Tag Archives: Addiction

Recovery for Life

Addiction is one of those words that is often not taken seriously as kids.

Most schools had some anti-drug programs with the aim to prevent youth from trying drugs. Further, a lot of us as kids would always say, “not me, I’d never do drugs” – let alone become addicted. Youth drug intervention programs focus on avoiding peer pressure and bad influences.

Rarely do they touch on the underlying issues people face which may pave the way for drug use. For some people, it was never as easy as saying “no”- and we understand that. Recovery for life is the goal, even with the possibility and likelihood of relapse.

What are the stages of addiction?

Addiction to drugs is a complicated beast. Drug use is oftentimes voluntary at first. It is the subsequent uses and desires caused by the drug which can lead to addiction. 

Drugs make us feel good. A lot of drugs make us feel good by providing an euphoric high (such as marijuana and opioids). Alternatively, other drugs make us hallucinate which can cause a dissociative feeling of detachment from one’s mind. That is, unfortunately, the harsh truth about them. If they didn’t, substance use disorders would be less of a problem.

So why is something that makes us feel good, so bad for us?

Drug use follows a pretty basic progression which can be applied in a very general sense to most drugs. Upon first use, the user will feel an immense rush of chemically induced emotions. This is something they perceive as either good or bad.

Good responses will elicit further use, as your mind essentially says “I want more of whatever made me feel like that.” This also applies to other addictions such as food or sex. Our minds and bodies develop a mental connection to feeling good and whatever the catalyst may be.

The challenge with preventing the first use happening is when it is through legal means such as an opioid prescription after surgery. Just because it was legally obtained and used to treat a medical issue, does not diminish its effects on the mind.

Different Stages of Addiction

Regular use begins when the user decides to make his or her drug use more predictable. For some, it may be a weekend/party vice that they partake in. For others, it may be drinking after getting home from work. As it begins to settle into a more predictable pattern, the drug becomes more important in their lives. 

Risky use is the stage where people become comfortable enough with the drug that they are willing to take risks that they otherwise wouldn’t, had they been sober. This includes drinking while driving or high. At this point, the user’s behavior is likely affecting their work and family life as they begin to feel more dependent on the drug. Dependence will eventually lead to developing a tolerance.

Another way of looking at it is that your body begins to adapt to the drug in order to lessen its effects because to our immune system, a drug is still a foreign object and your body would much rather be in its natural state of homeostasis. A tolerance will diminish the effect of the drug on the body, which in turn will cause you to take more the drug in order to actually feel the effects.

Not only does this increase your dependence on the drug, but it can also cause an overdose if the dose reaches an unsafe level.

recovery for life

How does Reflections approach recovery?

Reflections Recovery Center uses a holistic approach to treatment. While we could simply treat the symptoms, it would do no good in the long run. Recovery is a lifetime goal with no expiration date.

Therefore, our approach focuses on the mind, body, and soul, in addition to treating the withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, with enough guidance, our patients will be able to take their lifetime recovery and sobriety into their own hands and resume living a healthy, independent life. 

Some of the tools we use to develop the mind and body include adventure therapy, yoga, Reiki, team sports and even help our clients develop life skills such as cooking, interview prep, and communication skills. 

substance use disorder

What is recovery for life?

Addiction is classified as a chronic disease. This places it in the same category as other chronic illnesses such as type II diabetes and cancer.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “drug addiction shares many features with other chronic illnesses, including a tendency to run in families (heritability), an onset and course that is influenced by environmental conditions and behavior, and the ability to respond to appropriate treatment, which may include long-term lifestyle modification.”

recovery for life

Addiction also has similar relapse rates as cancer and type II diabetes. No one chooses to become an addict. Just like no one chooses to have cancer which is why it is important to look at recovery for life as the only goal.

Simply managing the symptoms will open the door for relapse. This is why Reflections places such a heavy emphasis on holistic treatment and developing a relapse prevention plan.

Going to rehab takes time and money, therefore, it makes no sense to try and simply manage the symptoms every time they arise or if you relapse. 

Treatment

Addiction is a complex issue. Reaching a lifetime of recovery and sobriety requires hard work, dedication and the attention of a trained professional. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

Sleeping Pill Overdose

When people think about overdosing, sleeping pills are usually on the bottom of the list of drugs that can cause an overdose. Many individuals seem to think that sleeping pills improve the quality of sleep and therefore it has to be ok or at the very least, harmless to the body. Realistically, how much damage could come from sleeping? Unfortunately, the dangers of sleeping pills is commonly underestimated and can cause your sleep to worsen, and potentially result in permanent damage or even death. 

Sleep 101

Sleep feels amazing. There is no doubt about that. However, many people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep. According to the Sleep Research Society (SRS), the US economy loses $63 billion each year due to loss in productivity related to insomnia. Further, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly 35% of Americans do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. The causes of insomnia and other sleep issues are very complex. In some cases, there are reports of family history, depression, increasing work hours and even obesity as a cause for insomnia. Other issues such as the blue light emitted from our devices can contribute to sleep disorders. 

sleeping pill overdose

Millions of Americans use sleeping pills to help achieve better sleep and there are many options to pick from. For example, Benzodiazepine (benzos) sedatives are powerful prescription medications which sedate the body. Benzos are a less popular option due to the high potential for developing a dependence to the drug. Other popular options include Ambien, a sedative which falls under the hypnotic class of drugs, or Melatonin, a very common OTC sleep aid.

sleeping pill overdose

Can You Overdose on Sleeping Pills?

The short answer to “can you overdose on sleeping pills’ is yes. It is indeed possible to suffer a potentially fatal overdose on drugs such as Ambien. However, it is quite rare. Instead, most people will find that taking large doses or mixing sleeping aids with other drugs will produce a very bad experience, or in severe cases, permanent damage to the body. Sleeping pills in the past were more dangerous than they are now (such as Halcion) and saw high use among suicidal people as the idea of slowly falling asleep and never waking up sounded more pleasant.

Newer sleeping pills and sedatives have a design meant to help reduce the possibility of an overdose. For example, Ambien is typically prescribed in 10mg doses. Anything above 600mg can put you into overdose territory and cause permanent damage to your body. 2000mg is reported to be the fatal dose of Ambien- 200x the recommended dose.

Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

While all sleeping pills help induce some form of lethargy and sedation, different types of sedatives can have different side effects. 

For example, some side effects of pills such as Ambien, Rozerem, and Halcion include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Stomach pain

In some severe cases, people may experience parasomnias. Parasomnias are involuntary actions during sleep which you are not aware of or have control of. Some parasomnia behaviors include sleepwalking, sleep eating, making phone calls or even sleep driving. It is difficult to predict if you will experience parasomnia until you try taking sleeping aids. 

sleeping pill overdose

What Does a Sleeping Pill Overdose Look Like?

A sleeping pill overdose may be hard to identify at first. Most pills help people sleep by sedating the individuals central nervous system and slowing brain activity until they fall asleep. The danger of taking too much is that the drug will suppress the body too much and critical organs such as your lungs, slowly cease to work. This can be worsened when sleeping pills are combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.

Some indicators of a sleeping pill overdose are:

  • Extreme lethargy- By design, these medications will make you feel tired and very lethargic. However, there is a noticable difference between just sleepy and unable to function properly. In the latter case, it may be smart to contact emergency services just in case. 
  • Breathing problems- As mentioned, sedatives slow critical bodily function. However, a healthy dose will not make it uncomfortable and should be barely noticeable. If bodily functions begin to slow too much, this may be a sign of an overdose. Paying attention to breathing patterns is usually a good indicator of whether or not someone is experiencing an overdose.

Unfortunately, sleeping pill overdoses may even go unnoticed by the victim as they are fast asleep and too sedated to do anything about it. It may take the help of a bystander to get someone the help they need.

sleeping pill overdose

Sleeping Pills and Alcohol

While it is unlikely that someone will overdose on just sleeping pills, the mixing of any two central nervous system depressants can greatly increase the risk of an overdose. CNS depressants slow critical body function like breathing and brain function. Mixing ambien and alcohol for example can overpower the body causing the cessation of breathing and dangerously low brain and heart function. The mixing of two drugs is also known as polysubstance abuse and brings about its own deadly set of consequences.

Sleeping pills are not the only option when seeking better quality sleep. Usually, people struggle with getting sleep because of environmental and behavioral habits. Some ways to manage your sleep are:

  • Reducing stress or finding ways to manage it by picking up hobbies such as yoga
  • Better time management
  • Avoiding stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine in the evenings
  • Drinking more water
  • Avoiding daytime naps
  • Eating healthy food
sleeping pill overdose

The Bottom Line

Sleeping pills can be helpful for those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, everything comes in moderation and taking more of a sleeping aid does not mean you will enjoy a better night’s sleep. In fact, taking too much of an aid like melatonin, can cause more sleep problems and make you feel less rested and more tired the next day. It is always recommended that you moderate your use to the prescribed amount and always seek professional opinion before taking any sleep supplements.

If you or a loved one you know is suffering from dependence to sleeping pills, please contact us today so we can help you on your path to recovery.

Dissociative Drugs


Dissociative drugs are a classification of hallucinogenic drugs which distort a user’s perceptions of sight and sound. The effect of these drugs causes the user to feel detached or a ‘dissociation’ from their mind and body. While for some, this experience can sound like an exciting way to view their world in a different lens, it does not come without its risks.

dissociative drugs

How do dissociative drugs work? 

Some dissociative drugs started off as general anesthetics such as PCP (phencyclidine) and Ketamine to be used during surgery but are now commonly used as party drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), these drugs “ cause their effects by disrupting the actions of the brain chemical glutamate at certain types of receptors—called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors—on nerve cells throughout the brain.” Glutamate is a critical chemical which is responsible for cognition (such as learning and memory), emotion, and perceptions of pain (which explains its use as a surgical anesthetic).

What are the effects of dissociative drugs

Dissociative drugs can have varying effects on people and everyone’s experience seems to be different. However, generally, users can expect to experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired motor function
  • Body tremors
  • Numbness 

In addition, individuals who take lower doses may experience:

  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Changes in sensory perceptions (sight, sound, shapes)
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of detachment 
  • Increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and body temperature

Those who take high doses of dissociative drugs may further experience:

  • Hallucinations
  • Physical distress
  • Extreme paranoia, panic, fear, anxiety, aggression
  • Overdose when mixed with other depressants such as alcohol

dissociative drugs

Dissociative drugs FAQ

What will I feel when taking a dissociative drug?

It is extremely difficult to accurately determine how individuals will react to dissociatives because everyone’s experience is different. While most people will feel a general sense of detachment, some will experience a more intense hallucinogenic effect whereas others may only feel a euphoric high.

What are the long-term effects of dissociative drugs?

Some long term effects of dissociative drugs such as PCP can be speech difficulties, memory loss, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and social withdrawal. 

What is a ‘k hole’?

A k-hole is the name given to the dissociative and hallucinogenic effects felt when taking high doses of Ketamine. People have described a k-hole as being an immensely powerful out of body experience and as if they felt physically separated from their body. This feeling can be desirable for some but carries a lot of the negative effects as discussed above.

Are dissociative drugs illegal?

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a classification system it uses to ‘schedule’ certain drugs into tiers. If a substance falls under one of the DEA categories, it is a controlled substance. Most dissociative and hallucinogenic drugs are classified under this system. For example, DMT is a schedule I drug which means it has no accepted medical uses and a high risk for abuse. Its categorization makes DMT illegal. Likewise PCP falls under the schedule 2 drug category.

What is Mescaline?

Mescaline is a naturally occuring hallucinogenic drug which is known to have similar effects to that of LSD and psilocybin. It is  the main psychoactive ingredient found in the peyote cactus which is another popular hallucinogenic drug.

What is the difference between dissociative and hallucinogenic drugs?

Essentially, hallucinogens are also known as psychedelics and only cause visual, auditory and sensory hallucinations. Popular hallucinogenic drugs include LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and peyote. Dissociative drugs will cause a sense of detachment from your body along with hallucinations. PCP, Ketamine, and DXM are the most popular dissociative drugs.

dissociative drugs

What is HPPD?

Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is essentially a never ending ‘trip.’ Medical science still has not come to a conclusion about why this occurs and what the mechanics of this is. However, some people report using a hallucinogenic drug once and never fully recovering from its effects.

Getting treatment

Dealing with dissociative drug addiction can be a major issue. This category of drugs provides an easy escape from reality and some people may begin to rely on it just to get through their day. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

Ambien and Alcohol

Americans are now more distracted than ever. Since the end of the 20th century, more and more screens have been introduced into the average household.

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, massive TVs- all contribute to the increase in sleeping disorders. Many people turn to options like Ambien to help. A lot of people in America also drink alcohol, sometimes even with the thought that it helps sleep. Subsequently, the increasing risk of mixing Ambien and alcohol is a real danger.

ambien and alcohol

What is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name for Zolpidem Tartrate, which is a sedative and falls under the hypnotic class of medication. In general, the purpose is to treat insomnia in patients and is seen as a better alternative to benzodiazepines or barbiturates.

Ambien’s design is to provide the same sleep relief as other drugs but without the dangerous side-effects commonly associated with drugs such as Valium. It was approved by the FDA in 1992 during a time where the prevailing sleep-aid, Halcion, was being linked with psychosis, suicide and addiction and was welcomed with open arms. 

ambien and alcohol

Ambien works by binding and activating GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for blocking impulses between nerve cells in the brain.

Ambien binds to the same receptors as benzodiazepines. By binding to the receptors, the chemical essentially slows down brain function, making it easier to fall asleep. While Ambien became popular because it was believed to have less of the harmful side effects of other sleep-aids available at the time, it comes with its own risks:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • “Drugged” feeling
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Headache

Some of the serious side effects of Ambien include:

  • Memory loss
  • New or worsening depression
  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anxiety

Ambien Addiction and Abuse

A chemical tolerance is when a higher dose is required to get the same desired results while taking a drug. Essentially, the body gets used to the drug and more of it is required to feel the effects.

Unfortunately, Ambien tolerance develops quickly in some patients. Ambien was never designed to be a long-term use drug. However, some patients require their physician to increase the dosage to get the same relief. Increasing the dosage may cause users to develop a dependency to the drug.

Some may find that they are unable to fall asleep without it.

ambien and alcohol

In high doses, it is possible for Ambien to provide a euphoric high, which is then be sought after by some. At this point, normal use begins to turn to abuse. According to SAMHSA, Ambien abuse is rare with those who are have a prescription. It is more likely to be with those who acquire it illicitly.

Overdose of Ambien is possible. According to SAMHSA, there were 64,175 Ambien related emergency room visits (ER) and of those 20,793 were related to over-medication.

While your risk of overdose will depend on various factors such as body composition, tolerance level and history of use, it is generally considered that taking more than 150mg per kilogram of body weight is lethal.

An individual weighing 50 kilograms will need to take 7,500mg of Ambien to experience a fatal overdose. While that may seem like a lot of medication, the 150mg can be greatly reduced when taken with other drugs, especially alcohol. 

How Long Does Ambien Stay in Your System?

Once Ambien enters the body, it takes around 30 minutes for the drug to reach peak potential blood concentration meaning that the full effects are felt around this mark. Compared to other drugs, this is quite fast. However, Ambien has a short half-life of around 1.5 hours.

A chemical’s half-life is a determination of the time it takes for the chemical to reduce to half of its ingested dose. In other words, after 1.5 hours, the 10mg dose of Ambien is essentially reduces to 5mg. However, it’s possible to feel the effects of the drug for 8 hours and the chemicals will be completely out of the body in about 14 hours. 

It is possible to detect Ambien in the body after the 14 hour mark in various tests:

  • Urine – 72 hours after use
  • Hair – 3 to 5 weeks after use
  • Saliva – 8 hours after use

Drug testing for Ambien is quite rare however circumstances such as traffic incidents may call for testing.

Mixing Ambien and Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. A CNS depressant will slow brain and nerve function thus having an effect on motor and cognitive function.

Ambien has very similar CNS depressant effects by binding to the GABA receptors in the brain. Two depressants or drugs mixed together (also referred to as polysubstance abuse) will amplify the overall effects and can pose serious overdose risks.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), mixing alcohol with other depressants such as Ambien can cause drowsiness, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor skills, and memory problems.

With two powerful depressants working, it can cause breathing to slow to a dangerously low level or stop completely. Death can also occur by engaging in dangerous behavior often associated with alcohol use. 

Getting Help

Getting off Ambien may seem difficult. Especially if the user has been using it for an extended period and believes it is necessary for a good night’s sleep. Someone with a problem with ambien and alcohol needs specialized help.

However, with the proper attention and guidance, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to see how we can help.

*Resources:
Hypnotic medications and suicide – NIH
Emergency Department Visits – SAMHSA
Harmful Interactions – NIAAA

Kratom and Alcohol

Kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia. It is typically used for recreational purposes and has slowly made its way into the US market.

Its leaves contain chemicals which produce a psychotropic (mind-altering) effect when ingested. While there is a lack of any known medical properties, there is currently no federal widespread ban on the drug. In fact, it is pretty easy to buy online in various forms.

While it is not illegal in most states, that does not mean it can not be deadly or harmful. As many people consume alcohol, they will possibly mix Kratom and alcohol without realizing the potential risks.

Kratom 101

Kratom is the name given to the Mitragyna speciosa species of trees. It goes by several other names such as Biak, Ketum, Kakuam or Thom. In its native regions, Kratom is used as a painkiller and stomach medicine but has no legitimate medical use. It is typically found online in its powdered or capsule form, but the leaves can be eaten raw or crushed. 


The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies drugs in the US under several schedules. A schedule 1 drug for example is considered to have a very high risk for abuse and has no accepted medical purposes. Drugs such as marijuana and heroin are considered schedule 1 drugs.

The DEA however has not scheduled Kratom under any of its classifications. Still, the DEA has listed Kratom as a ‘Drug of Concern.’ There is a push to make the drug illegal in the U.S. and in fact, 7 states have so far made it illegal to possess or use.


In 2016, the DEA announced that it was going to place Kratom under a schedule 1 classification. However, later in the year, the agency withdrew their notice of intent and began “soliciting comments from the public regarding the scheduling of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine under the Controlled Substances Act”. There have been no significant updates since then.

kratom and alcohol

Kratom Side Effects

Kratom effects on the body can be unpredictable. In low doses, the drug acts as a stimulant, causing users to feel an increase in energy and alertness, but can also have sedative-like effects when taken in high enough doses.

The two main compounds in the leaves, mitragynine and 7-a-hydroxymitragynine, bind to the opioid receptors in the brain which can cause sedation, a euphoric high and pain killing effects. 

Kratom presents similar properties as some opioids. One of the cases for making Kratom a controlled substance rather than outright banning it is because some believe it can be used to treat opioid addiction. While there still needs to be more clinical trials to prove this, there is a push to keep it legal in the U.S.

Significant research is still necessary on Kratom, and it is difficult to say with certainty what effects Kratom will have on users. In general, users can expect to experience:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Increased energy and alertness
  • Drowsiness
  • Cough suppression
  • Pain reduction
  • Psychosis
  • Weight loss

While not all of these effects are necessarily negative, some negative short-term effects include:

  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation 
kratom side effects

Mixing Kratom and Alcohol

It is difficult to predict what the effects of mixing kratom and alcohol might be. Generally, mixing alcohol with anything is inherently dangerous.

Mixing two or more drugs (also known as polysubstance abuse) will generally cause the effects of the one drug to enhance the effects of each other, in particular the negative effects. Kratom can present sedative or stimulant properties while alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.

Given that Kratom can enhance the effects of alcohol, mixing the two drugs can cause the depressive effects of alcohol to be enhanced and as a result lead to alcohol poisoning or death.

According to the National Poison Data System, between 2011-2017 there were 11 deaths associated with Kratom use. Nine of those deaths involved other drugs such as alcohol, fentanyl, cocaine, benzodiazepines and even caffeine.

Additionally, substance use often lowers inhibitions and causes impaired judgement. The more substances are added, the more at risk someone might be for potentially serious consequences.

kratom and alcohol

Is Kratom Addictive?

There are two different types of addiction: chemical and psychological dependence. Given the similar effects to opioid drugs, it is very possible for an individual to become addicted to Kratom.

It is still yet to be seen how severe Kratom addictions can be, as there lacks any clinical trials or an abundance of data to draw a conclusion from. Some users have reported becoming addicted to Kratom and have even experience Kratom withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Muscle aches
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Emotional changes
  • Involuntary movements
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia

You can also develop a tolerance to Kratom, where you will need to take more of the drug to feel the same effects.

How long does kratom stay in your system?

There are currently no specific drug tests to detect the presence of Kratom in the body, most likely due to the obscurity of the drug. However, like most other substances, the duration of the chemical traces in your body will depend on the following factors:

  • Frequency of use
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Body fat
  • Metabolic rate

There is no known half-life for Kratom but one the primary alkaloids found in Kratom, mitragynine, has a half-life of around 24 hours. Essentially, it would take a person a full day to remove 50% of the alkaloid and the alkaloid can be detected in some drug tests. 

kratom and alcohol

Treatment

With the lack of research on Kratom, it may be easy to believe that the drug cannot be dangerous. Its lack of popularity is not due to medical acceptance as the drug can still be very dangerous when misused.

Alcohol is legal and widely used, but also presents serious risk of misuse, abuse and addiction. More research is necessary on Kratom and alcohol, but it is better not to mix at all.

Staying informed on the dangers can help keep you safe against abuse, addiction, or overdosing. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please do not hesitate to contact us

Sober Living


Sober home living can be beneficial to anyone who is looking for a stable environment to assist them in transitioning from an inpatient program to living a free, independent and sober life.

Sober living homes offer the flexibility and freedom of living on your own while still reinforcing lessons learned in rehab. Most sober homes require individuals to have successfully completed some inpatient recovery program in order to live at the residence.

What is a sober living home?

Sober living homes are group homes which are completely free of drugs or alcohol. It is essentially like renting a home with roommates- except with more rules.

The residents are there to adjust to daily life outside of an inpatient rehab program. They do so while being surrounded by a supportive community of people also recovering from addiction.

Residents will typically pay rent and pull their fair share of work by cleaning and maintaining the property. Individuals will also likely have to actively participate in regular meetings and some homes may require random drug testing. Homes may also have a resident manager who supervises the house and enforces the rules.

However, for the most part, residents are in complete control of their own recovery. This allows them to develop strong life management skills and increases their chances at long-term sobriety. They are free to come and go as they please whether that be for work, family or leisure activities.

sober livingOften times, someone in recovery will relapse and go back to their old life where they are surrounded by negative influences.

Addiction is considered a chronic disease which means it has the same relapse rates as other chronic illnesses such as hypertension and asthma. Therefore, relapse is not only possible, but likely.

Sober living homes, however, can take some of that pressure off by placing individuals in a highly supportive but monitored environment. At Reflections, we offer an Aftercare Plan for individuals who are looking for continued support in their journey to life-long sobriety.

sober living - aftercare plan

What is the difference between a sober house and halfway house?

It can be easy to confuse sober homes and halfway homes as they essentially provide the same service. However, halfway homes are typically associated with government housing which is provided as a transition for those recovering from addiction.

In some cases, halfway homes are reserved for formerly incarcerated individuals (though this is not always the case). Halfway homes also tend to be cheaper than sober living homes as they are more crowded, state funded and provide less amenities. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, the essential characteristics of a sober living home which distinguished itself from a halfway home are:

1) An alcohol and drug free living environment for individuals attempting to abstain from alcohol and drugs.

2) Members are either mandated or strongly encouraged to attend 12-step self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

3) Required compliance with house rules such as maintaining abstinence, paying rent and other fees, participating in household chores and attending house meetings.

4) Resident responsibility for financing rent and other costs.

5) Residents are able to stay in the house as long as they wish if they comply with house rules.

How much do sober living homes cost?

Sober homes will typically cost the same as an apartment in the area you are looking at. Locations such as San Francisco or New York will cost more than our locations in Prescott. They can range from $300/mo to $2000/mo.

sober living - financingSome homes will accept insurance however it is up to your insurance company to determine how much they will cover. Reach out to the home and work directly with them and your insurance to see how you can cover costs. 

It is possible your insurance will not cover any of the costs or you do not have insurance. However, you still have some options to pay for your sober living:

  • Scholarships: Some homes will offer its residents scholarships if they have shown commitment and dedication to staying sober.
  • Finance the cost: Using your personal savings, bank loans or credit cards can help you pay for a sober house.
  • Earn an Income: Sober homes allow you to come and go as you please which provides the opportunity to work and earn an income.
  • Payment Plan: Some homes will allow you to set up a payment plan which will break down the overall cost of living into bite size chunks.

How long can I stay in a sober home?

The duration of your stay will differ depending on your needs. However, people can spend anywhere from 3-24 months at a sober home. Generally speaking, this will allow you adequate time to situate yourself with a job and develop confidence in your sobriety.

As stated above, often those in recovery face challenges to their sobriety when they return to the same life. Often, though not always, people were in situations that contributed to substance abuse and addiction.

It is important to seek help for as long as needed. Further, a good treatment center will help patients figure out the best plan after completing treatment.

Sober living is important to recovery and should not be discounted. In recovery, the initial few months and even year are often the most vulnerable.

Continue Your Journey With Us

Time at a sober living home is limited. Therefore it is important that you develop skills, relationships and resources to maintain sobriety when you eventually leave. ]

Here at Reflections we emphasize the necessary skills to best prevent or manage relapse and continued sobriety.

However, in order to reside in a sober home, you must successfully complete an inpatient rehab program such as the ones we offer at our Prescott location. We are here to help you on your journey, contact us today if you or a loved one is in need of assistance.

 

 

Is Alcoholism a Disease?

Is Alcoholism a Disease and can it be a Genetic Predisposition?

Language is, of course, one of the most important ways that humans communicate. The words we use are meaningful, especially so when it comes to serious issues like addiction.

Over time, language shifts to fit our needs and our understanding of the world around us. With regard to addiction, much of the language has changed from someone being an addict to someone dealing with or suffering from addiction. This is not without reason.

The more we understand, it’s apparent that addiction is about more than just personal choices or character defects. Many people wonder, “Is alcoholism a disease?” In modern times, there is the disease theory of alcoholism which theorizes that alcoholism, and other addictions, are a disease of the brain. Some experts disagree with this, though they concede it may still of course have something to do with genetics.

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a government resource, they state, “Relapse rates for addiction resemble those of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.”*

Other diseases require constant, life-long treatment and someone might see relapse after some time without symptoms. Unfortunately, many people often take addiction relapse as a sign that they themselves or treatment has failed. However, as NIDA states, “This is not the case: Successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic diseases.”*

People have different genetics, of course, and how their genes affect their susceptibility to addiction will differ. Mental health is also a big part of genes and can play a part of alcoholism for many people.

At Reflections, we take this into account when forming a treatment plan as well as a relapse prevention plan. With the prevalence that alcohol has in society, it is not an easy thing to avoid.

Genetically Predisposed

For various illnesses, diseases, and even character traits, you’ll often hear someone say, “It runs in the family.” There are numerous causes; genetic factors are part of it, as well as societal and historical factors.

Trauma, a common element in addiction, is something that can impact multiple generations. Each generation might not go through the same exact trauma.

However, it can still affect the next generation and play a part in their issues. Per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk of AUD [Alcohol use disorder].”*

Genetic predisposition is a factor in many people’s struggle with alcohol–but, it is not the only factor. 

At Reflections, we take a look into people’s life up until they have come to us for treatment. We do so through laboratory testing, to understand their genetic history, as well as understanding their family history.

This gives us an idea of the social factors that also play a part in contributing to their addiction. If we understand as many factors as possible, we can provide a more thorough and effective treatment.

Dr. Lisa Parsons, our Medical Director, is interested in understanding biochemical imbalances. She works to identify any vulnerabilities in someone’s DNA that make them prone to addiction. This allows her to develop the best treatment for each client.

Alcohol and Mental Health

According to NIAAA, It is possible for an AUD to coincide with, add to, cause, or be caused in part by, mental health disorders.*

Mental illness does not mean someone will inevitably have an AUD, but it is possible to be a factor behind AUD. It is possible for mental health disorders to be passed through genetic and environmental circumstances.

It’s important that treatment providers distinguish the various types of mental health disorders, how they are caused, and what is possibly making them worse. NIAAA notes that mental health is affected differently based on whether someone is currently drinking, intoxicated, going through withdrawal, or sober.*

Depending on severity and length of use, it may take longer for someone to recover physically and mentally. Co-occurring disorders develop frequently with addiction. When this happens, it’s essential to treat each disorder fully to give patients the best chance at recovery.

According to NIAAA, it’s also possible for someone to have depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue without it being severe enough to be classified as a “disorder”.

If this is the case for anyone, they should not feel that their mental health issues are not as bad and therefore do not deserve the same care. We will work with each patient to treat any issues and to improve their mental health, regardless of classification.

It’s necessary to remember that mental health is not a final achievement to reach. It’s something to work on continually. That shouldn’t discourage anyone; even people with seemingly few mental health problems need to put in effort and take care of themselves.

Recovery

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol…” This includes health problems from drinking as well as accidents.

It’s possible victims of harmful use may not have consumed any alcohol. The best time to seek help is now. Everyone should want to prevent all deaths and any harmful actions that happen as a result of alcohol use.

Alcohol use does not have to result in death to destroy lives. It’s not easy to acknowledge that you, or even a loved one, has a problem with alcohol. Once again though, now is the best time to do that.

Don’t let alcohol steal anything else from you or your loved one. Call us today.

*Resources:
Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment – NIDA
Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder – NIAAA
Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders – NIAAA

Movies about Addiction

Movies about Addiction and Alcoholism

Some good news is that alcohol consumption is down in the United States, a trend for the past few years.* However, while it is going down, there are still many people who struggle with abuse and addiction. Because alcohol is a widely accepted substance, it’s difficult to know it’s a problem. Further, it is also legal and for many it could never be something as bad as illegal substances. Movies about addiction are not incredibly common, nor are they seen as frequently as other movies.

Media plays a big part in our culture; the way alcohol is presented in media is incredibly important. Our consumption of media has significant influence on how we live and what we perceive to be okay. 
Portrayals of alcohol in television and film is a common occurrence. Frequently, alcohol in film depicts people having a fun time. Many movies, like The Hangover, are about a wild night fueled by alcohol and other substances. There may be some consequences shown, but generally the films are about the humorous effects of drinking too much. While of course not all consumption of alcohol is going to end in disaster, these films give the impression that the negative aspects of binge-drinking and abuse are outweighed by the good. Movies about alcohol addiction are just as important to show what can happen with alcohol abuse and addiction.

The Spectacular Now (2013)

For many young people, and even their families, the possibility of having a serious problem with alcohol seems far-fetched. After all, they’re young and being irresponsible is a part of growing up. While many underage people are exposed to alcohol and are able to eventually drink responsibly, many people also begin to develop alcohol abuse and addiction at an early age. In The Spectacular Now, Sutter is an 18-year-old who is popular and has a seemingly happy life. He’s constantly drinking, and driving as well, but sees this as a normal part of being a teenager. Others around him are drinking though not as heavily and constantly, but he fails to see any difference.

Sutter always idolized his father, despite him being absent. When they reconnect, it’s quickly apparent that his father is an alcoholic. Sutter realizes his father is mostly to blame for his parent’s divorce and for being absent from his life. Despite this, he doesn’t recognize how alcohol is similarly ruining his own life. Sutter’s abuse of alcohol leads him to fail his senior year of high school, quit his job because he cannot remain sober, and ruin romantic relationships.

He does eventually begin to see that he is using alcohol to mask his fear of failure and of an uncertain future. The Spectacular Now is a great film for anyone, but especially for young people and families to watch. It depicts how teen drinking is often normalized making it difficult to recognize it as a problem, but also how it can ruin a life even if the person is young.

Smashed (2012)

In Smashed, Kate is an elementary school teacher in her 20s. Throughout the film, we see her struggling with how alcohol is affecting her life through work and relationships. In the beginning, she drinks all night and then continues to drink in the morning before she goes to work. She throws up in front of the kids she teaches, which she covers by saying she is pregnant. This is followed by a series of embarrassing situations which prompt her to accept her coworker’s invitation to attend AA. In trying to justify her drinking, she says, “I’ve always drank a lot. Everyone I know drinks a lot. So I never really thought it was a problem.” Her husband is an alcoholic, her mother is, and her father was until he left her mother after getting sober.

When Kate is sober for the first time, she begins to have problems with those around her. Her mother thinks AA is evil and what ruined her marriage. Kate’s husband also begins to resent her for attending AA, saying she is brainwashed because of it. She wants to take responsibility for her actions, including at work which causes her to lose her job. Kate does relapse before celebrating a year of sobriety at the end of the movie. She reflects on sobriety, noting that she lost her job and her marriage fell apart while sober, something she didn’t expect. Smashed presents a real, and touching, look at addiction and how alcohol can ruin one’s life through relationships and work. It shows that sobriety is a constant journey which can be difficult, and that relapse is a part of that.

Why Movies about Addiction are Important

Media influences us. Movies are frequently, though not always, a reflection of our culture, values, and what is important to us. We absorb their messages, whether consciously or unconsciously, and take them with us throughout our lives. It’s not impossible for every person to responsibly consume alcohol, but it is difficult and for some people it may be impossible. A New York Times article cites a study from the University of Dayton, which showed that 20% to 25% of students changed their opinions on political issues after watching films about the government.* The decision to change one’s mind or how we understand issues after a movie might not always be so clear-cut. Movies about alcohol addiction make a difference.

The two movies listed above are important in the way they show how alcohol can negatively affect us. They show how difficult it is to recognize the problem in the first place, and how hard it is to get help especially when those around you make it harder. In Smashed, in particular, many of Kate’s family and friends have the same destructive habits and enable her behavior. Both films do a wonderful job of showing that our entire life, and environment, influence us. They’re well-made films for anyone, but they can also be a great choice for anyone looking for something that reflects their own experiences or their loved one’s experiences. Neither film shames or stigmatizes the characters or their addiction, but rather seeks to understand them and their journey. Something that is incredibly important when it comes to movies about addiction. If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol addiction, please reach out to us today.

*Resources:
Americans are Drinking Less Alcohol – Wall Street Journal
How Movies Can Change Our Minds – The New York Times

Painkiller Addiction

What Does Painkiller Addiction Look Like?

There is no clear image or description of what addiction is like. Still, for many people they at least had an idea that it was “hard” and illegal drugs like heroin or meth. It wasn’t something that would be a part of the lives of people with jobs, social circles, or supportive families.

It’s also difficult to ever admit that you might be the one with a problem. Prescription drugs, which are widely and successfully marketed in the U.S., are meant to help. Under medical supervision, that should be the case. Because of the above reasons, and more, it is difficult for people to recognize they could have a problem.

By the time people, or those around them, realize there is a problem they could be dealing with full-blown addiction. 

All prescription drugs have the potential to be abused. Prescription painkillers carry a significant risk, even when taken under supervision. The most common type of prescription painkiller that people are familiar with is opioids. Some common opioids are codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and methadone.

In part due to the reasons listed above, the opioid crisis seemingly took over the United States overnight. It happened over time, but unfortunately public awareness has been slow to catch up. Many people still lack understanding of just how dangerous prescription painkillers can be.

Often people also think they are not susceptible and can control their use. For many, addiction is not obvious until access to the drugs is cut off or restricted. 

Painkiller Addiction in the Male Population

Painkiller addiction is a very real problem for both men and women. A study conducted in 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showed that men’s deaths caused by painkillers has gone up by 265% since 1998.*

The gap between men and women is closing, but it is still very much a problem for men. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, cites a study revealing, “Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men…”*

Exactly why men have higher rates is not entirely clear. However, in a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the authors believe it is possible men have more exposure and opportunity.* I

n our culture, and many others, men are supposed to be strong and able to take care of themselves. It’s possible that this leads to men hiding addiction, refusing to acknowledge problems, and subsequently failing to receive treatment. 

Clearly, with painkillers it is common for someone to begin using them following a serious injury or surgery. In a controlled study, where patients had no pre-existing pain, scientists found that male patients needed higher doses of morphine after medical procedures.

While these patients were not addicted, it’s an interesting study regarding different aspects that are important to consider with gender. Morphine overdoses, just like any opioid overdoses, are still a constant reality at a time when public awareness has been slow and ill-equipped to deal with them.

The Risks of Using Painkillers

Men are more likely to use various substances, also known as polysubstance abuse, which is particularly dangerous. This can strengthen the side effects of each substance and significantly increase risk of permanent damage or overdose. 

As with addiction to other substances, painkiller addiction can cause a lot of chaos in the life of the person using the substances as well as the lives of those around them. Someone suffering from addiction will put their relationships, familial and otherwise, at risk.

Maintaining employment is difficult the more severe addiction becomes. When a person is addicted to painkillers and is unable to maintain access, they turn to what’s more easily available.

Counterfeit pills are available on the street but, as we have seen, they are laced with other substances. They frequently contain fentanyl, which is 80-100x stronger than morphine and even incredibly small amounts result in overdose. Oftentimes people will turn to heroin, which is easier to get, and dangerous on its own.

Heroin now frequently contains some amount of fentanyl.

Someone struggling with addiction is unfortunately likely to turn to substances that are cheaper and easier to get, without regard to what they might be laced with.

Prescribed, legal opioids can cause health issues even when used under medical supervision. They can cause drowsiness and respiratory depression, which is slow and ineffective breathing. This plays a major part of overdosing on painkillers.

As men often combines substances, this can be enhanced and is particularly dangerous with alcohol. Proper education on the the topic is lacking; people don’t realize just how dangerous alcohol and painkillers are when mixed. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system.

Combined with opioids it can appear that someone is sleeping, without realizing they are not breathing, and it may be too late before anyone realizes.

Overcoming Painkiller Addiction

The good news is that awareness about painkiller addiction is increasing, with more information widely available. The unfortunate reality though, is that many people do not think they will face abuse or addiction with painkillers. It is also difficult for people to acknowledge addiction, because of the shame and stigma surrounding it. This can leave those suffering from painkiller addictions, and even their loved ones, with a sense of hopelessness. Men, in particular, are loathe to admit they have a problem and to admit to something perceived as a weakness. 

At Reflections, we are able to focus on the unique challenges and needs that those addicted to painkillers have. Recognizing that there is a problem is an important first step. Admitting to addiction is not easy, but the risks to one’s well-being and the lives of those around them are significant.

We work to remove the shame and stigma of admitting to an addiction. Initially, we evaluate clients and their need for detox. Throughout treatment, we will work with clients to understand their life and the different factors that contributed to addiction.

Our goal is to help clients not only overcome their addiction, but also help them learn behaviors and skills to maintain sobriety. Relapse, unfortunately, a part of many people’s recovery. It is with this in mind that we will work with clients to create a relapse prevention plan to ensure they have the best possible chance at recovery.

If you or a loved one needs help with painkillers, please contact us today.

*Resources:
Prescription Painkiller Overdoses – CDC
Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use – NIH
Sex Differences in Drug Abuse – U.S. National Library of Medicine
Influences on Gender Postoperative Morphine Consumption – NIH


Addiction in the LGBTQ Community

Why addressing specific communities is important

Addiction is complex not only because of substances and how they affect bodies, but also because of the people dealing with it. When treating someone, it is important to take into consideration that person as a whole. This includes, but is not limited to, economic background, family history, age, gender, ethnicity, mental illness, and culture. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a government resource, states, “No single treatment is right for everyone. The best treatment addresses a person’s various needs, not just his or her drug abuse.”* People within the LGBTQ community face unique challenges and struggles. If their background is ignored, then treatment will not adequately help them. According to NIDA, those in the LGBTQ community frequently deal with, “…social stigma, discrimination, and other challenges not encountered by people who identify as heterosexual. They also face a greater risk of harassment and violence.”*

Furthermore, NIDA cites surveys that have found, “…sexual minorities have higher rates of substance misuse and substance abuse disorders (SUDs) than people who identify as heterosexual.”* The point of stating all of this, is not to make it seem like some kind of competition over who has it worse. The point is different groups of people deal with a variety of factors. If we treat each client the same, we will fail to help them. People have unique backgrounds and they deserve to have their unique needs met. Addiction is not simply a matter of picking up a substance and becoming addicted. There are many steps that lead to addiction, and it’s important to treat each of those steps. Getting off of a substance is one thing. It’s another to maintain long-term sobriety and be able to recover from relapses if and when they occur.

Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ Community

It is an unfortunate and common truth that many, if not most, people in the LGBTQ community face shame and discrimination throughout their lives. They are also at a high risk of violence, or threat of violence, because of their sexuality. Trauma is a frequent theme in addiction; many LGBTQ people have trauma from treatment because of their sexuality. Until 1973, homosexuality was considered a mental illness.* It was only in 2003, that sexual activity between consenting adults has been legal nationwide, following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. There is no federal law outlawing discrimination, leaving many people vulnerable. When people are targeted, isolated, and without full legal protection, it’s understandable they deal with trauma and other unique challenges.

For many people, of all backgrounds, substance abuse is a common way to cope with one’s problems. Substances also provide a way for many people to feel at ease socially, and to feel like they fit in. For people in the LGBTQ community that have been made to feel uncomfortable about who they are, substance use can be a way to cope and to feel more comfortable with their sexuality. For many people, including in the United States, sexual orientation discrimination is a very real part of their lives. When society, and even governments, are telling you that who you are is wrong that frequently results in severe damage. In a guide published by SAMHSA, the authors write that the discrimination often causes those in the LGBT community to use mind-altering substances and alcohol to cope with the stress.*

Why Inclusive Environments Matter

Treatment for everyone needs to be comprehensive. This means it should take into consideration their life up to the present. In doing this, providers also need to be sensitive to different aspects of a client’s background. Education is incredibly important; ignorance on the part of staff can lead to client withdrawal and create barriers that result in ineffective treatment. Not all clients will feel comfortable disclosing their sexuality or fully discussing it. With that in mind, counselors and staff should be respectful of what clients are comfortable with discussing. An inclusive environment allows clients to feel comfortable. It also allows them to receive thorough treatment to achieve and maintain sobriety. 

At Reflections, we have therapists who specialize in working with the LGBTQ community. We also have local AA meetings specifically for the community. Every day our staff works to provide a safe and inclusive environment. We want clients to know they’re welcome and that we care about who they are in their entirety. It’s important for any clients in the LGBTQ community to know that any discrimination, violence, threats, or other negative actions they have faced are not their fault. The SAMHSA guide states, “Counselors and clients should recognize that these effects result from prejudice and discrimination and are not a consequence of one’s sexuality.”* It is a lot of prejudice to dismantle, but something we are willing to work on with clients. If you or a loved one are in need of an LGBT friendly rehab or resources, contact us today!

*Resources:
Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What To Ask -NIH
Substance Abuse and SUDs in LGBT Populations – NIH
A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals – SAMHSA