Is it OK to use CBD in Recovery?

cbd oil bottle on abstract background

What Is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is made directly from the hemp plant. Cannabidiol is the second most common ingredient in marijuana. According to the World Health Organization, consuming CBD by itself will not produce the same effects as marijuana. CBD is currently legal in all 50 states. Project CBD includes research that attributes CBD to reductions in inflammation, pain, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and more. Thus far, the only FDA-approved CBD medication is Epidiolex. Epidiolex shows efficacy in treating seizures. National Geographic’s documentary Cannabis For Kids shows medical administrations of Epidiolex to children while they are having seizures.

What’s The Big Deal?

It seemed like CBD took the world by storm. It became the latest health and wellness fad. Everybody was talking about it; everyone had an opinion. Some touted CBD as a miracle. They said it helped reduce depression and anxiety. It made you sleep better. It reduced your appetite, which made you lose weight. It’s supposed to improve your concentration and memory. Sounds good, right? Surely there mustn’t be anything wrong with using it. There’s no THC in it, so you can’t get addicted to it. Can you?

Is CBD Safe?

Much misunderstanding surrounds whether or not CBD contains THC. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient in marijuana that produces the “high.” Some manufacturers of CBD do not label their products correctly. This means that a consumer could be ingesting trace amounts of THC without their knowledge. The FDA requires that CBD products contain less than 0.3% of THC. While the FDA supports sound scientific investigations into CBD and its benefits, they have also sanctioned manufacturers who make false medical claims when advertising their products. Using CBD oneself requires proper research into exactly what a certain CBD product contains. Know what you’re buying.

Isolate V. Full-Spectrum

Consumers can usually find CBD in 2 varieties: isolate and full-spectrum. CBD isolate contains cannabidiol only. By contrast, full-spectrum CBD also has terpenes and flavonoids. By virtue of these additional components, full-spectrum CBD may help ease anxiety, inflammation, pain, and more. Unfortunately, full-spectrum CBD products are more likely to produce a positive result on a drug test. A person looking for the benefits of a CBD product without this risk could look into CBD isolate. Knowing this helps clear up a common misconception. Drug tests don’t measure for cannabidiol. They measure for THC. The isolate does not contain THC, but the full-spectrum does. Even a minuscule amount (less than 0.3%) can show up in a drug test.

Should A Person In Recovery Use CBD?

As with most questions in life, the answer is: it depends. CBD does seem to show promise in reducing pain, stress, insomnia, and inflammation. A study in The American Journal of Psychiatry indicated that the CBD-derived Epidiolex may help reduce drug cravings among those struggling with opioid addiction. In the future, addiction recovery and treatment programs might indeed employ CBD. But that doesn’t matter. To a person in recovery, what matters most is what happens right now. Your life is not a study. It’s a life. Each action has a personal consequence that affects you. Each action likewise impacts the people around you.

Speak With Your Doctor

In recovery, you want the best for yourself. You want to have all the tools in your toolbox. Deprive yourself of nothing that might help you press forward. That said, make certain you assemble a trusted team of advisors. In recovery, you’re battling for your life. But you shouldn’t battle alone. Get counsel from wise people in your path. If you think a CBD product would help your recovery, ask your doctor. CBD might not mix well with some medications. Your doctor will be able to advise you of that. If your doctor does recommend CBD for your recovery, make sure you stick with the CBD isolate. Your doctor might have some particular brands to recommend. They might provide some product lines that they trust.

What If I Want To Use Full-Spectrum CBD?

You’re a thoughtful, thorough person. You’ve done your homework. You know your own mind and what’s good for you. The research indicates that full-spectrum THC helps relieve some of your mental health symptoms. You can quote studies that say so. But what’s your intention? Are you consuming full-spectrum CBD every time you feel stressed? “It’s better than drinking, smoking, or injecting,” you may think. Perhaps it is. But if that’s your reasoning, then you aren’t recovering. You’ve just substituted one substance for another. You’re still leaning on a crutch. You aren’t growing. You aren’t getting better. Whether or not CBD does what it purports isn’t the point. What matters most is what you are doing and why you are doing it. The purpose of recovery isn’t ceasing a certain behavior or exchanging it for another. Recovery involves newness and wholeness. It’s about changing your identity and your choices to make a better life. Therefore, if you’re asking whether or not something is “ok” for recovery, you’re thinking too small. If you must ask, the answer is “no.”

What If I Just Keep It To Myself?

You have an absolute right to privacy. Nobody should infringe on that. But what are you using your privacy for? In recovery, what is the purpose of your right to privacy? If you decide to use CBD, shouldn’t that just be your business? Perhaps the best way to answer these questions is with another question. If something is legitimately helping you recover from substance addiction, why should you conceal it? This is similar to substituting CBD for a different substance. Concealment, evading, secrecy – these tactics indicate that you’re still in bondage to addiction. Cloak-and-dagger behaviors like these prevent you from dealing with the problems beneath addiction.

What’s The Verdict?

In a word, if you’re in recovery then it’s best to avoid CBD. It’s in close proximity to other substances that alter your mood and mind. If you’re genuinely curious about it, speak with your treatment provider. If they opt to include it in your treatment plan, then use it as they direct you. No more, no less. If you need help relaxing, look for substance-free ways to do so. This approach will strengthen your mind, as well as your resolve. It will make you transparent and vulnerable. And that is where authentic wholeness and healing begin.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

female therapist providing patient with cognitive behavioral therapy

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has become one of the most popular forms of mental health treatment in recent years. This is because CBT is based around empirical evidence, making it an evidence-based treatment (EBT). It works across a wide range of mental health issues, but is most effective at treating:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Criminal behaviors
  • Chronic pain

How CBT Works

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy gets its name from the idea that thoughts drive actions. It works by addressing a person’s thoughts – their cognitive process – to help modify their behaviors. By finding thoughts that damage their mood and perspective, the person then challenges those thoughts or replaces them with new ones. Through altering their outlook, the person can then transform their mood and mindset to one that is more useful.

Once the person identifies thoughts or beliefs which are hurtful, they then seek alternative beliefs to adopt in place of the negative ones.

Example: A person loses his or her job. While this event can be seen as negative, it can also be viewed as an opportunity to pursue new avenues, explore new interests, or seek new opportunities. By seeking a different set of beliefs, a person can literally change their mind.

CBT is particularly effective at treating addiction. It helps patients identify the reasons behind their substance use, better equipping them to combat the destructive state of mind that accompanies a relapse. They are then able to find solutions to combat cravings and helpful ideas to address the underlying causes of their addiction.

A Brief History of CBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy came out of psychotherapy, frequently known as talk therapy. It is largely attributed to Dr. Aaron T. Beck’s pioneering work in the 1960s. Dr. Beck and other therapists observed that many patients were suffering due to erroneous beliefs. The theory arose that if a person’s beliefs could be altered, their mental state would improve.

Testing of this theory continues to this day, and the results have been profound. Nearly every type of mental illness is positively impacted by the use of CBT, according to extensive research. Even those with no diagnosed condition benefit from challenging beliefs or “negative thinking” which impact their mood. Clinical studies, as well as anecdotal evidence, show more constructive thinking assists anyone in living a happier, more fulfilling life.

It is this exhaustive research that puts CBT firmly in the category of evidence-based practice since it has been so thoroughly and repeatedly tested with similar results.

How to Use CBT

There are several forms of CBT. In the most popular form, a person uses the “ABC” model. In the ABC model, a person identifies an Activating event (A). They then identify their Beliefs (B) in response to the activating event. Finally, they look at the Consequences (C) surrounding the event. The idea is to determine what thoughts or beliefs create their behaviors. Writing out each step then allows the patient to review their thoughts – often with the aid of a therapist or mental health professional. The ultimate goal is to find what negative beliefs are leading to negative consequences.

CBT is best done with the assistance of a therapist. However, anyone can begin recording their thoughts and identifying patterns that are having an adverse effect on their life. Changing these thoughts may unlock a better state of mind.

Benefits of a Sober Living Environment

Tropical pool at Recovery By The Sea sober living

Choices And Changes

As humans, we make choices. Our brains change with our choices. Personal experiences also alter how our brains work. Life teaches our brains how to function. Our senses, what we eat, how we sleep, what we learn from our parents. All of these important variables affect the brain’s processes. What comes from inside us shapes what’s outside us. The reverse is also true. Our external environments impact what’s going on in our heads.

The Brain’s Role

Our brains want to make life easy for us. As easy as they can. Our brains adapt to our behavior. The brain influences our motivation to chase down goals. It makes no difference what those goals are. The brain’s role is the same. If you’re an addict, reflect on your external environment. What choices did you make to nurture your addiction? How did your environment contribute to your addiction? Your interpersonal relationships might have enabled your addiction. You might have structured your eating and sleeping habits around your addiction. That’s one of your brain’s biggest jobs – making what you want happen as efficiently as possible.

Sobriety And Stability

Once you’re sober, you won’t want to go back to that same environment. You’ve made incredible progress. But your recovery journey is just getting started. Your home life must support your sobriety. You’ll need a stable, balanced routine. You’ll need a community that fosters your recovery. You may have a committed, constructive family at home. But if you don’t, you ought to consider a sober living house.

Belonging

Humans have an innate need to belong. We tend to ascribe the behaviors of the people we surround ourselves with. If our immediate friend-group includes addicts, we will likely become addicts. But if our group esteems sobriety and recovery, then that enables us to succeed. Other people, for better or worse, influence us. In sober living, we partner with others who understand our struggle. We learn from them, and they learn from us.

Living On Purpose

All groups have a common mission. Even the most dysfunctional groups. Known or not. Acknowledged or not. Even if that reason is something simple. Like having fun. If the group doesn’t define a mission, then a mission will still manifest. That’s the nature of groups. So if you’re newly sober, you will want a group that consciously practices sobriety. You want a group that places sobriety as a thing of ultimate value. When a group values something, by default it must not value other things. That means that the structure of the group will revolve around what it values. If your group values sobriety and recovery, then it will focus its activities and mission around those values. And subsequently so will you.

Tested, Tried and True

A sober living house provides you with a proving ground. It’s a stable, controlled environment. There, you can begin implementing life changes that benefit your recovery. You can test out what works for you, and put aside what doesn’t. Your home life might be very difficult to mold to your new lifestyle. But sober living environments are intentionally set up to promote recovery. After some time, you’ll have new habits and skillsets. Once those become better ingrained, you’ll be able to take them with you into your home life.

If you have more questions about sobriety and recovery call Recovery By The Sea now at 877-207-5033.

Can Someone Suffering From Addiction Be Cured?

man sitting on a bench smoking

Can someone suffering from addiction be cured? If you or someone you love is currently struggling with a substance abuse disorder, this is probably a question you’ve wondered about for a long time. If so, you’re certainly not alone. In the following sections, we’ll have a look at this rather thorny question.

Problem Use Vs Addiction

Before we can address the question of ‘curing’ addiction properly, there are a few basics we need to go over. First, most addiction professionals make a fairly sharp distinction between ‘problem use’ and ‘addiction.’ Problem use is pretty much just what it sounds like. It’s a term that applies to someone whose drinking or drug use has started to cause problems for them in one or more life areas. Perhaps the best way to think of ‘problem use’ is as an intermediate stage between, say, a casual or social drinker and someone who has developed a full-fledged alcohol use disorder.

Addiction is different. Although the DSM-5 has a fairly specific set of criteria for substance abuse disorder, things can get a bit more ‘fuzzy’ in real life. Unfortunately, it is beyond the scope of this article to delve too deeply into the technical definition of addiction. For our purposes, it’s enough to say that the term ‘addiction’ is typically applied to someone whose substance abuse has progressed far beyond that of a ‘problem user.’ In short, if drugs or alcohol are controlling your life, you’ve probably progressed into the so-called ‘addicted’ stage.

In any case, this is the set of people to whom the question ‘can someone suffering from addiction be cured?’ actually applies. Generally speaking, if someone is still in the ‘problem use’ stage of drinking or drug use, they can stop or reduce their use without professional help. But what does that mean for someone who is truly ‘addicted?’

So, Can Addiction Be Cured or Not?

The short answer to this very complicated question is a resounding ‘no.’ While there are exceptions, most people who have progressed into a full-blown substance abuse disorder need professional help to begin to recover. The word ‘recover’ can cause some confusion in this area. The same goes for the idea that addiction is a disease. After all, ‘recovery’ means ‘cured’ most of the time, right? And if you suffer a disease, you can sometimes be ‘cured’ as well.

Well, this is where it might seem like we’re crossing over into semantics. However, substance abuse involves a great deal more than words. Perhaps the best way to think about a substance abuse disorder is in terms of a ‘disease model.’ What this means is that a person who is suffering from addiction displays the characteristics of a disease and should be treated as such. When you look at it this way, it doesn’t matter if substance abuse is a disease like diabetes or cancer.

We can sum up with a brief discussion of the word ‘recovery.’ In terms of substance abuse disorder, recovery is a process, not a permanent state of being. At the present time, there is no cure for addiction. However, an addicted person can recover. But this can only come about with professional help and a consistent aftercare program.

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. 

 

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