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12 Steps

Finding the Right Recovery Group

Navigating the world of recovery groups and fellowships can be difficult and confusing. There are many diverse options, and everyone seems to have a different opinion. Some say that all alcoholics need to go to AA. Some say that anyone who used drugs can’t go there, but needs to go to NA instead. Some people think all you need is God in your life, and will tell you to go to church. Still others don’t believe in God at all and will tell you SMART Recovery is the best group. This page aims to clear up some of the confusion and point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a group.

The 12 Steps

The 12 Steps were originally pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s. Today they are the most famous program of recovery from alcohol as well as all other forms of addiction and many types of behavioral problems. The reason they have lasted so long is because they have worked well for millions of people, and there is no reason that they can’t work for you as well. 

Many people are scared off by what they see as the religious or spiritual aspect of 12 Step programs. Even if they are atheist or agnostic, they don’t need to worry. 12 Step programs do not force you to follow a certain God or religion. 

There are a wide variety of 12 Step groups, attended by an even wider variety of people. The best-known group, of course, is AA, and this is often the best choice for alcoholics. But more than just alcoholics find sobriety through AA. Many modern AA groups include alcoholics as well as those who mainly used drugs. All members suffer from the same disease, and can find recovery in the same place.

Those who are not comfortable with AA have a number of other options. The most common drug recovery group is NA, but there are also groups for many other substances. In addition to substance abuse, 12 Step groups are available for behavioral problems and process addictions from sex, to gambling, to overeating. And these are just a few of the groups that can be found in many cities.

Today it is easier than ever to find the right 12 Step group for you.

Other Groups

For one reason or another, some people just cannot stomach the 12 Steps. There are still options available for these people. SMART Recovery uses a research-based, cognitive-behavioral approach to recovery. Celebrate Recovery offers a Christian perspective on finding sobriety. These and several other options are available as 12 Step alternatives.


What is drug addiction?

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Drug addiction is a disease. There are many forms of science that attempt to explain what qualifies someone to be a drug addict. Some, like the 12 steps, qualify drug addiction/alcoholism within their own personal experience. This means that they, themselves, are actually drug addicts/alcoholics. The 12 steps are a true testament to understanding addiction and alcoholism. This is why we recommend strong 12 step drug rehabs to someone previously inexperienced with the matter. 

Drug addiction continues to plague America. When drug addiction takes over a life, it does not just hurt one person, it hurts everyone around them. From family members to spouses, coworkers to clients, addiction is all inclusive, and will continue to hurt the addict and all those around until proper help is provided.  


Counselor/therapist

Substance Abuse and Counseling

Counseling and therapy are well-developed and effective treatments for many of the problems people suffer from today. Often, issues that seem unsolvable or like they require medication can be resolved by working with a good counselor. 

Counseling can be especially helpful for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. When it comes to addiction, mental health and behavioral counseling are often a key part of the recovery process. 

As a recovering addict, I attend counseling regularly. It provides me with a setting in which I can talk openly about anything that’s bothering me. It helps me to identify areas in life where I fall short and what I can do to improve. It also adds a layer of accountability—I voluntarily set up a weekly urinalysis drug test with my counselor so the people around me can feel comfortable knowing I am sticking to my program of recovery.

There are a number of types of counseling that can be helpful for treating substance abuse and addiction:

Individual

Most people are familiar with this type of counseling. The client meets with a therapist on a regular basis, such as once a week, to work on behavioral health. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a common practice where patients learn to identify and avoid or deal with situations that put them at risk of substance use.

Group

A key part of the recovery process is being a member of a community with the same issues and goals. This is where group therapy comes in. Patients can feel comfortable discussing their substance abuse issues, with the knowledge that others in the group understand what they are going through from experience. Achieving sobriety becomes much easier when you don’t have to do it alone.

Family

If you or a loved one have struggled with addiction before, you will know that it affects not just the addict or alcoholic, but the people around them as well. Families and relationships can be stressed to the breaking point by untreated addiction. Family counseling allows the person in recovery to sit down with his or her loved ones in a comfortable setting and begin to repair the damage that has been done. 


RELAPSE

What Happens Next

Relapse is one of the most talked-about and least understood problems in the recovery community. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on relapse. Some people will tell you it is a natural part of the recovery process. Others will tell you it never needs to happen—that it means someone was not following their program of recovery closely enough. Whichever point of view you take, the bottom line is many addicts and alcoholics relapse, and it is important to know what to do next. This page will attempt to answer that question.

Don't Give Up

If you or someone you love relapses into drug or alcohol addiction, the key is to continue trying to get sober. Most addicts and alcoholics with strong, long-term sobriety have had at least one relapse. Some have had many more than one. It is easy to think the battle with addiction has been lost, but this could not be further from the truth.

The modern understanding of addiction is that it is a disease. When a cancer patient relapses, the doctor doesn’t just give up. They fight even harder to beat it. And with the right attitude, many times they win. This is just as true when it comes to addiction.

Back to Treatment

If it is feasible to send the relapsed addict or alcoholic back to inpatient treatment, this can be the best option. It can feel humiliating to go back to rehab after graduating successfully, but shame needs to take the backseat to necessity. Addicts and alcoholics die of their addiction every day, so getting sober really can be a matter of life and death. 

Inpatient treatment centers are an effective and highly recommended way of dealing with a relapse.  And there is no need to hesitate to go to treatment, even if you have been before. Many people attend several treatment centers before they finally find long-term recovery.

Other Options

Sometimes, inpatient treatment is not possible. Maybe the family cannot afford it, or maybe the addict refuses to go. Either way, it is important to get sober again as soon as possible and take steps toward preventing another relapse.

After a relapse, the addict will probably feel a lot of shame. While they cannot be forced to stop drinking or using, sitting down with them in a kind and understanding way might help them make the decision to give sobriety another try. 

After they have detoxed, it’s time to take a look at the recovery program. Relapse means something was missing—maybe they weren’t attending enough or the right kind of meetings, maybe they weren’t working with a sponsor, and maybe the problem was something else. Identifying and fixing the problem will help prevent another relapse.

The Facts About Relapse

Relapse is the return to drug or alcohol abuse after a period of sobriety. It is a common occurrence in the recovery world, but this does not make it any less dangerous. Drug addicts and alcoholics die from their addiction every day, and as such it is important to have a strong understanding of the relapse process, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens. This page will provide information and statistics about relapse. 

Relapse Rates

While relapse can be prevented, the unfortunate reality is that many recovering alcoholics and drug addicts will relapse at least once. According to the National Institutes of Health, between 40% and 60% of people in recovery will relapse at some point. While this may seem alarming, relapse can be prevented, and even after a relapse, all is not lost. Steps can be taken to make sure it does not happen again.

The rate of relapse in addiction may seem high, but taken in context it is easier to swallow. The modern understanding of addiction is that it is a chronic disease. Like other diseases, effective long-term treatment is available, but relapses still happen, especially when patients do not take their medication or follow their doctor’s treatment guidelines. Again according to the NIH, addiction relapse happens only slightly more than Type I Diabetes, which has a relapse rate of 30% to 50%. Addiction actually has a lower rate of relapse than asthma or hypertension, both of which have relapse rates of 50% to 70%.

Relapse Causes and Continuing Care

With the other chronic diseases mentioned earlier, a doctor does not just write a prescription and never speak to the patient again. Instead, the patient takes medication and meets with their doctor repeatedly, often over a period of years, to make sure the disease is being managed correctly. Addiction treatment works the same way.

An addict or alcoholic is not cured of their addiction after attending an inpatient treatment center. While treatment is an important first step, it is also exactly that—the first step on the long journey that is recovery. After treatment, those who enter a sober living home or halfway house are much more likely to stay sober than those who go back to the environment in which they were drinking or using.

In addition to a structured, safe home environment, it is important to have some form of aftercare in place. Attending outpatient treatment, going to therapy and taking prescribed medications, going to meetings regularly, working with a sponsor, and being part of a recovery-oriented social group all make someone much more likely to successfully stay in recovery.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse happens to many addicts and alcoholics. For some, it is a natural part of the recovery process, and many people with stable, long-term sobriety have had one or more relapses in the past. But others are not so lucky. Some people relapse and never return to sobriety. Some end up dying from their addiction. 

But relapse doesn’t need to happen. There are many steps you can take to help prevent relapse from happening in the first place.

Aftercare

It is important that the treatment process continues after leaving inpatient. If an addict or alcoholic finishes treatment and goes back to the same environment that they were using or drinking in, the risk of relapse is extremely high. This is where aftercare comes in.

Instead of the risk of going back to where they were living, people tend to do better in a sober living environment. Most cities have a variety of sober living homes available. Outpatient treatment, coupled with counseling, is another good option. 

Most treatment centers will provide an aftercare plan when discharging a patient. Any addict or alcoholic with long-term recovery will tell you that listening to the suggestions of others is important, so the best thing to do is follow this plan as closely as possible. The instructions of doctors and counselors should be followed as well, with medication being taken as prescribed.

There are a lot of changes that take getting used to in early sobriety, and aftercare allows the addict or alcoholic to transition gradually to a sober life in the real world.

Community

Both research and personal experience show that being a part of a recovery community is one of the keys to achieving sobriety. One of the reasons inpatient treatment centers work so well is that the patients tend to form strong relationships and a close-knit community, working together toward the same goal. After treatment, this group will begin to drift apart, but it is important to continue to have a community.

Going to the same sober living as others from treatment is one good way to have an automatic community. But even in a new city, it is possible to build a community. 12 Step-based groups, such as AA and NA, provide a group of likeminded individuals and are usually extremely welcoming. Regularly attending meetings and working through the program with a sponsor is a great way to become part of a fellowship and help prevent relapse.


FAMILY

SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND RELATIONSHIPS

In the United States, roughly 14 million people are alcoholic, and around half of all adults have alcoholism in their family history. When you factor in drugs, over 23.5 million adults needed treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol and drug abuse can have very serious consequences for individuals. But one aspect of substance abuse and addiction that is often overlooked is the damage it can cause to those around the person with the problem. 

Addiction is a family disease: it is all too easy for family and friends to get caught in the crossfire of addiction and the behavior that comes along with it, like lying, manipulation, abuse, and codependency. 

There is no worse feeling than sitting at home, wondering when the person you care about is coming back, what they are doing, who they are with, and whether this might be the time they end up in jail, getting seriously hurt, or even dying. 

The spouse or significant other is often hit hardest by this.

BEING MARRIED TO AN ALCOHOLIC OR ADDICT

Addiction can put a major strain on any marriage. If you have seen addiction firsthand, you know that it is more than just not being able to stop drinking or getting high. The addictive behavior along with all the problems it creates can cause emotional and financial problems.

Addiction is also a progressive problem—it gets worse over time unless it is dealt with effectively. Your spouse may promise over and over that things will get better, but the unfortunate reality is that when substance abuse goes untreated in a marriage, it can often lead to divorce. 

A study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 48.3% of participants with an alcohol use disorder got divorced at some point. 

Sometimes, serious consequences like this are what it takes for someone to decide to find sobriety.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

If at all possible, inpatient treatment is usually the best option for treating alcoholism or addiction. According to drugabuse.gov, substance abuse has a relapse rate of 40-60%. Treatment gives people the best chance of overcoming this risk.

When an addict or alcoholic enters recovery, things will change in a major way. Once they are out from under the burden of their addiction, they will be able to work on fixing themselves—and fixing the damage they have caused in their relationships.

Many recovery programs—like the Twelve Steps of A.A. and N.A.—have making amends to others as a key component. The person in recovery takes a hard look at themselves and the harm they have caused, and does everything they can to make things right.

Relationships can’t always be repaired. But many times they can, and sometimes finding recovery from substance abuse is exactly what it takes to get things back on track.


TREATMENT

WHY LISTEN TO US?

  1. Because we get it. What makes us different than other treatment referral sites is that we know addiction. We are addicts and some of us have been through multiple drug and alcohol treatment centers. We know what works and what doesn’t. It is now our duty to help those, who are still suffering, to find the best options available so that they, too, can join the fellowship of recovery and most importantly, stay alive. 
  2. We don’t make money from treatment centers in referring clients to them. We do this because we believe that helping the next addict/alcoholic is the best thing we can do to remain sober. 
  3. We have knowledge of over 250 treatment centers in the U.S. 
  4. We care about you. Since we are not getting paid for any referrals, we can refer you to the best treatment center. You can feel confident that you will be referred to a center which is most appropriate for your specific situation.
  5. We only send people to places we would go ourselves. The centers which have remained on our exclusive list are there for a reason.  

 

IF YOU, OR A LOVED ONE, IS EXPERIENCING PROBLEMS WITH DRUG OR ALCOHOL,
PLEASE CALL TODAY.

Drug addiction is an illness. 

If I were to tell you there is a cure for addiction and alcoholism, would you believe me? Three years ago, I never would have believed it myself, but it’s true. There IS a cure. The "cure" requires consistent effort on the affected individual’s behalf. No, there is no special "stay sober" pill, but with willingness, dedication, and persistence sobriety is possible. 

Addiction and alcoholism are similar to many other diseases. For example, with diabetes, you will continue to have extreme health issues, possibly even life-threatening issues, unless you have insulin. 

What insulin is to a diabetic, these 5 steps are to a drug addict/alcoholic. 

5 Steps to Guaranteed Recovery:

  1. Go to treatment
  2. Go to sober living/IOP
  3. Find and work with a good 12-step sponsor (and attend extra counseling if necessary)
  4. Do the steps, be productive, and join a fellowship (get a job and join a group)
  5. Spread the message of hope to still-suffering drug addicts and alcoholics.

CONSIDERATIONS

It’s hard to find the right fit for treatment. Depending on individual needs, location, insurance coverage and financial costs, it’s easy to get lost in the search for “what is best.”

There are many different drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in the U.S., so which one is best for you or your loved one? We have created a list of considerations to look at before making a final decision.

1.    Your life and health are the best investments you can make

When I went to my third and final treatment center, I had to write a large check to them. With insurance, this is not the case for many centers in the U.S., but without it, I had to make a decision. Is my life worth this much money? Of course it was. I remain thankful every day that I was willing to pay the price to put myself through treatment.  

2.   How do I find a place that works?

Finding a good treatment center can be extremely difficult. Everyone you ask that works for a drug or alcohol treatment center will say theirs is the best. So, how do we find the one that will give the best possible chance at sobriety?

It is important to understand that no treatment center can guarantee you complete sobriety. If you do your research on the largest drug treatment centers in the U.S, you will find that they have a “success rate.” This rate is based on research from the centers themselves, based on the outcomes of clients leaving their facility after one year. Since there is no way of closely monitoring each individual, these numbers can be extremely inaccurate.   

Some treatment centers will certainly be a better fit than others based on a number of factors, but success or failure will depend on the decisions of the individual during and after treatment. It is up to each person to practice willingness and open-mindedness to remain productive, positive and hopeful throughout the treatment process.

3.   Recovery does not end after inpatient treatment

Drug and alcohol treatment is just the beginning of recovery. When fully taken advantage of, treatment can provide a strong foundation, but the lessons learned there must be applied in order to stay sober in the outside world.

An aftercare community is essential in achieving long-term sobriety. After treatment, going to a sober living home increases the probability of staying clean by a considerable margin. Inside a good sober living home you will find a thriving community of alcoholics and drug addicts staying clean together. It is much easier to do something with the help of others in the same situation than it is to do it alone.  No one can understand a drug addict or alcoholic like another individual with similar experiences. 


substance detox

Withdrawal symptoms and length vary widely from substance to substance, as well as from person to person. The following is a list of what the detox process might look like for some commonly abused substances.

ALCOHOL

Withdrawal from alcohol can begin as soon as a few hours after the last drink and can last from 7 to 10 days—although cases lasting a few weeks have been reported.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, shaking, headaches, seizures, and delirium tremens (or DTs) which can cause confusion, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, and fever. Death is possible in severe cases.

Since alcohol withdrawal is so dangerous, inpatient detox and medical supervision are essential. Treatment with medication will reduce or eliminate most symptoms. After detox, inpatient treatment is recommended.

BENZODIAZEPINES

Withdrawal from benzos begins when the last dose has worn off, which varies depending on the specific benzo taken (Xanax is shorter acting than Valium or Klonopin). Symptoms can last for weeks, or even months, with post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) lasting for a year or more.

Benzo withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, pain, “brain zaps,” fatigue, and insomnia. In cases of severe dependence, or abrupt discontinuation, confusion, seizures, coma, DTs (similar to alcohol) or even death may occur. Post-acute symptoms can include anxiety and depression.

With benzos being another dangerous drug to withdraw from, medical treatment is absolutely necessary, at least for the early stages. Patients must be stabilized, with the correct medication and care, before they can safely be released. Inpatient treatment is recommended.

HEROIN

Heroin withdrawal begins 6-12 hours after the last dose, peaks after 1-3 days, and usually subsides within a week.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, heroin withdrawal symptoms can range from nausea, cramps, runny nose, yawning and tearing, to sweats, chills, severe aches, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, insomnia, depression or suicidal thoughts, and restless legs. These are usually accompanied by drug cravings.

While withdrawal itself is not fatal, it is still recommended to seek detox for heroin withdrawal followed by inpatient treatment. Treatment and medication make the process more comfortable and reduce the risk of relapse or suicide.

PAINKILLERS AND OTHER OPIATES

Similar to heroin, withdrawal from opiates usually begins within 12 hours (but this can take longer in the case of methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone). It is usually over within a week, but methadone and buprenorphine can take up to a month.

Symptoms of withdrawal are the same as heroin: they can range from nausea, cramps, runny nose, yawning and tearing to sweats, chills, severe aches, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, insomnia, depression or suicidal thoughts, and restless legs. These are usually accompanied by drug cravings.

As with heroin, it is recommended to seek detox for opiate withdrawal followed by inpatient treatment. This will make the process easier and reduce the risk of anything bad happening.

COCAINE

Users experience a “crash” within hours after stopping a cocaine binge. Some withdrawal symptoms may be felt for the next few days, although mild symptoms can persist for weeks or months.

Crash and withdrawal symptoms include depression, fatigue, strong appetite, and difficulty concentrating. Cravings and lethargy can occur for some time after withdrawal has ended.

Medical detox from cocaine is not usually necessary, but may be helpful, and inpatient treatment is highly recommended to get the patient stable and to reduce risk of relapse.

AMPHETAMINE / METHAMPHETAMINE / PRESCRIPTION STIMULANTS

As with cocaine, the crash and withdrawal from stimulants begins hours after the last dose. Symptoms can last for up to two weeks.

Users often experience depression, fatigue, strong appetite, anxiety, irritability, and slow reactions. Symptoms like cravings and lethargy can continue for much longer after acute withdrawal.

Medical treatment may help but is not required. Considering risk of relapse, inpatient treatment is highly recommended after detox to give the user a foundation on which to base their sobriety.

MARIJUANA

Contrary to what many believe, heavy marijuana use can cause withdrawal. Symptoms usually begin within a day of the last dose and can last months.

Typical withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, lack of appetite, nausea, vivid dreams, irritability, anxiety, depression and sweating.

Detox is generally not necessary for marijuana. Inpatient treatment is recommended for marijuana addicts to get them through the majority of withdrawal symptoms, reduce the risk of relapse, and give them the tools they need to stay sober.


residential inpatient

28-30 Day Programs

28-30 Day Treatment centers are usually fast paced, to the point, and insurance friendly. Most of our suggested facilities are either in network with major treatment centers, or have good relationships with insurance companies across the US. Each of our recommended in-network facilities are ranked the top in the world. They provide a solid 12-step structure and an in-depth clinical approach. 

WHAT DOES "IN-NETWORK" MEAN?

"In-network" means that the drug and alcohol treatment center is a preferred provider. This means that the cost out of pocket can be much less, if any at all (depending on insurance). Most in-network facilities we suggest have beautiful scenic views and a sound recovery approach. We will be happy to point you in the right direction. 

HOW MUCH MONEY WILL DRUG AND ALCOHOL TREATMENT COST?

That depends on a couple of things. The first and most important question is: do you have health insurance? If not, then private drug and alcohol treatment can be covered by out of pocket funds (based on our highly successful suggested drug and alcohol treatment centers). If you do have health insurance, the next question is: what kind of insurance plan do you have? The amount of money covered by the insurance can only be known after the drug and alcohol treatment center has run the insurance information. 

Do not let financials ruin the opportunity to save your (or a loved one's) life. Remember, the best investment is the investment in yourself. It is better to find a solution for a drug/alcohol problem today, then live a life filled with misery, pain, and suffering. 

There are many programs in the U.S. which offer 28-30 days of treatment. To find out about the best 28-30 day treatment centers, call us, send us a message, or chat with us now.

45-90 Day Programs

45-90 day treatment centers focus on addicts/alcoholics that have struggled with using for a repeated amount of times. The more long-term drug/alcohol treatment, the more suited these centers are for individuals who have "relapsed" frequently. Relapsing is a very serious act for a drug addict/alcoholic. Going back to using, whether it be meth or alcohol, can be extremely detrimental and end in death, jail time, or the insane asylum. The main reason long-term treatment centers exist is to halt relapse from happening again.   

WHAT IS THE COST OF LONGER TERM TREATMENT?

The cost of going to a long-term drug and alcohol treatment center depends on whether or not you have insurance. The type of insurance you have, if any, along with the specific insurance plan, is the largest determining factor on what cost will be. 45-90 day drug/alcohol treatment centers usually offer a cheaper monthly rate for full stay residents. This can be in a variety of amounts depending on the type of treatment center, the amenities, the level of care, etc.

HOW TO KNOW IF 45-90 TREATMENT IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Each individual is different. Each person has experienced more or less of an addiction. Each person's emotional state differs. The differences in each person allows for people to find a center which is designed to help them, specifically. Whether it be dual diagnoses, relapsing, or IV drug use, we know where to find the best help. Most people, who have attempted treatment before and find themselves in the same situation, may want to consider long-term treatment. 

The biggest difference between short-term and long-term treatment, speaking generally and obviously, is the length of stay. Someone may need only 28-30 days. Someone may need longer. Call us today to find out what you or a loved may need.


Activities for Sobriety

Aftercare

When people are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the most effective first step is usually inpatient treatment. This allows them to detox from substances, then learn the skills needed to stay sober in a safe and comfortable environment. But when they leave treatment, going back home to the same place they were using or drinking in is not a good idea. 

People early in sobriety are at an especially high risk of relapse, and this risk is compounded in an unsafe environment. When a treatment center discharges a patient, they provide an aftercare plan, which usually includes some of the following options.

Sober Living

Going to a sober living home or halfway house is the best option for someone leaving treatment. Instead of being thrown right back into the real world, people can return to work or school while still having the support of a substance-free home environment with other people working toward the same goal.

Most cities have many options when it comes to sober living. Homes are available in a wide price range and with a variety of services. Some allow residents to experience life almost completely independently, while others provide food, a structured schedule, and medical services. 

A typical sober living home provides a mentor or house manager who can help those new in recovery to build a better life. Systems like drug testing, requiring residents to get up in the morning and follow a schedule, and community accountability help people stay on track and correct problems quickly if they occur.

Further Treatment

Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), allows patients to gradually transition from full-time treatment to a normal life. A typical program might meet for several hours three to five days per week for a few months. Patients can feel comfortable knowing they have the same resources and support available that they did in inpatient treatment.

Meetings

It is important to have a sense of community in recovery, and attending meetings regularly provides this. The most popular and effective groups are 12 Step-based, such as AA and NA. Working through the steps with an understanding sponsor is how many people find long term sobriety.

For those who are not willing to join a 12-Step group, other options include SMART Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, or other addiction support groups offered by many counseling services.

Sober Activities

When you realize you have a substance abuse problem and decide to get sober, it can be hard to imagine having fun without getting high or drunk. As discussed on the page about having a social life in sobriety, getting sober from drugs and alcohol does not mean the end of being able to spend time with friends. It also doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. In fact, most people find they have more fun after getting sober. This page will list some ways to have fun in recovery.

Live Music

Many people enjoy live music, but are hesitant to go to shows in sobriety. Drinking and drug use tend to go hand-in-hand with concerts and music festivals. But they do not need to worry. Groups of sober friends and recovery fellowships often go to shows together, providing support in staying sober in an environment that would feel risky alone. Rather than take away from the experience, being sober tends to improve it. People in recovery find that they can be fully present and enjoy the music as much as possible.

Sports and Fitness

When in active addiction, most people do not take very good care of their bodies. They often eat junk food, if they eat at all. Exercise and a regular sleep schedule usually go out the window. But in sobriety, it becomes much easier to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

Life becomes much easier to manage in recovery, and people begin to take much better care of themselves. They get enough sleep, eat better food, and start to enjoy exercise. Whether it is lifting weights, running, cycling, swimming, playing team sports, or any other type of activity, exercise becomes not only tolerable but enjoyable. It is a common occurrence for people in recovery to look and feel great, getting into the best shape of their lives.

Experiencing Nature

Substance abuse tends to cloud the mind, but the good news is that this is not permanent. After detoxing, addicts and alcoholics begin to notice and appreciate the beauty in the world around them. From a simple walk around the neighborhood to hiking and camping, it becomes much more rewarding to experience nature.

Other Activities

This page only scratches the surface of the options that open up in sobriety. Being in recovery means a sense of freedom and possibility. After struggling with the burden of substance abuse for years, the opportunities for new and exciting experiences are endless. Getting sober now means getting the most out of life.


WHERE TO GO

There are roughly 15,000 Treatment centers in the U.S. With so many options, finding someone who knows the industry inside and out makes sense. We are here to help you.

 

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HEROIN

WHAT IS HEROIN?

Heroin’s origins begin with the poppy flower. Opium is extracted from the seed pod of the poppy flower and processed into heroin. Depending on how, and where it was processed, heroin is sold as white or brown powder. Heroin can also be sold as a black glass-like substance or “tar”. As it moves through the supply chain from chemist to dealers, it is mixed (or “cut”) with all sorts of household items. This can include items such as sugar, powdered milk, quinine, starch and, most recently, the potent opioid fentanyl (which has led to a 14% increase in overdoses). 

HOW DOES HEROIN WORK?

Heroin binds and activates receptors in the brain, called mu-opioid receptors, which are a natural part of the brain. Heroin use releases metabolites which bind these receptors to regulate pain and cause a feeling of well-being and euphoria.

WHAT ARE THE SHORT- AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF HEROIN USE?

Short-term side effects include an immediate “rush”; an overwhelming feeling of warm skin, dry mouth, and severe itching. There is also the possibility to overdose, experience vomiting, and the possibility of heart failure. After the rush, comes a high, where users go on a "nod". In a "nod", mental function is blurry, breathing is slowed, and the heart begins to function at a much slower rate. Not only can this lead to shallow breathing, but also permanent brain damage, coma, and epileptic seizures.

Long-term use creates imbalances in hormonal and neuronal systems. Over time, heroin alters the ability to regulate behavior and responses in stressful situations. Regular heroin users also experience withdrawal when they stop using. Withdrawal from heroin can become a daily routine for many users. Withdrawal may cause the person to feel physically sick and weak, their bones aching, the inability to eat, diarrhea, and vomiting until they can get their fix.

Heroin is extremely addictive, even if used only one time. Once a person becomes addicted, finding and using heroin becomes his or her life’s purpose. 

FACTS:

Accounting for the most illegal drug deaths annually, heroin takes lives every single day. Users do not usually begin their addiction with heroin. It is a progressive disease. Most addictions begin with painkillers (hydrocodone/Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, Fentanyl, etc...). Most users start out snorting or smoking heroin and eventually transition to IV use. 

America is in the middle of a heroin crisis. Between 2002 and 2013, heroin overdoses increased by over 289%. In 2008, 20% of all people entering addiction treatment were heroin addicts. In 2014, 0.4% of the entire reported population was addicted to heroin. Additionally, the number of heroin addicts increased by approximately 109,000 people in 2014 alone. The death rates of heroin users increased 26% from 2013 to 2014. Opiate addiction is an epidemic. One way to reduce the number of users and the amount of deaths each day, is to educate individuals on the necessity of treatment.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE ARE A HEROIN ADDICT?

As we have seen, heroin addiction is no joke. Acting immediately on behalf of a heroin addict, or for yourself, is the best way to avoid overdosing. Contact us today, by chat or phone, to find a treatment center which specializes in relapse prevention for heroin addicts.


PAINKILLERS

(OPIOID ANALGESICS)

WHAT IS A “PAINKILLER”?

A painkiller is a medically prescribed opiate. Their purpose is to medically relieve pain by acting in the same manner as heroin (binding to opioid receptors in the brain). Common painkillers are fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, and oxycodone. Painkiller addiction often causes more pain than it relieves, for the addict.

HOW DO PAINKILLERS WORK?

Painkillers come into the body and interfere with the nervous system. They confuse the way which nerves perceive pain, affecting the areas of the brain associated with pleasure. Painkillers work by obstructing the messages sent between the special nerve endings and the brain.

WHAT ARE THE SHORT- AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF PAINKILLERS?

Short-term effects of painkillers are very similar to heroin. After taking them orally, or in other ways, users begin to feel warm, itchy, and are overcome with an overwhelming sense of confidence and euphoria. Painkillers are the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. Painkiller abuse can lead to heart failure, seizures, slowed breathing, coma, constipation, and overdose.

Long-term use of painkillers will result in physical addiction and possible progression to other drugs, like heroin. Because of the acetaminophen addition to some painkillers, the liver can be severely damaged and possibly fail. 

Painkillers are extremely dangerous. If you, or a loved one, is experiencing signs of addiction, get help as soon as possible because addiction is a disease that gets progressively worse.

FACTS:

Painkillers kill more Americans than both cocaine and heroin combined. According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioid painkiller addicts are 40 times more likely to become heroin addicts. In 2014, alone 4.3 million people used painkillers non-medically. Opioid painkillers are the fastest-growing type of addiction in the United States.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS ADDICTED TO PAINKILLERS?

Please chat or call today to find a treatment center which specializes in opioid prescription painkillers before things get worse. If treatment is not a financial option, please find an AA/NA/CA meeting nearest to you.


STIMULANTS

WHAT IS A STIMULANT?

There are many different forms of a stimulant. Stimulants affect chemicals in the brain or nerves, increasing the level of mental or nervous activity and causing a feeling of stimulation.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF STIMULANTS

AMPHETAMINE

Amphetamine is a stimulant which was discovered in the 19th century and is commonly used today as both a prescription and recreational stimulant.

Methamphetamine is a related drug which can be easily manufactured and is widely abused in the United States.

Another related drug, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), is popular for recreational use across the world, especially related to partying, clubs, and music festivals.

PRESCRIPTION STIMULANTS (RITALIN, VYVANSE, ADDERALL)

Used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, abuse of these drugs can result in serious addiction. The amount and type prescribed varies from person to person. 

COCAINE

Commonly sold as a white powder and snorted by its users, cocaine is a popular recreational stimulant. During the 1980s, crack (a processed form of cocaine which can be smoked) began to appear as well. Cocaine is the second-most abused drug worldwide behind marijuana.

HOW DO STIMULANTS WORK?

Stimulants work by speeding up the process of the central nervous system messages to the brain. Stimulants can increase the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the body. Instead of continuing the natural process of dopamine release, amphetamines create a repeating process, resulting in an intense and long-lasting high. 

WHAT ARE THE SHORT- AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF STIMULANTS?

Stimulants provide energy and reduce appetite while increasing heart rate, breathing, and sex drive. The short-term effects can be deadly. The results of an increased heart rate also increase the chances of a heart attack, stroke, or unconsciousness. After the initial high of stimulants, the body responds to the lack of illegitimately processed dopamine and begins to “come down”. This can result in paranoia, hallucinations, confusion, irritability, mood swings, and extreme depression. 

Long-term use of stimulants can lead to serious addiction and can result in weight loss, depression, muscle stiffness, long-term anxiety, and paranoia. Abusers of prescription stimulants can develop a tolerance and eventually turn to meth.  

FACTS: 

Methamphetamine is the most common drug of abuse in the LBGT community. Amphetamine use can lead to meth addiction. Over 1,000 people died in 2014 immediately after using cocaine or methamphetamine. 

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS ADDICTED TO STIMULANTS?

Please chat or call today to find a treatment center which specializes stimulants before things get worse. If treatment is not a financial option, please find an AA/NA/CA meeting close to you.


BENZODIAZEPINES

WHAT IS A BENZODIAZEPINE?

Benzodiazepines are an extremely common prescription drug which generally act as a sedative. Sometimes called “benzos,” they have depressant effects similar to alcohol. While there are many types, the most common benzodiazepines are Xanax and Valium. Benzos are commonly used as a short-term treatment for anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures along with other uses.

HOW DO BENZODIAZEPINES WORK?

Benzos amplify the effect of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This results in feelings of sedation and sleepiness, as well as the relief of muscle tension (or spasms) and anxiety. As a depressant, benzos have some effects in common with alcohol.

WHAT ARE THE SHORT- AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF BENZODIAZEPINE USE?

Short-term use of benzos, especially as prescribed, leads to sedation, relief of anxiety, and relief of muscle spasms/convulsions. When abused, benzos can cause memory loss, aggression, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and clouded judgment. Benzos also greatly increase the risk of alcohol or opioid overdose when mixed with these drugs.

Long-term benzodiazepine abuse commonly leads to addiction. As with other drugs, tolerance develops over time and users require larger doses to achieve the same feeling. Users can experience impaired thinking, anxiety and depression, personality change, headaches, and a lack of motivation. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, like alcohol, is extremely unpleasant and can lead to seizures and death.

FACTS:

More than 2,000 different benzos have been created, but only about 15 are used in the United States. They vary widely in how long their effects last. While fatal overdoses on benzos alone are not common, they greatly increase the risk of overdose when mixed with other drugs. Benzos are commonly used as a “date rape” drug because they impair function and can cause memory loss.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS ADDICTED TO BENZODIAZEPINES?

Call or chat today to get help finding a treatment center that specializes in benzodiazepine abuse and addiction. If treatment is not financially feasible for you, please seek out the nearest AA/NA/CA meeting.


MARIJUANA

WHAT IS MARIJUANA?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, weed, pot, and many other names, is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States (and the rest of the world). Marijuana is the dried bud of the cannabis plant, which is usually smoked but can be vaporized or eaten in food. Some states and countries allow the use or marijuana for medicinal purposes and many people argue in favor of its legalization.

HOW DOES MARIJUANA WORK?

The main psychoactive chemical in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC acts on parts of the brain called cannabinoid receptors. By activating these receptors, THC causes the release of dopamine, producing euphoria, as well as psychotropic effects producing the well-known marijuana “high.” Other chemicals in marijuana affect other receptors in the brain, including opioid receptors.

WHAT ARE THE SHORT- AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA USE?

The effects of marijuana usually appear within a few minutes of being smoked and last up to a few hours. The high varies from person to person and is based on the dose and type of marijuana consumed. Marijuana usage can cause euphoria, anxiety, paranoia, hunger, and distortion in perception. Marijuana can have the effects of stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, or a mixture of each.

Long-term marijuana use can result in decreased memory and attention span, anxiety, and dependence. Marijuana use has been linked to the development of mental health disorders such as psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, mania, and suicidal behavior.

FACTS:

According to CBS News, 51% of American adults have tried marijuana. Marijuana is also one of the top cash crops in the United States, generating a market of about $36 billion per year. Contrary to the belief of many, marijuana can be addictive. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9% of marijuana users will become dependent, with over 4 million Americans abusing or dependent on it. Up to 30% of marijuana users may have some degree of use disorder. People who begin using marijuana in childhood are much more likely to develop a use disorder than adults.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS ADDICTED TO MARIJUANA?

Call or chat today to get help finding a treatment center which specializes in marijuana abuse and addiction. If treatment is not financially feasible for you, please seek out the nearest AA/NA/CA meeting.


HALLUCINOGENS

WHAT ARE HALLUCINOGENS?

Hallucinogens are common recreational drugs which cause hallucinations and extreme distortions of reality. These drugs include well-known psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and mescaline, as well as dissociative drugs like PCP, DMT, and ketamine. Depending on the specific drug, hallucinogens can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or injected.

HOW DO HALLUCINOGENS WORK?

The mechanism varies from substance to substance, but hallucinogens can disrupt communication between the chemical systems of the brain and spinal cord. They can also interfere with the action of the brain chemical serotonin.

WHAT ARE THE SHORT- AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF HALLUCINOGEN USE?

The effects of a hallucinogenic “trip” usually begin within half-an-hour of ingestion. Users can experience changes in mood, perception, memory, thought processes, sleep, hunger, body temperature, and sex drive. Other common effects are increased heart rate, nausea, sweating, panic, paranoia, loss of coordination, and feelings of dissociation.

Little research has been done on the long-term effects of hallucinogens. Heavy hallucinogen abuse can result in psychosis, including paranoia, mood disturbance, disordered thinking and visual disturbances.  Users may also experience flashbacks or other symptoms that may mimic a stroke or brain injury.

FACTS:

While hallucinogens do not cause the compulsive drug-seeking behavior other drugs do, they can still be both addictive and dangerous. Repeated use will result in tolerance and the need of larger doses to achieve the same "high". The mental disorientation from hallucinogen use can be severe and result in dangerous behavior, or serious anxiety, and trauma or even suicide.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS ADDICTED TO HALLUCINOGENS?

Call or chat today to get help finding a treatment center which specializes in hallucinogen abuse and addiction. If treatment is not financially feasible for you, please seek out the nearest AA/NA/CA meeting.