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How to Work with Relapse

by James Heller 11. February 2014 15:16
Relapse is not the end of recovery.  It’s not recommended, either, and those of us who treat for substance use disorders can’t condone the behavior.  Still, it’s more effective to take a positive approach to recovery after a relapse than it is to be angry and condemn the addict.
 
 
Recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction is an ongoing process, and abstinence is not a lifetime guarantee.  Most alcoholics and addicts relapse at least once before achieving long-term abstinence, if they make it.  Even short-term abstinence is a miracle for those who are heavily dependent on alcohol or heroin, for example.
When an individual with more than a few months of recovery relapses, those around them usually find it difficult to accept as being a normal occurrence.  It’s easy to forget how hard it was to get a loved one into treatment when life with them begins to feel “normal”.  The natural reaction for family members is to think they didn’t do enough, so anger and sadness result.

Going back to substance use does not mean an addict has given up, though.  It just means that progress has taken a step backward, meaning that something wasn’t addressed during treatment or coping skills need to be improved.  Both of these can be corrected with further counseling.  From this perspective, a relapse can be seen as a lesson rather than a failure.

Understanding this can reduce the anger among family members, and could hasten the trip back to rehab.  It’s better to lovingly encourage treatment rather than to react and increase pressure on the addict.  Of course the family of an addict needs to make it known that getting back on the road to recovery is the only acceptable outcome.  With a positive attitude, this can be done in a more loving tone that is more-likely to lead the addict in the right direction.
 
Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.
 
Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

If Doctors Would Diagnose Addiction

by James Heller 5. September 2012 14:10
If you consider that there are an estimated 22 million Americans with a drug or alcohol problem, you might assume that doctors regularly diagnose and treat them.  Reality is, though, that most doctors have never been trained to in addiction treatment, and usually treat only the symptoms of the disease.  Fortunately, some new treatments involving medications may change this sad situation.
 
 
One big problem with alcoholism and drug addiction is that so many medical problems result from them.  Substance abuse negatively affects different parts of the body, depending on the drug being used.  Alcohol abuse, without exaggeration, harms every cell in the body.  To the untrained in addiction medicine, the symptoms of these abuses might appear as primary problems, only requiring common treatments.  For example, a doctor may prescribe specialized medication for a bleeding ulcer and schedule a follow-up visit.

Another problem with addiction is that alcoholics and drug addicts are not quick to admit their problems.  Even if a doctor asks about drinking and drug use habits, these patients will minimize or deny it.  Short of the patient arriving at 9:00am and smelling of alcohol, or having injection track marks up and down their arms, untrained doctors will not see a reason to investigate.  The answer is often accepted as true and the doctor looks to heal the symptom.  

The result is that alcoholics and drug addicts get temporary relief from negative symptoms of their disease, but don’t receive, at the very least, guidance from their doctors on how to prevent them in the future.  The worst result is that people die every day from the negative effects of alcoholism and drug addiction.  Most of them could have been saved had they been given early treatment for the primary disease of addiction.

According to this article, there is possible good news on the horizon.  There is an effort to attract doctors to the addiction treatment field, and to promote addiction medicine as a recognized subspecialty.  Medical treatment and new prescription drugs are proving to be effective means of helping addicts to recover.  Counseling for the psycho-social aspects of the disease is still important, but detox and craving reduction medications, like Vivitrol, have become very beneficial in the early days of recovery.

Tarzana Treatment Centers provides Vivitrol treatment for alcohol and opiate craving reduction, for example.  This follows medical detoxification, which is important to avoid the severe effects of withdrawals.  We have seen some great success stories from patients who previously struggled with relapse after their first Vivitrol injection.  

Imagine if doctors could diagnose addiction from the symptoms they normally treat.  They could make a referral to a detox facility, followed with Vivitrol for eligible patients, and maybe residential or outpatient treatment.  Patients tend to listen to doctors more than they would even to their most beloved family members.  Hopefully, the effort mentioned above can spread so more of those who suffer can get the treatment they need.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Alcohol Dependence and Drug Addiction -Tolerance

by James Heller 18. May 2010 13:48
Tolerance, as it relates to alcohol dependence and drug addiction, is often misunderstood by many in the general public.  In the manner that drug and alcohol tolerance functions, it can be a safety mechanism to the body and, at the same time, deadly.  This makes awareness of the subject critical for anyone who engages in alcohol abuse or drug abuse, as well as those in recovery.

It can easily be assumed that tolerance means that an individual can drink more alcohol without getting drunk, or handle drug use in a seemingly controlled manner.  With this assumption comes the belief that these “abilities” are an example of the natural differences that exist from one individual to another.  While this is partially true, the nature of alcohol and drug tolerance is much more complicated.

Alcohol tolerance is the example with which most people can relate.  Consider the amount of alcohol you need to drink before you feel the effects, or “buzzed”.  Let’s say this is 2 beers.  If you drink 2 beers every day, over time you will feel less of an effect.  If you want to feel the same effect, you must drink more alcohol.  The amount of alcohol needed for the same feeling will continue to increase as you add more alcohol.  

The same concept works with drugs.  Alcohol abuse or drug abuse can result from tolerance since individuals will chase that feeling by drinking or using more on each occasion.  If the cycle continues with regular daily alcohol or drug intake, the body can become physically dependent and alcoholism or drug addiction is the result.  

On this road to addiction that we just followed, the brain has protected the body from overdose, with tolerance, by adjusting to the higher levels of substance use.  This benefit of drug tolerance can become a dangerous consequence, though, for recovering individuals who relapse.  The addicted brain still needs a large amount of drugs for an effect, but the body returns to a lower tolerance of what is essentially a poison.

At the time of first use on a relapse, the brain will dictate the most recent amount of drugs used to get a desired effect.  If the formerly recovering addict is not careful, this amount can easily cause a drug overdose or even be fatal.  Many drug addicts are not aware of this fact, and will even ignore warnings from fellow drug users because they don’t realize the consequences they face.

While alcoholics are less likely to overdose on alcohol during first use on a relapse, they may experience what is known as a lack of tolerance.  At this point, a drunken feeling may result from only 1 drink.  Lack of tolerance can actually occur with anyone who drinks alcohol, but it is typically coupled with alcohol dependence.  Of course, that 1 drink will still not be enough to satisfy alcoholics and they can become a danger to themselves through inebriation and alcohol’s effect on the body.

This information is good to share with teens, friends in recovery, or anyone you may know who engages in alcohol abuse or drug abuse.  Too many see tolerance as a benefit both early in substance use and in addiction.  Tolerance is explained in effective alcohol and drug treatment as part of addiction education groups to prevent accidental overdoses among those who may relapse.  Bringing this awareness to the general public may save even more lives.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides youth alcohol and drug treatment and addiction education.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, drug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

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Senior Alcohol Abuse - Damaging Effects

by James Heller 12. May 2010 15:07
Senior alcohol abuse is often more difficult to correct than with any other group in America.  By age 60, most individuals are set in their ways and don’t feel the need to change anything.  In fact, many seniors are aware of the risks they face with heavy drinking and continue seemingly without care.  Loved ones may feel helpless, but solutions exist.

About 40% of those over 60 say they drink alcohol, with almost one-third of them admitting to binge drinking and heavy drinking, or alcohol dependence.  These statistics come from a 2007 report at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies website.  This means that about 1 in 10 seniors at least binge drink on occasion, which can be very dangerous to their health and that of others.  

Many external changes happen with individuals when they reach age 60.  Retirement is imminent if it has not already occurred, friends begin to move away or pass away, and family members may even suggest a change of residence.  Worst of all, the mind and body begin to show signs of aging, meaning that doctor visits become common and more medications need to be taken.  All of these can be terribly stressful on anyone when they are grouped into a few short years.

Boredom, loneliness, and a sense of powerlessness can each lead anyone to drink alcohol.  Whether it is a time-filler or an escape from negative feelings doesn’t matter.  The end result is that it works and leads to earlier drinking times and less time outside the home.  Senior alcohol abuse may even be a purposeful celebration of the golden years.  The daily party begins with joy, but can quickly turn to injury or a fatality.

This can all be very harmful for seniors due to interactions with medications, a higher risk of falling, and aging major organs.  If alcohol dependence sets in, the effects on the body and brain are more detrimental to seniors than anyone else.  The celebrators, in freedom, usually drive under the influence.  Yet most seniors who abuse alcohol either hide it or justify it, and accept the risks.

Family members who see the alcohol abuse will often accept the behavior as a rite of passage.  Considering the years they have lived, why would a loved one deny what seems well deserved? And if nobody gets hurt, all is okay.  That is, until somebody gets hurt or health problems develop.  Some seniors will stop the behavior at this point, but most will continue to drink heavily and probably more.

There are 2 things that loved ones can do at this point.  The first is to strongly suggest alcohol detox and alcohol treatment.  But most people in their 60’s today will see that as a sign of weakness and refuse, and family members generally won’t force the issue.  Doing so may get the elderly alcoholic into treatment, but he or she will only benefit if self-motivated.  So keep suggesting, with love, and let them make the decision.

Second, you can set boundaries and stick to them.  If they refuse to quit drinking or cut down, suggest accompanying them to the doctor so you can discuss medication interactions.  Let them know you understand that they are not concerned with their own health, but you are concerned with the health of others including yourself and younger members of the family.  It may be hard, but you must be firm, with love, and continue to suggest alcohol treatment.

To the younger generations, seniors who refuse to change these behaviors seem stubborn.  However, like any other individual who engages in alcohol abuse, the bottom line is that they are escaping from emotions.  Instead of arguing and treating them like children, it is best to discuss feelings as much as possible.  Avoid forcing the issue of senior alcohol treatment, and use gentle, loving nudges.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides alcohol and drug treatment for seniors in a culturally sensitive manner.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, drug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

What Is An Intervention?

by James Heller 24. August 2009 09:49
Undeniably, alcoholism and drug addiction not only affects the suffering individual; but it also seriously damages those people closest to them, particularly their family members and friends. Addiction is a serious chronic disease. More often than not it is the family members that are left trying to desperately stop the downward spiral of a dependence on alcohol or drugs. Family members have often decided to make a plea for help and appeal for change in what commonly referred to as an intervention.
 
The word “intervention” in an alcohol and drug treatment context is used to describe a meeting in which a person with an alcohol dependence or drug addiction problem is confronted by friends and family members in a final plea for help with their addiction. The intervention is an organized meeting coordinated by family members in conjunction with friends, significant others, mental health professionals, pastors, or a drug treatment provider.

The participants gather to discuss their loved one and the impact of the disease in what is also known as a pre-intervention meeting. The purpose of the intervention gathering is not only to develop a plan for obtaining help for alcoholism or drug addiction, but also to offer support to the addict.  Participants go around the room and share statements of the numerous ways in which family alcoholism or drug addiction has affected their lives.

An intervention can set the stage for awareness about the seriousness of alcoholism or drug addiction and the negative impact on everyone involved. It is important to realize that alcoholics and addicts may be defensive and resistant to help. For this reason, mental health professionals and treatment providers can assist in counseling the individual. An intervention can also provide the much needed structure and resources for getting help.

You are not alone we can help! If you or a loved one needs help we urge you to please call Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles now 888-777-8565 or contact us here.


Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Intervention

by James Heller 6. February 2009 11:52

For families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts, there comes a time when all hope seems to be lost and exhaustion sets in. Parents get tired of the lies, spouses get tired of missing funds, and friends get tired of broken promises to get together. Mainly, they eventually get tired of watching their loved one slowly wither away by the use of alcohol, cocaine, heroin, prescription or other drugs.

When the atmosphere surrounding an alcoholic or addict becomes this negative, desperate measures are justified. Interventions are effective at this point, and will succeed in either getting a loved one into treatment or relieving friends and family members of emotional pain.

Initially, it seems cruel to place people in a situation where they offer their loved one an ultimatum to seek alcohol or drug detox and treatment, or to be cut off. It is important to note that the underlying theme of an intervention is loving confrontation. This confrontation could save the alcoholic's or drug addict's life, which is the most loving act a person can perform.

Interventions can still be successful even when they don't result in alcohol or drug detox and treatment. Loved ones are prepared for the possibility of a rejection of their ultimatum. While the goal is alcohol or drug treatment, interventions can release loved ones from the emotional prison they've been confined to.

Alcoholism and drug addiction transforms people physically and as deeply as their core values. They are entirely different people to family and friends. Still, loved ones make futile efforts to maintain a relationship with someone who is no longer available. The emotional tie is as strong, if not stronger, for the substance-altered loved one.

After countless pleas to quit, promises that it will happen, and a continuing downward spiral, families and friends begin to blame themselves. The act of loving confrontation can empower them to return to a life that does not depend on the well-being of someone else. And, at the very least, cause enough of a shock to their loved one that causes a brief emergence of the "true self".

What happens after the intervention is entirely up to the individuals involved. The substance dependent have choices to return to normal lives or continue with self-destructive behavior alone. Loved ones have the chance to regain control of their lives whether the substance dependent seeks treatment or not. In either case, it can be said thatintervention was a success.

 

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Intervention

Intervention

by James Heller 3. February 2009 13:35

It can be said that intervention works 100% of the time, when conducted properly. An intervention is a process where loved ones gather to motivate an alcoholic or drug addict into treatment. It is usually the tool of last resort when families and friends feel hopeless and all efforts to fix the problem have been exhausted. The process yields healing for the loved ones, and, if alcohol or drug addiction treatment is accepted, a life saved.

Intervention work begins long before an alcoholic or drug addict is confronted in a controlled setting. With the help of a professional interventionist, loved ones are prepared emotionally for the big day. Intervention participants gather with the professional in a group session to begin the healing process. Shared feelings help lead the group toward their primary purpose of helping the alcoholic or drug addicts into detox and treatment, or emotionally releasing the individual.

Meanwhile, the subject individual of the intervention is kept unaware of the plan. The element of surprise is very important. When alcoholism or drug addiction has reached a point where intervention is needed, it is likely that person has become delusional and lost touch with reality. Suggesting a chat about entering alcohol or drug treatment would be met with a defensive response.

Walking into a room occupied by calm and prepared loved ones is a shock that is necessary to the alcoholic/addict's psyche. The sudden dose of reality puts focus on what is happening here and now. Loving confrontation is the next step.

Interventions occur every day in the United States. They are unpredictable by nature, but always bring one of two results: Either the alcoholic or addict agrees to go to treatment immediately, or there is a loving good-bye. For the loved ones, either conclusion brings emotional relief. So it really does work 100% when conducted properly.

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Intervention