Is Addiction a Disability?

 

Substance abuse disorder, whether it is alcohol use disorder or opioid use disorder, is a complicated and dangerous diagnosis that can wreak havoc on an individual’s physical health, personal life, and professional life. Addiction can occur due to a multitude of factors, including genetics and environmental traits. The decision to take the first drink or experiment with painkillers may initially be a personal choice; addiction itself is not a choice. Addiction is viewed as a medical diagnosis as it has short terms and long-term effects on an individual’s brain and body. Substance use disorder is often referred to as a disability as it negatively affects an individual’s ability to function in society. 

 

Substance use disorders generally begin with occasional recreational use that can quickly turn into an everyday dependence. The individual is prone to severe physical and emotional withdrawals in the absence of the drug and most likely will not have a desire to quit. Substance use disorders often result in financial hardships due to the inability to work, as most places of employment have a zero-tolerance drug policy. Addiction can also break apart families resulting in isolation and loneliness. 

 

Is Substance use disorder a disability?

According to the American Disability Act (ADA), a substance use disorder, whether past or current, qualifies as a disability if the individual has a mental or physical impairment that limits one or more major life activities. Individuals who are struggling with addiction usually have difficulties caring for themselves, which is considered a significant life activity by the ADA. 

 

Unfortunately, our society views an individual with a physical handicap differently than an individual who is struggling with an opioid use disorder. Although both individuals have a disability, the stigma associated with substance use disorders has led to controversial views on who qualifies for disability benefits. 

 

What the government has to say

According to the U.S. government, individuals who are struggling with a substance use disorder can no longer receive disability benefits from the government, even if they have paid into their social security. In other words, the government does not view substance use disorders as a disability, which, unfortunately, has added to the current stigma surrounding addiction. 

 

Before 1996, individuals could be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if they were diagnosed with a substance use disorder. However, Congress eliminated this program, and as a result, individuals who are struggling with addiction can no longer receive this benefit. Without this benefit, it makes it difficult financially for those who are currently in treatment for their addiction, as most treatment programs require an intensive 30-60 day stay where individuals live in residential facilities while undergoing treatment. This means that individuals must step away from their jobs and families to make their recovery journey a first priority. 

 

What the medical community has to say

Therapists, physicians, and medical experts agree that addiction is a disability as it negatively impairs an individual’s ability to function. The medical community does not view addiction as a choice but rather as a disease such as any other medical condition, including diabetes and high blood pressure. As a result, treatment is focused on a whole-person approach, which usually encompasses medication, therapy, and holistic methods such as yoga and meditation. The goal of treatment is to not only “cure” the addiction but to uncover the underlying triggers that have lead to the addiction. Just like treating any other disability, medical professionals work to get to the root of the disorder. 

 

Food for thought

What if an individual who became paralyzed from a traumatic accident later became addicted to prescription pain medication? What if a young woman suffered an emotionally traumatic experience and has become dependent on sleep medication to fall asleep at night? Most addictions do not begin with individuals wanting to become addicted to opioids, sleep meds, anxiety pills, or alcohol. Substance use disorders occur for so many different reasons, and most of these reasons are unintentional. Many individuals who are physically disabled abuse prescription painkillers and alcohol not only to cope with their physical pain but also to erase their emotional and mental pain that comes with their disability. Disabilities come in all forms, and just because you may not be able to see the physical disability does not necessarily mean that an individual is battling an invisible disability. 

Codependent Relationships and Addiction

Overcoming codependent relationships

As we approach Valentine’s Day, a day that is meant to celebrate every aspect of love, friendship, and romance, many of us in addiction recovery often struggle with new romantic relationships secondary to codependent behaviors. 

Successful and healthy relationships take a lot of patience, skill, empathy, and determination. Many factors are needed for positive growth, whether it is a romantic relationship, a sibling relationship, a friendship, or a parent/child relationship. Codependency is a negative factor that is encountered in many relationships that can destroy not only the relationship but also each individual involved. Codependency was first defined nearly 50 years ago to describe unhealthy relationships characterized by excessive control or compliance, often with one partner lacking self-sufficiency and autonomy resulting in sacrificing one’s personal needs to try to meet others’ needs. Codependency is strongly associated with passivity and feelings of shame, low self-worth, or insecurity. Codependent behaviors usually stem from deep-rooted pasts. Many individuals may not even realize they are codependent or deny that they are in a codependent relationship. 

Addiction and codependent behaviors

This concept was originally conceived in the context of addiction. It helped explain “enabling” patterns used to ease relationship tension caused by drug and alcohol abuse. We now understand that enabling behaviors (such as rescuing a partner, bailing them out, making and accepting excuses for their behavior, and continuously trying to fix problems) are common in non-addiction-related codependent relationships. 

 

Common codependency signs

  • You feel that your partner is responsible for solving your problems
  • Your partner has verbally expressed to you that they feel unappreciated and unloved
  • You are continually trying to please your partner
  • You desperately want your partner to “save you”
  • Your happiness stems from your relationship with your partner
  • You continuously are looking for advice and direction from your partner on how to live your life
  • You see yourself as a perpetual victim

 

The origins of codependency

Unlike addiction, codependency is not a disease or a disorder but rather a learned behavior that often begins in childhood. As a result, codependent behaviors are deeply ingrained in our upbringing and personalities and will often re-surface throughout our adolescent years and adulthood. Codependency is mostly born into dysfunctional families with addiction, emotionally unavailable partners, and narcissistic behavior. The codependent parents set the tone for the child, and the child learns from the parents to try harder in every relationship. From a young age, these children learn to “walk on eggshells,” how to keep their needs hidden and put the needs of others before everything else, and how the outward appearance of the relationship is of utmost importance. Children who grow up in this environment do not learn to value or foster their self-worth and do not view themselves as independent or necessary and will consistently look for others to repair their “brokenness”. In adulthood, this creates unhealthy boundaries and can often push the individual to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with these underlying feelings, especially if their romantic partner is not filling their void. 

 

Recognizing your codependent patterns

Often it takes a life-changing decision or milestone for an individual to have that “ah-ha” moment whether they recognize the inequity that comes with codependency. However, just because an individual is aware that they are involved in a codependent relationship does not necessarily mean they will discontinue the behavior. Individuals in a codependent relationship are fearful of rejection and therefore saying “no”, is usually not in their vocabulary. Often it takes enrolling in an addiction treatment center for the individual to develop the coping skills necessary to exit a codependent relationship. However, if an individual struggles with an addiction, they may switch out their addiction for a codependent relationship. As a result, recovery can be a double-edged sword. It can teach us about coping skills and boundaries, but it can also lead us to trade in one addiction for another. 

 

Overcoming codependent relationships

To overcome a codependent relationship, especially if you are in recovery from addiction, it is essential to establish the following:

  • Strict boundaries
  • Self-esteem
  • The ability to say “no”
  • Self-love
  • Honesty
  • A strong support system
  • Strong communication skills

 

Signs of recovery from codependency

 

  • You nurture your wants and desires and develop a connection to your inner world. You see yourself as reliant, smart, and capable.
  • You say goodbye to abusive behavior. Awareness, change, and growth are necessary for you and your partner to overcome unhealthy relationship habits. Caretaking and enabling behavior is acknowledged and stopped.
  • You respond instead of react to your partner and others. Setting clear, firm boundaries means that you don’t automatically react to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. You tolerate other people’s opinions and do not become defensive when you disagree. You recognize that your reaction is your responsibility. You adopt a healthy skepticism regarding what others say about you (good or bad), and your self-esteem doesn’t rise and fall as a result. You say no, and you accept hearing no.

Counter dependency: the opposite of codependency

Codependency often goes hand in hand with both addiction and relationships because the individual in recovery has spent a great deal of time codependent on the substance of abuse. They needed this substance to get through their day, they needed it to cope with difficult feelings, and they needed it to feel good. When individuals enter recovery to gain sobriety, this void is often left unfilled, and as a result, many individuals may fill this void with codependent relationships. Instead of the substance of abuse, individuals will substitute romantic relationships to help them get through the day, make them feel worthy, help them overcome difficult feelings, and bring them happiness. In a way, it is substituting one addiction for another. So, how do you know you are maybe entering the waters of a codependent relationship during your recovery journey?

Quest 2 Recovery: Center for Addiction and Mental Health

As treatment professionals, it is our job to reach out to those struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. We want you to be a better role model, spouse, and parent to your loved ones. If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, we want to help you. We at Quest2Recovery, want to treat you, the individual, and not just your disorder. We want to break the mold, set the standard, and be role models for the rest of the addiction treatment industry. We want to invite you to seek help in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment.

 

National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a month dedicated to uniting communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying and preventable measures. According to statistics one in five children admit to being bullied and bullying is not only isolated as a childhood problem but also affects adolescents and adults as well. Bullying comes in many different shapes and sizes from physical attacks and verbal insults to cyberbullying, social manipulation, and inappropriate sexual advances, some forms of bullying can be discrete enough to go unnoticed by many. The intent of the bully is to assert dominance, power, and social control over the victim. Individuals who are bullied often appear anxious, withdrawn, or depressed. They may be too embarrassed to tell others about their torment and as a result, will often turn to drugs, alcohol, or food to cope with their feelings.

“People who love themselves, don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.” ― Dan Pearce

Bullying and mental health

Bullying can take a toll on one’s emotional and mental well-being over time. Bullying breaks down one’s self-esteem and distorts their self-image, which can trigger a host of negative and dangerous feelings. Individuals who do not have a strong support system or who have an underlying mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety are more at risk of damaging their mental health. Victims of bullying are at an increased risk of isolation and loneliness, which can often drive them to fight back and act out, potentially resulting in violent outbursts or illegal activity. Bullies are also at extreme risk of engaging in illegal activity and developing mental health disorders including anti-social personality disorder. Bully-victims—those who both bully and are bullied—suffer the most serious effects. They are at greater risk for mental and behavioral problems than those who are victims or bullies alone. Rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation and behaviors are greatest in this group.

 

Duke University recently conducted research that shows the rates for agoraphobia and panic disorders greatly increases with bullying. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and low esteem haunt many adults who were once bullied in childhood. Additionally, a new study out of King’s College London in the United Kingdom suggests that that bullying may cause physical changes in the brain and increase the chance of mental illness. The results showed that severe bullying was linked to changes in brain volume and levels of anxiety at age 19. Bullying may decrease the volume of parts of the brain called the caudate and putamen. The caudate plays a crucial role in how the brain learns, specifically how it process memories. This part of the brain uses information from past experiences to influence future actions and decisions. The putamen regulates movements and affects learning.

Long-term risks associated with bullying

With immediate and proper mental health treatment and support systems in place, the prevention of long term consequences associated with bullying can be minimized. Without intervention, however, kids are at risk for the following:

  • Chronic depression
  • Increased risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide plans, and suicide attempts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Poor general health
  • Self-destructive behavior, including self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficulty establishing trusting, reciprocal friendships and relationships

Bullying and substance abuse

If an individual is experiencing constant teasing, social exclusion, or any other form of bullying, he or she may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to escape from feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. Being a victim of bullying takes a toll and can lead to a great deal of emotional turmoil and trauma creating the need for an “escape”. Drugs and alcohol can have temporary mind-altering qualities that can allow the individual to escape from reality, which can allow them to forget about their bully and have temporary relief from emotional pain. Mind-altering chemicals such as drugs and alcohol may provide temporary relief but they also result in a dangerous slippery slope that can lead to addiction. The more the individual holds onto drugs and alcohol as an emotional crutch, the more the individual will feel they constantly need a fix. Soon enough, drugs and alcohol are at the forefront of their life and their bully does not only torment them but they are also tormented by their addiction.

Bullying in treatment

Many individuals who enter substance abuse treatment are often uncomfortable sharing about their addiction and experience with others out of fear they may be shamed or ridiculed. Stigma and shame both go hand in hand with bullying and unfortunately bullying in treatment is a silent pandemic. Family members, friends, co-workers, and strangers may spew hurtful comments, pass judgment, and portray passive-aggressive behaviors towards their loved one who is in treatment. Although they may do this subconsciously, out of anger, or because they are hurt; this is a form of bullying that can hinder their loved one’s treatment and recovery.

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder or are currently in treatment or recovery, it is imperative that you step away from anyone who is causing you emotional, mental, or physical harm. Often times, we are so focused on our recovery that we don’t recognize that these individuals are bullies and as a result, we allow them to continue to wreak havoc on our emotional states.

Seeking help at Quest 2 Recovery

Our philosophy at Quest 2 Recovery is simple: heal the mind, body, and spirit in a family-like environment. We believe in a holistic approach to treatment, one that caters to each individual’s distinct needs. As a trauma-based treatment program, we believe in resolving the underlying issues that brought the onset of substance use. Our team of clinicians helps each client identify the faulty belief systems stemming from childhood, then psych-educate clients on the symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders to understand and alleviate the power of certain triggers”.

Addiction, Mental Health and Unemployment

The COVD-19 pandemic has gravely impacted our mental health and addiction due to unemployment in more ways than one. The majority of individuals are anxious about the unknown, and millions of hard-working Americans are experiencing a financial crisis after losing their jobs. We are not only mandated to stay home, but we are mandated to remain home while trying to cope with economic adversity after being laid-off. Unemployment negatively affects our mental and emotional health. Unemployment has the potential to lead to addiction or worsen an already present substance use disorder.

Beyond the negative impact of an economic disaster, COVID-19 presents additional challenges such as fear of the virus itself, collective grief, prolonged physical distancing, and associated social isolation that will all compound the impact on our collective psyche. A job is not just a job for many individuals. Many individuals take pride in how they make a living, and their career becomes a part of whom they are; it becomes their identity. So when this is stripped away, an individual’s identity is also robbed.

The true meaning of work

Our jobs provide a sense of security and offer connection to peers, meaning, purpose, sense of accomplishment, and self-efficacy. When our jobs are stripped away, so are many of these traits.

Nearly 21 million Americans have lost their jobs over the past eight weeks because of COVID-19. The unemployment rate is above 15 percent, well above the unemployment rate during the Great Depression. 

Humans are not robots, we are individuals with needs, feelings, and emotions, and therefore the loss of a job is not just the elimination of a paycheck but also the loss of a routine, security, and connection to others (and not to mention, access to healthcare).

The link between unemployment and suicide

Studies have shown that unemployment is highly linked to suicide, and unemployment during this COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Our country and the world are at an increased risk for suicides, no matter how you see it. Unfortunately, many Americans who are now unemployed are now uninsured and, as a result, are unable to afford mental health treatment. It is a lose-lose situation.

In 2008, the Great Recession ushered in a 13 percent increase in suicides attributable to unemployment, with over 46,000 lives lost due to unemployment and income inequality in that year alone.

Everyone is at risk

This economy crash affects everyone, regardless of his or her job or income. Layoffs have occurred across the board from blue-collar workers and health care professionals to white-collar executives. Budget cuts are being made in nearly every industry because of the doomed economy. Many small businesses have been forced to shut their doors, leaving employees and business owners struggling to pay the bills. Regardless of employment status, bills need to be paid, and mouths need to be fed.

The economic stimulus and unemployment benefits have been a godsend for many, but how long will the government be willing to help those 21 million unemployed and unable to find work?

This pandemic has created a mental health and financial crisis. Many highly educated and highly skilled individuals are unable to find jobs because the economy is closed. Very few sectors are hiring, so the only option is to keep searching and waiting this out…but for how long?

Turning to alcohol as a crutch

Daily drinking, regardless of employment, has made a steady rise during this global pandemic. Those who have lost their jobs often turn to alcohol or drug use to numb their pain, block out their reality, and find a quick escape. Access to alcohol is easier than ever, as almost every business is now offering take-out or delivery. Cocktails “to go” can be ordered via phone and picked up via curbside or delivered to your front door, and liquor stores and dispensaries are delivering alcohol and marijuana at the click of a button.

More people are saying cheers with a drink in hand over virtual happy hours. It’s nearly impossible to scroll through social media without coming across the trendy drink term “quarantini”. Many people have posted phrases such as “days are divided by coffee hours and alcohol hours” or “during a crisis, you know, cocktail hour can be almost any hour”. Many of these phrases and trends are meant to be funny, but when daily drinking becomes a habit, it can suddenly down spiral into an addiction, which is never a laughing matter. Alcohol should never be used as an emotional crutch as drinking can worsen an already underlying depression or suicidal ideation.

Stress, isolation, and boredom increase the need to use

The increase in alcohol and drug use may be related to boredom, isolation, and stress, especially for those who have lost their employment. Job loss can create a sense of boredom, loneliness, and low-self esteem, which can all trigger the need to use. For those in recovery, the combination of financial distress and social distancing can make maintaining sobriety all the more challenging. As a result it relapse rates can be on the steep incline.

It seems that those who are unable to maintain social bonds and a sense of community through virtual interactions are more at risk for drug use and relapse. For individuals who have adopted harm reduction techniques are now using drugs alone instead of with a friend. If an overdose occurs, there is nobody around to administer the life-saving drug naloxone. First responders are finding people alone in their homes, dead due to overdose.

A report released at the beginning of May by the Well Being Trust predicted that up to 75,000 Americans could die due to drug or alcohol misuse and suicide as a result of COVID-19.

Isolation and depression

Mental health experts have argued as far back as the Great Depression that unemployment damages mental health and undermines society’s social fabric. Involuntary joblessness can elicit feelings of helplessness, self-doubt, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

“Who are we if we cannot take care of our families and ourselves?”

“Who are we if we cannot put food on the table?”

Individuals who suffer unintended job loss are less likely to socialize with their friends and family because they feel ashamed or embarrassed, leading to isolation, which leads to depression, and more isolation. It is hard for many to socialize with friends who are gainfully employed when one is struggling to find any job leads, especially during this pandemic.

The economic impact of depression

The World Health Organization has noted that depression and anxiety have an estimated cost to the global economy of $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. A likely surge of people experiencing acute behavioral health problems, both those with new symptoms and those with existing conditions, has the potential to strain the healthcare system further and add cost to an already unprecedented economic downturn.

Staying strong during this time

We must remember that this is not our fault. We cannot blame ourselves for this financial crisis that has occurred because of COVID-19. We cannot blame ourselves for being laid-off. We also must safeguard our mental health in every way possible. Therapy and social connections are imperative for our mental health, but when we are out of work and are mandated to isolate, what other options do we have? For addiction reading about staying strong during this pandemic, read Feelings of Hope During COVID-19

Develop a daily routine: Unemployment can often lead to boredom, feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and depression. We need to develop new daily habits so that we stay active and motivated. This includes the following:

  • Adopt a regular sleep/wake cycle
  • Adopt a daily exercise routine
  • Take time each day to develop a new skill or work on a new project
  • Nourish our bodies with plenty of whole foods and water
  • Spend at least 30 minutes a day outside
  • Spend quality time with loved ones (even if that means virtual happy hours and meetings or practicing social distancing)
  • Spend time to meditate, read, or practicing yoga
  • Spend time to focus on activities that bring you joy
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs
  • Attend community support groups, whether they are virtual or in-person
  • Get in contact with an addiction treatment center

PTSD and the Lifelong Road to Recovery

This blog is written by John D. Ivanisin III, a Quest 2 Recovery alumni. On May 17th, 2020 he celebrated one year of sobriety.

Introduction

I grew up in a small town outside of Hartford, Connecticut. My parents raised me, my brother, and sister together until they separated in 1995 when I was 11 years old. From what I can remember, I had a fairly happy childhood. There was no abuse going on in my home, my parents were both sober and in recovery for alcohol and prescription drugs. Things seemed to be normal until they sat us children down and told us they would be separating. Their separation lasted around five years. Within that time frame, I moved homes about 10 times; in the same town, to and from my father’s house. It was also during this time that I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I started smoking marijuana, which eventually led to trying other harder drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine. My drinking always seemed to bother me because my father was a recovering alcoholic and I did not want to go down the same path. I eventually stopped using all drugs and alcohol on my own, so I could get my life together and join the US Marine Corps.

My Life in the Marine Corps

On December 19, 2003 I enlisted into the delayed entry program of the United States Marine Corps. On February 9th the following year, I went to boot camp. After boot camp, I completed combat training, and parachute rigger school. Then, I was sent to my first duty station in Okinawa, Japan. I had just turned 20 years old when I got there. Because we were in a foreign country, there was a curfew for all junior Marines. This left a lot of idle time, which led to boredom, and eventually to starting drinking underage in the military, which is illegal. Luckily, I never got caught drinking before finally turning 21. When I turned of age, it was on. I would drink as much as I could just about everyday for several months, until my lack of attendance at work started to raise some concerns, and my command mandated that I attend classes for alcohol abuse. I had been in the military less than a year at this point. I spent the next nine years of my life in the military deploying twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. After these deployments, which lasted 7 months a piece, my drinking continued to go through cycles of good times and really bad times, though I never really felt like I couldn’t control my drinking. I was a Marine and there was nothing I couldn’t control. I was invincible and the roughest, toughest guy out there. I didn’t need AA or rehab, I just needed everyone to stay out of my business so I could handle my problems the way I knew best, which of course, was to drink. Nobody knew what was best for me except for me. In October of 2012, I was arrested for driving under the influence. I blew a .159 BAC. I got lucky and was never charged by the military, and due to my moving to Florida, the Honolulu Superior court decided not to prosecute, and dropped all charges in 2018.

Life After the Military

In 2013, I was honorably discharged from active duty. My mother and stepfather bought a house in Florida, so I decided to move there with them and start my new life as a civilian. I met my wife in 2014, and in 2015 we moved to California, where we currently reside with our two children. In my early days in California, my drinking started to increase because I was working as a DJ at some of the local bars. As I drank more, I started snorting cocaine to be able to keep drinking. For about a year, I was spending around $1,700 a month on cocaine. All the money I earned from DJing went to drugs and more drugs. I had other sources of income, so nobody really knew how much I was spending, except for me and my dealer. In December of 2017, after being out of the military for four years, I was finally diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety disorder, depression disorder and substance abuse disorder.

Quest 2 Recovery

My last night using drugs and alcohol was May 16th,  2019. I blacked out from drinking and taking Xanax, and drove myself to a bar where I was ultimately carried out of an hour after arriving. I remember waking up soaked in my own urine at about 4 am and immediately started making phone calls to find more cocaine. I left to go get it and did not return home until about 5pm later that day, despite my wifes and friends’ efforts to get me to come home. When I arrived at my house, my wife said that she was going to be moving back to Florida if I did not stop drinking, so I agreed to go to rehab. I just wanted to die at that time and end all the pain, but I got online and started googling rehab facilities near me. Quest 2 Recovery was the closest place to where I lived, so I figured I would call them first. I spoke to Armen Melikyan, the co-founder of Quest, and he gave me some information on the program, and also asked a few questions. He then told me someone would be in contact within the next 15 minutes. Sure enough, the Clinical Director and Therapist for Quest, Amber Carra, called me and talked to me for a while discussing treatment options and whether or not I was serious about getting sober; I was. I arrived at the facility at about 9 pm that same night. The facility was nothing like what I had pictured in my head. I was expecting a big white hospital, with white padded rooms, and security guards in white scrubs, walking around with billy clubs like I’d seen in some movies. I had never been to rehab, so I was shocked when I pulled up to a normal house. The facility was beautiful, the staff were friendly and very supportive. Quest is dedicated to their military and first-responder clients, and they made that very clear at the start. I was treated well upon arrival and made to feel like I mattered to someone.

What Quest Did for Me

During my time at Quest, I was able to focus on myself and getting healthy again. There were no outside distractions that kept me from getting better. The staff and fellow clients at Quest helped  show me that I can have a good life without alcohol or drugs. Through therapy, I was able to address some of the issues that I had been dealing with for a long time. I was able to really take the time to find out who I am, and what I want out of life. I could not have quit drinking and using drugs on my own. I needed a place to feel safe and comfortable in order to get better, and Quest was the miracle that saved me. Some of the important things I gained from my time at Quest are finding my higher power, feeling the sense of relief when I figured out that I am not alone, and that there were many people just like me going through the same things that I struggle with. I also learned that a positive outlook, even in bad situations, can really make all the difference. Having a clear head to make decisions has changed my life entirely for the better.

A Message to Veterans

The hardest thing I had to do in my recovery was make that first phone call to Quest 2 Recovery, and decide that it was time to end the insanity that I called my life. Recovery is not something that you just get, it requires as much effort as getting through boot camp, if not more. But there is peace, serenity, and happiness that can be attained if you are willing to put in the effort. I did not believe it until I began to experience it for myself. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous were truly a cornerstone of my recovery after Quest. I know how difficult it can be to reach out for help, but asking for help essentially saved my life and my marriage. If you are a veteran or a first responder, Quest is the place to go to get better. It was nothing like I imagined, in fact it was the complete opposite. My 30 day stay at Quest was honestly some of the most beautiful days of my life, and it has only gotten better since then. Getting the help you need can mean the difference in life and death. I did not want to live, I didn’t think there was anything worth living for, but I am typing this letter to you now being sober for over one year. It has not been the easiest thing I have ever done, but it has been worth every effort that I put in. If I can make one recommendation to anyone out there struggling with addiction and PTSD, it is to never give up. There is a path to happiness, you just have to walk down that path. Take advantage of all the resources that Quest has to offer and be open minded. If you can make the choice to get clean and sober, Quest will do everything they can to get you there and help keep you sober. All you have to do is pick up that phone and call

Why Dual-Diagnosis Programs Are Beneficial For First Responders

First responders are the true American heroes. Paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officials such as police officers, work tirelessly so society can feel safe and secure. First responders are the solution to situations that seem like they have no solution. They display a level of courage that is almost unfathomable during the typical ‘work day’. At Quest 2 Recovery, we feel it’s important to acknowledge and honor these individuals, so we created an addiction program specifically for first responders. We want to thank them for everything they do and hope to take care of them the way they take care of us.

Due to the stressful and traumatic nature of the job, first responders are prone to developing issues related to addiction, drug abuse, and mental health disorders. Often these disorders co-exist amongst each other, thus the creation of dual-diagnosis programs in addiction treatment.

What Is a Dual-Diagnosis Program?

A dual-diagnosis program is the term used to describe a treatment center that has the capabilities of treating addiction and mental health disorders. Common disorders that are treated together are addiction and anxiety, addiction and depression, and addiction, and PTSD. On average, 67% of alcoholics are diagnosed with a depressive disorder and 75% of opioid addicts receive a similar diagnosis. That’s a tough pill to swallow, no pun intended. 

Dual-diagnosis programs function similarly to non-dual-diagnosis addiction programs. Our clients at Quest 2 Recovery will start their recovery journey with detoxification (if needed), then progress to inpatient treatment. During this time their addiction will be addressed through individual therapy and group therapy while utilizing therapies such as cognitive-behavioral and dialect behavioral to address mental illness. 

Mental Health and First Responders

It’s no secret that stress and trauma have a negative impact on physical and emotional health. Because first responders perform a job that requires troubleshooting and mitigating emergencies, mental health issues are all too common for them, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is triggered by a terrifying event. Since everyone is different and processes trauma in different ways, symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person. Symptoms are grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. At Quest 2 Recovery we provide individualized care for all of our clients so we can effectively address these symptoms. 

Chemical Dependency and First Responders

It’s also common for first responders to develop substance abuse disorders. Sometimes it can develop relatively innocuously. Generally speaking, working professionals look forward to unwinding after work with a drink. Sometimes it’s in the comfort of their own home or sometimes with friends. The same goes for first responders. The difference between the two is the person working a desk job probably doesn’t have trouble sleeping at night, whereas the first responder may be up all night reliving the trauma they experienced during the day. The one drink the first responder uses to unwind after work could turn into drinking an entire bottle so they can fall asleep.

No one wakes up randomly one day and becomes an addict. Addiction is something that develops over time, especially when unresolved trauma and stress build up. We hope if you’re a first responder struggling with mental illness and addiction and reading this now, you’ll reach out to us for help. We know it can be challenging for first responders to seek help because they’re worried about the stigma of ‘not being able to handle the job’, but getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. 

Quest 2 Recovery Is Here for You

At Quest 2 Recovery, we are a dual diagnosis, substance abuse program that offers detoxification and residential inpatient levels of care. We are here to also serve first responders who are located in the Los Angeles and Southern California area. We know that first responders often suffer from both substance abuse disorders as well as mental health issues. We believe that both should be addressed together in a safe environment. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with addiction treatment, please give us a call today! 

Neurotherapy & Addiction: All You Need To Know

Addiction and substance abuse aren’t a matter of self-control, they are a physiological disorder that runs much deeper. Attempting to become sober and live a life of recovery can be intimidating and may seem impossible to someone battling an addiction, but it’s certainly possible to live a fulfilling, drug and alcohol-free life. Treatment options such as detoxification, inpatient, and outpatient programs, are widely available for someone looking to get sober. 

As technology advances, there are investments in new diagnostic and treatment options for addicts. One popular tool used in treatment is called biofeedback, which is the process of collecting information about the human body and applying it in various techniques. One sub-form of biofeedback is Neurotherapy.

What is Neurotherapy?

Neurotherapy, also known as neurofeedback, is one of the main components of biofeedback. This type of therapy collects information on the signals that are passed between parts of the brain. This tool can be used to measure the health of someone’s brain. The brain plays a major role in addiction because when someone is addicted to a substance, the fundamental chemistry of the brain changes. An addicted brain believes it requires the substance to stay alive. Neurotherapy can help retrain the brain to live without the substance, ultimately leading to someone overcoming addiction. The biggest takeaway from Neurotherapy is that it’s a long term solution to a chronic disease. 

How Does it Work?

Neurotherapy is a multi-step process that includes equipment, software, and feedback. The clinician, during the sessions, uses electronic sensors to monitor the waves of the brain. Over time, these sensors are going to collect information on what is happening in the rest of the brain. These signals are going to produce waves on a sheet of paper that varies in height and frequency. Using a process that is called quantitative EEG, also shortened to EEG, the doctor will be able to spot areas of dysregulation throughout the brain. This information is then used to teach the addict how to change their own physiological activity, by changing their thoughts and emotions. 

How Does it Help in Treating Addiction?

Neurotherapy helps in treating addiction because it will help the addict accept change. One of the biggest hurdles in recovery is for an addict’s brain to accept the change that they’ll no longer rely on the substance they were addicted to. The waves that are recorded during Neurotherapy can also be applied to come up with an effective treatment strategy for those who suffer from addiction. An EEG from someone who suffers from addiction can be compared to the EEG of someone who doesn’t suffer from addiction. Then, differences between the two patterns can be spotted. 

There are numerous addiction treatment strategies that can be applied based on information from an EEG in a Neurotherapy session. For example, the brain waves of someone who suffers from an addiction to alcohol might be different from someone who suffers from an addiction to cocaine. Depending on the appearance of these waves, some people might respond better to certain treatments than others. Therefore, Neurotherapy can play an important role in someone’s recovery process, guiding professionals in coming up with a treatment plan that has been tailored to meet the needs of the individual.

Let Us Help You!

At Quest 2 Recovery, we are a dual diagnosis, substance abuse program that offers detoxification and residential inpatient levels of care. Our goal is to help people in the Los Angeles and Southern California area during the first few days of the treatment process. Our professionals have undergone extensive training to help individuals who suffer from a variety of forms of addiction including drugs, alcohol, and more. We will help you through the most challenging days of the journey toward sobriety. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you recover from addiction, please contact us today! We would be honored to assist you.

A Day in the Life of a First Responder in Addiction Treatment

addiction treatment and first responders

Addiction is one of the most pressing issues facing the public health system today. Some people are at a greater risk of developing addiction and mental health disorders than others, such as individuals who are exposed to traumatic events. This includes first responders; the first people to show up at the scene of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or serious crime. 

Most people cannot fathom what first responders see on a daily basis, therefore it’s common for first responders to not know where to turn for help. As a result, they end up coping in unhealthy ways. This is one of the biggest reasons why first responders end up developing mental health and substance abuse disorders at a higher rate than the average population. For this reason, there are specific addiction treatment centers that focus on the treatment of first responders.

What Does Addiction Treatment Look Like for First Responders?

If someone has been enrolled in addiction treatment for a first responder, the day is going to follow a typical framework. At a residential inpatient facility, the morning will involve a healthy breakfast which can include a mix of meat, grains, and fruit. Then early meetings are going to take place. Meditation, yoga, or other wellness activities are common during this time. After, group meetings are going to take place where first responders can learn from the experiences of others. There will usually be a counselor or therapist leading the group. They help someone learn about the treatment process, addiction, and recovery. 

After lunch, there are usually one on one therapy sessions. These sessions are going to be tailored to meet the needs of the individual. For example, someone will participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, an effective method used in the treatment of addiction. This treatment therapy focuses on identifying people’s individual responses to triggers. This will also help prevent relapses from taking place. 

Others may participate in specialized sessions. These can be tailored to help someone deal with grief or stress management. More group therapy is also offered at this time of the day or family therapy, helping someone rebuild his or her relationships.

During free time, first responders have the option to enroll in alternative types of therapy. Art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, exercise therapies, and equine therapy, are all great options for first responders.

Dealing with Mental Health Issues for First Responders

One of the major issues that accompanies addiction in first responders is the development of mental health disorders. Two of the most common mental health disorders that first responders develop are:

PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is one of the most common mental health disorders that develops among first responders. Symptoms include flashbacks, emotional lability, crying fits, trouble sleeping, and anger issues. People suffering from PTSD encounter triggers that transport them back to the scene of the event. PTSD is best addressed by trained professionals who know how to handle these delicate issues.

Depression: Depression is another mental health disorder that develops among first responders. People with depression often have trouble sleeping, feel guilty about past events, experience changes in appetite, and have issues finding enjoyment in activities that previously put a smile on their faces. Depression can be addressed by a well-rounded treatment approach that involves counseling, therapy, and medication. Of course, it’s up to the discretion of trained professionals about what medicine and therapy should be prescribed. 

How To Find Addiction Treatment for First Responders

It’s critical for anyone who is suffering from mental health or addiction disorders to find treatment. There are a number of ways first responders can find treatment. First, it’s always a good idea to talk to friends and family members. They may know people who have sought out treatment in the past. The internet is also a great tool to research different facilities. The best way to see if a treatment center is right for you is by researching and calling the facility to ask questions.

We Can Help You!

At Quest 2 Recovery, we’re a substance abuse and addiction treatment center that provides specialized treatment for first responders. We are located in the beautiful area of Lancaster, CA. We blend proven therapies with an innovative approach. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today. We would be honored to help you with your healthcare needs and we’d like to thank you for your service. 

Veterans & Substance Abuse: A Growing Problem

veterans and substance abuse

Substance abuse is one of the biggest problems in the United States and directly affects the healthcare system. Historically, it’s difficult for people to get the help they need and access mental health resources. As time evolves, more resources are becoming available and they are helping destigmatize mental illness and substance abuse. 

One population that is particularly prone to developing mental health and substance abuse are veterans. We should be honoring the people who serve our country and put their lives on the line every day and make treatment accessible

Statistics on Substance Abuse and Addiction Among Veterans

There is a growing concern surrounding substance abuse and addiction as it relates to veterans. Right now there are more than 2 million people serving in the armed forces and more than 23 million veterans in general. Many of these individuals are facing significant challenges as it relates to drug and alcohol abuse. A study produced following a survey that took place between 2004 and 2006 showed between five and 10 percent of veterans might meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder. For young adults specifically, this rate was as high as one in four. 

The Reasons Why Veterans Are At Risk for Addiction

Why are veterans at such a high risk of developing substance abuse and addiction disorders? There are a few reasons to note.

Trauma

This is the biggest factor. Veterans are exposed to events on the battlefield that most people can barely fathom. As a result, they need to find ways to cope with what they see. A large number of veterans go on to develop mental health issues such as PTSD. Some people may not be able to cope with counseling and therapy. Others may not want to. Instead, veterans turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope. This, in turn, leads to addiction.

Abuse

The rate of sexual assault in the army has come to light recently with alarming numbers. Veterans who are abused in the military are at risk of developing other mental health issues including PTSD and depression. In order to cope with the symptoms of these disorders, veterans may look to drugs and alcohol once again. This is a coping mechanism to help them deal with the trauma they have suffered.

Barriers to Treatment

Some veterans may find that there are major barriers to treatment. There is a shortage of access to mental health resources in the United States and veterans may also struggle to obtain prescription medications they need. This can leave veterans looking to drugs and alcohol for assistance once again.

Homelessness

Homelessness is a devastating epidemic amongst United States veterans. The vast majority of veterans who are homeless also have mental health disorders. It can be difficult for a veteran to find and maintain a job while battling mental health disorders. Without a job and health insurance, they will struggle to find health care providers who are willing to see them. This contributes to drug and alcohol abuse even further.

Drug Abuse and Addiction Among Active Military Members

There is an epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse in the military. Members serving often turn to prescription medications to help them cope with their experiences while on active duty. Some of these members even use prescription medications to self medicate chronic pain and PTSD. Many of these prescription medications end up getting abused because they are extremely addictive.

It is important for everyone, including veterans, to know that resources are available that can help people fight back against addiction. There is no shame in asking for help. With the guidance of trained professionals, everyone can beat addiction.

Rely on Quest 2 Recovery for Addiction Treatment

Anyone who is looking for addiction treatment including veterans should rely on Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster, California. Our trained professionals will work with you to come up with a plan that suits your needs. We offer treatment plans that also specialize in dual diagnosis which is perfect for veterans battling PTSD and substance abuse. Contact us today to get more information and help. 

Why You Should Never Detox From Drugs By Yourself

When you have a drug or alcohol problem, detoxing yourself is a dangerous choice. The problem with detoxing at home is that the withdrawals you go through need professional medical supervision. Withdrawal symptoms from detox are delusions, seizures, insomnia, vomiting, appetite changes, sleeping problem, anxiety,  and poor concentration.  Often medications or medical treatment is needed to control serious withdrawal symptoms. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse should never be treated at home due to the serious symptoms that occur. Professional medical supervision with nurses, doctors, and trained staff is needed to safely get off drugs and alcohol.

Reasons That Individuals Attempt to Detox Alone

Sometimes friends or family may tell the person that they can overcome the addiction with will power. This makes them believe that if they try hard enough they can stop drinking or taking drugs. This never works because it is like treating a chronic medical condition without a doctor. After detox, most people need psychological counseling to change their behavior and lifestyle. Detox is only one part of the entire process for recovering from addiction. Changing your behavior and thoughts is the next part.  Often the person does not want anyone to know they have a problem with drugs and alcohol.  Guilt and shame are connected to addiction.

Often the fear of being arrested or reported is another reason individual detox at home. They might fear to end up with a criminal record or be known as an addict. They may never mention the problem to their doctor or seek advice or treatment. Other reasons are that the person fears they may lose their job if the employer learns about their addiction. Some may have tried a treatment program and relapsed. So they conclude these programs do not work, and they do not want to go them again. Going back for treatment, a second time does not mean it will fail again.

Another reason someone does not seek treatment is that they may have concerns about the cost of treatment and not having the right insurance to cover it. Treatment centers accept insurance and sometimes financial help is available for those that need it.  A lack of money does not have to be a problem when seeking professional treatment. The danger of detoxing alone from alcohol or drugs is very high. Physical symptoms can lead to a medical emergency. Often physical symptoms last for a few weeks or longer. This can lead to serious illness and death in some cases.

Quest 2 Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program

Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster CA has a complete addiction treatment program the had detox for drug and alcohol abuse, inpatient care, dual diagnosis, and aftercare. We treat alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine, meth, opioid, and other substance abuse. Their detox program helps the patient to deal with the withdrawal symptoms with supervised medical care. Often prescription drugs are prescribed to help the person with withdrawal symptoms. They minimize the side effects caused when they stop using alcohol or drugs. Our program provides medical and psychological treatment for detox. Both are needed for success.

The first stage is to evaluate the patient through blood tests, medical tests, and psychological tests. Once the patient diagnosed and admitted they will receive medical and psychological counseling as they go through the detox program. The length of time it takes to go through detox depends on the severity of the addiction. We offer many support therapies as part of our program. We have group therapy, anger management, cognitive behavioral therapy,  individual counseling, meditation, yoga, art, music, exercise, family therapy, social skills, 12-step programs, and more.

We offer Neurotherapy that targets how the brain processes information. This treatment is used to treat addiction and the symptoms that often accompany it. Trained professionals help patients change their thought processes by a series of specific exercises. It relieves stress, anxiety, and stabilizes mood swings. It is a form of biofeedback that uses electrical sensors and a computer to measure brain waves. Patients learn to control their thoughts through visual and auditory feedback.

After a patient is released, we have aftercare programs to help them make a transition back to regular life. We have group therapy, classes that teach living skills, help with housing and finding a place to live and help with going back to school and finding work. All these programs help to keep the patient from relapsing by providing support in needed areas.

Don’t try to treat drug abuse or alcohol abuse alone, contact Quest 2 Recovery for an evaluation and a program that works for you. We provide addiction treatment and psychological treatment and will find the best program for your addiction. We want to help you overcome addiction and learn to live again. Call us at 1-885-783-7888 or fill out our online form.