Opioid use disorder should be great cause for concern among Americans. Current data shows that as many as 142 Americans die of an opioid-related overdose every day. However, America’s greatest foe has long come in the form of a liquid—alcohol. New research shows that drinking and alcohol use disorder rates in the United States are troubling and need to be addressed.
With the country fixated on opioids, it is hard to devote much energy to any other substance use related issue. But, while lawmakers and health experts fixate on prescription opioids and heroin, alcohol has continued stealing lives in relative darkness. Therefore, it is so important to remember that people misuse alcohol more than any other substance. It is not just the fact that millions of people drink regularly. It is that millions of Americans drink regularly in seriously harmful ways, such as binge drinking.
Great efforts and amounts of money have been spent to educate young people about the dangers of heavy imbibing. Accompanied by a long list of health conditions that can arise from high rates of consumption, including addiction. Left unchecked, people who binge drink regularly are at a far greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking is often defined as having four drinks for women and 5 for men, during a two-hour period.
21st Century Alcohol Use
As many as 30 million Americans binge drink at least once a week, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reveals. Just for perspective, that’s more than the population of each state, but for California, SF GATE reports. About the same number of people report being dependent on the substance or abusing alcohol.
Opioid statistics show that somewhere between 2 and 3 million Americans have an opioid use disorder. That number is likely a low ball. But whatever the actual number is it’s still a far cry from alcohol use disorder rates in America. The study showed that adult alcohol use rose in every demographic, especially among:
- Older People
- People With Lower Incomes
- And Those With Less Education
“This should be a big wake-up call,” says David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved with the research. “Alcohol is our number one drug problem, and it’s not just a problem among kids.”
In 2001-02, 8.5 percent of survey respondents reported alcohol abuse or dependence, according to the article. That figure rose to around 12.7 percent in 2012-13, a 10.5 million person increase. With such high numbers, greater focus needs to be placed on the impact this will have on society. The cost of life is staggering.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Roughly one-fifth of people with an alcohol use disorder have ever been treated, according to Bridget Grant, a researcher at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and lead author of the paper. Even though alcoholism is a mental illness, too, about 60 percent of people with depression get some kind of treatment. Without treatment, the outcome is never good.
If you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder, please contact Synergy Group Services for help. We can assist in breaking the cycle of addiction and impart the skills necessary for living a life in recovery.
The summer is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your program of addiction recovery. Especially if you find yourself with extra time on your hands. After all, you wouldn’t want free time to impact your program negatively, idle time being the devil’s plaything—and such. It isn’t a secret that addicts and alcoholics struggle with time management, and using their time beneficially. However, one can use downtime as an occasion to practice budgeting one’s time, to better round out their life.
For most people in recovery, their days often look somewhat similar throughout the year. The usual meeting, going to work, eat, sleep and sometimes a little idle time for relaxation in between. But many of those in recovery have seasonal jobs or go school. So, come summer you may be one of the people who finds themselves struggling to fill their day with healthy behaviors. To be sure, binge watching Netflix shows is not exactly conducive to strengthening your recovery. With that in mind, let’s delve into some practices that can increase your chances of avoiding relapse.
Exercise, Prayer and Meditation In Recovery
With the weather in high spirits, it is always a good idea to get outside and soak up some rays. Take a walk or hike, perhaps other members of your recovery circle will go along. In Florida, there is no shortage of sun or beachfront. You might try making a point of taking advantage of the sand and surf. Interestingly, it is when we are outside that we find ourselves most receptive to our “higher power.” A connection that is of the utmost importance.
While most people get down on their knees in the morning to pray and meditate, there isn’t any reason why you can’t take this beneficial practice outdoors. If you are with other people, take a moment to seclude yourself from the group, so that you can better establish contact with the spiritual realm of your recovery.
Spending an hour, or more, outside everyday can do more for your program than you might think. One way to look at it is like so, most of your substance use occurred indoors. So then, your recovery may flourish better in a setting that is not synonymous with abuse. Over the summer there are meetings you can attend that take place outside, weekly or at recovery retreats. Such gatherings can be a wholly spiritual experience.
Your connection to a higher power is paramount, but it is always worth remembering that your body is the temple that houses spiritual receptors. If your house is in disarray, it can be detrimental to your program. Eating poorly and not exercising can wreak havoc on your program. You may not like going to the gym, but during the summer you can exercise in the great outdoors. Walking, swimming and biking are few ways to better your health.
Getting Help This Summer
If you are still using drugs or alcohol, the aforementioned suggestions may not apply to you—yet. But they probably make some sense to you, either way. Maybe this summer is a good opportunity to break the cycle of addiction and seek help for the debilitating disease of addiction. Please contact us at Synergy Group Services to begin the process. Our holistic approach to addiction recovery has helped numerous individuals get their life back. Maybe this can be your summer of recovery. We can help.
Alcohol and substance use disorders affect millions of Americans. No matter where one lives, people are suffering nearby. Regardless of what one’s substance of choice is, without addiction treatment their prospects are dismal. Whether alcohol takes its toll slowly, or opioids cut one’s life short overnight—there is nothing hopeful about active addiction. Everyone living in the United States has a vested interest in encouraging the afflicted to seek help, many of our readers have seen first-hand what untreated addiction can do to a person. Yet, some of you also know that encouraging someone does not necessarily mean they will seek help. Even if an addict can see where addiction will take them if they do not do something about it. Why?
As you can probably imagine, there are several reasons why someone would spurn treatment. A major reason is that some people have not had a low enough bottom. Others may just not want to stop, despite the horror that continued use entails. One of the more common reasons that a person battling addiction will give for not reaching out for help involves the stigma of the disease.
Unlike other debilitating health disorders that have no known cure, people with use disorders are typically looked at differently. Seeking help acknowledges that a problem exists, a disorder that most Americans have trouble understanding. There are countless people in this country who think that addicts and alcoholics lack willpower or a social code. Morally bankrupt is tossed around at times. However, science tells us a different story about reality.
Art of Recovery Film Festival
Addiction is a mental health disorder. People who are touched by the disease have little say in the matter. Yet, they can have a say in what is done about it, i.e., seeking addiction treatment and working a program of recovery. This a not up for debate. Which is why it is so important that the common stereotypes of addiction be debunked across every media platform, whether that be art, television or film. Doing so will help society exercise compassion rather than exclusion. Hope over fear.
There are two artists in recovery who are using their artistic talents to shatter the stigma of addiction, with the goal encouraging recovery. On July 7-9, 2017, Manny Mendez and Vic James will be hosting the first annual Art of Recovery Film Festival in Lake Worth, Florida.
“Our Festival runs July 7-9th 2017 at the Stonzek Theater, adjacent to the historical Lake Worth Playhouse in Lake Worth Fl. This 3-day festival highlights films that focus on sober living and recovery.”
For more information on how you can be a part of this important event, please click here.
At Synergy Group Services, we are committed to being a part of putting an end to the harmful stigmas often attached to alcohol and substance use disorders. Or any other form of mental illness for that matter. If you are in the grips of active addiction, or have a co-occurring mental health disorder—we can help. Recovery is possible, together.
Have you have ever sought help from an addiction treatment center in recent history, whether in the United States or abroad? If so, you were probably screened for other forms of mental illness. While it is important to have knowledge of any other condition(s) that could affect the quality of one’s life so that it can be treated, the reason for diagnostic screening in treatment is because co-occurring mental health disorders can complicate addiction and one’s opportunity at achieving lasting recovery.
Symptoms of anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, et al., can be a driving force for continued use of drugs and alcohol—even when one knows that they are harmful. That is, you know that mind-altering substances are likely worsening the symptoms you are experiencing. Addiction accompanied by co-occurring mental illness is a regular occurrence. And it really does not matter which problem precipitated the other, what is vital is that both mental health disorders are treated simultaneously.
If your screening met the criteria for one or more mental illnesses, then you are probably aware that the success of your treatment leading to long-term abstinence or clean-time rested on a multifaceted treatment approach. One that addressed both issues concurrently. Treatment centers today stress the importance of not letting co-occurring disorders linger in the shadow while addiction is being treated. Just to have symptoms of depression or PTSD rear its ugly head upon discharge and trigger a relapse.
Receiving A Dual Diagnosis
Upon completion of a program in a residential treatment center, one whose program treated both your substance use disorder and co-occurring illness (commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis), you were probably referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist offsite for continued therapy and medication maintenance. People recovering from addiction understand that their condition is incurable, which is why even after treatment they continue to work a program of spiritual maintenance.
Depression for instance, like addiction, has no known cure, which means that one must stay on top of their condition, lest its symptoms lead to a return to self-medication by way of drugs or alcohol. To be clear, treating any form of mental illness does not always involve the use of medication. In some cases, talk therapy and holistic measures can mitigate the risk of one’s symptoms getting out of hand. The point is that each case is different, and people who have been touched by both addiction and a dual diagnosis should not eschew psychiatric help, due to a fear that they will just be trading one drug for another.
Your addiction counselors, therapists and treatment psychiatric support (i.e. psychiatrists and psychologists) will work with you to determine what is the best course of action for sustained, long-term recovery. It is vital that one stays the course after discharge. Untreated or unmanaged co-occurring disorders is one most common causes of relapse, but it can be avoided.
Untreated Mental Illness
May is Mental Health Month. A time to have an active role in encouraging those who have not been screened, diagnosed and treated for mental health disorders to seek help. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are living with untreated mental illness. Those of you who have risen from the ashes of untreated mental illness can play a huge role in ending the stigma that accompanies every form of mental health disorders. The nonprofit Mental Health America asks that you, “Don’t keep mental illness to yourself. There’s power in sharing.”
People around the country have taken to social media sharing what they are going through, what they have gone through using the #mentalillnessfeelslike. Sharing that help is available, and recovery is possible.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, please contact Synergy Group Services. We utilize the benefits of traditional counseling in conjunction alternative medicine to achieve a synergistic outcome.
When a person makes the courageous decision to seek help for an alcohol or substance use disorder, they often believe that the sole focus of treatment will be their powerlessness over drugs and alcohol. Which is an accurate mindset, given that on the surface most of their problems can be traced back to an unhealthy relationship with mind-altering substances. However, upon entering a treatment center, many learn quickly that there is a lot more than just substance abuse that needs to be addressed.
Alcoholism or drug addiction is commonly associated with other forms of mental illness. People living with untreated depression or anxiety disorder typically use drugs and alcohol to dull their intense feelings and emotional pain. It a common practice, but one that is extremely complex. You see, for a time, self-medication often has the desired effect of mitigating the symptoms of mental illness. But the practice becomes less and less effective over time, resulting in the afflicted using more and more to achieve relief. Self-medication can quickly morph into full blown addiction.
On the other side of the coin, those with a predisposition to addiction often develop other forms of mental illness along the way. And while the relationship is not well understood on the molecular level, there is plenty of evidence to support the concept. Years of abusing drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc inside the brain, causing what could be called a “rewiring” of sorts. What that looks like varies from case to case, but if you talk to an addict or alcoholic, they will probably tell you that they are no strangers to depression and/or anxiety.
Whichever way a co-occurring disorder comes to be is not what’s important. What is, however, is that people struggling with both addiction and another form of mental illness like depression, get the help they need. Unfortunately, people living with any form of mental health disorder often feel disinclined to talk about their issues, the direct result of stigma. Failure to talk about such problems is always a slippery slope to something far from good.
World Health Day
On Friday, April 7, 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) is asking everyone to have a role in putting a stop to stigma, with respect to World Health Day. They point out that encouraging people to talk about mental illness is not only good for the individual, it’s good for society. The focus of World Health Day this year is depression. In fact, WHO has launched a yearlong campaign focused on ending the stigma of depression, and educating people that recovery is possible. The campaign has been appropriately named, Depression: Let’s Talk.
In order to give you an idea of the prevalence of this chronic disease, WHO cite figures indicating that more than 300 million people around the globe suffer from depression. Only a minute fraction of such people ever receive treatment. The United States is home for 16.1 million plus depressives.
Talking About Mental Health
Recovery from both addiction and depression is possible, but it requires assistance. Nobody has ever beat either on their own. What’s more, a successful recovery requires treating the entire patient. That is, a simultaneous focus on both the addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder, commonly referred to as a “dual diagnosis.”
At Synergy Group Services, our staff is fully equipped to help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction, and help one learn to live a life in recovery. There is no cure for mental illness, but with continued spiritual maintenance, medication and therapy one can live a productive, fulfilling life.