How Long is Drug Rehab?

Recovery By the Sea patient area

The decision to go to rehab is not always easy but recovery is its own reward. If you find yourself reading these words, chances are you are at least considering treatment for yourself or someone you care about. That is great news, as willingness is the key to beginning the recovery process. Here are some essentials regarding the length of drug rehab and what to expect.

Most drug rehab stays begin with medical detox. The detox phase is designed to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and ease the transition to sobriety safely. It typically takes between 5 to 14 days, depending on the substances involved, quantity, length of use, and the patient’s overall health. A safe medical detox is the best way to begin recovery. Withdrawal without it can be incredibly uncomfortable and often results in immediate relapse. In the case of alcohol, benzodiazepine, or barbiturate withdrawal, the symptoms can be fatal, so this must be taken seriously.

Following detox, the usual course is to move into some form of residential treatment that can last anywhere from three weeks to three months or more. (1)

What will happen during inpatient treatment?

Inpatient treatments are structured and organized. The primary goal is to create new and healthy habits to prepare to return to recovery outside the controlled environment. (2)

Some of these may include:

  • Group and individual therapy
  • Exercise and nutrition
  • Medication management
  • Healthy sleep and personal hygiene routines
  • Strategies for continued personal growth in recovery

Road to Recovery

The relapse rate for people who attend treatment is markedly lower than it is for those who try to quit cold turkey. Getting sober is a challenge as it is, so there is no reason to make it more difficult than it needs to be. The wisest course of action is always to get as much help as possible. It is also critical to have a plan for recovery following treatment. Drug rehab is not a cure for addiction. What it does is to stabilize you and give you the tools you need to remain sober, but recovery is a process that we stay in for the rest of our lives.

Most quality drug rehabs will help you develop an aftercare plan that may include:

  • Counseling and Psychotherapy: Focus on changing behavior and continued growth
  • Medications: Medication Assisted Treatment and/or psychiatric medications
  • Support Groups: 12-step fellowships or alternatives like Rational Recovery™

Sober living is a great option following more intensive treatment. Some offer the residence for a period of up to 2 years. This housing provides support to transition the addict to independence by offering stable housing and surrounding themselves around others in similar situations. Case management is also offered to maneuver through options such as insurance, medical and psychological services, food, and clothing and assistance to resources that are available to assist the patient during their stay. Recovery is best thought of as a journey or a process. Your journey will be your own and at your own pace. There is no such thing as receiving ‘too much help’ for addiction, so never be shy about advocating for yourself. (4)

If you or a loved one is looking for help, please reach out to us at Recovery By The Sea.

Sources
(1) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery (2) https://www.addictioncenter.com/rehab-questions/typical-day-rehab/ (3) https://americanaddictioncenters.org/addiction-medications (4) https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/housing-shelter (5) https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

What Alcoholism Does to Relationships

man and woman sitting on a bench arguing

Let’s get straight to the point here– alcohol use disorder is a disease that eventually has a negative impact on every life it happens to touch. In other words, it’s virtually impossible for an active alcoholic to maintain healthy and mutually beneficial relationships. It’s an unfortunate fact, yes, but one that every addict has to confront if they are to have a chance at true recovery.

In this post, we’ll examine some of the most common difficulties that alcoholics and other addicts face in their romantic and family relationships.

The Effect of Alcoholism on Romantic Relationships

The effect that alcoholism has on any type of intimacy is almost always destructive to both parties. No matter how much two people might love one another, an active alcoholic (often with a great deal of help from their well-meaning partner) is often so cruel, absent, erratic, and unhappy that the relationship ends in disaster.

Here are just a few examples of what alcoholism does to romantic relationships:

  • The erratic behavior of the heavy drinker leads to feelings of anxiety and fear
  • Deep feelings of mistrust can arise because of the alcoholic’s unreliability
  • A preoccupation with alcohol and self can lead to systematic neglect of the drinker’s partners
  • Social embarrassment, job loss, and obviously low self-esteem can lead to a loss of respect
  • Personality changes can destroy the shared values that make a relationship stable
  • Alcoholism can also result in mental, physical, and verbal abuse
  • Codependency is a frequent outcome of a relationship that’s poisoned by alcohol

Again, this is just a small sample of the destructive effects alcoholism has on romantic relationships. Fortunately, a little recovery often goes a long way in resolving even the worst conflicts. 

Alcoholism and The Family Dynamic

Alcoholism can damage a once healthy family dynamic in a distressing variety of ways. Here’s what can result if one or more family members progress into alcoholism

  • Fractured relationships
  • Suspicions and mistrust
  • Deep resentment
  • Divorce, separation, or the alcoholic being forced to leave the family home
  • Neglected and traumatized children
  • Enabling behavior and/or codependency
  • Various types of familial abuse

Perhaps worst of all, certain family members can end up feeling disregarded when everyone is forced to deal with the alcoholic’s chronic instability. If possible, these relationships must be repaired if the alcoholic is to recover and the other members want to live happier, more productive lives.

The Importance of Healthy Relationships in Recovery

It might seem like a contradiction in terms, but stable, supportive relationships are critical to individual recovery. This doesn’t mean that romantic partners and family members should jeopardize their quality of life just to give an alcoholic one last chance, but it does require the heavy drinker to make the internal changes that healthy relationships demand.

Unfortunately, most alcoholics can only make these changes with the help of supportive relationships. But this isn’t the stalemate it might look like on the surface. There is strength and wisdom in numbers, especially when the persons involved are pursuing similar goals. For good or for ill, relationship skill-building usually has to begin with other people working toward recovery.

While this might sound frustrating at first, it won’t take long before these newly learned skills start to bleed over into your non-recovery based relationships and you start to build a network of friends, family, and, just maybe, a romantic partner that inspires you to improve your insides even further.

Top 5 Tools for Addiction Recovery

group of people in recovery putting their feet in a circle

Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires commitment and dedication. Fortunately, recovery is a well-traveled path. Millions of people have overcome addiction and built successful lives free of drugs and alcohol. Learning how to rely on the essential tools of recovery is one of the secrets to success. But, it is vital to let go of the notion that you can ‘go it alone’.  To succeed in recovery, that delusion must be crushed. Accept that willpower by itself cannot keep you away from your drug of choice.

So, if you’re at the very beginning, your first stop should be a drug and alcohol treatment center. Your best chance of success will come from getting a medical detox if needed, followed by at least several weeks of treatment. This may be an inpatient stay at a facility or attending partial hospitalization (PHP) or intensive outpatient (IOP) therapy. Ideally, you will live at a sober living facility for the duration. Once you’ve completed treatment  you begin the first chapter of your life in recovery. Here is a list of five of the most useful tools in recovery.

A 12-Step Program

Alcoholics Anonymous (1) and Narcotics Anonymous (2) have helped tens of millions of people live well in recovery. Approach the idea with an open mind. Having a system and a fellowship for support are tremendously helpful to anyone in recovery. Don’t overthink it. Use the system and trust the process.

An Alternative Recovery Program

Traditional 12-step programs aren’t a perfect fit for everyone. That said, it is still critical to have structure and support in recovery. Alternatives to AA and NA exist. SMART Recovery (3) and Celebrate Recovery (4) are two of the most well-known. If you are a person of faith, you may find appropriate support through those channels. What matters is that you have a plan and you have people you can rely upon who understand. Recovery works best as a team effort.

Health and Exercise

Abusing drugs or alcohol takes a toll on the body and the mind. Several studies have shown that exercise actually helps people stay sober. (5) Not only can proper nutrition and exercise help counteract the effects of an addiction lifestyle, but they also help the body produce more endorphins. Endorphins are the natural “feel good” chemicals that can give us a sense of well-being.

Activities and Aspirations

Once drugs and booze are out of the picture, many people in recovery find they have time to fill. Dedicating yourself to learning a new skill or trade is conducive to a healthy recovery. Whether it’s recreation or professional or both, setting goals for yourself is also powerful medicine to enrich your recovery life.

Literature and Learning

There is a wealth of books, audiobooks, videos, and more related to recovery and self-improvement. Dive in and take advantage of what is out there. You may be amazed at what a difference something as simple as regularly listening to positive audiobooks or speakers can make. Always be looking for new ways to input positive energy.

Remember that recovery is a journey, not a destination. Many are tempted to think the work is over once the finish treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab. The good news is that recovery doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s about becoming your best self and that is something to get excited about! If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or recovery, give us a call at (877) 207-5033. We can help.

FMLA and Addiction Treatment

two women sitting down reviewing fmla and addiction treatment documents

One of the most common questions asked by people considering treatment is “Will I lose my job if I go to rehab?”. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1992 (FMLA) can help protect people in this situation. Understanding FMLA and addiction treatment is critical for any employee battling drug or alcohol dependence. The FMLA can protect both your job and your privacy while you get the help you need – if you understand how it works.

The protections FMLA can provide include:

  • Up to 12-weeks of unpaid leave per calendar year.
  • Your employer must continue your healthcare coverage on the same terms.
  • You must be restored to your original, or an equivalent job with equivalent benefits and pay.
  • Any records related to your FMLA leave must be treated as confidential and private.

You may qualify for FMLA protection if:

  • You have been working for least 25 hours a week at the same company for at least one year.
  • The company has at least 50 employees working within a 75-mile radius.
  • You give your employer as much advance notice as possible of where you will go and for how long.
  • You file a formal request and provide a recommendation from a medical professional.

Addiction is a recognized medical condition. It should no more be a source of shame than if you needed your appendix removed or to have a hysterectomy. It is important to understand your rights and advocate for yourself. You are entitled to medical care and consideration from your employer while you seek the help you need. You have the right to expect privacy and to return to work with your dignity intact.

It is also important to know you aren’t alone. Alcohol and drug rehabs have case managers who are experts in navigating paperwork for the FMLA and addiction treatment. The human resources department in your company is required to understand and comply with the FMLA. The good news is this isn’t uncharted territory. Thousands of people get addiction treatment every year under the protection of the FMLA and return to work healthy.

In plain language, when you are under the protection of the FMLA you can take up to 12-weeks off to receive treatment. Your employer must continue your health insurance. They must hold your job for you or give you an equal job with equal pay when you return. Your employer cannot punish or discriminate against you. Your employer and your insurance company must treat any records related to your FMLA leave completely confidential and store them separate from your other work files.

The fear of losing a job has kept far too many people from getting the help they need. Arming yourself with a good working knowledge of the FMLA and addiction treatment may be the best way to overcome that obstacle. Know your rights and be willing to ask for help. You deserve it. One great place to begin is the Department of Labor’s FMLA website at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla

Writing Prompts for your Recovery Journal

Writing prompts for recovery journal

Journaling in recovery can be a great tool for healing. Getting your thoughts, feelings, emotions out onto paper means they aren’t jostling around in your head. When you write, you are working through your problems in a tangible way and releasing pent up feelings which can be very therapeutic. Furthermore, a journal can show you how far you’ve come, reduce stress, and be a creative outlet for your ideas and memories. Using writing prompts in your recovery journal can help you connect to yourself in ways you may not have thought of.

 

Types of Journaling

First of all, we should note there is no wrong way to journal, whatever feels right for you is what you should do. But, there are lots of different methods out there that might inspire you, so we thought they were worth sharing. 

There is the classic diary, wherein you reflect on and write about your day, your experiences, and your emotions. You can look back and see how you were feeling in a particular moment and reflect on the past. Often you will find you’ve grown a lot when you read old entries. 

Gratitude journaling is another popular writing method. Thinking about the things you are thankful for can help you see the world in a positive light. Rather than focusing on what we don’t have, we focus on the things we do have. 

Goal-setting journals can help track our accomplishments, big and small, and keep us on track to take actionable steps to achieve our goals. Writing down the steps we’ve taken to reach our goals keeps us accountable and helps us remain motivated. 

 

Journaling Prompts 

Questions

What am I grateful for today? 

What about recovery scares me the most? 

Where am I in my recovery journey? 

What advice would I give my younger self? 

What are you most proud of yourself for today? 

If it weren’t for my recovery, where would my life look like right now? 

What does it mean to love yourself? 

What does showing up for myself look like? 

Is there something I wish others knew about me? 

What am I happy about? How can I hold onto this feeling in dark times? 

What am I worried about? How can I cope with this worry? 

Am I angry about something? How can I resolve this anger? 

Is there something I am sad about? How can I cope with this sadness? 

 

Write a letter to… 

Your younger self.

Yourself when you were in active addiction.

Your future self.

Yourself right now.

A significant person in your life.

 

Unpacking the Past

Write about your… 

First love. 

Parents. 

Sibling. 

Someone you lost. 

Childhood friend. 

First pet. 

A time you were truly afraid. 

A time you were truly happy. 

 

Goal Setting

Short-term goals (1-3 months)

Medium-term goals (1-2 years)

Long-term goals (5-10 years) 

 

Lists

Choose a number for each list and commit (i.e. 10 things that I like about myself):

Things that make me smile.

What I like about myself.

Things I want to accomplish this year.

What I like about my pet.

What my recovery gave me.

Things I did for others this week.

Things I did for myself this week. 

Actions I can do for self-care when I feel down

 

Milestone Prompts

At each milestone of your recovery, whether it’s one week, one month, one year, take a moment to congratulate yourself, think back on this time and what it has given you, what you have given yourself by remaining committed to your health and wellbeing. Write about it all. 

 

A Final Note

We hope these writing prompts inspire you and your recovery journal. If you have any prompts that have helped you, we’d love to hear from you on our social media

And if your recovery journal isn’t enough and you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call us anytime, we’re here to listen. 

Myths About Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addicts

At Harmony Recovery Group, we offer Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) plans that help patients to manage opiate cravings in the long-term and help them build a new life in sobriety. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about Medication Assisted Treatment that we would like to clear up. 

Firstly, many types of Medication Assisted Treatments exist, encompassing medications like Suboxone, Subutex, Methadone, Vivitrol, and Naltrexone. 

In our facilities we use Suboxone, which we consider the safest option for an assisted recovery. Suboxone works because it binds to the same receptors as opiates in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It binds 7x stronger than morphine. Because of this, patients are unable to abuse opiates with Suboxone because they will have no effect due to the binding effect on the receptors. 

Suboxone use reduces the risk of relapse significantly. Studies have shown that Suboxone reduces the risk of relapse by 3x compared with other forms of MAT such as Vivitrol and Naltrexone. And those forms of treatment have a 3x reduction in relapse compared to going cold turkey. Compared to non-medication assisted treatment, there is a 75% improvement in retention rates in sobriety programs. 

We spoke with Dr. Jill Thompson, Board Certified Doctor in Addiction Medicine and our Medical Director at our facility Midwood Addiction Treatment, to discuss the common myths and misconceptions around Medication Assisted Treatment. 

 

Myth: “Medication Assisted Treatment is Just Legal Heroin”

Beuprenorphine, the primary ingredient in Suboxone, is not heroin. It is made a different way. Narcotics like Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and other opiates are called Full Agonists whereas Buprenorphine is a Partial Agonist. Even though Buprenorphine binds to the same receptors that narcotics do, it acts very differently. For example:

1. You can never become tolerant to Buprenoprhine.

With any other narcotic the more you take it, the more you start to need. A dose that once created a feeling now feels like nothing at all because you develop tolerance to it.  With Buprenorphine you are always on the same dose and you never need to go up in dosage. Jill says, “For example, I had a patient who was on the same dose for 17 years. Unfortunately he passed away in a car crash a few years ago but we had never once changed his dose the entire time I treated him.”

2. Buprenorphine has what’s called a Sealing Effect

This means you cannot take more and more of the medication and get higher and higher. As Jill says, “Your receptors become saturated at a certain dose and that’s it. You can’t take more and more and feel euphoric like you can with opiates.” 

3. Unlike opiates, it is nearly impossible to overdose on Buprenorphine.

The only reported incidents of overdose have been when the medication was mixed with high amounts of other medications such as Benzodiazepines. There is no known case of overdose from Buprenorphine on its own. 

 

Other MAT medications, like methadone do not have this protection against tolerance nor the sealing effect, making them quite different from the safety of Suboxone. For example, with methadone, a patient can become tolerant and need higher doses and they can also take higher doses and become high. 

 

Myth: People Who Use MAT Aren’t Actually Clean

This simply isn’t true. What is your definition of “Clean?” Does it mean not getting high? Not getting altered or impaired? Being able to function in everyday life? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then people on MAT are in fact Clean and Sober. 

Dr. Jill puts it this way: “There is a difference between addiction and dependency. Addiction encompasses having a physical and psychological craving for something that is so strong you will do anything to get it. Dependency is the same as if you were a Diabetic and had to take insulin everyday. You are dependent on your insulin for your disease. Yes, someone who is using Suboxone in their MAT program is dependent on it, but it is the same as any medication out there to treat chronic illness. You still have to go to meetings, you still need to do the work, but you have help in managing your condition.” 

Because Suboxone does not impair patients and the sealing effect means there is no way to take more and feel altered, they can get a job, they can concentrate, and they can function as normal. 

Taking a pill once a day for your medical condition does not mean you are not clean. 

 

Myth: Medication Assisted Treatment is a Lifelong Commitment 

Many people think that if they start taking MAT, they will never be able to get off of it. The truth is, with the exception of using it in Detox for a week to get off of drugs, Suboxone is not a short-term fix but it is not a life-long commitment either. You can come off of it if you want to. 

As Dr. Jill says, “People are very different and this is a very individualized thing. The phrase “longer term” will be different for different people. Some people may want to come off in a year or two, some people may want to be on it for the rest of their lives. At this point in time, we do not know of any reason people cannot stay on it indefinitely.” In fact, the FDA recently released a statement saying that they advocated using Suboxone for indefinite treatment. However, if patients do want to come off of it, they certainly can. 

If and when you want to come off the medication, it’s important to reduce the dose in a slow and controlled manner. When people decide to skip their dose at random or get off on their own, this creates a very high risk of relapse. If the medication reduction is down systematically with a trained professional, you should not run the risk of relapse. This is because with careful tapering, you won’t be feeling bad or noticing you are withdrawing from it. Dr. Jill suggests patients plan on committing 6-12 months to tapering off slowly and safely.

 

Myth: Suboxone Causes Precipitated Withdrawal

This is a common misconception among opiate users and is not true. Buprenorphine, the active medication in Suboxone, has been around for decades. But, in the early 2000’s Buprenorphine was approved for use in drug treatment. At the time its brand name was Subutex and it was purely made of Buprenorphine. 

Unfortunately heroin users realized that it could be abused and began to liquify it and inject it. In this manner, a user can in fact get high from Buprenorphine. But, it’s most important use to users was the drug’s ability to stave off withdrawal. If a heroin addict is going to run out of heroin they will typically go into withdrawal within 6-12 hours. With Buprenorphine (brand name Subutex), they won’t go into withdrawal for 2-3 days. 

When Subutex began to flood the streets for this purpose, the manufacturer changed the formula to include Naloxone. Thus, the combination was named Suboxone.  

As most people know, Naloxone is the medication that can stop an overdose. It works intravenously by immediately removing all the heroin left on the body’s receptors. However, Naloxone only works when injected. If Suboxone is administered orally, as intended, the small amount of Naloxone is inert and will not have this effect.

Now, if a heroin user tries to shoot up Suboxone, the Naloxone is fully effective. The user will go into immediate, precipitated withdrawal. This means that all the withdrawal symptoms a user would experience over 48 hours happens in the next two hours. 

No Need To Fear Suboxone

Heroin users are often afraid of Suboxone, thinking they will go into immediate withdrawal if they take it. This is absolutely false. If taken as recommended, orally, Suboxone will block cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms. In the case that there is heroin in your system, the Suboxone will knock it off and bind to receptors instead, because it is much stronger. If you try to use heroin on top of Suboxone, you will feel nothing because the Suboxone binds that much tighter. That is why it is so effective in preventing cravings. The Naloxone in the pills is simply to prevent intravenous abuse on the street level. It is completely inactive in pill form. 

In the end, choosing the type of treatment for your needs is a very personal choice that should be made with the guidance of a trained professional. We hope this cleared up some of the myths around Medication Assisted Treatment. If this sounds like the right fit for you, or if you are seeking any type of substance abuse treatment, please contact us today. We are here to help. 

 

Ibogaine Treatment for Addiction

Ibogaine Treatment for Addiction | Recovery By The Sea

Ibogaine is a psychedelic drug that can induce effects similar to those associated with LSD or mushrooms. Although the substance can lead to short-term side effects, it has also been touted as a potential treatment for addiction. Recently, research has begun to focus on ibogaine for this reason. It may be beneficial for those struggling with addiction to alcohol, opioids, methamphetamine, and cocaine especially.

Ibogaine comes from a plant found in the African rainforest. Anecdotal reports suggest that the compound modifies brain chemistry. Thus reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings in people struggling to recover from substance abuse. However, researchers exploring the potential of this drug in addiction treatment do not imply that ibogaine ultimately ends addiction, and, instead, it interrupts the process.

How Does Ibogaine Work?

Addiction is a chronic disease which causes long-term changes to the reward centers of the brain. When a person uses ibogaine, the drug converts into a compound that targets these regions and addictive behaviors. This compound essentially “rewires” these areas, allowing the brain to return itself to a state comparable to before addiction developed.

While it is believed that ibogaine can ease withdrawal symptoms and block cravings, this process mainly aids in detox. It does not cure addiction, which requires further treatment to address. These treatments include things like therapy and education.

Success Rates

Medical providers who have employed ibogaine report a 50-80% success rate among those with meth addictions. That said, long-term recovery and relapse prevention also depended largely on undergoing a rehab program after using ibogaine as directed under a doctor’s supervision.

One physician reported a 70-80% success rate with effective aftercare and noted that, when people recovering from meth addiction used ibogaine but returned to the same environment in which they had originally used meth, there was a 90% percent rate of relapse. Researchers believe this finding is because visual cues and emotional associations are more prominent for people with meth addiction than those who are battling opioid addiction.

Ibogaine treatment for a few addictive substances results in a 20-50% rate of abstinence at a one-year follow-up, and that included people working to overcome opioid addiction. These numbers may not seem significant, but, comparatively, Suboxone treatment for opioid addiction shows only an 8.6% success rate once the person no longer requires its use.

A review from Brazil, where ibogaine is uncontrolled and often used in conjunction with psychotherapy to treat alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana addiction, showed higher rates of success. However, subjects in the study underwent a combination of ibogaine treatment and therapeutic follow-up care. Still, one-time ibogaine treatment resulted in abstinence of more than five months on average. Significantly, repeated sessions of ibogaine treatment resulted in abstinence on average for more than eight months.

Ibogaine Treatment for Addiction | Recovery By The Sea

Contraindications

Although ibogaine treatment may be effective for some individuals, it may not be for everyone. For example, one 2012 study found high relapse potential. Of opioid addicted participants who were given a one-time ibogaine treatment, 80% relapsed in the first six months. Another 20% stayed abstinent for more than six months but less than a year. And just 13% successfully remained abstinent for more than a year.

Those who did relapse during the study, however, were using fewer opioids in comparison to their previous levels of use. One of the first studies involving ibogaine from 1983 suggests that multiple treatments using the drug may be more beneficial. The study revealed that four treatments helped a person in recovery maintain abstinence for three years. While one treatment was effective, on average, for about six months.

It’s vital to remember that drugs like ibogaine, which is controlled in the U.S., should not be obtained illicitly and self-administered. Effective treatment is available in the U.S., and researchers are continually assessing new potential approaches. The FDA is also approving addiction treatments that are relatively safe and beneficial.

Getting Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

At the time of this writing, Recovery in Tune does not offer ibogaine treatment. It remains illegal in the United States. Instead, we offer several other solutions for addiction to substances, including Suboxone for opioid dependence and naltrexone, which is a medication that relieves cravings over the long term for both alcohol and opioids.

In addition to pharmaceuticals, we offer comprehensive programs, in both outpatient and partial hospitalization formats, tailored to the unique needs and goals of each individual. Our programs feature a variety of evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group support.

If you are suffering from an addiction to opioids, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today to find out how we can help you get on the road to recovery, one step at a time!

PAWS Symptoms (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome)

PAWS Symptoms | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

When a person is addicted to alcohol or certain drugs, their body has become physically dependent. Withdrawal syndrome is seen when a person abruptly discontinues use of that substance. Both illegal and prescription drugs can induce withdrawal symptoms, which can persist anywhere from two days to several weeks.

Although the physical side effects from dependence usually subside after a week, people in recovery may experience emotional symptoms for much longer—months, in some cases.

Doctors usually try to work with their patients to control withdrawal symptoms related to prescription drugs, such as benzodiazepines or other depressants. However, those addicted to illicit substances may face intense withdrawal effects if they try to stop using  “cold turkey”.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Although acute withdrawal symptoms can be extremely unpleasant, most usually subside in one or two weeks. This is especially true when the person is medically monitored during the detox process. However, some substance abuse can result in a longer duration of withdrawal effects that continue for months. People who use drugs or alcohol heavily for a prolonged period are more likely to experience this unfortunate problem, also referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS.

PAWS is a condition hallmarked by a combination of ongoing withdrawal symptoms, which are typically psychological, emotional. They can involve depression, anxiety, agitation, and mood swings. These effects can persist long after acute withdrawal symptoms have diminished.

Although post-acute withdrawal symptoms rarely include aches and pains, nausea, cramping, or other physical effects common to withdrawal, it can be just as intense and unpleasant as short-term withdrawal. If this condition is left untreated, it may ultimately place an individual at an increased risk of relapse, as they may resort to substance abuse in an attempt to alleviate their discomfort.

About PAWS

People who encounter symptoms related to PAWS can feel like they are undergoing a rollercoaster of adverse effects and emotions that wax and wane without warning. Each episode can last for several days and continue to reoccur in a cycle for up a year. These symptoms can manifest after the prolonged use of any intoxicant, although PAWS most often occurs among people who discontinue the abuse of the following substances:

Alcohol

Suddenly discontinuing alcohol use can be hazardous and even life-threatening, because it can induce a severe condition known as delirium tremens (DTs) that includes seizures and psychosis. Furthermore, if this occurs, it may also increase the likelihood of PAWS occurring. Alcoholics who experience PAWS may suffer for months with anxiety, sleep difficulties, cravings, and impaired concentration, and impulse control.

PAWS Symptoms | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics attach to dopamine receptors in the brain to reduce symptoms related to hallucinations, delirium, and other psychiatric issues. When use is terminated without a tapering schedule, the person could encounter withdrawal symptoms for months.

Benzodiazepines (Benzos)

Benzos are medications that can be beneficial for many people who have anxiety and panic disorders. However, they also have a high potential for physical dependence and abuse. Most doctors do not prescribe benzos long-term because addiction can develop.

Withdrawal symptoms related to benzos tend to resemble anxiety and panic disorders, making it much more difficult to discontinue use. PAWS symptoms may include insomnia, fatigue, and intense cravings. These can last for months after physical dependence has diminished.

Opioids

Whether opioids are misused by prescription or abused illicitly as in the case of heroin, long-term exposure to these drugs can result in the development of PAWS if they are not tapered off properly. Moreover, people who experience very intense acute withdrawal are more likely to encounter PAWS, which can include intense cravings, exhaustion, and cognitive impairments that may not improve much for an extended period.

Stimulants

Prescription drugs, such as Adderall, and illicit stimulants, such as cocaine, can contribute to PAWS if withdrawal from them is not executed appropriately. A person who has detoxed from stimulants may encounter extreme fatigue, severe depression, and physical weakness long-term, and these effects can be challenging to manage.

Other potential effects of PAWS other than the aforementioned include the following:


  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Loss of libido


  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Memory impairments
  • Hypersensitivity to stress


PAWS Symptoms Causes: Theories

PAWS is a complicated syndrome with no single, specific cause. Psychiatrists and doctors do not completely concur on the exact reasons for the syndrome. Still, some posit that stress response in addition to changes to specific regions of the brain during active addiction may contribute to the onset of PAWS.

Theories about factors that are related to the development of PAWS include the following:

Homeostatic Regulation

A person’s chemical dependence on drugs or alcohol results in brain chemistry changes over time. When the system is denied the substance’s presence that triggers neurotransmitters to release, it can no longer reach a balance or stabilize on its own. It can take a prolonged period for the brain to achieve equilibrium fully. Unfortunately this delay can lead to fatigue, moodiness, insomnia, and other psychological symptoms.

Stress

PAWS Symptoms | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

It can be psychologically challenging to quit using a psychoactive substance, especially for those who attempt to do it abruptly or without medical supervision. This stress can lead to relapse or otherwise result in the continued appearance of withdrawal symptoms as the individual attempts to reestablish an emotional life balance without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Habit

One of the main objectives of rehab is to help individuals alter their behaviors and responses to the use of drugs or alcohol. Recovering heroin addicts, for instance, may have fond memories of cooking and injecting drugs. Others who are in recovery from alcohol use disorder mourn the loss of certain social situations. Returning to habits associated with substance abuse frequently results in relapse. Still, the loss of that practice or ritual can also produce stressful psychological symptoms, such as depression, cravings, or anxiety, eventually contributing to PAWS.

Getting Treatment for PAWS

Because PAWS symptoms are primarily psycho-emotional, continued support from counselors and therapists early in recovery is essential for reducing the severity of this experience.

The following are measures that medical and addiction health professionals may take to help patients relieve chronic withdrawal symptoms:

  • Provide education about the process of detox and withdrawal and what to expect
  • Encourage recognition of completed milestones and having patience throughout the process
  • Find natural methods to help with sleep disorders, such as melatonin
  • Encourage exercise and a healthy diet
  • Prescribe certain medications that help reduce symptoms
  • Evaluate potential co-occurring conditions, which may re-emerge during recovery
  • Encourage participation in peer support groups

The risk of encountering PAWS symptoms can sometimes be reduced by undergoing a medical detox, enrolling in an intensive rehab program, and receiving long-term support well after initial addiction treatment has been completed.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, contact us today. We help people achieve long-lasting sobriety so they can begin to experience the fulfilling lives they deserve. Find out how you can take that first step towards freedom.

A Guide to Surviving the Holidays Sober

Surviving the Holidays Sober | Recovery By The Sea

There is a lot of support out there for people dedicated to recovery from drugs or alcohol. This is particularly necessary during the holidays. Buying gifts, going to events and parties, and seeing relatives can create a lot of stress. This time period can amplify urges and undermine resolve that was recently solid. It is important to take time to prepare for these challenges in order to protect our sobriety.

Tips for Holiday Sobriety

1. If you are considering drinking or using, think about how you will feel tomorrow.

Relapse can happen in seconds, but the effects can be much longer-lasting. When that moment is gone, and you are now facing a new day, you’ll likely experience intense regret. This may be coupled by another hangover or a comedown from using drugs. In addition to depression, anxiety, shame and other negative emotions.

Everyone in recovery should know that sobriety takes place in the present. Saying yes to using substances places sobriety in the past and changes our future potential. Ask yourself if you really want to undermine your recovery by giving up even a single moment, hour, or day?

2. If necessary, admit to your family and friends that you don’t want to drink or use.

If you have been through rehab, there’s a good chance a lot of people already know this. Still, the holidays are a special time, and many people have to face enablers and others who don’t understand why you can’t have just one drink, toke, or whatever. Sometimes you just have to be firm with people, especially those who you have gotten drunk or used with in the past.

3. Carry some other drink in your hand so you can readily turn down other drinks.

If you are already drinking something non-alcoholic, this can serve more than one purpose. If you are new to recovery, staying hydrated and having drinks that are sugary and taste good, such as soda, hot cocoa, or eggnog, can help you resist cravings. It’s a well-established fact that alcoholics in recovery frequently experience sugar cravings, and allowing yourself to indulge might be vital to staving off temptation.

Of note, this approach might not work as well if you are addicted to other substances, such as opioids, cocaine, or meth.

Surviving the Holidays Sober | Recovery By The Sea

4. Call another sober person or sponsor or go to a meeting.

Many people in recovery find it beneficial to “bookend” holiday events with meetings or conversations with AA sponsors. Locating meeting places and times in advance can help you schedule and structure your day around group support.

If meetings are not an option, having another sober friend or sponsor on hand can also be helpful. If tempted to drink or use at a family gathering or other event, you can step away and call this person and solicit advice. In some cases, you might be able to take this person with you, and that can add further accountability and confidence to this day in recovery.

5. If this is your first holiday being clean or sober, consider making alternative plans if you feel certain situations could trigger you to drink or use.

In addition to going to meetings, there are other ways to structure your time away from people or places that may cause you stress. It’s okay to decline holiday plans this year if you feel it’s necessary. Instead, consider going out to dinner with someone else who will be sober, to a movie, volunteer at a shelter, or celebrate at home.

There is no wrong way to experience the holidays as long as you have the emotional support you need at hand. Please realize that you are not alone. Nearly every person who is in recovery from drugs or alcohol will have to go through this. And yes, that is millions of people.

6. Go about your day like any other when it comes to your recovery.

Regardless of whether it’s Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s, it is critical that you continue to engage in the healthy, productive behaviors that have helped to keep you sober thus far. These may include exercise, meditation, daily affirmations, etc. You shouldn’t neglect self-care because this day might unfold a bit differently. If you let yourself break free from your routine, this may result in an unconscious signal to the addict in you. It could trigger thoughts or feelings that can sabotage your efforts and your sobriety.

7. No matter what happens, be committed to not drinking or using.

Surviving the Holidays Sober | Recovery By The Sea

Ultimately, all the planning in the world, while helpful, can’t save you at any given moment. You have to do it for yourself. There are no excuses—it doesn’t matter if you are experiencing stress or feeling upset. You know that relapse is the wrong decision. If you are telling yourself anything else, you are lying to yourself. And others might be lying to you, as well—don’t listen.

Sometimes, the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is just to accept that you should not put yourself in a position of temptation. As noted, it’s okay to stay home or do something that doesn’t involve being around people who are using substances. But you do have to have emotional support.

But If You Do Relapse, What Next?

Unfortunately, relapse is often a part of recovery, and sometimes, in weak moments, the unthinkable can happen. If this does happen, take steps immediately to rectify the situation.

Remember, not all relapses are equal. If you quickly return to a recovery routine that includes leaning heavily on sponsors, meetings, or even going back to rehab, you can break the cycle and prevent yourself from hitting rock bottom again. One of the most unfortunate aspects of relapse is that those who succumb to them allow themselves to wallow in guilt and shame. This is the last thing someone in this position should be doing.

Moreover, beating yourself up isn’t going to help you or anyone else. It will only serve to encourage you to continue to drown your sorrows in drugs or alcohol. Instead of doing this, be gentle on your emotions while being firm in your resolve to fix the problem before it gets any worse and take steps immediately to do so.

Getting Help for Substance Abuse and Addiction

If you are concerned that you are going to struggle during your recovery over the holidays or need help for addiction, we urge you to contact us today! Recovery By The Sea offers all of our clients comprehensive programs to treat substance abuse and mental health that is tailored to each individual’s unique needs and goals.

Please do not suffer alone during this time by taking advantage of professional treatment and services! Addiction is a chronic, long-lasting disease, but it can be effectively treated and managed for life in many cases. Call us today if you are ready to take the first step on your journey to sobriety and wellness!

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What Is Partial Hospitalization Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

Partial Hospitalization Drug and Alcohol Rehab | Recovery By The Sea

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an intensive form of drug and alcohol rehab that often follows detox. It is characterized by an extended treatment period, which can last A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an intensive form of drug and alcohol rehab that often follows detox. It is characterized by an extended treatment period, whi up to a month or sometimes longer, depending on an individual client’s needs. PHP patients will spend their days at the center receiving therapy, counseling, and other forms of treatment and support.

Who Benefits From PHP Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

PHP is especially beneficial in any of the following situations:

1) When a patient has completed an even more intensive form of treatment, such as a long-term residential stay.

2) When a patient’s addiction is not so severe that it cannot be addressed without overnight stays and complete inpatient care.

Residential drug rehab can help anyone who has completed a detox or inpatient program, but still needs some supervision and treatment for substance use disorders or any potential co-occurring disorders. Ultimately, anyone who is dedicated to recovery, able to commit to intensive treatment, and wants to improve their outcome and reduce their chance of relapse can benefit.

Overall, PHP programs offer an ideal environment for persons in recovery who are not yet fully prepared to face life’s temptations and challenges. PHP allows clients to interact and grow in an understanding and caring community of people who are facing the same difficulties with substance abuse.

One of the main drawbacks to PHP is the fact that people in this program may be more apt to experience a relapse than those in residential treatment. Moreover, this program requires that an individual be highly motivated to continue their recovery and be accountable for themselves. For those who have completed inpatient treatment, this is a great way to begin transitioning back to the outside world.

Components of PHP Drug and Alcohol Rehab

All clients enrolled in a Recovery By The Sea PHP rehab program will participate in therapeutic activities that help them improve their coping skills and function in daily life.

Features may include the following:

  • Comprehensive assessment, treatment planning, and case management services
  • Sessions with mental health professionals, such as individual cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Recreational therapies, such as yoga and meditation
  • Community meeting groups and daily group therapy that discuss a variety of topics, such as substance abuse, grief and loss, trauma, interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and assertiveness
  • Music, art, and adventure therapy
  • Family and relationship counseling
  • Nutrition and wellness education
  • Trauma recovery therapy
  • Recreational activities
  • Aftercare and discharge planning

What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Partial Hospitalization Drug and Alcohol Rehab | Recovery By The Sea

Our treatment programs focus heavily on behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of therapy used to treat recovering addicts and alcoholics. This form of psychotherapy helps individuals understand the relationship between their thoughts, behaviors, and emotional states. CBT teaches individuals to engage in more adaptive thinking, which in turn contributes to healthier behaviors.

Moreover, in CBT, patients learn to identify, manage, and modify thoughts that typically lead to negative responses. These skills can help patients prevent relapses and manage co-occurring mental health disorders that impact a person’s ability to remain sober.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

A co-occurring disorder includes one or more mental health conditions that occur in conjunction with substance abuse or addiction. The mental illness may predate the substance abuse or may be caused or exacerbated by it. Regardless of which came first, both disorders must be treated concurrently.

Examples of mental health disorders that commonly co-occur with substance use disorders include the following:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • Anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorders, such as borderline personality or histrionic personality disorder

Recovery By The Sea is equipped to diagnose and treat co-occurring disorders on a residential basis. Addressing mental health conditions in conjunction with addiction is almost always the preferred method clinicians use to achieve the best outcomes.

How Outpatient Programs are Different

There are several differences between PHP and actual outpatient treatment. PHP is characterized by a more intensive level of care than outpatient programs, which are often a step down from PHP treatment.

In an outpatient program, clients do not spend as much time at the center, and the work is not as intense as PHP. This flexibility allows them to maintain a work schedule and tend to any other important responsibilities, such as school or family.

Those who choose outpatient treatment before undergoing a residential stay or a PHP may do so because they cannot take time away from work or family, or because they have less severe substance abuse problems.

Getting Help for Addiction

Recovery By The Sea PHP drug and alcohol rehab programs are characterized by an evidence-based, outcome-focused treatment plan designed by our experienced medical staff. Our center incorporates a full daily schedule for clients in a nurturing, relaxing environment conducive to recovery. Upon completion of our PHP program, patients are highly encouraged to continue their treatment journey at an intensive outpatient level of care.

We are committed to ensuring that each person we serve is provided with the tools and support they desperately need to sustain long-term sobriety and wellness. You can reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve! Contact us today to find out how we can help you get started on your journey to recovery!

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