relapse

Can These Brain Scans Pinpoint Relapse Risk?

Penn State ResearchersIn his landmark report issued late last year, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General, made it clear that addiction should be treated like any other clinical, chronic condition. In his 400-page report, Facing Addiction in America, Murthy urged the American public to view the disease of addiction with more compassionate optics. “Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and it’s one that we have to treat the way we would any other chronic illness: with skill, with compassion and with urgency.”

Taking that same clinical approach, researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine are working to develop a new test that may possibly help doctors predict individuals who are most at risk of relapse.

For the past few years, Scott Bunce has been studying the brain activity of those in recovery from an addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers. To conduct the study, Bunce and his team showed images of drugs and drug paraphernalia to the study participants.

His team then asked the research to participants to state if the images induced cravings for the drug or triggered positive feelings or emotions as a result.

Bunce and his team found that those who reported feeling no temptation as a result of seeing the images yet also exhibited increased brain activity as a result were more likely to experience a relapse.

While additional research still needs to be conducted, the scientists hypothesize that this provides further support that addiction is truly a disease of the brain. Individuals may not intentionally express a desire to use and abuse drugs though their brain chemistry may be prompting them to do just that.

“It’s very important that people understand this is a brain disease,” said Sue Grigson, a professor at Penn State College of Medicine who is involved in the research.

One positive takeaway is that while the brain is indeed altered by the exposure to drugs, it can still recover and heal over time and with the right addiction treatment therapies.

Holistic Drug Rehab in South Florida

At Synergy Group Services, our team of addiction recovery team specializes in helping individuals with a chemical dependency on prescription opioids and heroin. We firmly believe in the power of holistic medicine and leverage a variety of healing therapies including acupuncture, biofeedback and individual counseling. If you are working through a challenging period of your life and want to finally address your addiction to drugs or alcohol, please let us help you. We are standing by at (888) 267-8070 and your call is confidential.

Procrastination and Recovery

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People can sabotage themselves from not doing things, or procrastinating, especially in recovery. In order to maintain sobriety, we have to be active in our recovery. If we become lazy and complacent, our sobriety can become compromised, and the danger of relapsing is just around the corner.

There are many reasons we justify our procrastination. Some people believe they work better under pressure, so they will leave their work to the last minute. They can tell themselves they will be able to complete the task in a few minutes, so they can put it off for later.

Some people want to rebel against an authority figure who asks them to complete a task by a certain time. Others will find more fun things to do with their time rather than complete something important. There are a million reasons people can tell themselves it’s ok to wait.

When we are in a program of recovery, action is the most important thing we can do. Whether it’s taking action by going to meetings, picking up the phone to talk to your sponsor, sponsee, or friend, committing to a position in a meeting (like secretary, chip person, treasurer, coffee person, etc.), sharing in an AA meeting, working the 12 Steps, journaling, exercising, or meditating. These are all important actions in recovery.

Taking contrary action is also important. This is an action I need to work on for my own recovery. Recently my feelings were hurt by a group of friends. I felt alone and taken advantage of. At first, I started to isolate, a bad behavior I have always fallen back on.

I shared at an AA meeting about being aware of my behavior, and others shared about taking contrary action. I didn’t feel like going out and taking my kids to the pool, but I did anyway. I didn’t feel like calling someone who hurt my feelings, but I did anyway. I didn’t feel like sharing my insecurities with a trusted friends, but I did anyway. Because I did all of this, I began to heal.

I didn’t feel so angry and hurt anymore, sharing my feelings took the power out of it. I climbed out of my isolation and have felt much better about myself.

A while ago, I would have turned to alcohol to make me feel better, even though drinking would have caused me much more pain. I’m learning that procrastination can take me out of my sobriety. If I don’t take action, I’m moving backwards. I start engaging in my old, familiar, self-destructive ways.

Before I got sober it would have taken months for me to come out of my isolation. Taking action is so much better. I feel happiness and joy in my life instead of pain and resentment. If you are struggling with substance abuse, checking into our Florida based recovery facility is the most important action you can take. Our qualified staff will help you achieve a long-term clean and sober life.

Coping With Negativity

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Sad face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Negative people in recovery can take a lot out of us. If a newly sober person spends too much time around negative people, it can be hazardous to his sobriety.

There are many characteristics of negative people, one of them is to constantly criticize other people as well as the world. They can be passive aggressive or openly aggressive. Sometimes negative people are also angry and blame others. They are distrustful, pessimistic, and create drama for no reason. They enjoy pulling apart the achievements of others and resent other peoples successes. Many negative people are also self-centered.

Negativity can increase the chances of relapse. If a person in recovery has a negative outlook on life, it will lead to “stinking thinking.” This is a dangerous mindset because it may prevent him from welcoming new information. It can also lead to a negative self fulfilling prophecy. When he predicts bad things will happen, it may actually lead to it coming true. Negativity sucks the joy out of sobriety, and he may become a dry drunk. This is when a person no longer drinks, but still acts like an alcoholic or addict. The same bad behaviors are still present.

It’s important to move away from negativity within yourself, but it’s equally important to move away from negative people in your life. Spending too much time with a negative person is draining. Negativity can also spread like a cancer, it’s particularly dangerous for a person in early sobriety because you are more vulnerable. Negative people can be overly critical, and they can lower the self-esteem of those around them. Many people in early recovery are already dealing with low self-esteem, so further criticism can be dangerous. Negative people are not capable of offering support, so they cannot be trusted with your recovery.

If you have to be around a negative person, don’t join them in their critical opinions of people or the world. Try to keep the conversation light, if they begin making negative comments, try to change the subject. Try making positive statements, this may impact your conversation for the better. Sometimes not listening to negativity can save you from being pulled down. Think about the saying, “in one ear, out the other.” Or let it roll off you “like water off a ducks back.” Don’t let negativity poison you, shield yourself from it.

Negative people are not bad people, they are just dealing with their own demons. They may have suffered from trauma, or depression. If you need to disengage from a negative person, it’s best to do so with compassion.

Entering our holistic drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is a great place to learn new coping strategies for dealing with life. There will always be negativity in life, and learning how to effectively deal with hard issues is what we teach here at our Florida based drug rehab facility. When you learn new coping strategies, protecting your sobriety is much easier.

The Dangers of Perfectionism

Striving for perfection is dangerous in recovery. Having unrealistically high expectations sets people up for disappointments. They may develop an all or nothing approach, meaning they will end up with nothing. It’s important to learn to be grateful for all the wonderful things in life instead of focusing on things they don’t have.

Perfectionistic people are excessively concerned about other peoples appraisals, are overly critical of their performance, strive for flawlessness, and set unrealistically high performance standards for themselves. People who focus on being perfect are never happy with their progress, it’s never good enough.

The dangers of being a perfectionist include pushing themselves too hard, so they end up exhausted. They will never be satisfied with their performance, so they won’t reap the rewards of a job well done. People who have expectations of themselves which are too high tend to have negative stress and negative thinking. They may expect others to be perfect, which can lead to resentment because people are not perfect. They might think, “I work so hard, they don’t put half the effort I do. They don’t care as much as I do.”

                         Progress Bumper Sticker

Many who give up drugs or alcohol return to being perfectionists. They always been perfectionistic, but turned to addiction to relieve themselves from their sense of failure from not living up to their own standards. Being “perfect” in recovery can sabotage their efforts.

Putting excessive demands on themselves leads to failure and possible relapse. They may even use the idea they failed to return to drugs or alcohol. People in recovery should wear their 12 Step Program like a loose garment and strive for progress, not perfection. Developing an attitude of gratitude for the good things they have in life is helpful. Understanding that it’s okay for goals to shift or change is important. Keeping an even head and understanding that they aren’t always in control is crucial. Putting sobriety first helps set the tone for the day. Expecting family and friends to trust and forgive them immediately may not be realistic. It takes time to rebuild trust, but it can absolutely happen. Here at our Florida addiction rehab, we have a family care program that helps the entire family cope with the disease of addiction.

Being a perfectionist isn’t always a bad thing. People with perfectionistic qualities work very hard and are successful. The dangers come when they constantly feel like they are failing, and not enjoying their achievements. It’s important to recognize when they have done a good job. We offer help here at Synergy Group Services through a chemical dependency program as well as a specialized holistic drug rehab program. We understand the many facets of addiction and can help you find recovery.

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