Black Balloons In Memory of Loved Ones

In this blog, the subjects of research and legislation and other factors that affect the future of south Florida rehab centers is often the focus, with a little dash of interesting stories about a survivor here or there throw in and a sprinkle of public education. However, people with substance use disorders aren’t always able to benefit from blogs like this or even residential detox or anything comparable to south Florida quality drug rehab programs. Many of them find themselves leaving behind families and loved ones, having fallen before the chronic illness of substance use disorder instead of ending up in the local news website with a story of inspiration intended for others to find strength in who are going through the same thing. The people in this unfortunate situation of passing on and losing the battle against addiction totalled more than 70,000 last year, more people than died from car accidents during the same period.

In Midland, Michigan, the survivors have taken up the task of reminding everyone that these aren’t statistics or just numbers, but people that had families, children, brothers and sisters that miss them. Unified by their loss of a loved one to addiction, people like Alyssa Wood are carrying black balloons with a message of love and the name of the person they lost written on it for a day.

“I’ve really used her passing as kind of a motive to go out and teach about stigma reduction and to do prevention work,” Wood said in an interview with their local NBC affiliate. Her work is cut out for her. Even within hospitals with trained physicians, identifying much less not holding social biases against someone who they suspect might be affected by addiction is still rather common and the public is largely lagging behind what they know.  

Psychologists and statisticians who have studied the phenomenon of ‘stigma’ agree that when putting a cultural bias towards something, it doesn’t matter if that thing is right or wrong, good or bad, it will influence people toward that bias or belief. This includes the belief that addiction itself is of a moral failing and that the only proper way to handle it is through passing judgement on the choices made by that person. This usually has the opposite effect culturally, and those suffering from addiction will often hide their condition for fear of judgement or in the case of illegal drugs, criminal penalty.

In fact, one of the goals of this blog is the same as these black balloons, but sometimes, it helps to put the idea into physical reality, that people were lost and they were important to their families, not junkies that were already ‘thrown away by society’, but everyday people, neighbors, friends…and family.  If the research, expert opinions, results of studies and practical aspects of it don’t make people see addiction as far more complicated than simply ‘bad choices’ or ‘moral failings’, maybe these black balloons will.

Addiction is a chronic illness that gets more severe the longer it is left untreated. If you or someone you love is suffering from substance use disorder, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

A Court Battle To Pay Attention To

While the stigma of addiction within the public eye changes, which will encourage more people in south Florida to seek drug rehab rather than try to hide it, there are other conditions that also must be addressed as things like residential detox are no longer strongly and harshly judged by society at large, such as legalities associated with treatment.

In Pennsylvania, a court case which may set a precedent on how many states look at laws governing the liability of those who treat both people seeking addiction treatment as well as those seeking mental health treatment. As the culture surrounding addiction begins to understand the intricacies that involve mental health as a major component of the causes of addiction, it brings the necessity to revisit current laws on the books and how they promote and reinforce the things we now know about the illness. For instance, it should be immediately that the ‘War On Drugs’ policies treating possession of substances decriminalized as it would be like criminalizing have Attention Deficit Disorder or criminalizing someone with bipolar.

In this same way, it’s worth revisiting laws that dictate differences or lack thereof in treatment facilities and liabilities of those responsible for their care.

The case in Pennsylvania looks to separate the laws that apply to patients looking for treatment for substance use disorder from other mental health conditions. The case, which involves the surviving family of a person who went into treatment for opioid use disorder and died ten days later under the care of the staff of that facility. So far, the case has moved to state supreme court after a previous court denied the separate since the treatment facility was also treating the patient for diagnosed mental health issues.

Currently, the books there state that the lawsuit cannot hold up because the prosecution is suing for something that happened under a different statute. The outcome could be a reinforcement or setback to how the public perceives substance use disorder as a chronic illness with heavy mental health implications or as this ‘other thing’ that’s more about individual morality and ‘choice’ judgements. Research into psychiatry, neurobiology and psychology already agree that the statistics show a high correlation with issues like trauma and addiction, though no real causation has been discovered with any predictability, meaning that they agree there’s a highly likely link. All research agree that morals of an individual play nearly no role as to how addiction starts or continues.  A case that ignores this correlation legally reinforces the possibility that the War On Drugs will continue to criminalize possession and incarcerate those who have a severe addiction rather than getting them treatment options like drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale.

All that aside, if the court case gets struck down at the State Supreme Court, there may be a push to take it further up the chain of judicial command which would elevate the consequences of the ruling further.  

Substance use disorder is a chronic illness that becomes more severe the longer it is left untreated. Call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for treatment options that are right for you or someone you know who might be facing addiction.

If You’re Not A Part Of The Solution…

One of the things unique to America is the idea of self-determination and many of us internalize (and externalize) this ideology to fault. If someone is suffering from substance use disorder, the only one at fault for not contacting a south Florida drug rehab is that of the addict. If someone’s life collapses around them as a result of severe drug abuse, the onus is only on them to seek out south Florida detox treatment.

The problem with this line of thinking is that the effects of substance use disorder, as well as the solution, are not individualistic, though a good portion of the concentrated effects center around the person with the illness. In reality, where most of us agree we operate day to day, the effect of one person suffering from substance use disorder is not confined to themselves and the effects of their condition ripple out into the world, suggesting it’s not an individual problem but a community and society problem.

This problem is not shrinking, either, it’s growing.

Consider the situation of how environmental factors foster and encourage addiction. Consider the consequences of fostering addiction by ignoring it or refusing to offer any kind of help, whether direct with getting someone into, for instance, residential detox or indirectly by refusing to help with community funding for treatment centers in general. Even refusal to accept minor tax increases aimed at expanding healthcare to include addiction and mental health treatment options contributes to the problem.

Today, in America, nearly 20% of people over the age of 14 exhibit some form of substance use disorder. While many have quietly harbored their battles internally, other people have lost that ability to internalize their struggle, which explodes into the public. Currently, society is paying five times the cost of the AIDS epidemic in terms of socialized costs of covering related illnesses and deaths. The common belief is that cancer is the bigger threat to the American health liabilities, but in actuality, substance abuse is actually costing us twice as much as cancer monetarily. But we don’t say to a cancer patient, “Well, it’s your problem, you deal with it”.  We understand that as a member of a modern, and mostly civilized society, that we are only as strong as our weakest links and that if we break the chain too much, there’s nothing to be proud about. There’s no society at that point, just a lot of sick, sick people.

Addiction is complicated and it’s not simply a matter of choice. When we, as a society, begin to disregard the needs of our fellow neighbors, we disregard the conditions that made the country great to begin with, which wasn’t rugged individualism, but care for one another, whether financially or physically. Now it’s time to consider how much the country needs the help of mental health access because if we don’t consider it, there soon may be no ‘greatness’ to return to.

Substance use disorders require professional treatment at centers like First Step Behavioral Health. If you or someone you know suffers from this chronic illness, call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

Identifying Genetic Addiction Risks

The scientific community is already at a consensus that at least half of a reason that someone develops an addiction requiring substance abuse treatment in Florida is due to genetic makeup. That is not to say that if you have the genes in question leaning toward inflating risk factors means that you will, one day, require the services of south Florida rehab centers, but that coming into contact with addictive substances increases your risk of developing addiction after contact compared to someone who genetically is not predisposed to addiction. Many people think that genetics are used as an excuse for moral failings, but recent science has been uncovering more and more about the mechanics of addiction through neurobiological research and genetic inspection as well as experiments with rats and, for instance, cocaine, a known highly addictive substance.

Recently, the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychiatry published a study further identifying some of the genetic factors that play a role in addiction, specifically with younger people. As it’s already known, the adult brain isn’t truly fully developed until a person reaches their early twenties. Coming into contact with addictive substances can have a different genetic outcome based on age as well, the study concludes.

According to the study, there is “a strong association between increased behavioral impulsivity in young adults and abnormalities in nerve cells in the putamen, a key brain region involved in addictive disorders.”

Dr. Camilla Nord of MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences unit and lead author of the study, which involve ninety-nine participates aged 16-26, adds “People who show heightened impulsivity are more likely to experience a number of mental health issues, including substance and behavioral addictions, eating disorders and [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder].”

The overall takeaway from their research, which monitored brain activity through a series of tests using brain imaging technology, was that impulsivity is an ‘endophenotype’; a set of behavioral and brain changes that increases people’s general risk for developing a group of psychiatric and neurological disorders, one of them being substance use disorder or addiction. By identifying these functions, which control dopamine release and other behavioral neurobiological chemicals that control behavior in the brain, it may one day be possible to either reverse or the effects of the hijacking of these systems by substance use or at the very least provide something akin to a ‘vaccine’ that reduces the risk of developing addictions (or any of the other related behavioral disorders) prior to coming into contact with the risks themselves.

As the addiction crisis in America continues on, it will be dependant on the findings of research like this to make a massive dent in the numbers of people affected by substance use disorder. It’s estimated that around two million Americans nationwide suffer from some form of substance use disorder with only a fraction even diagnosed and an even smaller number of people actually in treatment. About fifty percent of the population continues to believe addiction is a moral failing or lack of personal judgement or other cultural superstition.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance use disorder, a call to First Step Behavioral Health can help manage the illness. Call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options such as residential detox.

It Takes A Village

One of the most concerning aspects that South Florida rehab centers have concern for with people who go through treatment is the long term ability for a person to remain free from their substance use disorder. While south Florida detox, and by extension residential detox, focus on the short term, rehab differs in that it’s goals aren’t for the now, but for the future. For many people coming into treatment, they’ve often created a situation which leaves them isolated, void of a social network outside of that which serves the addiction they’ve developed. Finding a new network that encourages sobriety and helps a recovering addict focus on their goals instead of abusing a substance is a challenge, and oftentimes the biggest challenge.

An old proverb states, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, but in reality, it takes a village to obtain results which benefit the individual as well as the group or community they belong to. Forming bonds that show by example how to handle problems and passes education and encouragement in a bidirectional motion is one of the most important tools a recovering addict can ever receive.

While in treatment, therapies of all kinds, including mental health and emotional well being, in addition to activity therapies such as physical activity and creative activities, are deployed to assist with helping a patient find new outlets to cope with their condition, there is something unique about a community and belonging which helps to reinforce sobriety. While in most cases, it’s rather ridiculous to rely on bronze age thinking for modern problems in modern times with modern research, it’s well known that community has insanely strong influences on an individual’s behavior. We no longer have villages in modern America an idea, but a community is a proper stand-in for the saying; “It takes a community to help an addict stay sober and focused”.

There are several aspects of community building, but often times, the isolation involved and the previous community that reinforces drug use are heavy barriers to overcome. It becomes less a problem of building a community but rather replacing the one that has supported the negative habits and substance use disorder instead. One could think of it as replacing caffeinated coffee with decaf; the surface level observation is very similar, it’s what you can’t see that makes the impact.

If people were serious about combating addiction nationwide, there would be far less judgement of people suffering from substance use disorders and far more reaching out and building relationships and making public invites to more productive behaviors in groups. It may seem silly, but even something as simple as a group that goes to watch movies once or twice a week can do so much for someone, giving them a place to feel they belong and replacing their solitary activity of drug use with a community activity that can take the place of the unhealthy ones that develop from addiction.

If you are suffering from substance use disorder, please call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 to discuss a personally tailored treatment option that works for you.

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.

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.

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.

West Virginia Bill Template For Other States

Substance abuse treatment in Florida, along with the rest of the country, faces many hurdles, especially with regards to access. The demand for south Florida drug rehab often outstrips the supply and more often, due to how it’s funded, is out of financial reach for many people.

The opioid crisis in particular has hit West Virginia especially hard. Not only is their overdose of fentanyl among the highest in the country, their geographical makeup and low income offers exceptional barriers which prevents a lot of treatment options from being available to people. In an attempt to address these issues, their state senate drafted and passed a bill which may become a possible template for other states like Florida to follow, which expands the reach of services like residential detox.

According the West Virginia Gazette Mail, the bill was ‘drafted with help from Huntington officials and the Association of Recovery Residences…and [supported by the city of Charleston]”, according to committee chairman Senator Mike Maroney, a Republican representative from the city of Marshall.

Since the opioid epidemic, many halfway homes and residential detox centers have begun operating, with communities trying to help themselves where the government would not or could not. The bill opened up the ability for those operating houses to help people suffering from substance use disorders to be inspected by state agencies and fast-tracked to approval for operation in an effort to combat the state’s exceptional numbers of people overdosing on opioids and other addictive substances.

Huntington City Attorney Scott Damron told the Recovery Committee flatly, “We believe [the bill] will save some lives.”

The situation with the operating but uncertified facilities is that they are essentially out of the referral system of the state. If someone is, say, arrested for possession of heroin, the non-certified treatment houses which may be closer and more accessible either by distance or price, are simply not suggested or looked at by the state as a possible course of action for their recovery. The hope here is that by allowing the lesser houses to be inspected and then certified will create more supply of treatment facilities and thus have a reduction on both the amount of people suffering from addiction in the state as well as lowering the numbers of people dying from overdose. In 2018, overdose deaths in the country outnumbered automobile accident fatalities for the first time in American history. This number is even more incredible when considering that the ratio of drivers to drug and alcohol use is about 1:1000.

States all over the country are taking action where the federal government is still determining the best course of action to deal with the crisis. When a state succeeds in any way, it can help other states formulate a working plan for their own citizens with a case study that backs up the reasoning and path to the results they want.

Substance use disorder is a serious condition that requires professional treatment for success in breaking the cycle of addiction. Call First Step Behavioral Health for more information on treatment options for you or someone you care about at (866) 319-6126.

Avoiding Addiction

A lot of times, the travel of information is simultaneously fast as a Google search and as slow as chronically poor Google search results. In greater media, there is a very heated battle between misinformation and verified accurate information, in addition to biases of media sources. As the old saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’ and in some ways, having bad information is worse than having no information at all. When it comes to south Florida rehab centers, the entire situation can be confusing.

Consider the belief many people have of addiction being something that only happens to ‘bad people’ who make ‘bad choices’. For this person, their worldview says they’re immune to developing any kind of addiction, even the one that currently chews up the headlines, opioid addiction. This person who goes around believing that only criminals and morally bankrupt scum can become ‘junkies’ may, for instance, get into a car accident on their way to work, finding themselves in a situation in which they require painkillers…the very painkillers they believe they cannot be addicted to by their very fact they believe they are not a criminal.

In this way, bad information has put this person more at risk, giving them a false sense of security and arrogance around what should always be treated with care and caution; prescription drugs. The actual way addiction works has nothing whatsoever to do with whether a person is super nice and holds the door open for their peers at a store, attends church or donates to charity. Most importantly, it also does not require any specific age, gender or income level to take hold of a person, making it no different than someone being prone to a car accident itself. Even the most cautious of drivers may find themselves on the phone with an insurance agent.

Avoid addiction requires understanding addiction prior to being put into situations where it’s more likely to happen. How do you avoid an accident if you don’t understand how certain accidents happen? Even if the accident-prone activities or tendencies are known, there’s not any guarantee of avoiding the situation.

For this reason, it’s highly important to be cognizant not only of things like prescription drugs, and whether they have addictive properties, but also things like alcohol use patterns. Also highly important is to maintain a connection to your own mental wellness. Depression and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are two common connections found in substance use disorders. For ADHD people especially, it often happens that a person doesn’t even know they have ADHD because they’ve never been diagnosed. With depression, often this will go undiagnosed as well or manifest in conjunction with substance abuse.

Unfortunately, healthcare in the United States involves walking a minefield of misinformation and maybe more importantly underfunding at the federal level. As a consumer product, healthcare and knowing your own condition is required to be a personal responsibility and considered part of being an ‘informed consumer’.

Until this changes, do what you can now to avoid conditions which may put you at risk as well as understanding how to identify possible signs of addiction after they may have already developed.

If you’re in Pompano seeking drug rehab with options for residential detox, give First Step Behavioral Health a call at (866) 319-6126.