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Life may be full of struggles but connecting to us will not be one of them. We will be updating our blog with information you can use to help you on your journey forward to recovery. Your comments are always welcome!

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Restoring Relationships After Addiction 0

Encompass Recovery places enormous emphasis on restoring the whole person and helping you build or rebuild your relationships with others.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Christmas is well on its way. In just weeks, friends and families will be gathering together to exchange gifts and eat large meals together. Love and generosity will fill the air, and relationships will grow in the spirit of the season.

So often though, those who are new in recovery won’t experience the spirit of the Christmas season. Jaded by broken relationships and still rebuilding their connections to family, many who are new in recovery won’t be surrounding themselves with family this joyous holiday season. Many will spend it alone, hoping to someday restore the broken relationships with their family damaged by years of addiction.

In our addictions, we lose sight of those around us. We damage our relationships with our loved ones because our number one priority has been our addiction. Our focus was on obtaining our drug and using no matter what – so much so that we would lie, steal, cheat, and even become violent. We would literally have done anything for that next fix.

We became burdens on or friends and family members, causing fear, resentment, anger, and distrust. And at the end of it all, we hit our low point feeling utterly alone and unlovable. Now that we’re in recovery we’ve got a lot of damage control to do, but there is hope.

If you’re in this situation now, you may feel like there is no way to repair all the damage you’ve done. It may really hit home as you sit with your sponsor and begin your step work. Keep reminding yourself though, you’re rebuilding your life. You will be making your amends and righting the wrongs of your past. Through the process of recovery, you are becoming the person whom you want to be.

It takes time to restore relationships. It takes time to rebuild trust. But ultimately, those you love don’t hate you, they just don’t like your behavior. They don’t want to live life without you, just without the broken promises, hurt feelings, and deception that addicts and alcoholics often display.

Restoring relationships takes time. In the beginning, there will be a significant lack of trust built upon past behavior. As you progress in your step work, you’ll be beginning the process of making the changes within yourself that will be the basis of this repair. You’ll be working on removing the character defects that have damaged your relationships and making amends to those you’ve hurt along the way. Some people may be ready and willing to forgive immediately, while for some it may take time. The most important part of the entire process though is that you continue your forward growth in recovery without slipping back into “old behavior”.

If you’re deep into your step work and still struggling, you may want to seek additional advice from your sponsor, or even a professional counselor or pastor. Many people have been hurt because of your addiction, and that includes yourself. Your best recourse is to focus on “cleaning your side of the street”. After all, you can’t change anyone else. You can only change yourself.

As you continue on in your recovery, the work you’ve done will become evident to those who love you. Trust will be regained. Relationships will be restored and ultimately, you will be restored as you continue on in your journey of recovery.  And next year, you’ll be one year farther along in that journey and hopefully enjoying the holiday season with your loved ones.

Part of theeffect Faith Community and Recovery Ministry, Encompass Recovery places enormous emphasis on restoring the whole person and helping you build or rebuild your relationships with others. We offer programs that include individual and family counseling to help you on your journey. Give us a call today, we’re always here to help. Together, we can help you become the person you want to be.

(888) 690-0900 | www.encompassrecovery.com

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Changing brains: why neuroscience is ending the Prozac era 0

Nick Cordovano

The big money has moved from developing psychiatric drugs to manipulating our brain networks

Vaughan Bell
The Observer, Saturday 21 September 2013

Mice are used in research into optogenetics, which suggests that even finer control of the brain may be possible.
The psychiatric drug age may have reached its peak. Although mind-altering medications are being prescribed in record numbers, signs of a radically new approach to understanding and treating mental illness are emerging from the deep waters of neuroscience. No longer focused on developing pills, a huge research effort is now devoted to altering the function of specific neural circuits by physical intervention in the brain.

The starkest indication that drugs are increasingly being thought of as yesterday’s cutting-edge comes from the little mentioned fact that almost all the major drug companies have closed or curtailed their drug discovery programmes for mental and neurological disorders. The realisation that there has been little in the way of genuine innovation since the major classes of psychiatric drugs were discovered in the 1950s has made future sales look bleak. New drugs have regularly appeared since then, often with fewer side effects, but most are little better in terms of effectiveness.

This is largely because these drugs tend not to be very specific in their effects on the brain. For example, the medication fluoxetine (better known as Prozac) alters levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in brain networks related to mood, but it has the same effect in brain networks involved in sexual response, leading to the common side effect of difficulty with orgasm. The pharmaceutical holy grail has been to develop drugs that are more selective in their effects, but this multibillion dollar dream has largely been ditched by Big Pharma as too difficult.

In its place is a science focused on understanding the brain as a series of networks, each of which supports a different aspect of our experience and behaviour. By this analysis, the brain is a bit like a city: you can’t make sense of the bigger picture without knowing how everything interacts. Relatively few residents of Belfast who live in the Shankill spend their money in the Falls Road and this tells us much more about the city – as these are the key loyalist and republican areas – than knowing that the average income of each area is much the same. Similarly, knowing that key brain areas interact differently when someone gets depressed tells us something important that a measure of average brain activity would miss.

The idea is that we can better understand complex human emotion and behaviour by understanding neural networks. This is where a new wave of interest is beginning to rise within neuroscience. The surge of interest is not with the concepts, which, if truth be told, became common currency in the mid-20th century, but in the extent to which research and treatment are being driven by a desire to identify and modify key brain circuits.

Big money has already been committed. The Obama White House has promised $3bn to develop technology to help identify brain circuits, while the National Institute of Mental Health has promised to move its seven-figure funding away from research into conditions such as schizophrenia and depression towards a system that looks at how brain networks contribute to difficulties that are shared across diagnoses. This project, given the unspectacular name Research Domain Criteria or the RDoC Project, is being cited as an eventual replacement for the diagnostic system used by current-day psychiatrists.

Perhaps more surprising for some is the explosion in deep brain stimulation procedures, where electrodes are implanted in the brains of patients to alter electronically the activity in specific neural circuits. Medtronic, just one of the manufacturers of these devices, claims that its stimulators have been used in more than 100,000 patients. Most of these involve well-tested and validated treatments for Parkinson’s disease, but increasingly they are being trialled for a wider range of problems. Recent studies have examined direct brain stimulation for treating pain, epilepsy, eating disorders, addiction, controlling aggression, enhancing memory and for intervening in a range of other behavioural problems.

New technologies such as optogenetics suggest that even finer control of brain circuits may be possible. While deep brain stimulation involves stimulating the brain with electrical currents, optogenetics involves injecting neurons with a benign virus that contains the genetic information for light-sensitive proteins. The brain cells then become light sensitive themselves and their activity can be controlled with millisecond flashes of light sent through embedded fibre optic cables. Until now, this has only been demonstrated in animals but there are high hopes that it could lead to precisely controlled treatments in humans that intervene only in carefully selected brain circuits.

Let’s make this clear. The scientific revolution in identifying and manipulating brain circuits is already under way. Additionally, with billions committed to research over the next 10 years, the medical revolution is likely to follow in the decades after. But a more important change will occur. Advances in neuroscience are not just discoveries, they also shape, as they always have done, how we view ourselves. As the Prozac nation fades, the empire of the circuit-based human will rise, probably to the point where dinner party chatter will include the misplaced jargon of systems neuroscience. But these are tools to help us understand humanity, not our humanity itself. Grief remains the loss of a loved one, joy a fulfilment of life’s desires, and neither could be explained just by neural circuits. Life will still stretch beyond the confines of our inner worlds.

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What You Put Up With Is What You End Up With 0

Nick Cordovano

A great message to parents.

By Bradley DeHaven  Kidz Edge Magazine

We are all guilty of threatening our children and not following through.  Everything from “no dessert” to that grounding for a week which lasted the afternoon.  Our children evolve with us in a relationship that you mold and they understand.  Unfortunately the stakes get higher as our kids get older,  We are no longer caving in to an ice cream cone when we said “no” ten times, we are enabling our children to manipulate us exactly how we taught them.  We all swear that “our kids will never” and yet we slowly allow our kids to become exactly what once appalled us.  Not you?  Perhaps not.  I would suggest at some level this is all of us and yes, some worse than others.  It is so easy to judge little Johnny across the street but check yourself now and then.

As the stakes rise and our children morph into young adults we reap what we sow.  Our preteens turn to teens and suddenly you are dumber than dirt to a teenager who knows it all, just like we once did.  If that teenager has learned well how to get their way, you will be ill-equipped to notice dangerous signs that your baby is hanging around with the wrong crowd.  Don’t let your kids divide and conquer your relationship with your spouse and don’t think for a minute that they want you to speak to the parents of their peers if they are drifting towards the dark side.  You need to find out who your teens are with and who their parents are.  You need to meet these parents and be in communication with them at some level.  This relationship is so very important, as the likelihood that teens will be experimenting with dangerous substances as they are spreading their wings is real.

Addiction sneaks up on you.  As a teen is becoming addicted they become first class liars out of necessity.  We parents are not mentally prepared to look at our own flesh and blood objectively and see the signs of addiction which we do not want to face.  The problem is addiction will never get better on its own and flourish if you are in denial.  Since this will never be our own child, we look away and dismiss signs one would clearly see in a stranger.

I am the parent of an addict in recovery.  Brandon is 27 now, and two and a half years clean of the prescription drugs that once owned him and controlled his every move.  It started so innocently with a prescription of Vicodin for a broken arm after an accident on a trampoline when he was around 14 years old.  We never realized Brandon could find this drug in the medicine cabinets of just about any home he visited and eventually at teen gatherings. We truly never met our real son until he exited rehab.  The startling contrast in who our son was as a person was so incredibly different than the troubled young teen we had endured.  Brandon had self-medicated for so long that even he didn’t know who he was.

My son never intended on becoming addicted just as no addict does.  My wife and I thought we did all of the right things as parents.  If it wasn’t for having two sons we would have thought we were either the best parents or the worst.  In the end, I understand I was a dad who did his best and a set of circumstances beyond my control took my oldest son on a dark and dangerous journey.  I plead ignorance because I simply didn’t realize that all the rules regarding teenage drug experimentation had changed.  I didn’t understand that I had options with the drugs doctors prescribed to my injured child.  I exercised blind faith that the doctor knew best, and I was wrong.  I didn’t know that I needed to open dialog with my child about the dangers of experimenting with all drugs and alcohol.  Now you do!

Know the following:

  • There is synthetic heroin in your medicine cabinet in the form of Opioids that will lead your children from the smallest prescribed pill to Heroin itself.
  • Addiction can happen to anyone from the star quarterback to the loner in the back of the class.
  • The United States is comprised of under 5% of the world’s population, we consume 99% of prescription grade Opiates.
  • Your child is 700 times more likely to die of a prescription drug overdose than in a horrific school shooting.
  • Every 24 minutes another family is destroyed as they get the call that their baby has died of a prescription drug overdose.

I know these staggering facts are not a pleasant thing to read.  If you read them you will understand your responsibility as a parent has taken on a new level of importance, just when your kids are less likely to listen to another lecture from mom and dad.  Your child is walking through a whole new world, and you need to learn that all the rules have changed or you may walk with us who are afflicted by addiction.

Become aware, educate yourself and understand something I hope you never need to know.

We don’t plan on having a house fire but we install fire alarms.  We don’t plan on getting in a car accident but we fasten our seat-belts and insist our children do the same.  The things we hope and pray will never happen to us are the things we need to understand the most. Addiction is no different.  You have a choice when educating yourself.  You can learn on your own terms or you can learn when you are forced to.

You need to introduce drug testing and breathalyzers into your family unit.  If your teen comes home bouncing off the walls, use these tests to confirm your suspicions, or go to the emergency room.  This could save your child’s life.  Sleeping it off is not an option with the substances that are being abused by teens now.  Whatever you told your child you would do under these circumstances, do it!  Do not slowly allow a drug or alcohol problem to become a full blown addiction by dismissing it as normal teenage experimentation.  You did it and you are OK?  When you were a kid were you mixing alcohol with prescription drugs?  The rules have changed and you must adapt and understand or join a club you do not want to belong to.  Do not end up with what you put up with.

 

 

 

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What About Persistent Withdrawal Symptoms? 0

Dave Brisbin

This is a great article from SAMSA–the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration–dealing with what they call protracted withdrawal or what is often called PAWS, post-acute withdrawal syndrome. The article goes into the science behind PAWS, the symptoms specific to the substance used, timeframes of both acute and post acute symptoms, and possible solutions for those in recovery and those who are treating and caring for them.

If you’re going through these symptoms, it can be very hopeful to know what they are, why they persist, and that they won’t last forever.

Take a look here.

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RX Meds Kill Someone in OC Every 2 Days 0

Dave Brisbin

Another striking article on the toll non-conforming prescription drugs are taking nationwide, but especially in Orange County–truly an epidemic. Our friend John Drew sent this along from the OC Register.

Take a look here.

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