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.

How To Choose The Right Treatment Program For You

Being an addict is at best challenging. Taking the time to find the rehabilitation center that is going to work best for you is a must and is the fastest way to begin your recovery journey. There are plenty of factors to keep in mind when looking for the right treatment center for your particular needs and for your own addiction story. Taking these factors into consideration can help you to find treatment that is going to work for you and that is going to truly make a difference in your life.

Rehab Goals

The first thing you want to keep in mind are your specific goals for rehabilitation. Do you have a time frame in which you want to begin recovery, do you have a specific place that you want to go to for recovery, or do you have any specifics in mind? You want to determine what your goals are for your rehabilitation or any sort of goal you want to set for yourself as this is going to help you choose a facility that can actually help you to accomplish these goals.

Some rehabs, for instance, do not have therapy, some do not handle detox, others do not have inpatient care, and so on. Knowing what you want from your rehab is going to help you to find the right care and the right facility that checks all the boxes on your wish list for recovery. This also means determining what substances you need to recover from and any other deciding factors like depression that you may be dealing with as well. You can also determine your time frame for sobriety and healing as well.

Treatment Professionals

Another step is to take the time to talk with a professional about what type of treatment they feel is going to work best for your particular addiction. An addiction and treatment professionals can help you to determine what sort of treatment is going to work best and what treatment is not really going to have much of an effect. They can also answer questions that you might have about different treatment options and specific treatment facilities you may be interested in.

Inpatient Versus Outpatient

For some types of addiction, the residency level does have a big impact on the overall success of treatment. For some, it may not be enough to report during the day for treatment then go home, for more serious addictions inpatient or residential treatment may be best. When you are looking for a treatment facility and you want to find a treatment that is going to work, you do need to decide if you need inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Specialty

Another factor to keep in mind is the specialty of the facility. A good way to look at it is with an example. If you are addicted to heroin, for example, an alcohol treatment facility is not going to be much help and may actually be detrimental to your treatment. That is if they even let you into the facility. Similarly, someone seeking help for alcohol addiction would not need to go to a treatment facility that handles only opiates. Your addiction is unique and you need a facility that handles that specialty.

Treatments and Amenities

Still another factor to consider are the types of treatment that are offered. Say you want a treatment facility that offers faith-based healing or faith-based treatment. Some treatment centers take a more medical approach to treatment and do not take faith into the process at all. Also, if you want a treatment center that offers detox, that offers therapy, that offers group sessions and more, you should take the time to make sure the facility you ultimately choose has the treatment types and therapies that you want when it comes to treatment. You also want to keep amenities in mind. Do they have a gym, a chapel, a pool, cafeteria, separate rooms and more?

Location and Program Length

The last factor you want to think about is where the treatment facility is located and how long the program is. If you want to stay close to home, if you want a short program, etc, these are all going to be deciding factors. Quest 2 Recovery is located in the Lancaster, CA area offering a range of treatment options, including inpatient treatment and aftercare, for various addictions and more. We offer a fantastic staff that is on hand to make sure you are well cared for and that you are aided in each step toward recovery to be the person you have always dreamed of.

If you are looking for help from addiction, the right addiction treatment center can surely make a big difference and can change how you recover. Contact us today!

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.

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.

The Link between Depression and Substance Abuse

The relationship between substance abuse and depression is bidirectional. This means that individuals who have depression do experience an increased chance of having a substance abuse problem and those with addiction are at a greater risk of having depression.

Many people who suffer from depression will abuse drugs or drink in order to boost their mood or escape feelings of misery or guilt. However, certain substances, including alcohol, have depressant properties, which escalate feelings of sadness. Using substances to alter any negative feelings can become part of a cycle, which hinders the ability to get treatment for depression.

Does Depression or Substance Abuse Come First?

It can be hard to say which comes first since the results will vary from person to person. Some will develop drug addiction or alcoholism while others develop depression first. A study published in the National Institute of Health’s U.S. Library of Medicine shows that alcohol can actually induce depression. This is because it alters the level of serotonin. When serotonin levels rise, the symptoms of depression can sometimes decrease. Those who have depression can sometimes self medicate in order to treat the problem. Over time, substance abuse will worsen depression. Alcohol dependence and drugs can cause a lot of hardships across every aspect of life and these hardships can make depression worse.

Both alcohol use and mental illness will have a similar underlying cause. Genetics play a role in both substance abuse and depression. Someone who has a sibling or parent with depression can be two to three times more likely to develop it than an average person. Both addiction and mental illness can stem from issues in the brain. When someone is vulnerable to one type of brain disease, they can also be vulnerable to other conditions as well. Both mental health disorders and addiction affect the same chemicals and molecules in the brain. Trauma and childhood stress can put a person at a greater risk for depression and substance abuse. Further research is needed to determine the exact reasons why this can occur. Stress can be triggered by neglect, domestic violence, sexual or emotion abuse, or the death of a parent at a young age. Regardless of a person’s age, stress can be a risk factor for depression. When the body releases the stress hormone cortisol, it stimulates symptoms that are similar to depression.

Can Drug Abuse Be a Cause of Depression?

Drug addiction and alcoholism may be able to cause mental illness because they change the chemical balance in the brain. If a mental health specialist doesn’t diagnose and treat the mental illness quickly, it can also encourage the use of substances. Addiction can be a dangerous cycle once it starts.

How Drug Abuse Can Hinder Depression Treatment

Those who have co-occurring substance abuse disorders and depression usually receive specialized treatment to manage both disorders to be able to improve symptoms and increase the effectiveness of rehab. If someone with depression is getting treatment, such as therapy or medication, and notices that drinking numbs feelings, he or she may still be inclined to continue engaging in that activity and avoid evidence-based treatment. This patient may think that substance use works better than medicine or therapy and stop prescriptions or therapy visits. The substance abuse can then create other symptoms of depression, making it even harder to treat the individual.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Depression

Using drugs or drinking to wind down at the end of the day can lead an individual to think that symptoms are improving. Instead, this can just be creating more health problems. Reaching for alcohol or drugs to help lift spirits can cause depression symptoms to worsen. Depression poses risk such as a suppressed immune system, self-harm, a weakened body, and accidental injury. When a mental illness occurs alongside substance use, risks to emotion and physical health increase.

How Having Both Affects Treatment

When an individual suffers from both depression and substance abuse, this is called a co-occurring disorder. These disorders require a more comprehensive treatment plan that will effectively address both disorders. One shouldn’t be treated without the other since an individual that isn’t treated for both can have a higher rate of relapse.

It can be common for people to be unaware of either condition. If only the substance abuse is treated then a person can go back to abusing substances whenever they feel depressed. When only the depression is treated, an individual can continue using substances, which can lead to more depression symptoms. Drugs that are used to treat depression can be affected by alcohol intake. The person can still feel depressed and even develop anxiety when drinking and taking the medication. Alcohol can also cause an individual to become sedated or feel drowsy. Treatment for both substance abuse and depression will usually involve a combination of therapy and medications.