Tag Archives: Drug Treatment

Addiction Relapse: Getting Back On Track

Your drug rehab counselor says relapse can happen to anyone going through recovery. Your recovery friends tell you that relapse is part of the process, it’s not the end of the world, and you can get through it.

That’s what they say, anyway. It sure feels like the bottom of a dark pit to you.

Your efforts with sobriety are not lost just because you’ve had a relapse. The positive changes you find in recovery are never lost.You just need to find your recovery again– it’s still yours and it’s still inside you. You may feel down and out now, but you are just one step away from getting your sobriety back on track.

Take One Step Back to Sobriety

Woman in hoodie on beachThat’s right, it just takes one step to get back on the path of sobriety. What is that step? It’s the decision that you are going to be sober for the next moment, no matter what it takes. Don’t think about next week, last month, yesterday, or tomorrow.

The next moment is all you need to focus on. Before long, the next moment turns into the moment after that, and the next five minutes, and the next hour. Whatever you need to do to stay sober for the very near future will get you through the worst of it.

Get in touch with a good sober friend and start talking. Go somewhere with a lot people where you can just walk around for a while. Get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, maybe even some sunshine. Find some good music and soak it up. Do something that distracts you from the cravings, changes your mood, gets you out of isolation, or gets you away from your triggers.

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Black-and-white thinking is a big part of addiction. Even when you are sober, this kind of negative, all-or-nothing outlook can make sobriety challenging. You may tend to look too far out into the future with many “what if” questions.

It will help you more to stay with your current moment of reality. When you get caught up in lots of worry about staying sober in the future, you lose sight of what you can do to be sober right here and now. The future will take care of itself. Stay where you have the power; you have power in the moment you are in at this very moment.

Rebuild Your Sobriety After Relapse

Take that one small step towards sobriety and slowly build your future again. Don’t let the emotional leftovers of your relapse take away the importance of this first step. It’s the beginning of your sobriety and it’s important. If you have trouble taking this first step, talk to a drug or alcohol rehab counselor for more help. You can call us anytime to learn more about getting and staying sober.

Drug Addiction Recovery: Filling the Void

When you stop using drugs, you begin to see the big, ugly gap you were trying to fill. This gap existed long before the addiction developed. In fact, it was probably a large part of the reason you began using drugs in the first place. There was a void or emptiness you didn’t know how to face or manage. You felt overwhelmed by your emotions or frustrated by a lack thereof. You tried to cover gaps so you wouldn’t fall into them. You tried to numb emotions or raise the right ones.

Addiction only made the void bigger and the feelings more powerful, but you couldn’t see that. Addiction wouldn’t let you see that. Now that you are beginning your recovery journey, the void is visible. And it is scary. Don’t worry! When you have the support of peers, loved ones and experienced professionals, there is always a person or a method on hand to help you fill the void.

Addiction and the Void

Addiction is closely tied to your thoughts and emotions. How you think and how you act are interrelated. When your thoughts lead to drug use, the action that was supposed to fill or at least hide a void only makes it bigger. Translational Psychiatry1 shares, “The prefrontal cortex has extensive connections with subcortical structures that regulate emotional processing, including the amygdala. Alcohol and drug exposure impairs emotion regulation in this region, with interconnected medial and cingulate networks showing enhanced reactivity to arousing stimuli and reduced capacity to suppress negative affect. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) also act to appraise and regulate negative emotions. These cortical areas over-activate in response to substance-related stimuli.”

This is a complicated way of saying drugs impair your ability to manage your emotions. If you turned to drugs to help you feel better or fill a void, you already didn’t know how to positively process or manage your feelings. Addiction only makes this worse. Luckily emotional regulation is a skill, and skills can be taught. You can learn how to look at and fill the void.

Start Where You Are

Woman with head in hand

Facing, much less filling, the void may seem overwhelming. When you begin your recovery journey, step back from the edge. You don’t have fall in. You don’t have to fill it at once. You don’t have to leap across it. Recovery is gradual. Your treatment team will push your boundaries and comfort zone, but they will never ask you to do more than you can manage. They understand that getting sober can be as scary as staying addicted. Psych Central2 considers this the most common fear related to recovery. They explain, “Getting sober means replacing your primary coping mechanism – drugs and alcohol – with new, unfamiliar ones. The process can be uncomfortable, particularly for someone who is afraid of feeling in general.”

There’s no denying that recovery is mentally challenging. You are facing a void you’ve been ignoring for a long time. You have to change habits, thoughts, and ways of acting that, if not safe, at least felt comfortable.

Change is a necessary part of recovery. However, you will never be asked to do more than you can handle. You aren’t expected to leap into the void of recovery feet first and hope you’ll be fine. You turned to drugs and alcohol for distraction and false feelings. You wanted a solution. You knew drugs and alcohol probably weren’t the best choice, but they seemed to work at first. You did the best you could with what you had and what you knew.

As Scientific American3 explains, “Recovery programs teach…fundamental principles of emotional regulation because addicts do not know them intuitively.” You don’t enter treatment knowing the right way to fill the void. You don’t enter treatment prepared to face the gaps in your life. If you knew how to do these things in a healthy, positive way, you would have already.

Recovery is here to teach you how to face the void. Peers and professionals gently guide you and help you develop the skills and strengths you need for recovery. Treatment teaches you how to not just fill the void but repair the gap that began it in the first place.

Pausing for Perspective

When the void seems too big or recovery too overwhelming, don’t give up. Pause and find perspective. Ask for professional support. The void won’t be, and can’t be, filled overnight. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t have to do it alone. You can step back from things that are too difficult or painful to manage right now. This doesn’t mean you get to avoid coming to terms with experiences, memories, and feelings. It does mean you don’t have to face them all right at the beginning. It does mean you will never have to face them without support and understanding. Learn how to manage your emotions. Learn how to fix the gaps in your life rather than widen them with the wedge of addiction. Take the right first action, and the rest will follow. Call Michael’s House at 760-548-4032 for immediate support and information.

Start the Journey Today!

760-548-4032

1. http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v7/n3/full/tp201734a.html. “Effects of naltrexone are influenced by childhood adversity during negative emotional processing in addiction recovery.” Translational Psychiatry. 7 Mar 2017. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

2. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2014/06/6-common-fears-in-addiction-recovery-and-how-to-face-them/ “6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery – and How to Face Them.” Psych Central. 9 Jun 2015. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

3. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-nuts-and-bolts-of-emotional-sobriety/. “The Nuts and Bolts of Emotional Sobriety.” Scientific American. 1 Mar 2012. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

Drug Addiction: “You Don’t Understand Me”

Addiction is influenced by your specific body, biology and brain chemistry. It is a result of your past experiences and your current environment. It reflects your personality and that of the people around you. It is the accumulation of an infinite number of factors that can never be duplicated or replicated.

Knowing this, how could anyone ever understand you? How could they understand the and why of your addiction? How could they help? They can, because although addiction is a unique and individual experience, it is also a universal and shared one.

The Guardian[1] shares, “One in seven Americans will experience a problem with alcohol or other drug misuse in their lifetimes, and some 20 million have current substance use disorders.”

No one faces your specific circumstances, but many can and do understand. As with any disease, there are treatment paths and outlines. As with any disease, addiction’s expression and your experience of it are influenced by past and present factors. Treatment outlines adjust to fit your unique circumstances. Professionals and programs recognize and provide for your personal recovery needs.

Understanding Addiction on a Biological Level

Brain retro xrayAddiction is a biological disease. As the American Society of Addiction Medicine[2] (ASAM) explains, “Genetic factors account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop addiction.” The body and brain you are born with shape your future drug use trajectory. This doesn’t mean addiction is inevitable or inescapable. It means you need to be aware of your genetic risk and how it impacts your thoughts, behaviors, and recovery. Treatment professionals understand addiction on a biological level. They help you explore how your genes and your physical health have interacted with your drug use. They understand how some factors leading to addiction were beyond your control. Michael’s House helps you develop coping mechanisms for managing your health. We provide the experienced medical support that is a necessary part of full understanding and recovery.

Understanding Addiction on a Social Level

Addiction is a social disease. Friends, family, peers and community members have influenced and continue to influence your drug use. A lack thereof can be just as detrimental. You may think no one understands your addiction, but your addiction may be the result not understanding others.

The Huffington Post[3] explains, “Human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe…A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.”

Before you retreat further into addiction with the excuse that no one understands, consider how reaching out could lead to discovering much-needed social support. Recovering from addiction involves more than knowing how people influenced your drug use. It involves knowing how they can help you heal. You can and will find others in recovery who understand you. Open up to others. Share your story and listen to theirs. No one perfectly fits the stereotypical “addict” mold. You may not find understanding from everyone, but you will find understanding from someone. You will find people who have had similar life experiences, face similar challenges, and feel and think similarly about certain issues or concerns. Doing so begins with knowing that others understand you, and you can understand them. Make yourself open to the possibility of friendship and support.

Supportive friendsRecovery involves finding a community of like-minded, supportive peers. Negate social risk factors by finding the people who understand your desire for a better, healthier life. ASAM explains, “As in other health conditions, self-management, with mutual support, is very important in recovery from addiction. Peer support such as that found in various ‘self-help’ activities is beneficial in optimizing health status and functional outcomes in recovery. Recovery from addiction is best achieved through a combination of self-management, mutual support, and professional care provided by trained and certified professionals.” Michael’s House teaches self-management skills. We teach you how to find personal strength and the strength to find additional help when you need it. We connect you to professionals who understand addiction and recovery. We connect you to peers who may just become lifelong, sober friends.

How Can Treatment Help Me, Specifically?

You may think you don’t need treatment. You may think other patients won’t have a similar story to yours. You may think professionals can’t help you with your personal challenges. None of this is true. No matter how “mild” your substance abuse or addiction seems, treatment helps. No matter how alone you feel, understanding exists. Call Michael’s House and speak with our caring, compassionate staff. We want to get to know and understand you. We can create a personalized treatment path that reflects your unique situation and recovery needs.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/18/us-drug-alcohol-addiction-statistics-treatment-reform. “US addiction statistics are dire. Small changes won’t solve the problem.” The Guardian. 18 Nov 2016. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

[2] http://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction/. “Definition of Addiction.” American Society of Addiction Medicine. 19 Apr 2011. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html. “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think.” Huffington Post. 25 Jan 2016. Web. 24 Mar 2017.

Your Drug Addiction – Who Does It Hurt?

You’ve been using drugs or alcohol for a while now. You recognize that you use in unhealthy ways or amounts, but you’re not really sure it’s a problem. You’re pretty sure you’ve managed to hide your use from your boss, your family, or your friends. You still feel okay, even if some aspects of life may seem a little out of control.

Unfortunately no matter how much you deny the impact of substance use on yourself and your loved ones, addiction does hurt. You know this is the truth at the same time your addiction argues otherwise. Addiction has changed your life. It changes the lives of people around you.

Drug Addiction Hurts You

Woman in denial with hand over faceYou have denied, minimized, ignored, or excused it. However, the truth is that addiction hurts you. It changes how you feel and how you think. You’ve given up things that once brought you joy. You wake up feeling sick or sore. You don’t feel like the same person you once were. This sometimes seems okay, especially if you began using drugs or alcohol because you didn’t feel good in the first place. However no matter what mental or physical health challenges you face, you have to recognize that substance use hasn’t made them better. One or more aspects of your life has suffered.

The American Psychiatric Association explains, “Substance use disorders are associated with impairments in psychological development and social adjustment, family and social relations, school and work performance, financial status, health, and personal independence (e.g., as a result of legal charges associated with substance use, suspension of the individual’s driver’s license after being convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance).”

You have been hurt by addiction. Drugs or alcohol may let you push aside concerns for short periods of time, but these physical, mental, social, or emotional concerns return. They return and hurt even more than before. Recovery brings real healing and real relief.

Drug Addiction Hurts Your Family

You feel like you put on a good show around your family. You smile when you’re supposed to. You hide the extent of your drug or alcohol use and stay away when you are high. You think you’ve managed to protect those you love the most. However, anything one family member does can hurt the others.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[1] shares, “A family is a system, and in any system each part is related to all other parts. Consequently, a change in any part of the system will bring about changes in all other parts.”

Addiction impacts everyone in the family even if you are the only one it has directly changed. Positive change can have a similar cascading effect. Getting clean and sober means healing the hurt you have unintentionally caused those who love you most.

Drug Addiction Hurts The Community

Police officer with patrol carYou don’t have to personally know someone for your addiction to impact their life. On a large scale, addiction touches every single life with no exception. The Surgeon General shares, “Alcohol misuse, illicit drug use, misuse of medications, and substance use disorders are estimated to cost the United States more than $400 billion in lost workplace productivity (in part, due to premature mortality), health care expenses, law enforcement, and other criminal justice costs (e.g., drug-related crimes), and losses from motor vehicle crashes.”

You don’t even have to look at the social impact of addiction to see how it changes lives. On just a purely financial level, every taxpayer is hurt by substance abuse. Coworkers face greater workloads on the job as they take up your slack. You risk the lives of strangers through vehicle or other accidents. You support crime and the cost of fighting that crime. You hurt the community by removing your contributions to it. Addiction is not an individual problem. It hurts every life. Recovery goes a long way towards healing that hurt. It lets you give back to the world rather than take from it.[2]

Drug Addiction Hurts

Drug addiction hurts you. It hurts the people you love and the people you haven’t yet had a chance to meet. Continued drug use puts your life, your family, and your community at risk. Begin the healing process to end the hurt and harm. Feel better and protect your family. Call Michael’s House at 760-548-4032 and learn about your opportunities for a bigger, better life.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64269/. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2004. Web. 22 Mar 2017.

[2] https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/surgeon-generals-report.pdf. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nov 2016. Web. 22 Mar 2017.

Managing Your Emotions is the Key to Sobriety

Addiction is an emotional disease. You may have turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to run away from your emotions. You may have found your emotions too painful or difficult to handle. Substances promised an easy escape.

However that escape ended up causing more emotional problems than it solved. Drugs didn’t make your life any better. They didn’t erase any emotions, and even if they buried them at first, they stopped doing so a long time ago. Sobriety is as emotional as addiction, but sober emotions are productive. They help you express yourself, process your experiences, and move forward in life. Substance use only takes you backwards. Sobriety isn’t about erasing emotions, as that is something no one can do. Sobriety involves learning to manage your emotions and to grow and become stronger as a result.

How Emotions Lead to Drug Addiction

Emotions lead to substance use. You may struggle with depression, anxiety or another mental health concern. You may face dramatic life changes or serious physical health issues. You may simply not know how to deal with everyday feelings. This is okay. You don’t have to know how to manage your mental health issue. You don’t have to know how to cope with the challenges that arise in any and every life. You just have to know that drug use isn’t the right answer. You have to reach out so you can learn. As Scientific American[1] explains,

“Recovery programs teach these fundamental principles of emotional regulation because addicts do not know them intuitively.”

If you struggle with addiction, you most likely struggle with managing emotions. This is normal. Treatment teaches emotional regulation skills for just this reason. You can learn how to healthily process thoughts and feelings.

How to Manage Emotions in Recovery

Managing emotions begins with learning how to do so. As mentioned above, treatment exists for just this reason. Therapists help you recognize unhealthy responses to feelings or situations. They help you develop positive processing and coping methods. This doesn’t mean you get to avoid emotions in recovery. You’ve tried doing that already with drugs or alcohol, and it doesn’t work. Managing emotions means learning how to experience them, accept them, move forward, and feel better. Treatment typically first teaches you distraction techniques. Distraction is not a permanent solution for emotions, but it helps you pause before having to process them. This puts time and space between you and potentially triggering thoughts or situations.

The Association for Psychological Science[2] shares, “Disengagement at an early stage can successfully modulate low- and high-intensity emotional information before it gathers force.”

Delaying–not avoiding–emotions helps you take the power out of them. It helps you keep emotions at a manageable level and to avoid impulsive reactions such as reaching for a former drug of choice. Treatment helps you develop an array of distraction techniques that will work for you. This gives you time and space to avoid relapse and manage your emotions rather than react to them.

Man listening to headphonesSome techniques for immediately managing emotions include physical activity or listening to music or watching a show. You can call up a friend or therapist and talk about how you feel or instead talk about anything but that. Consider doing the opposite of what you feel: forgiving someone if you are angry, telling a joke if you feel sad. Distraction and delaying are good ways to manage emotions and maintain sobriety. Avoidance is not. Distraction works so that you can reexamine emotions when they are less powerful, when you are more in control of your thoughts and behaviors.

At this later time, you can acknowledge how you feel or felt. You can feel embarrassed, cheated, lonely or even happy.  Once you acknowledge your emotions, you can do many things to keep them from taking over your life. Notice the thoughts that go along with these emotions. If they are negative, challenge them with something more positive. Tell yourself that your feelings will come and go and that feelings are a normal part of life. The more aware you are of your emotions, the better you can experience them, let them go, and move forward. You can remove their influence and keep your sobriety.


[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-nuts-and-bolts-of-emotional-sobriety/. “The Nuts and Bolts of Emotional Sobriety.” Scientific American. 1 Mar 2012. Web. 21 Mar 2017.

[2] http://people.socsci.tau.ac.il/mu/galsheppes/files/2016/10/Sheppes-G.-Scheibe-S.-Suri-G.-Gross-J.J.-2011.-Emotion-Regulation-Choice.pdf. “Emotion-Regulation Choice.” Association for Psychological Science. 29 Sep 2011. Web. 21 Mar 2017.

Blind Spots With Drug Addiction Keep You Trapped

You’re on the freeway heading toward your destination. You go to switch lanes, and you suddenly hear the blast of a car horn. Another vehicle was there in your blind spot. It feels like the other vehicle came out of nowhere.You just narrowly avoided having an accident. Drug addiction recovery has a lot in common with this example. You may think you are safe and everything is fine, but you may be putting your sobriety at risk. Please read on and see if you are ignoring any blind spots in your recovery.

You Hang Out With Old Friends Sometimes

Young men having lunchYou may think it doesn’t matter if you still see your old drinking buddy from high school on the weekends.The truth is, you are putting yourself in harm’s way. Old friends with addictions or substance abuse problems do not have your best interest at heart.

Your emotional ties will make you think you can make the relationship work. Unfortunately, you are likely to be proven wrong. Someone may say, “just one drink,” or you may start having cravings when you go to an old hangout. Before you know it, you may find yourself relapse right in the face.

You Don’t Go To Meetings Or Counseling Anymore

You may think that going to support meetings is pointless or that counseling doesn’t work anymore. Perhaps you need to take a slightly different perspective on this. You may be slipping into some typical addiction all-or-nothing thinking. This form of thinking is when seeing things as all good or all bad and allowing for no middle ground.[1]

If you aren’t in a meeting that feels like a good fit, you are less likely to stick with it. And if you felt like counseling wasn’t doing anything for you, take a look at why you stopped going. Was it really time for you to stop? Maybe your counselor was not a good fit and that lead to feelings of boredom.

Keep in mind that counseling and support groups aren’t really there to do things for you. They are opportunities for you to do things differently and learn about yourself. Getting isolated socially and mentally can take you right down the path of relapse. Contact someone you trust about this.Look into getting reconnected with the services and support you need.

You Have Quit Doing All Those Healthy Things From Rehab

In drug rehab, you learned different ways to help you stay sober. Some of these may have been foreign to you from the onset. Lifestyle changes include things like yoga, eating new foods, and getting active outdoors.

Now if you find yourself being pretty sedentary, eating plenty of junk food, and not getting good sleep, you are likely setting yourself up for trouble. Your drug addiction was at least partly based on your body’s physical sensations from taking drugs. When your body doesn’t feel that great, you may be tempted to get a zing from something you know will work – drugs and alcohol. Your physical health is closely tied to your mental health. Poor physical health brings an increased risk of depression and other mental health issues.[2] When you are depressed, you are more likely to turn to substance abuse as a way to cope.

Staying On Top Of Addiction Recovery Blind Spots

Nobody likes to admit they have blind spots. When problems trip you up, it can be tough to acknowledge that you should have known better. Pay attention to any potential blind spots so they won’t take your sobriety off track. If you are struggling, please feel free to reach out to one of our admission’s coordinators at Michael’s House. We are here to help you live a life of sobriety.


[1] http://www.mayo.edu/pmts/mc6000-mc6099/mc6064-12.pdf The Disease of Addiction: Changing Addictive Thought Patterns

[2] https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-relationship-between-mental-and-physical-health/ The Relationship Between Mental and Physical Health. Collingwood, Jane.

Coping Skills for a Sober Life

Sobriety requires intentionality. You have to rebuild your life to make sobriety a reality. And it’s not just about refraining from drug use; it’s about managing your mental and physical wellness so you don’t become vulnerable to relapse. Drug rehab is a key step in recovery, but once you leave rehab, your sobriety hinges on the decisions you make. Coping skills are essential to help you stay on track each day.

Physical Health

When you are addicted to drugs, there are often several long-term consequences. Some of these health problems may include lung or cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, lung disease and Hepatitis B or C.[1] To keep cravings at bay, you’ll need to get your body back on track.Regular exercise is very beneficial for someone in addiction recovery. It makes you feel stronger and more energetic. You may feel extra tired when you start exercising. Once your body adjusts, you’ll look forward to exercise as it boosts your endorphins and gets your blood flowing more freely.

You can try yoga, a fun aerobics class, biking, or even walking in your neighborhood every day. A simple exercise plan will help you keep you on track. Exercise boosts your mood and makes your body learn how to feel good without drug use. Exercise is also a great stress reliever, which you’ll need as you make big changes in your life.

Bicycling family

Mental Health

Mental wellness is another key part of staying sober. Painful emotions are a pathway for relapse, so you need to be aware of your moods. If you have a diagnosed mental illness—such as depression or PTSD—be sure you take your medication, go to your treatment sessions, and do whatever your doctor recommends. Putting off your mental health care is not an option.

Also, keep in mind what events or places cause you stress. Do you need to learn how to let go of an argument? Maybe you need to take a more flexible point of view? Perhaps you just need to unwind your muscles on a regular basis? There are lots of ways to relieve stress so you can have a positive mindset – funny movies, journal writing, some alone time, a long walk, prayer, or listening to something inspirational. Do these kinds of things regularly to fight off negativity and anxiety.

Social Environment

Your social connections with friends, family and support group members can help you get through the ups and downs in your sobriety. This group will congratulate you on your victories and also lift you up when you are down. Staying connected to sober people is a terrific and vital coping skill. But you must communicate with them about the challenges you face with your sobriety.

It’s not enough just to know them and make small talk when you are around each other. You need to take the risk of opening up. When you cultivate honest, caring relationships you’ll have someone to laugh with and someone to cry with.

Putting It All Together

As you move forward in your recovery, your sobriety depends on having—and using—coping skills. Keep in mind that drug addiction is a chronic disease like cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes or cancer.[2] Continual treatment is required. We at Michael’s House are here to help you stay sober. If you would like to talk to one of our admissions counselors, please call today.


[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health What Are the Medical Consequences of Drug Addiction?

[2] https://archives.drugabuse.gov/publications/drug-abuse-addiction-one-americas-most-challenging-public-health-problems/addiction-chronic-disease Addiction is a Chronic Disease.

Surviving Heroin Addiction

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs. People who use heroin often develop a tolerance, which means that they need higher and/or more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects.[1] 

Heroin can take over someone’s life in short order. Each time you use heroin, overdose is a possibility. It’s like playing Russian Roulette –when the gun points at you, will it be loaded this time? Or will it be a friend that dies this time? It can be hard to see a way out of this kind of hellish maze. People can and do survive heroin addiction, but it takes courage to get help.

How Heroin Works And How It Kills

Heating heroin in spoonA heroin user likely snorts or injects the drug into the blood stream. Heroin users are commonly thought of as urban homeless criminals, but heroin use cuts across all ages and lifestyles. In 2012, approximately 669,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year. This figure is up from an estimated 373,000 in 2007.[2]

Heroin acts as a depressant to the natural body systems in charge of breathing. Because of this, a heroin habit can lead to respiratory failure that leads to overdose which may cause death. The purity of heroin is often unpredictable. This fact makes the risk of an overdose ever present. The same amount of heroin used from one day to the next can be disappointing or fatal. It is also common for heroin deaths to occur from the drug being taken with other physical depressants like alcohol.

Heroin And A Risky Lifestyle

Heroin users are likely to do just about anything to be sure they have a steady supply. Not only do they have a strong urge to use the drug over and over, but they also try to avoid deeply unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. If getting heroin means they need to take risks, then they will take whatever risks are necessary.

People may offer sexual favors for drugs or cash. Others may take money from friends and family, commit crimes, or even sell drugs to get what they need. They spend time with shady characters that will not hesitate to kill if they don’t like the drug deal. A drug addict risks being put behind bars and getting caught up in a life of crime.

Getting Sober From Heroin

Getting sober is not easy, but it is definitely worth it. Heroin addicts in recovery can have withdrawal symptoms for several days at a time. Cravings can come and go long after their last use. Sobriety is ultimately better than active addiction, but daily life can be full of tests and temptations.

It takes a good support network and commitment to a high-quality drug program to make sobriety work. But even with all this, the addict has to want and work for sobriety each and every day. They have to be the one who makes sobriety their ultimate priority. Over time, sobriety can become more familiar than addiction. Surviving heroin addiction is possible – contact us today to learn more or get started today.


[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin What Is Heroin?

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states What Is the Scope of Heroin Use in the United States?

Facts About Women and Drug Addiction

Women are strong. They meet and overcome challenges no one expects them to. This does not mean they are invincible. Just like anyone, women can and do face substance abuse and addiction problems. They often struggle invisibly or in silence, but they do struggle. If you are a woman trapped by addiction, you know the fight for freedom is real. If your daughter, mother, friend or partner misuses drugs or alcohol, you know she has a serious and valid problem. Addiction is as much a fact for women as it is for men. It may even be a larger issue for some women because of their unique biological makeup, socially ascribed gender roles, and barriers to treatment and recovery. False assumptions about addiction should never minimize or hide the challenges women face. It should never limit a woman’s opportunities for fair, appropriate addiction treatment. Women become addicted to drugs and alcohol. With professional care and attention, these same women can find recovery.

Fact: Women Struggle with Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Depressed womanen face problems. In fact a significant portion of the female population does. The Surgeon General[1] explains that in 2015, “Prevalence of an alcohol use disorder was 7.8 percent for men and 4.1 percent for women. The prevalence of an illicit drug use disorder was 3.8 percent for men and 2.0 percent for women.” Women may not be as likely as men to struggle with addiction, but they do still struggle. No woman’s substance use concerns should go unnoticed, ignored or denied.

Fact: A Woman’s Biology Affects Her Addiction Experience

Women are biologically different from men. Their bodies are externally, visibly different. Their internal chemistry is different. These differences affect how they experience substance use and addiction. They matter in regards to appropriate treatment and recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse[2] shares, “Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs. Women who use drugs may also experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels. Brain changes in women who use drugs can be different from those in men.”

Hormones, physical changes, and psychological effects influence if and how addiction develops. They can create unique treatment challenges and put recovery at risk. Professional treatment specializing in women’s care will acknowledge and address these differences. They give women the tools they, specifically, need for long-term wellness.

Fact: Women Are Assigned Different Social Roles Than Men

Although gender roles are increasingly flexible, women are still more likely to assigned caregiving and child-rearing roles. This influences addiction and recovery. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains, “Women are more likely than men to encounter barriers that prevent them from seeking or following through with treatment.” They often have difficulty finding money or transportation for care. They are less likely to know about their options for treatment and feel greater stigma regarding getting it.

Women often stay home to raise families rather than pursue careers that offer insurance coverage and information about access to treatment. They feel they cannot take time off or set aside their responsibilities.

Gender roles create barriers to treatment. They also provide motivation for change. For example a woman may be much more eager to pursue and complete treatment if she is motivated to become a better parent and save or regain custody of children.

Gender roles both limit and support a woman’s journey to recovery. Treatment programs should recognize a woman’s unique reservations and motivations regarding recovery. Programs can offer motivational enhancement therapy, parenting skills classes, and more. Every treatment experience should reflect an individual’s personal experience no matter gender.

Fact: Women Face Unique Addiction Consequences

taking pillsBiology and social roles converge to create unique addiction consequences for women. The Surgeon General explains that substance misuse can, “result in serious, enduring, and costly consequences due to motor vehicle crashes, intimate partner and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect, suicide attempts and fatalities, overdose deaths, various forms of cancer (e.g., breast cancer in women), heart and liver diseases, HIV/AIDS, and problems related to drinking or using drugs during pregnancy, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).” All of these issues affect women. Some disproportionately impact women’s lives. Others only apply to women. Treatment needs to assess a woman’s physical, mental and emotional health. It needs to understand her addiction experience. Treatment should offer the integrated, comprehensive care a woman needs to find long-lasting physical health, emotional and social stability, and freedom from drugs or alcohol.


[1] https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/surgeon-generals-report.pdf. Facing Addiction: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Surgeongeneral.gov. Nov 2016. Web. 18 Mar 2017.

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-women. “Substance Use in Women.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sep 2015. Web. 18 Mar 2017.

Family Violence And Addiction

Addiction hurts families and for as many as 60 percent of families it also brings violence.[1] When an addict turns against his family with physical violence and verbal accusations, it brings suffering that lasts generations. Plus, violence indicates an addict suffers from a more severe addiction and mental health problems that need immediate treatment to ensure everyone’s safety.

Violence Easily Dismissed By The Drug User

Family violence is a damaging and dangerous result of drug addiction for some people.

Man's fist threatening womanSubstance users already deflect personal responsibility because of the way addiction affects their thinking and judgment. Such addiction thinking creates an alternate reality in their mind. Nearly anything they do in the name of their addiction is justified or easily excused. Money troubles, flaking out on promises, taking dangerous risks – it’s all under control and nobody else’s business.[2]

The same rules apply when a drug addict or alcoholic becomes violent. He lashes out, puts someone in her place, makes his position of control very clear or shows his dislike for something in a powerful destructive way. Because addictive thinking excuses his actions, nothing seems wrong with his behavior.

Someone who is violent, or becomes more violent, while using drugs or alcohol often has a more serious addiction and suffers with mental health disorders.[3]

People who suffer with addiction for many years and/or use multiple substances have severe addictions. They also experience more negative consequences from drug use, such as trouble maintaining relationships, problems with finances and maintaining employment and more encounters with the legal system.[4]

Studies also associate serious addictions with higher rates of violence among addicted women. Despite the stereotype of men committing intimate partner violence against women, newer studies show a greater number of addicted women being violent against partners compared to men. Women also are more susceptible to developing a serious addiction because it takes lower amounts of a substance to get them high and they metabolize substances at a slower rate.

While addicted women commit domestic violence, women in general are more likely to be the victim of violence. United States Bureau of Justice Statistics shows 85 percent of domestic violence victims are female. Substances are involved in an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of domestic violence incidents.

Everyone In Family Affected By Violent Addict or Alcoholic

Scared girl in shadow of alcoholic fatherChildren, spouses, partners, even adult siblings or parents face the brunt of an addict’s violent nature. The addict desperately needs a sense of being in control or feeling powerful. While the need for control is normal and there are healthy ways to express it, addicts have impaired thinking. An addict’s mind is tuned into her emotions and skewed addiction logic, so violence is the natural outcome of overpowered emotions and low self-control.

In essence, violent behavior from an addict is an attempt to correct the imbalance. Since the addict is poorly equipped to deal with daily life and others, his attempts to make things better often make things worse. He strikes out against people he needs in his life as a way to feel better about how little control he has over his own behavior.

Violence Often Passed Through Generations

In many cases, family violence is displayed from generation to generation. This happens with or without an addiction, but addictions add another level of complexity and distance from personal responsibility.

The addict may be heavily under the influence of substances when committing violent acts, having few recollections of what he did. This makes it hard for him to adequately apologize or right the wrongs he committed. For example, someone may strongly minimize marital arguments, thinking he only yelled at his spouse a few times. Children who grow up in an abusive family learn unhealthy ways to cope, especially if it’s not made clear that physical and emotional violence is wrong.[5]

Family Violence Dangerous For All

Family violence is a serious consequence of drug and alcohol addiction. Family members may feel it’s easier to ignore the situation because they fear calling attention to it will make things worse. If you are a family member of a violent drug addict or alcoholic, do everything you can to keep yourself safe. Hopefully, your loved one will realize that drug treatment is the only way to get their family life back.


[1] Soper, Richard G. (2014). Intimate Partner Violence and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse/Addiction. American Society of Addiction Medicine magazine. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from http://www.asam.org/magazine/read/article/2014/10/06/intimate-partner-violence-and-co-occurring-substance-abuse-addiction.

[2] Mercer, Delinda. (2000). Description of an Addiction Counseling Approach. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/.

[3] Arteaga, Alfonso; López-Goñi, José J.; & Fernández-Montalvo, Javier. (2015). Differential profiles of drug-addicted patients according to gender and the perpetration of intimate partner violence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871615003890.

[4] NIDA (2016). The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics. Media Guide. Retrieved Apr. 23, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide

[5] Dayton, Tian. (2012). Growing Up With Toxic Stress or Addiction and Its Long-Term Impact. The Huffington Post. Retrieved Apr. 21, 2017 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-tian-dayton/toxic-stress_b_2109402.html.