By Gordon Dickler- CAC, ICADC
Opiate painkillers are by far the most prescribed medications in the United States today. According to the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, over 289 million prescriptions are written each year for analgesic pain relievers. And this is just the beginning. Recent studies show that despite making up only five percent of the world’s population, the United States now consumes about 80 percent of the world’s opioid pain medication.
The opiate epidemic is clear, especially as prescription drug addictions continue to lead users into heroin abuse and fatal overdoses. Fortunately, however, more and more people have begun to recognize the dangers associated with prescription drugs. Many, including those in recovery, are now actively looking for alternative pain relieving methods – methods that do not involve highly addictive drugs.
While opiates are undoubtedly effective at relieving pain, these drugs can also stir severe consequences when used repeatedly. A physical addiction, for example, can develop within just four weeks of prescription painkiller use. A psychological dependence to opiates, on the other hand, can develop in as little as two days. And this is just the beginning. Repeated opiate use can lead to chronic respiratory issues, depression, as well as damage to the immune system.
If you are working towards recovery, have addictive tendencies, or simply desire safer pain treatments, know that there are alternatives available that will not disrupt your balanced, substance-free life. Continue reading
Part two of a three part series
By Bill Abbott, MD
If you paid careful and mindful attention to Part One of this series on Mindful Awareness enough to want to try it, you might be asking, “How do I do it?”
Practice, practice, practice
Mindful Awareness among other things is a practice in the fullest definition of that word. It is an intention that needs to be acted upon repeatedly, that is not just “one and done” – all fixed. As with any other learned behavior or skill, the more you do this, the more the benefits will grow and accrue.
Repetition means near daily practice and it matters less as to the duration of each practice as it does to the frequency of them; better five minutes a day for a week, than 35 minutes on only one day.
Of course, since Mindful Awareness can be many different things as noted in Part One, there are several aspects to these practices; basic – informal versus formal practices.
Informal practices are many and are all based on the single premise of remembering to pay attention, albeit even briefly, to the present experience many times a day. Many people use reminders or cues over the course of the day Continue reading
By Tom Horvath Ph.D., Lorie Hammerstrom, and Brett Saarela, LCSW
SMART Recovery® supports (1) abstinence from any substance or activity addiction and (2) going beyond abstinence to lead a meaningful and satisfying life. Our 4-Point ProgramSM addresses addiction itself (Points 1 and 2) and quality of life (Points 3 and 4). Points 3 and 4 are the primary focus of discussion in many meetings. To remind you, Point 1 focuses on motivation to abstain; Point 2 on coping with craving; Point 3 on problem solving (when practical problems can be resolved) and emotional self-management (when practical problems may not be “solvable”); and Point 4 on building a life of enduring satisfactions (a meaningful and purposeful life).
SMART Recovery® encourages attendance by individuals in any stage of recovery. Those maintaining long-term abstinence will likely be most interested in discussions of Points 3 and 4. Those in early recovery will likely pay more attention to Points 1 and 2. SMART Recovery® recognizes that individuals may be in different stages of change, at any one time, across what is likely to be a range of addictive behaviors. For example, one participant may be ready to stop drinking but not ready to stop smoking. Another participant may be ready to quit cocaine but not ready to quit marijuana. Both participants may be drinking excessive caffeine and overeating, and be unaware that these are also addictive behaviors.
New features now available in “SMART Live” online meetings!
~SMART Recovery Central Office
Over the past year, SMART has been debuting our new customized online meeting and chat platform – SMART Live. Our new and improved meeting platform was generously funded by a grant from the Autumn Ridge Foundation.
We are pleased to announce new features that have been recently added.
– Visual Component: Online facilitators now have the ability to display SMART documents and worksheets such as the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), the Change Plan Worksheet and many other SMART Recovery tools. Now people will have the added benefit of seeing the tool while it’s being discussed.
– Improved Group Interactivity: Online facilitators are now able to enhance the interaction within the group via an onscreen whiteboard — they can use group input to demonstrate in a more effective way just how the SMART tools are used. Facilitators can also promote group interaction using the “polling feature”.
We are excited that these new additional SMART Live features will improve the quality of the online meetings and encourage even more collaboration. These new improvements will also Continue reading
What’s In A Name?
~ Brian Sherman, PhD, Center for Motivation and Change
“By continuing to use the term “addict” and “alcoholic,” treatment providers are doing a disservice to their patients and potentially negating progress towards destigmatization and successful long-term treatment.”
What’s in a name? Sure, by any other name a rose may smell so sweet, but by any other name would an “addict” feel so stigmatized? Were Shakespeare alive today I would ask that he reconsider his stance. With the gradual pace of change in addiction treatment highlighted by the continued advancement and implementation of evidence-based treatments, why is the field so far behind in not using more clinically appropriate and de-stigmatizing — albeit a bit cumbersome – language such as: “person with a substance use disorder” or “person suffering from addiction”? It has been years now that the field of clinical psychology did away with stigmatizing terms such as “schizophrenic”, “manic-depressive”, or “autistic.” Why then does the field of addiction remain so far behind?
As an addiction psychologist I do not discourage my patients for whom the term “addict” works. If it motivates them to change, fantastic. For many people, the term “addict” is a helpful way of identifying symptoms and issues, and finding a way to connect and bond with others in a healthy way that promotes change. However, when that term creates a prolonged sense of failure or guilt which ultimately may lead to relapse (negative emotions are one of the strongest predictors of relapse) or prevent someone from seeking help in the first place (because they don’t want to accept the label, and the stigma that is associated with it), I question its utility. Continue reading
What Motivates a Person to Change?
It’s hard for any of us to walk away from pleasure. Hell, it’s hard for most of us to take a pass on the dessert tray.
Consider the plight of the person who’s considering making a commitment to sex addiction recovery. The pleasure they experience is not from sex, per se, it’s from the rush of neurotransmitters that get released into the brain from the anticipation and the ritual involved in sexual acting out. In a state I have labeled “the erotic haze”, their reward receptors get flooded with the neurochemical dopamine and they feel great. They’re not really addicted to sex; they’re addicted to their own neurotransmitters.