Gorski on Recovery and Relapse – Warning Sign Indentification

Relapsers need to identify the problems that caused relapse. The goal is to write a list of personal warning signs that lead them from stable recovery back to chemical use. There is seldom just one warning sign. Usually a series of warning signs build one on the other to create relapse. It’s the cumulative affect that wears them down. The final warning sign is simply the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Unfortunately many of relapsers think it’s the last warning sign that caused the relapse back to Alcohol and Drugs. As a result they don’t look for the earlier and more subtle warning signs that set the stage for the final disaster.

When Jake first came into relapse prevention therapy he thought that he was crazy. “I can’t understand it,” he told his counselor, “Everything was going fine and suddenly, for no reason at all I started to overreact to things. I’d get confused, make stupid mistakes and then not know what to do to fix it. I got so stressed out that I got drunk over it.”
Jake, like most relapsers, didn’t know what his early relapse warning signs were and as a result, he didn’t recognize the problems until it was too late. A number of procedures are used to help recovering people identify the early warning signs relapse.

Most people start by reviewing and discussing The Phases and Warning Signs of Relapse (available from Independence Press, www.relapse.org). This warning sign list describes the typical sequence of problems that lead from stable recovery to alcohol and drug use. By reading and discussing these warning signs, addicts/alcoholics that have not been able to stop relapsing will learn and develop a new way of thinking about the things that happened during past periods of abstinence that set them up to use. They learn new words with which to describe their past experiences.

After reading the warning signs they develop an initial warning sign list by selecting five of the warning signs that they can identify with. These warning signs become a starting point for warning sign analysis. Since most relapsers don’t know what their warning signs are they need to be guided through a process that will uncover them. The relapser is asked to take each of the five warning signs and tell a story about a time when they experienced that warning sign in the past while sober. They tell these stories both to their therapist and to their therapy group. The goal is to look for hidden warning signs that are reflected in the story.

Jake, for example, identified with the warning sign “Tendency toward loneliness.” He told a story about a time when he was sober and all alone in the house because his wife had left with the children. “I felt so lonely and abandoned, he said. I couldn’t understand why she would walk out just because we had a fight. She should be able to handle it better than she does.”

The group began asking him questions and it turned out that Jake had frequent arguments with his wife that were caused by his grouchiness because of problems on the job. It turned out that these family arguments were a critical warning sign that occurred before most relapses. Jake had never considered his marriage to be a problem, and as a result never thought of getting marriage counseling.

Jake had now identified three warning signs: (1) the need to drink in order to feel like he belonged, (2) the need to drink in order to cope with stress, and (3) the need to drink in order to cope with marital problems. In order to be effectively managed each of these warning would need to be further clarified.

The next Gorski Blog on the Challenges Website (https://challenges-program.com/) will review each of these nine steps in more detail. By Terence Gorski, Director of Relapse Prevention Service, Challenges, F. Lauderdale, FL © Terence T. Gorski 2009

Remember, Challenges in the only drug treatment center in the country where Terry
Gorski personally supervises the relapse prevention plans of all clients. (https://challenges-program.com/)

The People Who Can Help Prevent Prescription Drug Addiction

An estimated 2.4 million Americans use prescription drugs in a non-medical situation for the first time each year.

When patients use their prescription medications differently than prescribed, they increase their chances for dependence. If a patient is taking higher doses, using different routines or combining drugs with alcohol and other drugs, they put themselves at even more risk.

Although prescription drug addiction affects many different types of Americans, there are a few groups of people who have the biggest hand in preventing addiction:

  • Patients– If you have a prescription for painkillers, you’re the first line of defense against prescription drug addiction. You can take steps to prevent abuse and avoid becoming dependent. If your doctor suggests a prescription painkiller, you need to let him or her know about all of your current prescriptions, over the counter medications and herbal supplements. This will help your doctor pick the safest option for you.Once you’ve gotten your prescription, you need to follow the directions to a “T.” Avoid other drugs and alcohol, take your medicine as prescribed and stay on a schedule. Read all the documentation that you can on your prescription and ask your doctor questions.
  • Physicians– Healthcare professionals can help prevent prescription drug addiction by prescribing medicine carefully and watching for abuse. Since more than 80 percent of Americans have contact with doctors each year, the doctors are in a unique position to spot abuse long before it becomes a major project.Physicians should ask about all the drugs a patient is taking – including other prescription painkillers – before prescribing anything. They can also look for signs of “doctor shopping,” moving from doctor to doctor. If there’s any doubt, the doctor’s office can call a pharmacy to ensure that a patient isn’t filling multiple prescriptions for the same drug.
  • Pharmacists – Speaking of filling prescriptions, pharmacists can also be a line of defense against prescription drug addiction. Pharmacies have policies in place to screen for false prescriptions, prescription alterations and other forms of fraud. There are also prescription drug monitoring programs that create state-wide databases in 48 states to watch for suspicious prescription drug addiction activity.

With patient education and vigilance from medical professionals, prescription drug addiction can be curbed. In addition to these professionals, friends and family members who suspect prescription drug addiction can help their loved ones get the support they need move on from these painful addictions.

Addiction Recovery Essentials: How to Prevent Relapse

Overcoming drug or alcohol addiction is a long process with many steps.

After quitting drugs or alcohol, going through withdrawal and completing an addiction recovery program, you or an addict you know will need to fight against relapse. Understanding relapse and knowing how to prevent it is an essential part of addiction recovery.

The Three Stages of Addiction Recovery Relapse

Relapse isn’t a one-time event that occurs in a weak moment.

It is something that starts much, much earlier than that one moment. Many recovering addicts don’t take action until they have a physical relapse, but this stage actually takes place long after relapse starts to take over.

The first stage is emotional relapse. In this stage, you’re not thinking about drinking or using drugs, but you’re definitely in an emotional place where it’s possible. Your feelings and behaviors are creating the conditions for a relapse. During emotional relapse, you’re feeling anxious and angry. You may be experiencing mood swings and feel a bit defensive about your habits. You’re not supporting your body with proper sleeping or eating habits. In short, you’re re-visiting the emotions you had before you started abusing drugs and alcohol.

The following stage is mental relapse. At this stage, you’re fighting with yourself over using drugs and alcohol. Part of you wants to stay sober, but part of you doesn’t. You think about using more and more frequently. You’ll glamorize your past use, start hanging out with old friends, think about the places you used to go when you used – you’re setting the mental stage for a relapse.

Finally, there’s a physical relapse, the point where you actually go to get your drug of choice and use it. It’s very difficult to stop yourself from relapsing at this point because you’ve got the emotional and mental foundation for relapse. But this is the phase where most recovering addicts put their attention.

How to Stop Addiction Recovery Relapse

In order to stop addiction recovery relapse, you need to recognize and prevent the early signs of relapse. Some of the warning signs can be:

•    Isolating yourself instead of asking for help.
•    Avoiding relaxation techniques.
•    Continuing to eat poorly and sleep poorly.
•    Obsessing over the past and reliving old memories.
•    Hanging out with people or going places where you used.

If find yourself slipping down the path of mental or emotional relapse, you don’t have to go all of the way to physical relapse. You can practice self care, tell someone you’re having urges to use, distract yourself with fun activities and get the support you need.

Relapse doesn’t have to be part of addiction recovery if you don’t let it. Recognize the three stages and stop yourself from reaching physical relapse by getting help.

Baby Boomers and Drug Abuse: What Does this Mean for Their Healthcare?

For Baby Boomers, aging doesn’t just mean early bird dinners and retirement funds. It might also mean drug abuse.

In a recent survey released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), admissions for substance abuse programs increased in the years between 2002 and 2007 for Baby Boomers, and presently show no sign of stopping. Boomers – who are typically aged between 48 and 66 (as of 2012), showed an increase in admissions for prescription drug and illegal drug abuse.

Marijuana was the most commonly abused, with prescription drugs and painkillers in a close second. Admissions for abuse of cocaine and heroin showed an increase as well for the Boomer generation.

Another survey by the SAMHSA showed that 5.2 percent of adults over the age of 50 used marijuana between 2006 and 2008. Over 7.9 percent had taken some type of illicit drug, including prescription medications that were not prescribed to them.

The Risks of Baby Boomers and Drug Abuse

Although drug abuse is dangerous for anyone of any age group, increasing use of prescription and illicit drugs can equal bigger problems for Baby Boomers.

As people age, they are less able to process drugs through and out of their systems. This means that the same dose of drugs in your 20s can have a much more long-term and potentially dangerous effect on your system when you’re in your 50s.

To make matters worse, Baby Boomers are also taking more prescription medications that do things like lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. If they happen to be abusing prescription painkillers or illegal drugs at the same time, the combinations can be wreaking havoc on their systems. Even irregular drug abuse, like a twice-monthly binge on marijuana, can disrupt the functioning of necessary prescription drugs.

Baby Boomer Healthcare Could Be Affected by Abuse

In addition to medications not working as they should, drug abuse can also make it harder for Baby Boomers to get the healthcare that they need. Like many people, Boomers aren’t as up-front as they could be when sharing their issues around drug use with medical professionals. Unsuspecting doctors could attribute symptoms of drug abuse to other conditions – like the onset of dementia – and prescribe prescription medication that is unnecessary or that might cause side effects with the unknown illegal drugs.

To overcome the challenges of Baby Boomer drug abuse, doctors need to start asking about drug use, rather than just questioning alcohol use, for example. Additionally, friends and family members of those in the Baby Boomer generation need to pay more attention to any signs or symptoms of drug abuse and encourage their loved ones to get help. If the numbers of those who abuse or are addicted to drugs in the Boomer generation continue to grow in this manner, there will need to be larger and more readily available programs for drug abuse for older Americans.


Mothers and Drug Addiction

Many moms face nothing more serious than an addiction to a morning cup of coffee or a bag of their favorite chocolate.

But for some mothers, addiction to drugs – either illegal or prescription – is ruining their lives, and the lives of their families as well. What may start as a way to escape the pain – physical or emotional — of day-to-day life can become a life-threatening illness that can end in an accident,  a jail sentence, a coma or even death. If your mother or a mother in your life is struggling with drug addiction, there are many ways that they can get help before it ends in tragedy.

Mothers Most Likely To Be Addicted To Pain Meds, Pills

Drug addiction in mothers comes in all different varieties – from marijuana to meth – but mothers are more likely to become addicted to prescription painkillers than other varieties of drugs.

Painkillers are not only readily available from a doctor, but there is a perception that because they are legal with a prescription, they are “safe.” Many women who wouldn’t dream of smoking crack or using cocaine can become dependent on a prescription painkiller. They may initially receive their prescription for legitimate pain, and then over time can become psychologically and physically addicted.

Escaping The Pain Of Every-day Life

Vicodin, Xanax and other prescription pain medications can help mothers escape physical pain and psychological stress. Many people assume the medicines aren’t harmful because they’ve been approved by the FDA, have been recommended by a doctor and bought at a pharmacy. However, the active ingredients are similar to heroin and opioid painkillers. They boost dopamine levels in the brain and produce a euphoric feeling, following by harsh withdrawal symptoms.
This makes it difficult, both physically and emotionally, for moms to come off on their own.

Doctors Prescribing Painkillers

There are more opioid painkillers on the market today than ever before, and doctors have started prescribing them with more frequency. Any time there is an increase in availability, there will be more chances for addiction.

The short-term relief that mothers get from prescription drugs make both doctors and patients happy. But the long-term effects can be disastrous.
As a mother’s need for painkillers increases, she may go to excessive lengths to hide her addiction and get access to more pills. She may lie to and steal from friends and family members in order to get more pills. She may “doctor shop” in order to find a doctor that will continue to write her prescriptions. She may begin to miss family events, ignore her responsibilities as a mother and avoid taking care of herself as her addiction takes over.

Help For Mothers With Drug Addiction

Fortunately, there are outpatient and inpatient rehab options that can help mothers with drug addiction. If your friend or family member is an addicted mother, getting her the help she needs can be the best gift you can give.