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Recovery: Staying Sober During The Holidays

recoveryThe holiday season officially begins just one week from tomorrow, with Thanksgiving next Thursday. While the holiday season can be a chaotic and stressful time for the average American, it can be exponentially more stressful for the men and women working a program. Holidays have a way of dredging up old memories of a time when drinking and drugging was not problematic, partying with close friends and family from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

It isn’t just people who are new to recovery who struggle when the holidays come around. Even those with a significant amount of sobriety or clean time can find the holidays to be trying. It is vital that even the most seasoned members of the program put their recovery first on Thanksgiving and the subsequent holidays that follow. Remember, your addiction is just waiting for you to slip up, so it can rear its ugly head.

If you are new to recovery, it is likely that your sponsor or recovery peers have told you how important it is to have plans over the course of a holiday. It is often said that idle time is the devil’s handmaiden. It can also be analogous to inviting one’s addiction back into the picture. Those who successfully navigate the holiday waters, without picking up a drink or drug, are typically people who had a plan in place for the day. A schedule that is centered around one’s recovery. Please do not discount the importance of having a plan for Thanksgiving Day.

For those who still have family in their life, make sure that you set and stick to your boundaries when attending dinner. If you find that your boundaries have been crossed, or that the stress of being around family has become too much, there is no shame in leaving the gathering for the sake of your recovery. Once again, your recovery needs at times to be put before family; without one’s recovery, it is likely you won’t have family in your life.

If you are not traveling for the Thanksgiving break, make a point to attend your homegroup as much as possible. Even if you are feeling strong in your recovery, there is a good chance that there is a newcomer who could benefit from your story. Giving back to the program is paramount to keeping your recovery. Those of you who have traveling plans, make sure that you locate the meetings in the area where you will be. Have your cell phone handy at all times so that you can reach out to your sponsor, if you find yourself in a risky situation.

At Synergy Group Services, we would like to wish everyone working a program of recovery a safe and sober Thanksgiving.

Cocaine Destroys Brain Cells

cocaineWhile we don’t hear much these days about cocaine because opioid abuse has taken the spotlight for over a decade, many people still use and abuse the drug. In the 1980s cocaine was all the rage, and for a time Florida was ground zero for all the cocaine that came into this country from Colombian cartels. Today, the majority of the cocaine used in the United States is brought into the country by the Mexican cartels, and while people may use less cocaine now than in decades past – the drug remains as one of the most popular drugs among young adults.

The drug elicits short-term euphoric feelings, increased energy and talkativeness. People high on the drug have heightened heart rates and blood pressure. The drug loses its effect relatively quickly, which causes users to do more and more to keep the desired feeling. Just because the euphoria diminishes does not mean the drug is out of one’s system, continued use can lead to emergencies.

In recent years there have been a number of studies conducted regarding the effects of the drug on the brain, some of which focused on finding new drugs for treating cocaine addiction. A new study has found that heavy cocaine use can have a serious impact on the brain, actually causing brain cells to destroy themselves – through a process called autophagy, Medical News Today reports. The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Brain cells have built-in mechanism for self-destruction, which are necessary if cells have problems and stop working properly, according to the article. When cells digest and recycle waste matter, it is known as autophagy; heavy use of cocaine can cause autophagy to kick into overdrive. On top of disposing of cell waste, the substance can cause autophagy to eat essential cell components.

“Autophagy is the housekeeper that takes out the trash – it’s usually a good thing,” says Dr. Prasun Guha, a postdoctoral student at Johns Hopkins University. But cocaine makes the housekeeper throw away really important things, like mitochondria, which produce energy for the cell.”

The researchers at Johns Hopkins hope that further research will result in the development of treatments that protect not only adults, but babies as well. If you are struggling with addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services.

Moving for Marijuana

marijuanaWhen most people consider retirement, historically climate was one the top concerns – particularly sunshine. In the past, retirees looked to Florida or Arizona as optimum states to spend their later years. It seems that the times are changing, and retirees are thinking less about sunshine and more about marijuana. Many retirees are considering marijuana laws when they choose their next move, Reuters reports.

At the University of California, Los Angeles a professor of public policy, Michael Stoll, says “There is anecdotal evidence that people with health conditions which medical marijuana could help treat, are relocating to states with legalized marijuana.” Stoll, who studies retiree migration trends, points to the United Van Lines 38th Annual National Movers Study as evidence.

The study showed that Oregon was the top moving destination in 2014, according to the article. In November, Oregon voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and the law went into effect on July 1, 2015. Oregon isn’t the only state where marijuana is legal that retirees are moving to, Colorado had the highest percentage of people moving there to retire.

“In Colorado, since legalization, many dispensaries have seen the largest portion of sales going to baby boomers and people of retirement age,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the Denver-based National Cannabis Industry Association.

While there many different opinions floating around regarding the medical benefits of the drug, or lack thereof, many seniors claim that the drug helps.

“A lot of the things marijuana is best at are conditions which become more of an issue as you get older,” said West. “Chronic pain, inflammation, insomnia, loss of appetite: All of those things are widespread among seniors.”

Whether retirees are searching for pain relief or nostalgia, it is important to keep in mind that the drug holds the potential for abuse.
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At Synergy Group Services we offer individualized treatment plans for addiction recovery.

Synthetic Drug Flakka Responsible for 18 Deaths in Florida

 

flakka-deathsThe synthetic drug problem in Florida continues to gain steam, with the surge of Flakka (alpha-PVP) use being responsible for 18 deaths in South Florida, The New York Times reports. While the drug is similar to its cousin MDPV (aka bath salts), Flakka seems to give its users heightened strength and dangerous paranoid hallucinations.

“I have never seen such a rash of cases, all associated with the same substance,” said James N. Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University. “It’s probably the worst I have seen since the peak of crack cocaine. Rather than a drug, it’s really a poison.”

Alpha-PVP has become increasingly prevalent throughout the southern United States in the last few months, and has been tied to a number of incidents – as well as a rise in fatalities. South Florida appears to have been hit the hardest by this new cheap and dangerous drug. A single dose goes for $5, and gives users an amphetamine-like experience and hallucinations, according to the article.

Despite bans on similar synthetic drug formulations that resulted in users experiencing a number violent outcomes, synthetic drug manufacturers continue to alter the chemical compositions in order to evade authorities. Such drugs are produced inexpensively in China with hardly any oversight or testing before they are distributed throughout the world. U.S. law enforcement are working with Chinese officials to outlaw such drugs in China, according to the report.

“Our supposition is that the original concept was to design it so it would be technically not illegal,” Mr. Hall said. “It appears they are now looking to also design the molecule to be even more potent and more addictive. Addiction is good for sales.”

Not only are these types of drugs both illegal and highly addictive, they can cause bodily harm. Users who use too much can experience increased body temperature up to 105 degrees, some users have even experienced kidney failure.

Please watch a short video about Flakka:

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Synthetic drugs often appeal to young adults and teenagers because they can be found with ease over the Internet. If you are struggling with synthetic drug addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out to Synergy Group Services for help.

 

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