The ‘Addictionary’

Addiction is currently one of the most widely talked about topics in both the news and the medical and psychology fields of professionals, as is evidenced here by so many people looking for services from south Florida drug rehab centers. The Research Recovery Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, is a non-profit research group dedicated to the advancement of addiction treatment and recovery, recently published what is called ‘The Addictionary’. It features terminology and definitions that surround the condition and acts as an introductory resource for both the general public and physicians interested in finding out more about the chronic illness of substance use disorder.

The following are some small excerpts from The Addictionary, which can be found in full at

  • ADDICTION – According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a primary, chronic neurobiologic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influence its development and manifestations. Addiction is characterized by behaviors that include: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, cravings.
  • BEHAVIORAL HEALTH – The health care field concerned with substance use and other mental health disorders.
  • CODEPENDENCY – Emotional or psychological over-reliance on a partner, especially in relation to an illness or disease such as substance use disorder.
  • COERCION – The practice of compelling a victim to act against his or her will by using psychological pressure, physical force or threats or by withholding drugs.
  • COLD TURKEY – Slang term for the abrupt and complete cessation of addictive substance use. It stems from the goosebumps often observable on the skin of individuals in physiological withdrawal.
  • DEPENDENCE – The state in which metabolic status and functioning is maintained through the sustained presence of a drug and it’s removal results in a mental or physical disturbance or withdrawal.
  • DETOX – Short for ‘detoxification’, the medical process focused on treating the physical effects of withdrawal from substance use and comfortably achieving metabolic stabilization is a prelude to longer-term treatment and recovery.
  • LAPSE – A nontechnical term, also referred to as a ‘slip’. It implies a short-term resumption of substance use, usually for a night or day, that is followed by a return to the original goal of moderate use or abstinence.
  • MAINTENANCE DOSE – The amount of a medication administered to preserve it’s desired level in the bloodstream.
  • NEONATAL ABSTINENCE SYNDROME – A postnatal withdrawal syndrome inherited by children exposed to substances, most often opioids, during pregnancy. Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome are more likely to suffer from low birth weight, breathing problems, feeding problems, seizures or birth defects.
  • NIMBY – Short for ‘Not In My Back Yard’. A characterization of opposition by residents to proposed development within their local area, such as for addiction treatment centers or harm-reduction programs. It often correlates with strong fears of increased crime, poverty, drug use or community degradation. The term tends to carry the connotation that residence would tolerate or even support the new development if it were not proposed in such close proximity to themselves.

Finding drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale is as simple as calling First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 which offers many treatment options include residential detox.

Treatment Advanced

A continually common belief in a good portion of the public, regardless of they’ve gone through substance abuse treatment in Florida or not, is that addiction is not only a moral failing but requires a moral dispositional shift in order to kick the habit. The War On Drugs policy, instituted in 1971 by Richard Nixon, is still ongoing and was built on this viewpoint. It has damaged not only research into addiction, but also dispersing the most up to date information about it and in the process, treating addicts as morally bankrupt criminals instead of what has actually happened which is a change of brain chemistry and introduced a synthetic mental illness it’s resulted in destroying not only the lives of addicts themselves but the families they belonged to.

Not many people who have been in a 12-step program realize that the entire premise is of moral correction. The primary focus of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is to attempt to not only remove the autonomy of a person’s ability to make good decisions by having them accept that they don’t make good decisions, but that the only way to make good decisions is by submitting to a ‘higher power’. These days, it groups are more or less non-religious and don’t specifically harp on God or Christianity, but many will still use the term G.O.D., a shorthand for ‘Good Order and Discipline’. The overt spirituality, however, remains in nearly all 12-step programs which has been repeatedly found in medical and scientific communities to have very little positive results, especially in the long term.

While it is unfortunate that the opioid epidemic has occurred, one heavily racial element of it is that it has overtaken white communities and kickstarted a resurgence of trying to publicly take a new understanding on how substance abuse disorder actually works beyond the moral angle. While in the 80’s, the prison population, particularly with non-whites, exploded, making America the number one industrialized nation with the highest amounts of incarceration due to the scare of crack, today the opioid and by extension the heroin crisis has shaken an ever increasing portion of America out of it’s stone-aged view on what addiction actually is.

Medical research advancements have progressed to the point where brain imaging can even identify without even asking the patient what kind of drugs they are addicted to. Drugs have been developed for certain kinds of substance addictions that not nullify the effects of use while reducing cravings themselves. Some of these, such as naloxone, can even reverse a certain-death overdose situation. While these methods of imaging and treatment are new and very limited in use, as the public’s perception and research evolves, addictions of all types may be understood to the point where the disease is seen as just a serious ‘nuisance’, like the flu.

South Florida rehab centers like First Step Behavioral Health try to use the most accepted forms of medical and psychological substance abuse treatment available. Call (866) 319-6126 for more info about options like oxycodone treatment.

Mix and Match

When seeking a south Florida drug rehab for addiction it’s important to educate yourself as best as possible about the options available, which can vary widely depending on the substances that are used, the history of the person, their medical history and whether the person has ever been diagnosed for mental health issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

It can seem extremely overwhelming for someone who has never looked into either substance abuse treatment in Florida or even the information into what kind of condition addiction is itself. A lot of information is heavily influenced by cultural beliefs rather than research from the medical and scientific communities so it’s important to be able to discern conjecture and speculation informed by cultural bias from modern medicine and psychology.

The important thing to pay attention to is that a good treatment center will ‘mix and match’, so to speak multiple treatments and even diagnosis’ which is typically called ‘holistic approach’ or ‘holistic treatment’. When looking at a person who has an addiction, it’s important that treatment to be tailored to the individual as best as possible. Just as someone who goes to the dentist will have a visit to determine what kind of work, if any, might be called for instead of just removing the same teeth from everyone that walks through the door, treatment requires a variety of assessments that will include psychological and mental health analysis along with physical analysis.

Because there are parts of addiction that aren’t completely understood either from the psychology field and neurobiology field, the holistic approach is considered the most effective as it combines the pieces of both fields that to put together the best ‘picture’ of how the addiction has affected the patient as possible, basically the idea that the sum of the parts makes a more complete whole. Some treatments such as 12 Step only programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) often do not only a single kind of one-size-fits-all approach, but also mix in elements of spirituality and morality into program, which have, statistically, very low success rates. That is not to say they do not work for everyone, but often this approach alone is not as effective as modern holistic approaches which can include medication, psychological counseling which often uncover unaddressed mental health issues such as trauma and depression or even, as earlier noted, uncover conditions like ADHD which have shown to be found in 25% of addicts and often unidentified at time of treatment for the addiction.

There’s a lot to discover, unpack and learn, especially when going into subjects like inheritance of genes that have been identified as possible contributors to addiction susceptibility, the kinds of drugs that are available for some kinds of physical addictions and so many more aspects, but if you keep in mind that the best treatments don’t just use one kind of approach, you’ll at least have a better chance of finding a treatment that works for you.

If you or someone you know is looking for drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale, call First Step Behavioral at (866) 319-6126.

The Vultures Are Circling

Substance abuse treatment in Florida faces many problems with regards to being effective. With the spotlight on addiction shining a white hot light on one of the biggest missteps in American healthcare for the last half century, many snake oil salesmen smell blood in the water and are eagerly trying to get their bite on the millions of dollars ready to be shovelled at anyone who can promise a solution to the condition. It’s gotten so out of control that the FDA themselves had to issue over a dozen warnings and advisory letters to companies and investors wishing to cash in on the crisis facing millions of Americans in the face of the very public opioid crisis.

Unfortunately, there are almost no regulations on the supplement industry, which is the totality of the products that incurred the warnings to begin with, meaning that in an industry that can get away with almost everything in terms of claims and effects on people of untested substances, this was bad enough to still motivate the FDA to step in take action. Outlets such as QVC have hawked multiple products claiming to counteract the addictive properties of drugs like oxycontin while being not much more than overpriced bottle of sugar pills.

One of the main things that supplements are able to exploit are the lack of clinical testing before placing claims to their effects. Over the years, there have been life threatening supplements claiming to be safe for everything from weightloss to reversing yellow toenails, but end up having untested ingredients or even more common a combination of ingredients that act together to have unforeseen side effects.

While all of this is happening, there has also been a surge of interest in funding treatment facilities all from a profit motive. For those reading this who are unaware, the prison system in America is profit motivated which has extended the War on Drugs itself to promote more incarceration through simple drug possession and does very little to actually rehabilitate those put behind bars. It’s not far fetched to think that the treatment centers coming in purely for the ability to make profit will do much to improve a person’s quality of life. A recent report on the investor opportunities around treatment centers was published and even the company who produces oxycontin has been investing money into treatment centers to get people off the drug they themselves sell and seem to have no plans on changing or pulling from the market despite everything that is known about it’s addictive properties and its potential to lead people to full on heroin addiction.

With all of this going on, it’s highly important for everyone who is looking to help people they known or to help themselves to be very critical of what is being offered and understand that no treatment exists that simply involves ‘buying some pill’. Treatment is not just something you do for 10 minutes a day with a glass of water, it requires a much more than that and for good reason.

If you or someone you know is looking for residential detox or drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

Down the Habit Hole

In South Florida rehab centers, habits tend to reveal a lot about the nature of addiction. Many of us have routines, a lot of them daily. Maybe the first thing you do when you wake up is to take a shower. Maybe every day at noon, you enjoy a big bowl of chili. Maybe once a week, you go on a walk through the neighborhood.

These rituals, after a period of time, come to define us in some way. They aren’t who we are, but they provide a cornerstone of what one might consider ‘normality’. People that go to the gym often will say they get agitated if they have to miss a trip to pump iron, runners will make similar comments about the disruption.

As a person’s substance use disorder takes hold and begins changing the brain chemistry, it can introducing craving and desire that override their normal intentions, habits can develop and often times provide the most difficult obstacle to recovery.

When someone develops a pattern of use, it can be just as reliable as a measurement of ‘normal’ as another person’s fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It’s never intended to be that, as these habits form over a period of time. Someone doesn’t just decide once that, “Oh, I’m going to snort a line of coke every day at 3pm!” after the first time they do it, just like there was not a day when the person who drinks coffee in the morning decided one day that this was the thing they decided will define the start of their day.

It happens organically, often time without the cognizant recognition of the person as it develops into habit. When the drug enters the body and begins rewiring how dopamine and the prefrontal cortex message each other, it can be nearly undetectable, especially for substances like alcohol. After an extended period of time, the combination of habit along with the chemical aspect of addiction and neurological changes in the user to create artificial cravings for the substance becomes an ever insurmountable obstacle that for nearly everyone who falls victim to it cannot escape from without extreme outside forces or jarring and shocking events. Even then, it’s not guaranteed that it will be enough for a person to begin to unlearn what becomes essentially an internalized and subsconscious behavioral pattern.

The longest and most difficult part of treatment is relapse prevention. Imagine any one of your rituals, daily, monthly or weekly, and think about not doing it. If you normally drink a cup of coffee in the morning, simply stop drinking coffee in the morning. It’s much harder than you realize. Now throw in high levels of addictive changes in the brain, many of which are permanent, and you can begin to see the difficulty of truly staying in control over addiction. It’s not easy, though it does become easier over time, but there’s more than simply ‘not using’ at play when being treated for substance use and habit is one of the most amorphous yet most difficult any person suffering from substance use disorder will have to face.

Substance abuse treatment in Florida uses a holistic treatment method which tackles habits as well as the chemical and neurological parts of addiction including treating withdrawal from Oxycodone. For the best treatment in south Florida, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

The Fifth Beatle Was Heroin

Many people who see the other side of a south Florida detox will find solace in music. Even while in a south Florida drug rehab, music can be an important part of the recovery process, often helping people find an emotional release valve for frustrations and challenges when they listen to their favorite songs. Many of us, however, know that a lot of famous musicians and songwriters have struggled with substance use disorder. Some of the unfortunate were taken from their audience from overdose before their time. While John Lennon was unfortunately murdered in in 1980, but his bandmates were alarmed to find out about Lennon’s heroin addiction.

“The two of them were on heroin and this was a fairly big shocker for us because we all thought we were far-out boys, but we kind of understood that we’d never get quite that far out,” noted Beatles bass player Paul McCartney.

He and wife Yoko Ono had developed a habit after a car accident in in Scotland during the recording of the album ‘Abbey Road’. While several of the band’s acquaintances knew that Lennon had tried the drug on occasion prior, it wasn’t until this event that he had a real need for a strong painkiller that didn’t take a long time to turn into tightening grip of addiction that lasted over 10 years. While John never used a needle and prefered snorting the drug, the opiate was still capable of giving him and Yoko strong withdrawal symptoms that tortured them.

During this time, there were virtually no ways to get addiction treatment. Doctors of the time treated drug addiction as a ‘psychotic condition’, which is to say there was neither anything understood about it nor anything medical doctors or psychologists could do with their lack of understanding of it. Lennon and Yoko reportedly quit cold-turkey, Lennon asking Yoko to tie him to a chair during a 40-hour torture session while he dealt with the excruciating withdrawal symptoms. It later lead to the penning of the song ‘Cold Turkey’.

“My feet are so heavy / So is my head / I wish I was a baby / I wish I was dead” the lyrics recall. However, this would not be end of the battle against heroin. Days after writing the wong when he went to play it for colleague Bob Dylan, he was already snorting heroin again. He was open about his addiction when there was nothing truly understood about it.

On a BBC interview in 1969, he would say in an interview, “They’re so stupid about drugs. They’re not looking at the cause of the drug problem: why do people take drugs? To escape from what? Is life so terrible? Are we living in such a terrible situation that we can’t do anything without reinforcement of alcohol, tobacco? Asperines, sleeping pills, uppers, downers, nevermind the heroin and cocaine- they’re just the outer fringes of librium and speed.”

For anyone seeking heroin drug treatment in Broward, please call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

People seeking help for substance abuse like alcohol treatment in Pompano, often have to go through social gauntlet of misrepresentation, mistreatment and general hostility and guilt tripping. Substance abuse disorder, even within much of the medical community, is seen as a moral issue almost exclusively. Snap judgements are often put upon the person looking for south Florida drug rehab options. People making these instinctive assessments often think they helping the person, but studies show that it typically has the opposite effect.

Consider the term ‘guilty pleasure’ and what it implies and how it ends up becoming a source of guilt in the first place. If you’re seen as a very manly-man, for instance, and are supposed to like ‘manly things’ like working out, playing football, etc. then you probably would not want to reveal to anyone that one of your favorite things is to watch sappy romantic comedies and your favorite one makes you cry every time you watch it. It’s something you’re going to hide from everyone in order to appease society’s expectations upon how you project yourself in public and even among close friends and family members. You may never tell anyone about that thing, even though there’s no real consequences. A guilty pleasure isn’t even a serious thing to worry about, but there’s consequences you are afraid of for revealing something that’s incredibly harmless.

Now consider substance use disorder and the social consequences of being seen as an addict. So many aspects of what an addict does creates a situation where someone who wants help won’t even seek it for fear of society’s viewpoint of what kind of person they are, regardless of their circumstances for ending up with the condition in the first place. The assumptions frequently made about an addict is that they’re liars, thiefs, criminals, junkies, losers, etc. It’s so ingrained into society to have these beliefs that most don’t even realize that many addictions begin under innocuous circumstances such as receiving pain medication from a complete legitimate hospital visit.

Now, if many people’s guilty pleasures remain hidden and are often extremely mundane activities, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for someone with an addiction to hide it. Once a person has developed severe addiction, self reporting becomes less and less of an option. Depending on the kind of addiction a person suffers from, it may affect them deeply in the financial area of their life and they have to steal money to feed it. They’ll lie to friends and family about they’re physical condition if caught under the influence of the substance they cannot break free of. They’ll ultimately choose to self destruct rather than ask for help, creating a cycle that leads to them turning into the thing people thought of them before they even had a chance to ask for assistance in getting well.

It’s a tragedy as studies show that an incredibly large amount of people end up falling into this trap.

Don’t hide your suffering from fear of judgement. Call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126, which offers many treatment options including residential detox.

Rock Bottom To Rock Climbing

Often, people in recovery for substance use disorders in south Florida drug rehab will be given a chance to re-discover a part of themselves they may have forgotten, skills in art or athletics. Sometimes, people undergoing substance abuse treatment in Florida will have an opportunity to learn something about themselves they are good at or enjoy and never knew that thing about themselves. One former heroin addict from Massachusetts discovered her knack and enthusiasm for rock climbing.

Robin Agricola had become addicted to painkillers after a continuous series of medical issues had left her dealing with scoliosis, a broken scapula, arachnoiditis and severe spinal pain that developed after a pregnancy when she was 25. By the time she was 28, even though she was a so-called ‘functioning addict’ and holding down a job, she was shooting up heroin. She refers to her bottom as a ‘high bottom’, since she didn’t end up on the streets or in prison, but the very fact she was injecting heroin was enough for her to realise that she had a problem with addiction to opioid based pain killers, which many people are struggling with today in the US.

With the help of her family, she detoxed in a treatment center for 28 days, sharing time with people who had been in detox multiple times. She knows she is lucky to have been able to break the cycle of addiction that is very difficult for some people to overcome. To help her, she discovered rock climbing.

As a former gymnast, she found a love for heights of accomplishment that come with scaling both real cliffs and indoor walls.

“There are so many people out there struggling with the same thing, and there aren’t a lot of places for hope. I hope people can see my life, with climbing and travel and sobriety, and think ‘Oh, I can get out of this, too. I don’t have to live like this. I can create a better life for myself.’ That’s a pretty powerful message to share when you can share it,” Robin says of her recovery and newfound hobby. She currently gives talks and fitness lessons at a rock climbing gym in Randolph, MA while sharing her story on her personal website, No Excuses Just Crush, while travelling to speak at treatment centers to people currently in recovery for substance use disorders.

“I feel so lucky. Every day, I’m so grateful,” she says of her rise out of the dark valley of addiction. “I feel like the more people who know my story, the more avenues it gives someone who’s struggling. I’ve built this life in sobriety and they can, too.”

Whether it’s rock climbing, pinball, travelling or stamp collecting, finding a new healthy hobby can be important for recovery and can be a positive change in habits and focus that helps keep someone sober after treatment and getting clean.

If you or someone you know is need of a south Florida detox facility, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

Technology for Recovery Has a Blind Spot

While more and more people are finding they are needing oxycodone treatment, with many people in south Florida seeking relief and heroin drug treatment in Broward, some individuals with good intentions are offering technological solutions to assist in the battle of addiction that killed more people from overdose in 2018 than car accidents. Removing any kind of ulterior profit motive out of the picture, which has also started creeping into the growing epidemic that is largely due to inefficient government policy ill equipped to deal with the problem, some have started introducing technological solutions with earnest hopes in helping people. The problem is, however, that the help is largely tone-def in many ways, with a distinct limitation on reach.

Poverty and addiction are two conditions which affect many, with poverty going into what one might call ‘extreme poverty’, more commonly called ‘homelessness.’ People who live on the streets, sleeping under bridges or finding a place in encampments where they can dodge police easier for vagrancy aren’t exactly ‘hip’ to technology. They often won’t have a cell phone, and if they do, it’s a burner with highly limited access and usually underpowered to handle much of the online software that is offered.

Take for instance, Brian Mcalister’s app that was recently introduced, which offers a substantial support network, data tracking of many aspects of a person’s relapse triggers, encourages expressing anxiety and depression in journals as a coping mechanism, and more. It’s very well thought out. But it misses the broad target of that addiction doesn’t; addiction doesn’t care about income or technology and will hurt anyone, anywhere and for any reason. One quick Google search of Kensington’s addiction population will reveal that a large number of people afflicted in the community don’t even have a place to get out of the cold or the rain, which makes having a phone look as out of reach as being a number one box office draw in Hollywood.

There’s nothing wrong with these things, however, but even taking Brian’s app and removing the access, the service fee itself is over $250 a year. Anyone who has ever lived paycheck to paycheck, nevermind homelessness, will tell you every purchase they make is measured in bags of ramen. It only serves a portion of the well-to-do community that hasn’t lost everything yet or weren’t born into a house that was broken before they were even conceived. Technology is still a luxury to many people, with over half of the world still having no internet access whatsoever, which the app heavily relies on.

It’s not that there’s an ill intent for any of these solutions, it’s that the approach is ignorant to the larger issues that surround substance use disorders and more importantly who it actually affects. It’s not a disease of the middle class, it’s a disease of everyone because addiction doesn’t care who you are and especially doesn’t care if you own a cell phone or not.

While technology is great for some people, south Florida drug rehab is best handled by professionals at First Step Behavioral Health. Call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

The Science of Environmental Triggers of Relapse

While South Florida rehab centers that treat people for substance use disorders understand that environment plays a significant role in people who’ve undergone substance abuse treatment and relapse prevention, much of the public still holds onto the belief that a person relapses because either they’re morally incapable of making the ‘right’ decision or they simply lack enough willpower to overcome their habit. The more competent and holistic south Florida rehab centers work with patients over the long term to handle the stressors of environment that lead to relapse because they have an understanding of this phenomenon, but a lot of the scientific research as to the ‘why’ this occurs is still under study.

A recent study by the University of Guelph has uncovered a little more of the mystery that connects behavior triggers to the environment of a person recovering from substance use disorder. The study’s co-author, Professor Francesco Leri, says that memory processing is stimulated from certain drugs like cocaine, associating in the brain a location and general environment to use. Thus, if an addict frequently used their drug in their home, say, at sundown, then someone recovering from cocaine use disorder will face extra challenges of resisting cravings, despite being chemically free of the drug, when the sun goes down and they are in their home.

Professor Leri says, “Stimuli in our environment such as buildings, objects and places are fairly innocuous. When they’re associated with drugs of abuse, they can become modifiers of memory function.”

Study co-author Boyer Winters, also a psychology professor, adds, “That learning’s going to be stamped in better and probably be stronger and more persistent.”

The study performed involved rats in two groups. Initially, they were all drug free and then environmentally stimulated with lights and location. Then the groups were given cocaine, one group away from that location and one group in that location. They were then allowed to dispense drugs freely, but the stimulation was returned to both groups. The group that had received the drugs within the simulated environment used drugs at a higher rate and almost exclusively when the environment was stimulated, despite both groups being exposed to the stimuli.

“Those cues acquire powerful cognitive effects,” Winters added. “They could be used to enhance learning of the recovery process.”

As more studies discover just how addiction works, much of the work to be done with them involve reversing the ‘intuitive’ understanding of the public that has been dispersed regularly to the public through War On Drugs-related propaganda, which places high emphasis on drug use tied to morality, due to the illegality of drug use itself. However, the actual nature of addiction is not only completely disconnected from morals, but is far more complicated than ‘him good’ vs. ‘him bad’. Studies like this one are ongoing, with the ultimate hope that substance use disorder can be treated reliably for everyone much like a doctor can treat a physical wound with stitches.

Substance use disorder is a serious illness that requires professional treatment. If you or someone you care about might be suffering from an addiction, First Step Behavioral Health can help. Call (866) 319-6126 today to learn more about treatment options available to you or a loved one.