In the last year, we have all watched the government take a new shape, for better or worse. The new guard has appointed individuals into positions relevant to the field of addiction medicine and treatment. You might be aware that as of September we have a new Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams.
Those of you who weren’t aware of former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s replacement, we will take a moment to share with you his credentials. The 20th Surgeon General of the United States is an anesthesiologist and a vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, according to STAT News. He attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Adams has the kind of resume that you’d expect from someone serving in the position of Surgeon General. However, it turns out that he also has some personal experiences that can help him address the American opioid addiction epidemic. Adams has a younger brother named Phillip, whose substance use and abuse have severely impacted the entire family. Dr. Adam’s brother is currently serving time in prison just down the road from his office; it’s fair to say that he thinks of the plight of addiction quite often.
Family Addiction Might Change the Discussion
The Surgeon General does not make policy, but they do have a platform and voice that calls for deference. He believes that getting law enforcement and addiction medicine experts to work together on this crisis is critical, the article reports. With that in mind, he shared his thoughts at a recent National Academy of Medicine panel discussion about the opioid epidemic. When a judge opined that it was strange for him to share a stage health experts, Dr. Adams shared:
“The No. 1 touch point for people with addiction is not a physician … it isn’t a medical touch point. It is the law enforcement community,” he said. “This room should be half full from the law enforcement community if we really want to tackle this issue.”
The new Surgeon General seems to think a balance can be struck between law enforcement and public health services to find a solution to the American addiction crisis. He realizes that the criminal justice system has not helped his brother Philip break the cycle of addiction, but believes that at times people must be held accountable for their actions.
“We can’t ignore the fact that there are crimes being committed,” said Dr. Adams. “I’m not saying my brother or anyone else should be absolved of all the crimes and the real harm they’ve done to people. I’m saying the way that you prevent that from continuing to occur is by making sure those folks have access to treatment, so that when they do get out, they don’t go down the same pathway.”
Committing petty crimes is resorted to when addicts can’t support their disease any other way. Once in the system, perpetual cycles of recidivism are commonplace; giving more people access to addiction treatment services would make recidivism be less a reality.
If you are one of the millions of Americans actively caught in the grips of addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and lead a productive life in recovery.
Addiction is a mental health condition that often occurs with another disorder, such as depression or anxiety. When two conditions coincide, a patient is said to have a co-occurring disorder. It’s crucial that the addiction and co-occurring disorder (otherwise known as a dual diagnosis) receive treatment at the same time; concurrent therapy improves a patient’s ability to achieve long-term recovery.
Although treatable, there is much still unknown about mental health conditions; why they occur in specific people at certain times in their life. Substance use disorder is a disease that develops over time, whereas anxiety or depression can seem like it sprung out of nowhere. There are times when one’s addiction predates their co-occurring disorder and other instances when the reverse is the case.
Untreated anxiety can lead individuals down a path of desperate measures to find relief. Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive worry, fear, feeling of impending doom, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, poor concentration, or trembling. A desire to calm such symptoms is only natural, and mind-altering substances sometimes help accomplish that task, at first. Interestingly, people who meet the criteria for anxiety disorder often use marijuana. The link persists despite the fact that cannabis use has been known to cause paranoia. Nevertheless, a large contingent of people with anxiety disorders uses cannabis regularly.
Problematic Marijuana Use and Childhood Anxiety
A team of researchers from Duke Health studied the link between childhood anxiety and problematic cannabis use, according to a press release. Using data from 1,229 participants in the Great Smoky Mountains Study, the research team tracked participants’ patterns of cannabis use from the college years (ages 19-21) into adulthood (ages 26-30). The findings appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Of the participants, 7 percent were persistent users, limited users (13 percent), and delayed users (4 percent). Persistent users could have started using “pot” at the age of 9, using the drug significantly into their early 30’s, the article reports. The researchers found that 27 percent of persistent users had anxiety disorders when they were children.
“This suggests that a focus on mental health and well-being could go a long way to prevent the most problematic use,” said lead author Sherika Hill, Ph.D., an adjunct faculty associate at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Aiming Prevention Efforts
Substance use prevention efforts have long focused on adolescents, but the research indicates that adults deserve attention, too. It’s unclear why somebody with an anxiety disorder would begin using marijuana problematically for the first time in adulthood, but a small group of people does. As cannabis laws ease, adults without any history of marijuana use may turn to the drug. Substance use is not a treatment for mental illness; marijuana can be habit-forming and lead to addiction—often requiring help. Hill said:
“A lot of current interventions and policies in the U.S. are aimed at early adolescent users. We have to start thinking about how we are going to address problematic use that may arise in a growing population of older users.”
If you suffer from anxiety and are using marijuana problematically, please contact Synergy Group Services.
The Fall Equinox is behind us marking for the end of summer. This is important for a number of people around the globe, with many cultures celebrating or having feasts. A significant number of people in recovery follow the astrological calendar, drawing spiritual guidance and strength from the Zodiac. For many, this is a time of balance. As there is relatively equal day and equal night around the planet. Even if astrology is not your calling, anyone in recovery can use this time to prepare for winter—often a hard time for people in recovery. Yes, seasonal affect disorder is a real thing and can impact one’s addiction recovery.
Even you do not struggle with the cold months, it is vital that “balance” in your life be striven for. A balanced body, mind, and spirit being crucial to long-term recovery. If you have been in addiction recovery for even a short time, you’ve likely already gleaned the importance of balance. See the value of managing your daily activities, work hard to not lean one way or another with regard to any particular aspect of life.
Balance In Addiction Recovery
Addiction is many things, none of which good. Typified by chaos and disorder, both in mind and spirit. Those who seek recovery are in disharmony, in almost every sense of the word. Spiritually bankrupt. Practically unable of trusting their own mind. Conversely, addiction recovery is the exact opposite. Sure, there will be times when life throws you a curve-ball; but, problems in recovery are typically of one’s own making. And, when they arise, it is up to ourselves to put in the program work to right the ship—as they say.
The maxim, ‘progress, not perfection,’ is ever important. There isn’t a point we reach and we get to say, “I’m cured.” Recovery is a continuing process of spiritual maintenance. A process that requires everyone in recovery to take inventory (of themselves). Questions that must be asked regularly. Where can one make adjustments to ensure continued progress? Can I do more for my fellows in recovery? Am I practicing the principles of recovery, in all my affairs?
You can usually tell pretty quickly the areas of your life and program that require alterations. They can almost be felt inside, immediately after posing such questions to ourselves. If you are unsure, that’s OK. Talk to someone in your support network about it. Maybe your sponsor can share some of the things he or she does to strengthen their connection with the spirit of recovery.
Looking Up In Recovery
Tonight, might be a perfect opportunity to take an inventory of what you can do to strengthen your program. Even for those who don’t lend much credence to what the universe can tell you. The Harvest Moon will move above the horizon at 7:21 p.m. ET. The full moon landing closest to the Fall Equinox. You could use this evening to pray or meditate for guidance in recovery. Doing so may bring you some balance, which is vital to anyone’s program.
If you are still struggling with a use disorder of any kind, achieving balance through recovery is possible for you, too. At Synergy Group Services, we can show you how finding harmony is possible through working a program of recovery. Please contact us today.
Hurricanes Irma and Jose are behind us and Maria appears to be bypassing the state of Florida. With the exception of the Keys, the state was not nearly as devastated as many feared. Perhaps we can all take a moment to be thankful for that, it could have been so much worse. And we should pray for all those affected on the islands to the south. For those of you working a program of recovery, hopefully you were able to weather the storm — recovery intact?
Even though the damage was far less the expected, millions of Floridians were required to evacuate. The stress of which was palpable. As you well know, stress in recovery is to be avoided whenever possible. Hurricanes don’t usually afford such a luxury. A number of people on the journey of recovery had to ensure that everything was in order, a plan. Those of you who had one likely made it through to the other side without a drink or drug.
Unfortunately, reality dictates that not everyone did. Especially those who were in the early stages of recovery. Who were maybe short on ways to cope with the stress of a natural disaster, or the potential of it. If you relapsed recently, it is vital that you recommit yourself to the program. Please do not guilt and shame yourself further away.
Coming Back from Relapse
Almost two weeks have passed since Irma struck the Sunshine State. If you relapsed around that time, it is possible that you are still using. Ideally, you will dust yourself off and get to a meeting ASAP. Some of you probably have already. For those of you who haven’t, it is vital that you do so immediately, the longer this goes on the worse it will get. Not to mention the risk of physical dependence setting in, again. Thus, dictating the need for detox.
The aforementioned eventuality can happen quickly, especially with drugs like opioids. If you have detoxed at any point, you know it is not a delightful experience. If you feel like you are not in too deep, the fellowship is waiting for you to return. You may be thinking that your recovery peers will not welcome you back without judgment. They will. You might think that the program doesn’t work. After all you relapsed. It does work, though.
At the end of the day relapse is a part of many people’s story of recovery. Remember, recovery is about progress, not perfection. You learn from where you veered from the path and do what you can to avoid a repeat of history. Your sponsor and recovery peers will help you with this. Please do not let false pride stand in the way of returning to recovery.
Treatment Might Be Needed
Those of you who have been hitting the bottle or drugs hard for a couple weeks might need more than just returning to meetings. Treatment may be the best course of action, helping you avoid relapse again early on. At Synergy Group Services, we can help get you back on the path of recovery. Helping you determine what needs to change this time around to increase your chances of achieving long-term recovery. It’s possible.
Everyone working a program of addiction recovery knows that most things in life are out of one’s control. Try as you might to encourage things to go one way, or people to do a certain thing, the opposite often happens. The famed Serenity Prayer covers this reality quite nicely:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Life, like the weather, is hard to predict and even harder to do anything about. If it is going to rain, it’s going to rain. Those touched by addiction, especially those in recovery, know that their mental health disorder is not their fault. You tried to control it, or deny its presence, at great cost. Recovery forced you to accept that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol and that your life had become unmanageable. With that in mind, you decided to approach life in different way and asked for help. Not just of other people, of a power that was greater than yourself.
Every day, people working a program of recovery are diligent about keeping constant contact with their higher power. Make a commitment to live life, on life’s terms. Accepting that no individual runs the entire show, we are only responsible for being good to ourselves and to others. If we live life honestly, there is no need for lies and manipulation. Nor a need to blanket our emotions with something as caustic as drugs and alcohol. But, to be free from the bondage of self, recovery requires daily maintenance.
Managing Recovery During Traumatic Times
Those of us in South Florida are no strangers to conditions which are out of our hands. After all, our state falls in “Hurricane Alley.” Certain conditions make this part of the country a target of some of history’s most destructive weather phenomena. The damage caused by hurricanes is stressful enough to cause anyone to want to find some form of stress relief. A slippery slope for anyone working a program.
Right now, it is uncertain what direction Hurricane Irma will take. Although, meteorologists seem to think that the now Category 5 hurricane is barreling toward Southern Florida. In certain areas evacuation orders are highly likely. If you live in one of the areas predicted to be affected it is vital that you have plan in place. One’s recovery, being absolutely paramount, must weather the storm.
There is high likelihood of power and cellular outages. If you find yourself in need to relocate until the storm passes, please locate a place where you can attend recovery meetings. You may not be able to get hold of your sponsor or recovery peers. Now, more than ever, you will be required to rely on the fellowship itself for support. If you have a plan in place before things become overwhelming, you will have a much greater chance to avoiding problems. Remember what you have learned and utilize the recovery tools at your disposal.
Constant Contact With Your Higher Power
There may be times when you’re not around others in the program. When that occurs remember that your higher power is with you. Prayer and meditation is great way to stay grounded, and keep one’s stress at bay. At Synergy Group Services, we hope that everyone gets to a safe location and has taken steps to protect their addiction recovery. Please do not discount the importance of spiritual shelter during traumatic events.