addiction

Recovery Fun With Your Friends

recoveryFinding ways to have a good time with people in recovery is difficult for many individuals. It is a particular challenge for some persons who are new to the program. Anyone in recovery will tell you that maintaining an addiction is a full-time job, acquiring one’s drug of choice used to take up a significant portion of their day. Once such people began living life in a new way, it became critical to find methods of filling their time that didn’t revolve around substance use.

To be sure, working a program takes up a good part of a person’s day. Attending meetings, working with a sponsor or mentor, reading approved literature, and practicing prayer and meditation consume a good number of the available hours in each day. However, there is another facet of recovery that is oft left unmentioned. That of fun! What’s more, the need for enjoying one’s self is an aspect of healing that the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous emphasize in the “Big Book.” A sentiment that even people working a different recovery program than A.A. can see the importance of; on page 132 of the Big Book it states:

“We absolutely insist on enjoying life …. So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”

Enjoying Recovery to the Fullest

For most people in recovery, having fun often involves socializing with each other before and after meetings. Coffee houses across the country have long catered to individuals who no longer drink or drug. A good number of people plan recovery retreats, go for group hikes, lay around on the beach in an attempt to enjoy their sobriety. Some even go bowling, an activity that most addicts never could’ve imagined being a part of their lives just a short time ago.

In early recovery, it’s a wise practice to stay away from wet environments, places where alcohol is likely to be on tap. However, for people whose recovery is robust and the risk of relapse less likely, there exists a desire to have some kind of nightlife. That’s not to say that they want to be in a bar; instead they would like to confab with adults not sitting at a table across from students typing their thesis.

For Elissa Emery, the daughter of an addict, the desire to create just such a space was real. Along with Sarah Wehnau, Emery opened ‘Unbreakable Nutrition’ on August 1st, CBS6Albany reports. Instead of cocktails, they serve healthy beverages reminiscent of what you might find at a bar, sans alcohol of course. The idea for a sober bar came about when Emery’s friend started working a program of recovery and two could not find anywhere to hang out that was alcohol-free.

“Trying to find a space we could both go where we both felt like this is a great place where we can go and hang out, that wasn’t like a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Starbucks, there really wasn’t anywhere,” says Emery. “We hope we’re setting the new standard to include everybody, including those in recovery.”

Addiction Treatment

Please keep in mind that while the above idea is novel and could be beneficial for some people in recovery, visiting such an establishment may present problems for people in early recovery. Even a “mocktail” can cause feelings to arise that could trigger a person. It is hard to know how you will respond to feeling like you are back in the bars again after being sober for a stint. Before attending alcohol-free bars and nightclubs, please talk it over with your support group.

If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, Synergy Group Services can assist you to begin the journey of recovery. Please reach out to us today, to learn more about our holistic approach to addiction treatment.

Addiction Recovery and Paying It Forward

addictionThose who find addiction recovery have a fantastic opportunity to transform their lives literally. While active drug and alcohol dependence closes doors, seeking treatment and working a daily program gives people the ability to do just about anything with their existence. Naturally, to make one’s dreams come true, one has to maintain a program of recovery, day-in-and-day-out; one must strive for selflessness and always be on the lookout for ways they can give back and affect change in the lives of others.

In the rooms of recovery, people often say, “if you want to keep what you have you have to give it away.” The idea is relatively straightforward and is a concept that people set on long-term progress come to understand early on. After all, when someone enters treatment or begins working a program they find help from perfect strangers; men and women go out of their way to guide newcomers down a path toward healing. Why do such people offer their assistance? They are of service to others because they know it will help them stay clean and sober.

The above formula is primarily a means of paying forward that which one is freely given. Emerging from the spiritually void cave of addiction is one thing; however, if people want to remain in the sunlight of the spirit they must carry the message of recovery to those who still don’t know that there is a different way. For ultramarathon runner Charlie Engle, the need for encouraging others to seek help and embrace recovery is a significant priority. He runs himself ragged for addiction recovery.

Running Man for Recovery

Last Sunday, Charlie Engle ran continuously for 26 hours to raise awareness about addiction recovery, ABC 11 reports. Why 26 hours? Because running, Engle says was a lifesaver, the number 26 is how many years it’s been since he had a drink or drug. He hopes that his long journey will encourage others and, “show those people that are still out there struggling that there is another way.”

Engle ran one three-mile loop after another around Dix Park in Raleigh, North Carolina, not by accident; he chose the ultramarathon location due to its proximity to an addiction treatment center that Charlie supports, according to the article. Engle has two words of wisdom for people in the grips of addiction, “Get Moving!” What’s more, when it comes to raising awareness last weekend’s run may be a drop in the bucket; especially when you consider what he plans for his next event.

“I’m gonna go from the lowest place on the planet, which is the Dead Sea in Jordan, all the way to the top of Mount Everest! As a metaphor for addiction recovery, it literally is going from the lowest place to the highest! That’s my next big project.”

Addiction Treatment Works

At Synergy Group Services, we offer clients a holistic approach to addiction treatment. Unlike many rehabs around the country, our family and physician-owned residential addiction treatment center treats only five clients at a time. As a result, we can give each client the attention they require in our effort to make long-term sobriety a reality. Please contact us to learn more about Synergy’s therapeutic process.

Adderall Use In America and Europe

adderallStudy drugs or “smart drugs” are exceedingly popular among people in school. Doctors prescribe medications like Adderall and Ritalin to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); however, people without ADHD engage in nonmedical use of prescription stimulants to boost their academic performance. The practice of nonmedical Adderall use, for example, is known as pharmacological cognitive enhancement (PCE). When people take stimulants, they hope to increase their powers of memory or concentration. While using drugs to gin up cognitive performance may help in some cases, the behavior can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.

Attempting to get a cognitive edge in school is understandable considering the daunting academic requirements placed upon young people today. The competition for placement in institutions of higher learning is fierce; it is fair to say that teens and young adults have to go above and beyond in ways unheard of just a couple decades ago. It isn’t enough anymore to just go to class and get straight A’s; one must also involve him or herself in myriad extracurricular activities and volunteer vast sums of their time. Even still, doing all the right things doesn’t guarantee placement.

It is quite easy for young people to get their hands on prescription stimulants without the help of a doctor. Classmates are all too willing to share with or sell their drugs to other students; evinced by the fact that the number of Americans reporting nonmedical stimulant use is on the rise.

Adderall and PCE in America and Beyond

Research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy looks into the results of the Global Drug Survey—an annual, anonymous online questionnaire about drug use worldwide. Zeroing in on the use of prescription stimulants, researchers found that 14% reported using stimulants at least once in 2017, up from 5% in 2015. In the United States, nearly 30% of American respondents admitted using drugs for PCE in 2017, up from 20% in 2015. The U.S. has the highest rates of nonmedical stimulant use; however, the practice has become more common in Europe of late.

US-style practices in ADHD treatment are occurring in Europe, The Scientific American reports. Stimulants are more available than ever which has led to a dramatic rise in people seeking pharmacological cognitive enhancement. In fact, the survey indicates that use in France rose from 3% in 2015 to 16% in 2017; and in the UK: from 5% to 23%.

“The increased diagnoses of ADHD and their prescription drug use is creating a substantial population of young pharmacologically medicated persons whose underlying problems may very likely be located in their social world,” says Steven Rose, a neuroscientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK.

Stimulant Use Disorder

Given that there is not much evidence to support PCE via prescription stimulant, people using such drugs should strongly reconsider. Misusing amphetamines can severely complicate one’s life and lead to a host of problems. Each year, we treat a significant number of people at Synergy Group Services presenting for stimulant use disorder. If your use of Adderall or Ritalin has made your life unmanageable, Synergy can help you break the cycle of addiction and begin a journey of recovery. Please contact us today.

PTSD: A Common Dual Diagnosis

PTSDJune is an important month regarding mental illness; this is a time to play an essential role in the effort to encourage people to seek assistance for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At Synergy Group Services, we treat a significant number of people each year who meet the criteria for both addiction and PTSD. More than half of individuals living with an alcohol or substance use disorder also struggle with the symptoms of co-occurring mental illnesses; PTSD is one the more common “dual diagnosis” that people contend with each year.

The primary sponsor of PTSD Awareness Month is the National Center for PTSD, a division of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Makes sense, right? After all, the condition we speak of effects a good many service men and women. In fact, researchers estimate that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime. More recently, about 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year; and, about 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year.

The division, which leads the nation in trauma and PTSD research, is right to point out that the disorder can affect anyone who has experienced trauma. About 6 of every ten men (or 60%) and 5 of every ten women (or 50%) experience at least one traumatic event in their lives.

PTSD: A Common Condition Requiring Treatment

Raising awareness about post-traumatic stress and available treatments is vital. Those unable or unwilling to seek help are at terrible risk of experiencing myriad problems. One of the reasons people with PTSD often struggle with addiction is due to the common practice of self-medication: the act of drinking alcohol or taking drugs (illicit or nonmedical pharmaceuticals) to cope with the symptoms of the disease. The Division recognizes four primary symptoms, including:

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable, i.e., hyperarousal.

If any of the above symptoms occur right after the trauma, it is normal. However, you should seek assistance if any of the above markers present for longer than three months, cause you great distress, or disrupt your work or home life. The following statistics focus on Veterans, but the trend holds true for citizens who struggle with PTSD; more than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have SUD and almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD. 1 in 10 OEF and OIF soldiers seen at the VA have alcohol or substance use problems.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

It doesn’t matter if addiction manifests before PTSD, or the other way around, simultaneous treatment is critical for lasting recovery. If you are struggling with alcohol, substance use disorder, and PTSD, Synergy Group Services can assist you in your recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.

Relapse Prevention Via Smartphone

relapseIn the smartphone-dependent world, we find ourselves; there is an app for just about everything. While it’s fair to say that most applications have little real-life value, some programmers are designing apps that help people who are struggling with mental illness. In fact, there are significant swaths of people in recovery from mental health disorders, including addiction, which use smartphone apps to connect with other individuals for support. Given that a statistically significant percentage of Americans live in rural parts of the country having the ability to communicate with a broader community of people in recovery is invaluable, possibly preventing a relapse.

There are several applications that men and women turn to for guidance and support; Talkspace for instance, connects users with licensed therapists who specialize in anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Ginger.io offers emotional support coaching, therapy, and psychiatry for individuals living with mental illness; the app connects such people with therapists 24/7.

One aspect that makes Ginger standout is that it utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to suggest treatments, The Daily Beast reports. It turns out that AI is likely going to be the future of mental health support applications; the tech can go further than merely offering sound advice, AI can predict a relapse before it happens. The implications of AI in the field of recovery, where the stakes are often life and death, is enormous.

Sober Community

Working a program of addiction recovery requires steadfast dedication; the potential for slipping up and returning to active use is high, especially early in the journey. Community, and being a part of one, actually serves to safeguard one’s recovery. Those who stick close to their support network are more likely to make progress. However, there are often scenarios when people in recovery relapse and it comes as a surprise to the group. An individual appears to be doing the work, attending meetings, and so-on-and-so-forth. Then one day, a meeting commences, and such-and-such is not in the room.

Addiction is a severe form of mental illness; those living with mental health disorders like an addiction sometimes refer to it as being cunning, baffling, and powerful. While an individual is taking steps to maintain sobriety, the disease is in the next room devising a plan to get back into the spotlight. Although, there are often signs, cues that are somewhat ubiquitous regarding the nature of relapse. Those who’ve been sober for a while can often spot someone on the edge of relapse; meanwhile, the person about to slip up hasn’t an idea of what the future holds. In some cases, an “old timer” might approach a recovery novice and suggest some changes to avert a problem; but, it is impossible to prevent every such scenario.

Relapse Prevention

One support app that is for people in addiction recovery is Sober Grid, the company’s website calls it, “a free peer support network right in your pocket to aid you in your recovery.” Sober Grid is similar to Facebook, and it connects people in all stages of recovery. The application came about in 2015 and is now part of more than 120,000 people’s lives. As with any app, there is a multitude of user data; developers could determine if a user had had an incident, i.e., relapse. Which led to a significant question, could those on the brink of decline be identified, and if so, could the app help prevent such an occurrence? According to Dr. Brenda Curtis at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, absolutely; relapses could be predicted using AI and potentially thwarted.

“The words people use reflect who they are (e.g., their personality) and how they feel (e.g., happy, depressed, stressed, relaxed). People using Sober Grid post messages and indicate the number of days they have been sober. We then build statistical models to predict sobriety or relapse from the frequencies with which words are used,” offered Lyle Unger, a professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-investigator on the project.

When the algorithm spots signs of relapse on the horizon, Chris Pesce, COO of Sober Grid, says providing extra support to the user could spare them of such an event, according to the article. He says the app can digitally deliver the tools that addiction therapists know help people on the verge of returning to active substance use. If users opt-in to the program, Sober Grid would instantly connect them with coaches; time is not a luxury when it comes to preventing a relapse.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you are struggling with alcohol, substance use disorder, and co-occurring mental illness, Synergy Group Services can assist you in your recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.

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