Substance abuse

Caring for Loved Ones Starts With Self-Care

self-careWho cares about your own needs when you’re caring for someone with a substance use disorder – right? Wrong.

When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Why? Well, if you run out of oxygen, you’re no good to anyone.

The same rule applies when caring for a loved one with a substance use disorder. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can experience burnout, stress, fatigue, reduced mental effectiveness, anxiety, frustration, inability to sleep and more – and what good will you be then?

Start by focusing on these self-care basics:

Don’t brush off stress: Unmanaged stress will make daily tasks more daunting and, what’s worse, it can also lead to some serious health risks like heart disease, cancer and premature aging.

Watch out for these red flags:

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetfulness

Skip the junk food: Eating a modest, well-balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein and healthy carbs can help regulate your mood, energy levels and problem-solving skills – which you’ll certainly need when caring for a loved one with an alcohol or substance abuse problem.

Make a point to get moving: Regular exercise is the perfect way to de-stress and to “work out” any emotions you’re feeling toward your loved one or the situation itself.

Seek support: Reaching out to others can minimize any loneliness you’re feeling and offer inspiration and/or coping strategies for your own situation. You may also want to arrange a meeting with a mental health professional for individual or family therapy.

Help for Families in Florida
Dealing with a loved one’s addiction as a family member or friend is often stressful, frustrating and emotionally painful. At Synergy, we provide an intensive family care program to help both loved ones and clients heal together. To learn more, call today: 888-267-8070.

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.

What Compulsive Gambling and Substance Abuse Have in Common

Compulsive Gambling and Substance AbuseDid you know that more than 70 percent of those with a gambling disorder also have an alcohol problem – and nearly 40 percent have a drug abuse problem? Perhaps, it’s not too surprising that gambling addicts are often struggling with substance abuse as well.

After all, a gambling addiction can certainly reinforce a drug or alcohol addiction. Many gamblers drink to loosen up before betting, or turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to numb the feelings of remorse caused by losing large sums of money.

What’s more, pathological gamblers and drug addicts share many of the same genetic predispositions for impulsivity and reward seeking. A few studies show that some people are especially vulnerable to both types of addiction because their reward circuitry is inherently under active — which may partly explain their thrill-seeking behavior.

Here are a few more characteristics of both compulsive gambling and a substance use disorder:

  • Increasing preoccupation with the “drug” of choice
  • Tolerance, or needing more in order to achieve the desired excitement
  • Using the substance or behavior to escape problems or mask emotions or mood disorders
  • Concealing the extend of the addiction to family, friends and therapists
  • Failing several times to scale back or stop altogether
  • Jeopardizing relationships with family, intimates, and peers
  • Inability to maintain responsibilities at work, at school or in the home
  • Incapacity to properly assess the risks and rewards of a given situation

Getting Help for Compulsive Gambling
It’s nearly impossible to stop a gambling addiction on your own. And, yet, a mere 7 to 12 percent of compulsive gamblers will ever seek help, according to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Don’t wait to seek treatment. Start by taking our gambling addiction self-assessment – and answer the questions as truthfully as you can. To learn more about our compulsive gambling treatment, call today: 888-267-8070.

Back to top