient (or, “I.P.”), has not normally solicited this assistance from others and usually is, in fact, taken at least nominally by surprise when faced with it. You’re fed up with all the bad behavior, lies and embarrassing moments, but you love and care for them. What do you do? What CAN you do?

Deciding to stop drinking or using drugs is the first step toward recovery, but the most feared and physically challenging step is detoxification, particular for those abusing opiates.  Detoxing from opiates is so challenging that it's often the reason a person relapses. However with supportive physical and emotional care and by understanding what to expect, detoxification can be successfully accomplished and recovery can begin.

1. Why are opiates so addictive?

Opiates and synthetic opiate-like drugs are substances that latch onto opioid receptors on the surface of certain nerve cells like keys fitting into locks. When drug and receptor connect, the reward circuitry in the midbrain turns on, and there's a flood of the feel-good brain chemical, dopamine.  The dopamine surge creates an intensely pleasurable sensation, a mix of relaxation and elation. In fact, researchers have found that the amount of dopamine resulting from opiate abuse is 2 to 10 times that of naturally rewarding experiences like sex or eating!