Questions to Ask Your Doctor If Your Prescribed an Opioid

questions about opioidsEvery day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The misuse of and addiction to opioids — including prescription pain meds – is a national crisis. And, yet, doctors still rely on these drugs to treat chronic pain, so patient education is key. In other words, knowing what questions to ask if you or a family member is prescribed an opioid can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Start with these:

  • What if I have a history of addiction or a family history of addiction?
  • Can I try non-opioid meds first?
  • Are there any alternatives or complementary therapies to help with pain management?
  • Do I need to schedule a follow-up visit to check how well the meds are working?
  • What are the side effects of opioids and how can I reduce the risk of these potential side effects?
  • Are there any possible interactions with other medications I’m taking? For example: prescriptions for anxiety or sleep problems or any over-the-counter meds that contain acetaminophen.
  • What signs indicate a tolerance to the medication?
  • What are some of the early signs of abuse? For example: trouble sleeping; watching the clock for your next dose; getting in more arguments with your friends or family members.
  • Is it okay to share this medication with anyone else?
  • What’s the safest way to store and/or dispose of my opioid medication?
  • What’s my exit strategy for stopping opioids safely?
  • Will I experience withdrawal? Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goosebumps (“cold turkey”), and involuntary leg movements.
  • What’s steps should I take if I’m still feeling pain?
  • Do I need a prescription for a naloxone kit?

Opioid Addiction Treatment
Opioids of any kind carry the risk of addiction and premature death; treatment is a must if recovery is to occur. At Synergy Group Services, we specialize in the treatment of opioid use disorder. We are also equipped to treat the condition when a co-occurring mental illness is involved. Please contact us today at 888-267-8070.

Steps for a Sober New Year’s Eve

sober New Year's Eve To say that New Year’s Eve tests your sobriety is to put it mildly. Alcohol seems to be virtually everywhere as folks toast to new beginnings. In fact, New Year’s Eve ranks number one on the list of “booziest” holidays of the year, according to TIME magazine. And even if you decide to skip the festivities, you may be haunted by feelings of missing out or even memories of past celebrations during active addiction.

That said: It is possible to ring in the New Year without relapsing – and you can have a little fun, too. Here are some tips to help make this happen.

    • Change your mindset. New Year’s Eve is about getting drunk or high for many people, but not you anymore. And now you have even more reason to celebrate; just think about all you’ve accomplished and all you have to look forward to in your recovery.
    • Buddy up. Ask a friend or loved one who supports your sobriety to stick with you on New Year’s Eve, especially if you plan on attending a social event where there’s drugs and/or alcohol available. This person should understand your hard work and sobriety goals and be able to talk to you or steer you away should temptation strike.
    • Create an exit plan. In addition to having an excuse ready as to why you’re not drinking or using, you also need a strategy in case you’re feeling too much pressure and need to leave. You can even tell the host ahead of time of your plans to leave early beforehand.
    • Celebrate with sober friends. Recovery is the perfect time to create new traditions with new friends who support your recovery. Gather a few sober friends together for some sober fun like game night, movie night or a midnight race.
    • Prioritize your mental health. The holiday season is stressful and you may already feel emotionally spent. Set limits and carve out extra time to relax, recharge and focus on your mental wellbeing.
    • Reward yourself for staying sober. Getting through New Year’s Eve without a slip-up or relapse is a milestone and you deserve recognition for your hard work. Treat yourself to a massage or new pair of running sneakers or a fancy dinner after the festivities are over.

Recovery in the New Year
If you’re finally ready to take the courageous step to get help for drug or alcohol addiction, there’s no better time than today to make the call. The programs and activities at our Southern Florida drug and alcohol rehab are designed to give each client the tools he or she needs to succeed at recovery. To learn more, call 888-267-8070.

What Should I Do If I Relapse?

relapseUnfortunately, relapse is often a reality of recovery. Up to 60% of patients who receive treatment for a substance use disorder will relapse within one year, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association — and the rate is even higher with drugs like heroin.

Addiction recovery is a lifelong healing process, filled with ups and downs, successes and disappointments and often instances of backsliding or relapse.

Here’s what to do (and what not to do) if you relapse:

  • Do take responsibility. Your first step is to recognize that you slipped up – and so it’s now time to redouble your efforts so you can better understand and control your cravings and triggers. This isn’t to say that you need to have the answers right now. You just need to be able to accept what happened and move forward with your recovery.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. It’s easy to heap blame on yourself about how you should have somehow been able to avoid using again – but that’s counterproductive. Along the same lines, it’s also a mistake to think that there’ s nothing you can do about it. Relapse is not a failure, but a sign that you need to evaluate and tweak your recovery strategy. It’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your addiction.
  • Do seek professional help. Working with an addiction professional can help you better understand the root cause of your slip-up and equip you with coping skills to prevent another relapse in the future. This is also the time to lean on your support network, so go to a 12-step meeting or talk to a sponsor or loved one. For someone who has relapsed multiple times, more intensive treatment is likely required.

Get Support at Synergy
If you or a loved one is seeking an individualized addiction treatment plan, look no further. Our programs and activities are designed to give each client the tools he or she needs to prevent relapse and succeed at lasting recovery. To learn more, call today: 888-267-8070.

Dangers of “Drunkorexia”

drunkorexia“Drunkorexia” — a combination of “drunk” and “anorexia” — continues to be a big trend among nearly a third of college kids, both male and females. The practice refers to the behaviors of drinkers who skip meals or exercise intensely to offset calories from a heavy night of drinking, or to enhance the high from drinking. In extreme cases, the behaviors may be related to bulimia or anorexia, and the alcohol is used to make purging easier or to cope with eating anxieties.

The combination of disordered eating and binge drinking can have some serious short- and long-term physical and psychological health consequences. Drinking on an empty stomach raises a person’s blood alcohol level quickly, often at dangerous speeds. The result: higher rates of blackouts, alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injury and violence.

Drunkorexia also has an adverse effect on hydration and the body’s ability to retain minerals and nutrients.  Vitamin deficiency (especially thiamine) is one major concern because it can lead to nerve and brain damage. Because of the way women’s bodies process alcohol, young females are more susceptible to these harmful consequences than male adolescents.

Other negative effects of drunkorexia include a higher risk of:

  • Short- and long-term cognitive problems, including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions
  • Serious eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Unprotected sex
  • Damage to the liver, stomach and heart

Alcohol Abuse and Eating Disorders
Studies reveal that individuals with eating disorders are up to five times as likely as those without eating disorders to develop substance use disorders – and it works the other way, too. Abusing alcohol or drugs also increases your chance of developing an eating disorder. At Synergy, we treat both conditions, providing clients with a personalized treatment regimen that addresses the psychological disorder and the chemical dependency simultaneously. To learn more, call today: 888-267-8070.

Study: Teens at Elite High Schools Face Higher Addiction Risk

teens at elite high schools higher addiction ratesPrivilege doesn’t offer protection from addiction, according to a new study of more than 500 teens published in the journal Development and Psychopathology.

In fact, teens at elite U.S. high schools face an even higher addiction risk – with rates twice as high as national norms, noted researchers.

“Results showed that among both men and women and across annual assessments, these young adults had substantial elevations, relative to national norms, in frequency of several indicators – drinking to intoxication and of using marijuana, stimulants such as Adderall, cocaine, and club drugs such as ecstasy,” said study author Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, in a press release.

“Paradoxical though it may seem, these ostensibly privileged youth, many of who start experimenting early and often with drinking and drugs, could well be among the groups at highest risk for alcoholism and addiction in adulthood,” Luthar said.

The study noted the following as possible reasons for the increased risk, including:

  • Pressure to succeed or stress about the “right” college
  • Having money needed to buy drugs, alcohol and high-quality fake IDs
  • Widespread peer approval of substance use
  • Lack of awareness from parents

While researchers have long-linked substance use disorders with children growing up in poverty, Luthar noted that there needs to be more studies to identify and treat addiction in well-to-do areas. “We now need the same dedicated research on kids who grow up in pressure-cooker, high-achieving schools,” she said.

Addiction Help for Young Adults
In recent years, we have seen the increased need for alcoholism treatmentprescription drug treatment and opiate and heroin addiction treatment among young adults. For more specific information on our drug and alcohol rehab for young adults, please reach out to our admissions department today. Call: 888-267-8070.

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