Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2018

problem gamblingAddiction is a broad term that covers a multitude of behavioral health conditions. More times than not, when people think of addiction they consider alcohol and substance use disorders; however, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), which classifies mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S, indicates that addiction takes many forms.

Mental illness in any form takes a severe toll on people’s lives. Without treatment, those living with mental health disorders are at risk of experiencing adverse effects, i.e., social, familial, employment, and financial problems. One behavioral health disorder that doesn’t involve the use of drugs or alcohol is problem gambling; while blackjack may not lead to an overdose death, the condition still has the power to destroy lives. What’s more, there are more compulsive gamblers in America than you’d think; almost 10 million people had problem gambling addiction in 2016.

Addressing problem gambling isn’t dissimilar to how you would any mental health disorder; prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Getting compulsive gamblers the help they require rests in encouraging the afflicted to talk about their condition and seek treatment.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Educating people about the nature of problem gambling is of the utmost importance. Those who gamble, despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop, put their entire family at risk of problems. Compulsive gambling recovery doesn’t just help the gambler; it improves the lives of loved ones as well. March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM); it is a time to talk about the effects of the disorder and options for those struggling with the condition. Now, in its 14th year, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) asks that we “Have the Conversation.

Events will be taking place across the country all through March. The goals are to raise public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment & recovery services. The NCPG would like to encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for problem gambling. As with any mental health condition, when patients feel like they can talk about their issues without fear, recovery is possible.

If you are interested in attending a PGAM event, you can find more information here. You can also play a part in raising awareness about this treatable disorder using social media. The organization has several graphics you can share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et. al.

Compulsive Gambling Treatment

If you or a loved one is a problem gambler, Synergy Group Services holistic treatment approach can help. We can assist you in getting a better understanding of your illness’ nature and provide tools that will help you regain balance of mind, body, and spirit. Please contact us today to begin the life-changing journey of addiction recovery.

Heroin(e) Documentary Inspires Hope

heroinHuntington, West Virginia, is home to around 50,000 people and has an overdose rate ten times the national average. You may be familiar with the town for personal reasons, or perhaps you’ve seen the documentary “Heroin(e)” on Netflix. With the 90th Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday, maybe you’ll have some time to give the documentary a watch beforehand. “Heroin(e)” is nominated for the best documentary (short subject) Oscar.

Some might call Huntington the epicenter of the American opioid addiction epidemic; maybe the statement is true, what is sure, that the situation in the former industrial town is reflective of much of rural America. The Appalachian region is losing mothers and fathers and sons and daughters at unbelievable scale; it is a reality that “Heroin(e)” director, Elaine McMillion Sheldon (“Hollow,” 2013), would much like to drive home.

The scope and scale of the epidemic have no parallel; solutions hardly seem in sight at this juncture. One of the biggest deterrents to tackling the epidemic is the way most Americans continue to view addiction. The stigma of mental illness is alive and well, it’s a fact that Sheldon understands.

Opioid Epidemic Heroin(es)

The short documentary released last September follows the lives of three women in Huntington; including a fire chief, a drug-court judge, and a street missionary. Sheldon chose the three human subjects for the doc, she tells Business Insider, because the three women treat people battling addiction as “human beings and not as junkies.”

Sheldon, a native West Virginia, wanted to tell a different kind of story about the epidemic—one that places a greater focus on the people trying to help. Plenty of documentaries center on the use and abuse side of the epidemic, “Heroin(e)” shows how selfless individuals are affecting change in their community. Compassion is a powerful tool; it can help alter the course of peoples’ lives for the better. The Peabody Award-winning director said:

“We wanted to try and find a story that was around solutions and the inner-resilience that people have to overcome this problem.”

Sheldon is hopeful that politicians will watch her film and see what real people are going through and shape policy decisions off of reality. Her lengthy interview with Business Insider is worth a full read if you have the time, especially her thoughts about misconceptions surrounding addiction. She concedes that a byproduct of the opioid epidemic is that nobody can see that it is “those people” doing the drugs and ruining their lives; rich and poor, young and old, black or white, rural or metropolitan—all are eligible for addiction and premature death if they don’t get help. Please take a moment to watch the trailer below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Netflix has made “Heroin(e)” available for educational streaming unlimited. Movie theaters can screen the film as many times as they like as long as they don’t charge admission.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans grappling with opioid use disorder, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and give you the tools for living a life of lasting addiction recovery.

Tips to Help Someone With an Eating Disorder

eating disordersIt’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 26 through March 4, and there’s no better time than now to help a loved one with an eating disorder. Confronting a loved one about their eating or exercise habits or weight or body image isn’t easy. But remind yourself that you’re doing a brave and great service. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), many individuals now in recovery from an eating disorder say the support of family and friends was crucial to them getting well.

Here are some tips from NEDA on starting the conversation:

  • Get educated about eating disorders. Read books, articles and brochures. Know the difference between facts and myths about weight, nutrition and exercise. Knowing these facts will help you reason with your loved one about any misconceptions or myths fueling his or her disordered eating patterns.
  • Set a private time and place to talk. Find a time and place where you can slowly and calmly discuss your concerns without distractions or interruptions. You may even want to rehearse what you want to say or write down key points to reduce anxiety.
  • Use “I” statements. So you don’t sound accusatory, focus on behaviors that you have personally observed. An example: Say, “I am worried about how frequently you are going to the gym” instead of “You’re exercising too much!”
  • Remove potential stigma. Now is the time to do your best to remind your loved one that he/she is not alone — people of all ages, genders, sizes, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses struggle with eating disorders – and there’s certainly no shame in seeking help.
  • Choose your words carefully. Saying something overly simplistic like “just stop” or “just eat” to someone with an eating disorder is far from helpful. Your goal is to encourage your loved one, not leave them feeling frustrated, defensive or misunderstood.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help. Recovery is possible with the help of a trained healthcare professional. Offer to help your loved one set up an appointment (and go with him or her) to discuss treatment.

Seeking Support at Synergy
Synergy provides a continuum of care for clients with co-occurring chemical dependency and eating disordersTo learn more, call 805-202-3440.

Fentanyl-linked Memory Loss is Concerning

fentanylThe use and abuse of opioids in the United States is a public health crisis, most Americans are aware of the severe death toll from the use of this class of drugs. So, it’s probably not a surprise the White House renewed a previous order declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency, before it ran out toward the end of last month. Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, writes:

As a result of the continued consequences of the opioid crisis affecting our nation, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary, I, Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, do hereby renew, effective January 24, 2018, my October 26, 2017, determination that a public health emergency exists nationwide as a result of the consequences of the opioid crisis.

The use of any type of opioid can lead to addiction, or worse, overdose. Around a hundred Americans perish each day from drugs like OxyContin, fentanyl, and heroin; naloxone can reverse an overdose, but that’s not always the case—especially when fentanyl is involved. In a short time, synthetic opioids became one of the greatest threats to the drug using public. Fentanyl is regularly added to heroin to boost potency, but it’s done without the user’s knowledge; it’s an ignorance that often results in fatal overdose.

Fentanyl On The Mind

Synthetic opioids are great at killing pain in medically supervised environments. However, the influx of the drug into the U.S. from Chinese laboratories is a major concern. A report from the Senate shows that manufacturers of the drug in China market it online and use the USPS to get it to civilians in the U.S. Once here, fentanyl is stamped into pills resembling OxyContin or simply mixed into batches of heroin—a drug that requires no assistance in being deadly.

Even when fentanyl use doesn’t result in an overdose death, it can wreak havoc on people’s health. Researchers from West Virginia University warn that there is an association between fentanyl and severe memory loss, according to Health Day. More than a dozen patients exhibited signs of short-term memory loss after using fentanyl alone or with stimulants. Their brain scans showed lesions on the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for memory.

“They all have difficulty learning new information, and it’s pretty dense,” said Marc Haut, chair of West Virginia University’s department of behavioral medicine and psychiatry. Every day is pretty much a new day for them, and sometimes within a day they can’t maintain information they’ve learned.”

Haut says it’s possible the patients experienced overdose prior to the symptoms of amnesia arising, the article reports. He points out that such individuals do not recover quickly and may not fully regain their short-term memory.

“We talk a lot about people who don’t survive overdoses, but we aren’t talking about people who survive repeated overdoses and the impact that might have on them and their functioning,” Haut said. “If their memory is really compromised, it’s going to be hard for them to learn a new life that doesn’t involve drugs.”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Painkillers, synthetic opioids, and heroin carry severe risks; if you are addicted to opioids of any kind, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and give you the tools for living a life of lasting addiction recovery.

How to Handle Toxic Emotions

dealing with toxic emotions

From anger to guilt to shame and self-loathing, toxic emotions can take a toll on your self-confidence and recovery. And since you can’t just switch them off, you’ll need to find ways to deal with and express these emotions without resorting to old self-destructive patterns. Practice is key and so is self-love. Your first step: Remember that loving yourself means accepting yourself, negative emotions and all.

Here are a few more practical steps to help prevent toxic emotions from getting in the way of lasting sobriety:

Name your emotion. The moment a toxic emotion pops in your mind, write down what it is and where you feel it in your body, say experts. For example: “guilt in my stomach,” or “anger in my chest.” This will help slow down your mind and give you time to understand and then release these emotions.

Ask the right questions. By questioning your emotions, you’re taking the power back. Sit in a quiet spot and ask yourself:

  • What triggered my emotion?
  • Did it bring back old memories?
  • Why did I react the way I did?
  • Is this your usual pattern of reaction?
  • Does feeling this way help support me and my recovery?

Practice controlled breathing. Concentrating on your breath can be a powerful tool to help prevent your mind from becoming consumed by guilt, self-doubt or shame, for example. Try it: Breathe in the toxic emotion and breathe out a positive one.

Get creative. Think of your emotions as a color or shape and draw it on paper. This simple activity can calm you down and help you face your toxic emotion in a healthy way. The best part: You don’t need to be a good artist to make it work for you.

Holistic Healing at Synergy
We are highly regarded in the addiction treatment community for our ability to help heal the body, mind, and spirit, which are all impacted by the disease of addiction. To this end, we offer our clients a variety of holistic therapies. To learn more about our treatment center and our approach to addiction recovery, call today: 888-267-8070.

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