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Author Archive: nikola

Building a Meaningful Life without Drugs

You may ask yourself, “How do I live without drugs and alcohol?” When much of your time has been spent searching for a substance and feeding your addiction, you often start wondering what your life might be without the drugs or alcohol. You think to yourself life is going to be terrible, and “How can I do it without my fix.” Many addicts become so dependent on the drugs and alcohol to get up and started with daily duties and tasks, that they know no other way. The drugs often keep one going during the day, and the alcohol is used to go to sleep. Then, the vicious cycle starts again the next day.

Step 1: Facing Fears and Accountability

The good news is that there is hope. You will need to face your fear, and sometimes, this is done alone. Your journey will be long, stressful, and difficult, but this is all part of your recovery. Others can help you deal with addiction, but in the end, you have to conquer it mostly by yourself. What helps many addicts is setting little goals to achieve so he or she feels that they are beating the addiction to alcohol and drugs. There will be good days and many bad ones. You will give in to the voice in your head sometimes, but don’t give up to the cravings and urges. Rather, call a friend or sponsor and be accountable for you actions so you can restart your recovery.

Step 2: Changing Habits

The second step to living a drug- and alcohol-free life is changing habits and getting rid of all old reminders of the addiction. Replace them with healthy reminders of why you are doing this rebuilding of your life without the drugs and/or alcohol. Try to think back before the days of the drugs and alcohol. What made you happy? What was fun before your addiction? Your new lifestyle is going to be frustrating to you, all old friends are still using and you are not. Just give it time, as it will take a while for you to find new friends that enjoy your new hobbies and activities. Also, surround yourself with people that support you. Sometimes, when we set new goals, we get very excited and go all out. Don’t push it on others, as friends or family will come to you in time.

Step 3: Turn to Family

For many addicts, family is motivation to getting clean and sober. Admitting to them that you are an addict is the hardest thing you will ever do. But by getting them to help in your recovery, you can then build a new life that is prosperous and full of happiness — a life with meaning, substance, and growth. For many families, the answer is to join a church recovery program or enroll in an outreach program where there were other recovering drug and alcohol addicts with many years of sobriety. Having these people to talk with and learn about addiction is helpful, as they have many similar experiences as you. For building a new life without drugs and alcohol, the best thing to remember is never stop trying. You need to find your own path, style, and way.

Finding Support during the Recovery Process

Millions of recovering drug and alcohol addicts suffer daily the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 7 million people are users of psychotherapeutic drugs that are taken illegally or non-medically.

These drugs include pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives, and stimulants. Also, the CDC estimates that at least 50 percent of adults are regular drinkers. These people face temptation on a daily basis that can cause them to fall back into their bad habits, and eventually, lead to using drugs or alcohol again. Building and relying on a good support system is the key factor to staying clean.

Family and Friends

One place to look for support is friends and family members. Once your loved ones understand that your addiction is a disease, and can be cured with help from professionals, the love and support of family and friends it will make your recovery easier. Many family members’ and friends’ lives are affected greatly by the drug or alcohol addict, and they also need support to learn how the addiction affects the addict One way to include these people in your recover is have them attend meetings with you to learn more about the psychological and social aspects of addiction.

There are many online and community support groups out there that offer support to a recovering addict. However, choosing the one for you might not be as easy as you think. Sit down with your family and friends and find a group that you both are comfortable with, and choose one that is moderated by a professional in the industry who might once have been an addict or studied behavior or psychology regarding addiction.

Support Groups

If you belong to a church, many religious organizations have outreach programs for addiction and can guide you to a program that fits your unique problem. Just by typing “internet support groups for addiction” on your computer, you will also find a myriad of groups in your area. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are two of the largest self-help groups out there, and they are well-known for treatment and recovery.

If you are trying to give up the drugs or alcohol and maintain your sobriety these groups can be a great resource for you. Meeting with others a couple times a week in a safe place for guidance support and assistance can be very helpful in maintaining your sobriety during your recovery process. The best part: they are free.

SOS

There are other groups that take a scientific approach with alternative recovery methods for people that are uncomfortable with the spiritual way AA and NA conduct their meetings. The most familiar is Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS). Family and friends are also welcome at the group support meetings. Whichever support system or group you choose, it needs to be right for you and your family.

For your continued success while attending the meetings, go regularly, interact with the other members, and be honest and truthful about your feelings, cravings, and urges. Remember, you may be going this alone or with friends or family, but you are going and taking the positive steps to live a clean, healthy, and sober lifestyle each day.

Exploring Your Treatment Options (Drugs and Alcohol)

Once you decide its time to quit, the person with a drug or alcohol addiction needs to start exploring his or her options for specific treatments to recovery. There are many options depending upon the type of addiction one suffers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health,1 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (9.3 percent of persons aged 12 or older). Of these, only 2.6 million—11.2 percent of those who needed treatment—received it at a specialty facility.

SAMHSA also reports characteristics of admissions and discharges from substance abuse treatment facilities* in its Treatment Episode Data Set2 (TEDS). According to TEDS, there were 1.8 million admissions in 2008 for treatment of alcohol and drug abuse to facilities that report to State administrative data systems. Most treatment admissions (41.4 percent) involved alcohol abuse. Heroin and other opiates accounted for the largest percentage of drug-related admissions (20.0 percent), followed by marijuana (17.0 percent).

Many people choose to admit themselves into an inpatient program in which a period of time will be spent detoxing the body and mind in order to start the healing process to recovery. Others that may have a good support system at home, or a location in which they are currently living, might be able to enroll into an outpatient program. There are many choices out there, so you just need to see what offers the best and appropriate outcome for you. These programs will always include treatment for both the mental and physical aspects of addiction.

Inpatient Programs

For some addicts, an inpatient program is often chosen, and many times, treatment will be covered under that patient’s medical health plan. This can help cover the financial aspect of your start of recovery. All inpatient programs are specified to certain addictions, and remember that no program has magic powers to cure addicts just by going there. Rather, all programs need the person to truly participate, and of course, want to change their habits. Understanding what the program is teaching you is important to recovery.

All programs that are inpatient treat not just the addiction, but the health and mind of the addict as well. These are very important key factors to a program that will help an addict with their drug or alcohol addictions. The treatments should also teach a person to deal with different aspects of his or her life, since drugs and alcohol affects numerous relationships, work, mental stability, and physical health.

Outpatient Programs

Many outpatient treatment centers or programs for drug and alcohol addicts take commitment from the person to want to heal and recover. Without this, no addict will be successful in any part of the treatment that is designed to take them to the next step of recovery. Much like a lifetime smoker, if and addict does not truly want to quit using, no type of enhancement or bribery will make him or her successful in quitting.

Outpatient programs teach life choices that an addict has to make to commit themselves to quit drinking or taking drugs to be successful and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Entering the program is the first step, but with the support of the outpatient center staff and counselors, an addict can get to the other side and become healthy, productive, and start living a drug-free and sober life again.

Remember that drugs and alcohol can change your mental and physical stability. Because of this, treatment centers focus on the whole person during therapy. Getting or asking for this type of help increases your success rate immensely. While asking for help from others seems difficult at first, as time goes on, you need that help to get back on your feet and enjoy a life that is prosperous and happy.

Resources:
National Institute on Drug Abuse the Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction Revised March 2011; Retreived: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-statistics

Opioid Use in the NFL and Medical Marijuana Proposal

NFL players get injured. A lot. And with these injuries comes pain. For pain, the treatment often includes the use of prescription painkillers. A recent survey of former and current NFL players had revealed that opioid use is rampant among professional football athletes. According to the NFL Players Association, the opioid problem is due to the increased number of injuries among these athletes. In 2011, there were almost 4,500 minor injuries in the NFL, and a 17% increase in moderate injuries among NFL players.

According to the survey, which involved more than 150 players, 91% of players reported that they had used opioids in the past. Prescription pain medicines, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, are often prescribed by team doctors. Almost half of players surveyed reported feeling pressured to use these drugs by staff, team physicians, and other players.

The Gridiron Cannabis Coalition and CBD

Many NFL players and team affiliates have supported the use of medical marijuana for injury treatment. Current Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan and former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe are both in support of medical marijuana. These NFL players believe that medical marijuana would be beneficial for players who could otherwise become addicted to opioids. Ex-NFL players who support cannabis have formed the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, which is dedicated to the advancement of medical marijuana in football. With 20,000 overdose deaths a year attributed to opioids, the coalition reports professional athletes who use opioids are at higher risk for suicide and overdose deaths.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 60-plus cannabinoids found in cannabis (marijuana). However, CBD is a non-psychoactive product that does not produce a high. The NFL players who support medical marijuana propose this as an alternative because CBD produces pain relief effects. McMahon has been bothered by many painful conditions following his 15-year career in the NFL. He was taking around 100 Percocet pills a month. Now, he is off prescription drugs using medical marijuana, which is much safer, according to an interview with the player in the Chicago Tribune.

Benefits of Medical Marijuana

According to health officials, 91 people die in American each day from opioid abuse. In addition, 70% of NFL players surveyed confessed that they had once had an opioid problem and was concerned about addiction. The addictive nature of opioids is well-documented. However, medical marijuana has been proven to effectively treat pain, and 88% of players said they would use it if it were an acceptable method in the NFL.

Medical marijuana has many health benefits, according to a 2007 clinical study. Researchers found that marijuana effectively reduced neuropathic (nerve-related) pain. In another study by the American Academy of Neurology found that marijuana reduced muscle spasms and stiffness in patients with multiple sclerosis. In addition, two FDA-approved altered forms of THC (nabilone and dronabinol) were found to reduce chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting in many cancer patients. Because of the benefits marijuana has, the National Institutes of Health are conducting studies regarding THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids for medical usage.

Resources
Hempyreum.org (2017). New survey of NFL players reveals league pressure to take opioids. Retrieved from: http://www.hempyreum.org/en/81568
Livescience (2015). Medical Marijuana: Benefits, Risks & State Laws. Retrieved from: http://www.livescience.com/24554-medical-marijuana.html