How to Find Substance Abuse Treatment as a First Responder

Battling addiction is always tough. It can be even more difficult if you are a first responder and your reputation and livelihood are on the line due to substance abuse. That’s why Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster, CA, has devoted an entire program for first responders to heal along with peers going through the same issues.

Statistics indicate that first responders, such as firefighters and police officers, often turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate from PTSD and stress related to their jobs. According to a recent SAMHSA report, for example, heavy or binge drinking occurred among half male firefighters surveyed in the previous month. Of these, 9% admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Who Are First Responders?

You may imagine that first responders consist of ambulance drivers and ER medical professionals combined with police officers, FEMA workers, and firefighters. However, there are many other careers that involve people to respond to emergency situations. If you or a loved one works as an air marshall, campus security officer, animal control officer, DEA agent, park rangers, Red Cross worker or serve in the military, then this label fits your job title.

First responders arrive first when a crisis occurs. This includes terror attacks, crimes, accidents, and natural disasters. They have the tough job of preventing the loss of life and harm to pets and property as fire rage, rivers flood and buildings crumble around them. Due to the extreme nature of the job, these workers suffer more trauma than most people do during the course of their workday. Therapists and others used to think that these people were resilient and able to leave the stress and strain at the doorstep when they got home. That turns out to be untrue.

Researchers are still struggling to understand how the constant stress of being a first responder impacts substance abuse disorders and alcohol addiction. Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD play their own roles and have to be addressed as part of any robust first responder treatment program. At Quest 2 Recovery, we provide a place for first responders to meet and discuss their addiction in a safe space. Participants learn to confront their addiction and pick up valuable coping skills that help them avoid a relapse.

First Responder Group Therapy

Clients who participate in first responder group therapy can open up and help their peers process their experiences. Everyone in the circle understands the stress that comes with knowing someone else’s life may depend on your actions. Some of the people you meet in group therapy sessions may include correctional officers, emergency medical professionals, law enforcement, firefighters and military veterans. Many people who attend this exclusive group therapy session gain confidence in their ability to discuss and face their challenges.

This is a critical component of your recovery, and it’s much easier to share your thoughts and feelings when you are with a group of people who are going through a similar experience. Within a group of peers, there’s no fear of judgment. This has been a barrier for first responders attending group sessions with others recovering from substance abuse. Group sessions are overseen a licensed therapist and conducted in a private setting.

First First Responder Addiction Treatment in Lancaster, CA

At Quest 2 Recovery, our substance abuse recovery program is open to first responders in the Lancaster, CA, area and beyond. Contact us today to take the first step in a life free of drugs and alcohol. We know that you face more stress and trauma than most people face in a lifetime, but there’s hope for a brighter future among a community of your peers. We have a residential detox and residential inpatient treatment options for substance abuse recovery.

Neurotherapy for Chemical Dependency in First Responders

First Responders are some of the most important people for those struggling with addiction. They are often the first point of contact for individuals with chemical dependency problems who are at the hardest points of their illness. The unfortunate truth is that First Responders can also develop these problems themselves.

Neurotherapy is a new technique for helping to treat addiction. It has proven useful for First Responders and makes an effective complement to other treatments.

First Responders and Substance Abuse

First Responders face life-threatening conditions and high-stress work environments. This exposure to stress can lead to higher rates of substance abuse amongst these workers.

Firefighters face dangerous work conditions. They respond to everything from potential threatening medical calls to burning buildings. In addition to those risks, firefighters also face medical side effects from their work such as burns and lung disease. All of this adds up to the sad fact that rates of binge drinking are higher amongst firefighters than the general population.

Paramedics and EMTs also have to navigate saving people’s lives while coping with some of the most demanding work conditions known in America today. Paramedics routinely work shifts longer than 12 hours and are often on-call for nights and doubles. During these working hours, they have to keep their focus sharp in order to help people with all kinds of medical conditions from routine accidents to life-threatening emergencies. The stress, long hours, and dangerous conditions lead to PTSD and anxiety being higher amongst paramedics than the general population. This can also lead to higher rates of substance abuse just to keep up.

Other first responders also face dangerous conditions similar to the two outlined here. No matter what the specific job is, all first responders have a high-stress environment to cope with.

What is Neurotherapy

This therapeutic technique is a non-invasive, medication-free technique that helps identify areas of the brain that might have become damaged or otherwise aren’t functioning at their best. This therapy has been used for ADHD, insomnia, and PTSD. It has also shown very promising results for people struggling with addiction.

Neurotherapy is based on the “brain disease” model of addiction. This medical model is embraced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This model correctly suggests that addiction is caused by changes to the brain and not by any moral failing. The idea that addiction is caused by moral weakness or lack of willpower is outdated and not very helpful for people in recovery.

How Neurotherapy can Help Treat Addiction

Neurotherapy uses state of the art brain mapping technology to identify the areas of the brain most damaged by addiction. While it may look like a machine from a science fiction movie, the technology behind this therapy is perfectly safe and totally noninvasive.

Once areas of the brain are identified, positive stimulus is given to those areas when the brain is in a calm state. This helps individuals struggling to recover from drug and alcohol abuse associate calm sensations with positive feedback which helps to break the cycle of addiction.

Neurotherapy is typically used in conjunction with other therapies such as classic 12 Step programs or more modern therapies such as SMART. This therapy helps return control back to the individual and helps them slowly repair areas of the brain that have been changed through the course of a substance abuse problem.

Get Help Today

Addiction can feel like it is unbeatable, but with help, you can overcome it. First Responders are on the frontlines helping people with addiction start their recoveries and help is available for them as well.

Are You Ready to Quit Heroin? Here’s How it’s Done

Among the numerous issues facing the modern healthcare system, addiction is among the most serious. There are countless people all over the country who are dealing with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and other dangerous substances. There has been a lot of attention paid to addiction over the past few years. The evaporation of the stigma surrounding addiction and the new diagnostic and treatment options have already helped numerous people all over the world. One of the often-overlooked addictive substances is heroin. This is a dangerous drug that can lead to serious side effects that leave individuals and families everywhere looking for answers. Fortunately, those who are looking for a way to quit heroin have a few steps they can take to get themselves, and their families, moving in the right direction.

An Overview of Heroin

When it comes to this drug, there are a handful of things that everyone should keep in mind. First, heroin is a potent opiate that works on the brain to trigger a powerful reward effect. When heroin is ingested, it causes the brain to release a set of chemicals that make people feel good. Some of the examples of these substances include dopamine and endorphins. Furthermore, this reward system is actually so powerful that about 25 percent of all people who try heroin for the first time are addicted instantly.

This reward system is important because these chemicals are actually necessary for survival. For example, they help people cope with pain, hunger, and other difficult situations. Unfortunately, the brain actually responds to heroin in a similar way. Eventually, people get to the point that they actually cannot function without the drug. Furthermore, when people do try to stop, they start to develop withdrawal symptoms. This makes the process of quitting even more difficult.

Signs that an Addiction has Formed

If someone has become addicted to heroin, there are going to be a few common symptoms that people might demonstrate. First, one of the major signs is that the person continues to use heroin even though the drug has caused major problems in his or her life. It might impact their job, school performance, and relationships with family members and friends.

Next, people who are addicted to heroin often try to quit but fail multiple times. This can bring a lot of frustration to the individual, causing him or her to feel down and hopeless.

In addition, those who are addicted to heroin will start to have cravings. When they have gone without heroin for a long time, their body will start to trigger the feeling of wanting, hunger, or demand for the addictive drug.

Finally, people who are addicted to heroin will often develop a tolerance to heroin. This means that they will require more of the same drug to achieve the same effect. When they go without the drug for a while, they may also start to develop withdrawal symptoms. These can take the form of chills, shakes, sweats, and more. People who are developing these symptoms when it comes to heroin need to know that professional help is available.

Getting Help for an Addiction to Heroin

Because of the reward system that heroin triggers, this addiction can be one of the most difficult to treat; however, heroin addiction treatment is available and people can quit with the right support. It is important for people to rely on the support of their loved ones, as this will play an important role in helping someone cope with the addiction emotionally. Then, it is a good idea to trust the professionals when it comes to addiction treatment. Heroin is challenging to break and there are professionals who have helped people break their heroin addiction in the past. There are outpatient options, partial hospitalization programs, and inpatient treatment options that can help people flush heroin, and its side effects, out of the system, helping people feel as good as new. Even though there are going to be significant challenges when it comes to this process, breaking heroin’s hold is possible.

Breaking an Addiction to Heroin

These are a few steps that people can take to try to break their addiction to heroin. This is a dangerous drug that can lead to dangerous side effects. The symptoms of withdrawal, along with those that accompany an overdose, can be life-threatening. Therefore, anyone who is looking to break their addiction to help should rely on the experience of trained professionals. Breaking an addiction to alcohol and drugs, such as heroin, is a difficult task and those who are suffering from addiction need to know that they do not have to face this problem alone. The support of family members, friends, and trained professionals can help someone get on the road to recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, contact us today. At Quest 2 Recovery, our goal is to help you free yourself from the chains of addiction. Our friendly and professional staff is waiting on your call.

PTSD And Addiction In First Responders

First responders have a grueling job. They see things that most people may not ever even have nightmares about and many first responders do not have access to the therapy and the help that they need to be able to effectively deal with these horrible circumstances and the stresses they deal with each day.

First Responders and PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is far more common in first responders than you might imagine. These brave men and women go headfirst into circumstances that most people would run from. They see people hurt, they see people dying, they see people that have lost their fight and they deal with the carnage that is left behind. As a result, PTSD is terribly common among first responders and is more likely to develop the longer a first responder is on the job and the more that they deal with.

On top of all the things they see, they also have a job that is high in stress which can have adverse effects on the overall health and mental state of our first responders. For some, drugs and alcohol are a welcome reprieve from the pain, suffering, and mental anguish that they deal with on a daily basis. To add insult to injury, many first responders also deal with depression and have no real means of being treated and of seeking therapy or other means of help for these disorders.

Treatment Options

The first step to treating addiction in anyone is to determine what the addiction is and to take the time to address it on a person by person basis. What might work for one person may not work for a first responder and vice versa making an individualistic approach important. Once you have established that there is a problem with substance abuse and that treatment is needed, it is important to find an approach that is right for each addict.

Depending on what type of first responder you are working with, you may need to talk to supervisors and other higher officials to determine just what type of treatment is needed so that the first responder can return to work should the want to. With PTSD, it is going to be necessary not only to treat the addiction to any substances that might be being used, but also to treat the PTSD, depression or any other mental diseases that the individual might be dealing with at the same time.

These first responders may want a private treatment that is not going to put them in the public eye, they may need special care that allows them to continue work when they are not in treatment, and they are going to need special handling. Being a first responder is difficult, being a first responder that is also dealing with drug and alcohol addiction is even harder.

Unique Approach

A treatment facility like Quest 2 Recovery offers unique treatment options that are tailored to the individual rather than to the masses. They create treatment plans that are both inpatient residential and those programs that allow the patients to go about their daily lives while still getting the treatment that they need.

They use therapy, detox, group support, exercise and more all in an effort to create a program that is going to work for each particular patient to provide the most success and the best rates of healing. It is the goal of recovery to allow patients to have the treatment that is going to work best for them and that is going to promote life long healing and recovery.

PTSD is not something that can be healed in one fail swoop. It is an ongoing battle and if the patient is continually exposed to the conditions and events that encourage and foster the PTSD it will only get worse. There are plenty of first responders that have gone down the path of substance abuse and many that have not been given an adequate chance to recover. Exclusive rehab options that take into account the type of work these people do each day, rehab that takes personality and disposition and more is going to be far more effective than a one size fits all rehab that does not really make a difference.

Specialized care is something that can help first responders to deal with their addiction and to actually get better. Addiction is not something that we have to deal with, if you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, drugs or other substances and they are also dealing with PTSD, a specialized approach is going to make a big difference. With the right treatment, anyone can deal with addiction and become happy, healthy, and free of the burden of addiction and the pain it causes.

Stress & Addiction: How They Fuel Each Other

In the United States, 8 out of 10 people consider themselves stressed. Whether it be an internal force that causes their stress, like overthinking or fear of missing out, or external factors like family problems or troubles at work, there are a myriad of ways that stress can creep into our lives. According to the American Psychological Association, the top stressors of Americans are money, work, the economy, family responsibilities, relationships, personal health concerns, housing costs, job stability, health of loved ones, and personal safety, in that order.

With that in mind, what coping mechanisms do people utilize in order to manage their stress? Some might exercise more to alleviate their stress. Others might meditate. But for those with addiction, stress could become a trigger for their vice.

What is Stress?

Stress is the feeling of pressure mentally and how the body responds to it. Stress can be due to strenuous circumstances that make life more difficult, but it could also be the body’s inability to cope with its surroundings.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is the brain choosing a substance or behavior for the feeling that it provides despite the often negative consequences of use. The first addictions that come to mind are typically drugs or alcohol, but there are many other types of addiction. Addiction is not about the use of a bad substance, but the mind’s dependence of use of any substance. Here are some examples of substances that people can become addicted to:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis
  • Inhalants
  • Opioid
  • Sedatives
  • Stimulants
  • Tobacco and Nicotine

Here are some behaviors that people can become addicted to:

  • Binge-eating
  • Shoplifting
  • Sex
  • Gaming
  • Gambling
  • Shopping
  • Smartphone Use

While it is possible to see that the excessive use of a substance or action is bad for your health or wallet, it is important to understand that treating the addiction is not about what you are addicted to but the feeling that you are addicted to.

Are Stress and Addiction Related?

Yes. In the cases that stress can affect addiction, stress is referred to as environmental factors. Think about how many people say they need a drink after a bad day at work. There are people who need to smoke a cigarette after an argument with a coworker or family member. There are others who insist that a day at the casino or some consumer therapy will help alleviate any stressful situation that they may have. While not all people who exercise this use of substance or behavior in response to stress are addicted to the substance or behavior, these environmental factors can be a trigger to those with addiction to use their vice as a way of coping with their stress.

Addiction Treatment

There are many ways of treating addiction. People who require addiction treatment can consider each of the following options as a way of treating their addiction:

  • Detoxification
  • Medication-Assisted Therapy
  • Therapy (Group, Cognitive, Recreational or Family)
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Medication and Withdrawal Management

There are numerous other addiction treatment plans available. It is important to understand that managing the triggers of addiction, such as stress and stressful environmental factors, is essential in creating a successful addiction treatment plan. In addition to residential treatment plans, there are after-rehabilitation support groups that can share and compare addiction treatment journeys to ensure a sense of accountability and encouragement among those with stress and addiction.

At Quest 2 Recovery, the addiction recovery program starts with detoxification and ends with aftercare planning, to ensure that recovery continues to be a part of your life even as you leave the rehabilitation center. While stress might trigger your addiction, Quest 2 Recovery can give you the tools to find healthier ways of coping with your stress.  Contact us today if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction.

5 Signs It’s Time To Intervene

Addiction will not only affect the life of an addict, but also those around them. Alcohol and drug addiction can break families, leaving lives in wrecks.

You might be having someone battling drug or alcohol addiction, and you don’t know how to help. In most cases, talking to the victim might not provide excellent results. That is because the majority of people suffering from addiction are still in denial about their addiction state. In that case, doing an intervention for a person strolling with drug or alcohol abuse is the best solution. It will help the victim to transition into the treatment procedure safely and swiftly. Before you stage the intervention, make sure you invite a doctor to help you through the process. Also, have non-attacking letters to your loved ones, and have a treatment plan in case the victim refuses to get help.

Importance of intervention

  • Assists the victim to realize that alcohol and drugs have become a life-threatening threat
  • Identifies addition or abuse as a medical disorder
  • Offers an alternative for instant treatment
  • Determines what will be affected in a relationship, at work, at home if the victim refuses to be helped

Timing

Addiction can be a life-threatening event to the individual battling with alcohol or drug dependence and the family as well. But, what is the perfect time to perform an intervention to increase the chances of getting the required results?

The ideal time to stage an intervention is determined by:

  • The capability of the participants to come together for the intervention
  • When the victim is sober and available
  • When it’s evident that the victim’s life is in danger
  • Let’s look at the signs; it’s time for an intervention.
  • The victim’s destructive behavior subjects his or her family at risk

People struggling with addiction encounter challenges related to taking care of their families. In most cases, they engage in vicious habits, like passing out and overdosing. They might also endanger other family members by driving under the influence or using drugs in the presence of kids.

Once you start to see an increased incidence of failure to make informed decisions about their health or your own, it’s the right time for an intervention. In most cases, drug or alcohol abuse will escalate before getting better.

Failure to tell the truth

Where they spend their free time is a secret to you, and you don’t know the substance they are using. Once you realize that your loved one is trying to dodge the truth, ensure you understand why. Addiction tends to create a physical and chemical dependency that makes it hard to make the right decisions. However, your loved one realizes they are doing something wrong by using the substance. Drug or alcohol abuse triggers lies that build upon each other and worsens over time.

The use of substance becomes uncontrollable

The consumption of drugs or alcohol will increase as the abuse of these substances worsens. You might various signs of a controlled level of consumption like:

  • Making stopover to get a drink on when going home from work and coming home late
  • Using the drugs in the morning
  • The urge to look for more drugs since what they have is not enough

Typically, those with addiction find themselves creating tolerance faster. That means they want drugs with more intense effects to get a similar feeling.

They act or look sick

Those with addiction problems strive to make it a secret. While some might think they are successful, they will feel horrible most of the time and look sick. You might realize they don’t wear clean or wrinkle-free clothes anymore. They will also look pale and appear to have lost a lot of weight.

Remember that you might notice mental health changes like being east to anger or avoiding other family members.  That withdrawn personality is a symptom of addiction, indicating that they need help.

The financial hardship is worsening

Maintaining a substance abuse condition is a costly affair. You might be struggling to balance your cost and finding it hard to make ends meet. The victim might go to work, and your revenue might be the same, but his or her bank account is always dry. You might also realize that your loved one is finding it hard to maintain a job. This will result in financial hardships like having their assets repossessed. Your loved one might also be lending money frequently and promising to pay back, but defaulting later on.

Final word

Before you decide to stage an intervention meeting, make sure you have a plan. You need to understand what issues you need to address and rehearse saying them without any anger. Being accusatory and raising your voice towards the addiction treatment victim will push them away. You can invite an interventionist in the event the situation worsens. Make sure there is a treatment plan such that the victim will be admitted right after the intervention.

 

Treatment Programs Specific to Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism and alcohol use disorder is often described as a downward spiral. The alcoholism leaves a person miserable, who then seeks more alcohol to feel better, only getting worse instead. The vicious circle destroys health, careers, relationships, friendships and ultimately family bonds. No surprise, many clients literally feel like they can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel anymore. Fortunately, even the worst of alcohol addictions can be helped. A number of treatment approaches are available, and clients can get back to a healthy, normal life again.

Factors Contributing to Addiction

Many times, alcoholism and alcohol abuse don’t occur on their own. Multiple factors and elements can put a person in a vulnerable position to develop a drinking addiction. These include medical conditions, psychological factors, family issues, personal history, career pressures, stress, social issues and more. As a result, an effective alcohol addiction treatment program needs to approach a client’s treatment as a multi-factored approach versus just trying to treat the physical addiction alone.

The Difference in Professional Treatment

A professional approach to treatment will involve a well-trained medical specialist team that works best out of a rehabilitation program and facility. Even if the treatment will be outpatient, medical specialists are essential to identify the nature, scope, and extent of addiction and how to customize the treatment for the specific needs of the individual. And, when one commits to an inpatient program, the support provided by such a team is 24/7, day and night, through the detox phase and smoothly into the recovery and sustaining phase.

Real Recovery is Rooted in the Mind

However, even with the best help, people have to remember that recovery from alcoholism and alcohol abuse is very much a process, not a simple treatment reaction such as taking a pill for pain relief. Under half of the number of folks who try to achieve sobriety and recovery tend to relapse within a year of starting. Those who do succeed are able to do so because they engaged in ongoing counseling and group therapy for ongoing support.

Like any addiction, ultimately the recovery starts when the person realizes he or she needs to stop the condition and try to heal. This mental switch is essential for any physical recovery to begin as well as to continue. The recognition can happen in a number of ways. It can be self-induced. It can happen through family or friend intervention. Or many times it occurs through social response such as getting in trouble with the law or suffering negative career impacts due to alcoholism. Whichever the case, when the person begins to accept help is needed, the detox and recovery phases can begin.

Getting Treatment and Types

There is no bad time to start trying to get treatment. Ideally, as soon as an addiction is identified, treatment should be sought. However, many times folks have been addicted for a long time before it became a serious problem. And such conditions come with complicated relational problems such as financial problems, family disorder, marriage dissolution, legal problems, career problems and more.  This can make a person feel like treatment needs to wait until the other problem is solved, but in reality, the treatment should come first. And that starts by reaching out to medical experts for help.

As mentioned earlier, there are multiple ways treatment can be applied. These include:

  • Alcoholism Detoxification – Probably the most recognizable treatment, this phase involves the separation of the individual from the physical effects of alcohol so the client can break from the physical cravings. It involves separation, withdrawals, medical treatment for symptoms, and re-establishment of physical health. Many times clients suffer physical reactions to the detox process, which is why the close monitoring of medical experts is essential for success. Otherwise, clients frequently seek out their addiction for quick relief.
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation – This type of treatment involves a combination of detox, medical treatment and recovery help all in one. The client is contained in a medical facility with expert medical staff on hand, and he or she goes through a full process that can take weeks or even months before an initial recovery condition is reached. The benefit is that the care provided is 24/7 and doesn’t allow the client to quickly seek relief through the addiction again. It tends to be the most successful method of physical “drying out” for clients.
  • Alcoholism Counseling – Because the mental condition ultimately drives or loses recovery, alcohol counseling is a long-term followup treatment approach that keeps providing support for individuals to stay away from the physical sources of their addiction. To work out the problems that drove them to alcohol abuse, and to provide peer support. A therapist guides the counseling and group sessions often give clients a peer outlet for emotional and mental release. This, in turn, builds resilience and the confidence to stay away from relapse.

Quest 2 Recovery in Lancaster CA provides a Southern California comprehensive approach to alcohol abuse addiction treatment. It is designed as a holistic treatment that insures both short-term and long-term treatment are applied specifically to the individual needs of the client versus a cookie-cutter recipe. When you or a loved one realize it’s time for help, Quest 2 Recovery is ready to help. Contact us today for more information.

How To Reach Out For Help While Struggling With Addiction

Facing Facts

One of the most damaging things about addiction is how it alienates us from those who care about us the most. It’s difficult enough admitting we have a problem for ourselves, let alone those around us. We may go through cycles of guilt and despair, determination and denial, almost ready to reach out but somehow never quite doing it.

The climb to recovery is not a journey to be taken alone. Asking for help is essential to breaking those cycles and genuinely moving a better direction. And yet… it can seem so difficult! How do we reach out, even when we don’t feel like we can?

1. Stop focusing on blame, guilt, regret, etc.

There will be plenty of time to feel whatever you feel once you’re getting help and working through your recovery. Right now, all that self-hate and doubt is just getting in the way. We live in a society still trying to break free of a shame-driven past; not everything we believe about ourselves is based on reality so much as our collective cultural baggage.

You may not be able to turn those thoughts and feelings completely off, but you can make the decision to ignore them for two minutes – long enough to reach out. Who could you call if you weren’t overwhelmed with those feelings for a few moments?

2. Let someone else be the “good guy.”

One of the excuses we make when we should be asking for help is that our partner won’t understand, or our family will be so disappointed, or our friends don’t need to be burdened by us. That mindset doesn’t really give the people around us enough credit. Most people want to help, especially if they know what’s needed. Most people want to be useful and to do right by those around them. Wouldn’t you do it for them?

You’ve probably helped someone move, listened while they talked through a big decision, or fed their dog while they were out of town. If sobriety starts with asking someone to make a few calls or drive you to an appointment, is that really asking so much in return?

3. Try someone professional.

If coming clean with those closest to you seems impossible, try someone outside your immediate circle. Talk to your family doctor, even if that’s not what the appointment was originally scheduled to be about. Tell your chiropractor, or lawyer, or pastor, or dentist. Talk to the nurse or even the receptionist. Maybe your workplace benefits include some sort of helpline or referral service.

I promise you, most people get it. They read the research. Primary care folks, especially, have heard it all. They don’t judge. In fact, they want to help; that’s why they became doctors and nurses.

4. Try someone far away.

This is the age of social media and long-distance communication. It might be easier to start with a friend who no longer lives in the area or a family member you don’t see as often. Even reaching out to a “virtual friend” is better than not reaching out, although it’s harder to predict how involved they’re willing or able to be.

Who could you message right now?

5. Seek help online.

If you do a search for “addiction recovery” or “help getting sober” or any variation thereof, you’ll be inundated with more results than you can possibly use. Some will be promoted links (paid ads) – and that’s OK, as long as they’re legitimate organizations. If your search engine does its job, many of the real results will be close to where you live or work – and that’s even better.

Pick one. Open the link. Click the ‘Chat Now’ button or find the phone number which is most likely in a large font near the top of the page. This is what they do. If they can’t help you directly, they can probably help connect you with someone who can.

6. Put it in writing.

Sometimes an email or handwritten note sets us free when speaking face-to-face just feels impossible. If you start writing and a dozen pages of confessions and fears and hopes and apologies pour out, that’s completely fine. It’s also OK if you grab an index card and barely manage “I can’t stop ___________. I need your help.”

Hit send. Tape it to their mirror or laptop. Drop it in the mail. You don’t need to redo it or edit it; you need to share it.

7. Send them this article.

If you can’t think of any other way to say it, cut N paste the link to this page and tweet it, email it, message it. No need to elaborate. You did it.

If you’re receiving this from someone, they need you. Thanks for stepping up.

How to Know if a Dual-Diagnosis Program is for You

Real life is complicated. Our minds, our bodies, our feelings, even our experiences – on paper, it seems things should be so clear-cut. We think this, we want that, we feel X, Y, or Z…

In reality, of course, it’s rarely that simple. Feelings crash into thoughts which disrupt our plans which then change our feelings – we are complicated creatures, it seems.

Diagnostic Challenges

The same is true when it comes to diagnosing disruptions to living our best life. Mental health issues and behavioral disorders are very real, and often very damaging, conditions. We don’t choose them, and they don’t always each stay in their box. They interact and complicate one another without asking our permission.

Substance abuse is a harsh disruptor as well. Sometimes it’s just one thing, but it’s not unusual for substance use disorder (SUD) to take a variety of forms for the same individual. Like I said, real life is complicated.

People wrestling with mental health issues or behavioral disorders are more likely than the general population to seek relief or solace through the misuse of alcohol or drugs, whether they come from pharmacies or neighborhood dealers. That’s certainly not a good thing, but it makes sense – things feel messed up and out of control. We don’t always know what to do or how to feel, and the false promise of whatever substance is available can prove overwhelming. And sometimes, mental health issues just plain make it harder to make our best choices.

Conversely, individuals struggling with substance abuse are more likely than the general population to have mental health issues or behavioral disorders. The disruptions of addiction can lay the groundwork for latent issues to manifest themselves unexpectedly, or otherwise trigger thoughts and behaviors which otherwise might have remained dormant.

The cause-and-effect of it all isn’t always clear, but the correlations are undeniable. And if you’re the individual, your chances of sorting it all out by yourself are statistically slim. You need someone with training and experience in just this sort of difficulty.

Dual Diagnosis Experts

The good news is, you’re not alone. You’re not even some rare exception to how struggle is supposed to work. There’s a name for what you’re experiencing: “co-occurring disorders,” sometimes referred to simply as “dual-diagnosis.”

Either term simply means you’re dealing with a combination of substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health or behavioral issues. It’s unlikely you’ll find your way out on your own, but there is a way through this to a better version of you. And we can help you get there.

Dual-diagnosis situations require experts with both the training and experience to recognize and understand the many factors at play in the same individual. The symptoms for many types of substance abuse and many varieties of mental health or related issues overlap and impact one another in innumerable ways.

How Do I Know If I Need Help?

That’s a great question, although there’s not a single, simple answer. In general, however, there are common warning signs that should at least prompt a phone call or setting up an appointment:

  • You no longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy (and maybe you don’t enjoy much of anything).
  • Your mood or overall attitude has changed dramatically without obvious external reasons.
  • Anger, depression, defensiveness, paranoia, or any other intense emotions or perceptions “take over” from time to time
  • It’s hard to think clearly or to focus for extended periods of time.
  • You’re no longer motivated to take care of yourself or your surroundings.
  • You used to “self-medicate” to deal with stress or extreme situations; now you do it just to feel “normal.”
  • Friends or family members have started asking you a lot of questions about what’s going on with you or commenting that you don’t “seem like yourself.”
  • You have strong thoughts, feelings, or urges, which are destructive or dangerous or which drive you to do things that don’t make sense
  • Performance at work or school drops off suddenly, or you find yourself having trouble with things that used to be easy – keeping up with the bills, buying the right groceries, etc.
  • You’ve become impulsive or unpredictable.
  • You find yourself thinking about suicide or self-harm or talking about suicide even without intending to.
  • You have a family history of mental illness or substance abuse.
  • Friends, family, or co-workers urge you to get professional help, even if you don’t think you need it or don’t understand why.

When In Doubt…

If any of these describe you, or if you’re still not sure, don’t wait. Reach out. Let us help you figure out the best way forward to confront mental health challenges as well as providing effective addiction treatment. No matter what you’ve done or how you feel, you are not alone.

Preventing Overdosing on Pills

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each day about 130 individuals in the U.S. suffer an opioid overdose death, including prescription pain medications and heroin. Overdosing on pills has been an ongoing problem for decades, especially after the introduction of drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. Initially, the dangers associated with these opioids were not clearly understood, which only became crystalized in the past decade. Overdosing on pills or illicit drugs like heroin or fentanyl has doubled since 2010, with more than 72,000 deaths in 2017 alone.

While overdose deaths may result from the recreational misuse of opioids, a certain percentage of victims are overdosing on pills due to the powerfully addictive nature of the drugs, or by not heeding the warnings stated on the labels, especially regarding alcohol use. Combining alcohol and pills is an often lethal combination. When discussing how to prevent overdosing on pills, including opioids, benzodiazepines, or any prescription pills, understanding how alcohol impacts the effects of the drug is key.

How to Prevent Overdose

Accidental overdose kills thousands of people every year. In most cases, these fatal events can be avoided by following precautions. Some of the ways to prevent drug overdose include:

  • Read medication labels carefully and heed them. This means to only take the drugs as prescribed and to not take with other drugs unless the doctor has prescribed certain safe combinations. Keep the packaging for future reference to the drug precautions.
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol while using prescription drugs
  • If you have a history of overdose or addiction, inform your doctor
  • Take any unneeded drugs to the pharmacy for safe disposal. Do not stockpile
  • Inform the doctor if you suffer from depression or anxiety
  • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of children

What Are the Signs of a Drug Overdose?

Prior to actual overdose there will be signs that someone has taken too many pills. The symptoms of excessive dosing include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nodding off, in and out of consciousness
  • Scratching due to itchy sensation
  • Muscles are slack
  • Speech is slurred

Opiate (OxyContin, Vicodin, Norco, Demerol) and benzodiazepine (Valium, Ativan, Xanax) overdose symptoms include:

  • Shallow breathing or no breathing
  • Unresponsive
  • Severe disorientation if conscious
  • Snoring or gurgling sounds
  • Vomiting
  • Pulse is slow and erratic
  • Skin is pale and clammy
  • Blue finger tips or lips

What To Do in the Event of a Drug Overdose

If you suspect someone has overdosed on pills, it is imperative to take quick action. This constitutes a medical emergency so do not panic. Instead, take the following action:

  • If the individual is not conscious and breathing is shallow or not present, the first thing to do is to firmly rub your knuckles over the sternum (chest bone) and shout their name. If they do not respond, immediately call 911.
  • While awaiting the first responders, employ CPR (rescue breathing) on the person. This entails tilting the head of the individual back, lifting the chin, and pinching the nostrils. With your mouth over theirs, give two quick breaths and one long breath. Repeat every five seconds.
  • When first responders arrive they will likely administer Naloxone to resuscitate the individual.

What is Naloxone?

The opioid reversal drug, naloxone (brand names Narcan and Evzio) has been instrumental in saving hundreds of lives. Police officers, paramedics, and fire fighters are increasingly trained and equipped with naloxone injectables or nasal sprays for a rapid reversal of respiratory failure. Naloxone is a safe and well-tolerated drug that may induce nausea, vomiting, sweating, or tremors. Compared to the alternative, certain death, these adverse effects are inconsequential.

Getting Treatment for Drug Addiction

Opioids and benzos can quickly lead to addiction. This is a problem that many individuals, who simply took the drugs as directed, have realized when attempting to discontinue using them. Due to highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, the hallmark sign of addiction or chemical dependency, the individual may choose to continue using the medication to avoid the painful experience of getting off the drug.

The best way to avoid accidental overdose is to seek treatment for addiction once it becomes evident that a problem has developed. The sooner one reaches out to get help the faster and easier it is to overcome an addiction to opioids or benzodiazepines.

DETOX

Initially, the individual will need to undergo the detox process, during which a drug-tapering schedule will help ease the individual off the drug safely. As withdrawal symptoms arise, the trained detox staff will intervene with various medications to ease pain and discomfort. Detox can take 7-14 days depending on the length of time using the medication and the usual dosing levels.

TREATMENT

After detox is completed, the client will begin to address the various behaviors and underlying psychological issues associated with the drug use and addiction. They may have acquired certain thought patterns that have resulted in reflexive drug use behaviors, such as “I can’t handle this stress,” “I won’t be able to handle the pain,” or “I cannot sleep without the drug.” Through cognitive behavioral therapy, this negative self-messaging is shifted towards positive and constructive self-messaging. In psychotherapy, the client will examine any unresolved emotional issues that may be contributing to the drug use. The therapist will guide the individual toward expressing emotions about the issue and toward healing.

Other aspects of treatment for drug addiction include learning how to cope better with stress or difficult emotions, how to communicate more productively, how to resolve conflicts better, and how to avoid relapse back to drug use.

Quest 2 Recovery Offers Comprehensive Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles

Quest 2 Recovery is a leader in the field of addiction recovery. Getting the individual into treatment is only the first step on a recovery continuum that will include medical detox, addiction treatment for making fundamental changes in behaviors, learning recovery skills to reinforce sobriety, and aftercare services such as outpatient rehab and sober living housing. For more information about our program, please connect with Quest 2 Recovery today at (888) 453-9396.