A Florida County’s Addiction Problem In The Spotlight

While First Step Behavioral Health aims to help people with it’s south Florida drug rehab center and alcohol treatment facilities, the story of the epidemic of addiction for the whole state is a concern that is important to follow. Even though Broward County drug rehab serves a distinct and defined area, geographical boundaries are of no concern to the illness of substance use disorder no more than the flu respects street signs.  So it is of concern when Florida Today recently ran a story showing that Brevard County addiction that is known may pale in comparison to the unknown amounts of citizens there that could be suffering.

Brevard already ranks rather high in the amount of addiction cases and overdoses within the state, so news that the problem may be deeper than the surface numbers is concerning. The opioid crisis in general has hit Brevard rather hard, which has responded with policies that heavily restrict even prescription dispensing by physicians. Ordinarily, prescription drugs tend to be filled on a per-month basis, but opioids have been singled out into allowing only three-day lengths of time with some special cases allowing up to seven-prescriptions on a case-by-case basis.

Brevard County Opioid Abuse Task Force’s organizer Stanley Brizz, who himself lost his best friend and brother to opioid addiction, will be appearing at a fundraising event in association with Florida Today’s award winning podcast, “Murder on the Space Coast”.  Brizz background in psychology and crisis intervention, along with twelve years experience working with Eckerd Connects youth and community services, will be explored along with the uniquely Floridian version of the addiction crisis that the entire country is tackling.

“This issue affected my life personally before I even thought of starting up Brevard’s Opioid Task Force, but the task idea came from what I saw Orange County’s Drug Free Office doing with their task force,” Brizz remarks regarding his organizing his own opioid task force. His best friend died at 25 of an overdose while visiting a friend and his brother was paralyzed by police when he was twenty when he was shot in the back while trying to rob a pharmacy for prescription medication.

“This is just not a problem for ‘poor’ people or people experiencing homelessness that you see on the street,” warns Brizz. “It affects everyone in a community and the problem is worse in Brevard than many think and many times it begins with legitimate use of pain medication that unexpectedly turns into addiction – for children and adults.”

His appearance on the podcast will be presented live at Surfside Playhouse in Cocoa Beach while the archive will be posted for listening later for those who cannot attend or tune in as it is broadcast.

As Brizz notes, addiction is not a problem of individuals, but a problem that communities must face together.

Substance use disorder is a serious chronic illness that requires professional treatment. Call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

Power of the Many

Substance use disorder is continuing to gain concern from the general population. As everything from south Florida alcohol treatment centers filling up to the poster child of the addiction epidemic leading many to seek treatments for oxycodone withdrawal symptoms, the spotlight on addiction treatment and awareness continues to expand and get brighter, shining a light on an extremely large blind spot in American healthcare concerns and especially coverage.

While it’s easy to tell each person you might meet suffering from the debilitating symptoms of addiction to just ‘get over it’, eventually, you will run out of breath, requiring a more dragnet-style approach, utilizing the power of the collective culture harnessed through government representatives to truly address the growing problem that claimed more lives than car accidents in 2018. In fact, congress passed SUPPORT For Patients and Communities act which expands coverage of research-based (not faith based like 12 step programs) addiction and mental health treatment.

While this is a good gesture to begin with, there’s no reason to stop here. Several more considerations could be implemented into policy that could have long lasting benefit to keep America from facing a seriously problem like this ever again:

  • Foster the increase of treatment personnel with fiscal policy that encourages people to enter the field. Not only will this help curb the growth of addiction in communities, it will help the preventative measures that can keep the problem from becoming so widespread as it is now.
  • Encourage cross training of physicians into the field of psychology and psychiatry. Many physicians today espouse the false beliefs of how addiction works, that it’s the role of an individual that causes that individual to form an addiction in the first place, passing judgement rather than identifying the problem AND handing them off to a certified treatment facility.
  • Modify policies to include addiction in chronic disease category. This would allow for funding of long term treatment for those who find themselves battling with substance use disorder. While treatment and detox last just a few months, the condition never truly subsides as the neurobiology of a person has permanently changed once the disorder takes hold.
  • For addictions that have medication assisted treatment, lowering the cost of these drugs through collective bargaining as well as expanding the availability of doctors to prescribe these drugs would greatly increase the chances that they can be used for patients that need them.

While the country continues to wake up to the reality that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing, it’s imperative that everyone reading this understand that it will take the power of culture and pressure to successfully overcome what is an epidemic that is costing the country twice as much as cancer annually and is already five times the cost it took to get a handle on the AIDS/HIV crisis during its absolute height.

We can do better.

If you or someone you love is suffering from chronic substance use disorders, find them quality treatment in a south Florida drug rehab center like First Step Behavioral Health by calling (866) 319-6126.

The Art of Recovery

South Florida alcohol treatment, when it takes a holistic approach, offers a wide variety of techniques to reverse the reliance on alcohol in people suffering from alcohol use disorder. While not all south Florida rehab centers are created equal, the better ones will offer various forms of activity and creative based therapy to assist the behavioral therapy. One of these is using art to overcome some of the habits, cravings and emotional damage that comes with alcoholism.

One recovering addict in Mission, Kansas named Patrick Pribyl recently talked about his use of art to help him emotionally cope with his illness.

“I started using the red, when I started talking about addiction,” Patrick said when he referenced a time when he was ‘unrecognizable to himself’.  “There’s a smile on my face, but I wasn’t happy. I was just dead at that point.”

Patrick had suffered from alcoholism putting him in a downward spiral with ‘a total loss of control’, prompting him to see treatment for his condition. Prior to entering, he had not attempted to draw or paint anything since grade school.

“I knew I couldn’t draw a stick figure,” he said of his skills prior to entering rehab. “The second I started, I felt a wave of calm,” he said of his first days learning to pick up a brush. His personal technique is using colors to bring forth the feelings onto the canvas. For him, blue and white are hues displaying peace and serenity, while yellows and oranges portray energy. The reds, as mentioned before, represents his depression and days of addiction.

The paintings have lead to new opportunities for him post-treatment and post alcohol use disorder, with a gallery in New York displaying some of his paintings soon. His hopes are that the paintings resonate with audiences. “I hope someone will see it and say, ‘That makes me feel something,’” he comments.

Even though he’s still in treatment and currently undergoing a residential treatment plan, he’s busy with exploring the outer limits of what can be achieved to create emotion from a canvas and offering some of his works on an Etsy store that he’s been putting a lot of his time into. He also works at a local theater, further working on expressing himself rather than self-medicating his issues with alcohol.

Often times, people turn to substance use disorders because of undiagnosed issues to begin with. Research has shown that many people who enter treatment often have untreated depression and anxiety, while others have more acute forms of mental illness that has been undetected. For instance, a little over 25% of people with substance use disorders also have undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Holistic approaches use a combination of treatments that can include medication assisted treatment, emotional therapy, behavioral therapy, and other forms of rehabilitation that not only seek to treat the physical components of addiction, but also the mental health components.

If you or someone you know is seeking alcohol rehab in Pompano, First Step Behavioral Health offers a treatment options. Call (866) 319-6126 for more information.

Half Is Not Enough

Recently, a poll held in Cincinnati asked the question, “Is addiction a disease?” The responses totaled to just a little less than half of them describing the condition as a disease. The group carrying out the poll was happily surprised; just ten to fifteen years ago, the respondents understanding it as a disease would be somewhere in 5-10%. Much of the public discourse around the subject has been largely formed of myths, biases and miseducation combined with public policy that reinforced those things.

Take for instance the ‘War On Drugs’, an American policy that originated in 1971. The policy treated drug use as a crime, no different than someone robbing a bank or assaulting another citizen because it was believed, even in the psychiatric community as recently as the 60’s, that addictions were the result of a person that was simply ‘psychotic’. Even the term psychotic today carries with it the implication of dangerous. Therefore, it was of a concern for public safety that drug addicts be arrested for purchasing, using or possessing illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin.

The program also included a lot of media proliferation which hammered home the legality of drugs and emphasized that only terrible people would ever think of doing drugs, buying drugs or selling drugs. Programs like D.A.R.E. and the cartoon detective Ruff McGruff were among many messages aimed at children during the 1980’s and 1990’s that were built around this idea of morality and criminal activity associated with drug use and addiction. Those children are now adults and in supervisory and decision making areas of society now, but since then, much has been discovered about the nature of addiction. Effectively, it’s had an effect where not only does it condition people to look down on others who find themselves with a substance use disorder, it makes people suffering from it reluctant through social pressures to seek help.

Even as early as the start of the 1980’s, researchers were not satisfied with the answers science had concluded as to what addiction really is. Those in the areas of medical science which focused on studying the brain experimented with newly available brain-imaging technology which mapped out brain activity began a new search into answers of what addiction is by mapping brain activity of addicts simply being shown images of their favored substance. What they found was that the images were identical as if they had actually used that substance.

Since then, studies by medical researchers, neurologists, addiction experts and other related fields have found piles of evidence that addiction behaves much like a transformative disease such as cancer or HIV, that it is chronic illness that fundamentally changes the body’s performance and behavior. More advanced modern research has uncovered epigenetic changes that occur in addicts, a condition in which the very genetic activity that controls how behavior is carried out in the brain becomes altered in a way that’s measurable.

While the research has still a long way to go in understanding fully the nature of addiction, some early medication-based treatments have been developed with many more likely to be synthesized in the future with greater effectiveness. But this process will be inhibited the longer that the public continues to hold outdated beliefs about addiction.

Addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether you are searching for south Florida alcohol treatment to control drinking, or you’re in need of south Florida detox facilities to help with a severe heroin addiction, First Step Behavioral Health’s south Florida rehab centers can help. Call (866) 319-6126 today.

How Not To Treat Addiction

It’s often an instinct to take what we see at face value with no further informational input. If we see a something that looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, many of us will call it a duck without further thought. The more observant of us will have noticed it’s a man in a duck suit saying ‘quack’ and therefore not a duck. The same goes with addiction. For many people, they simply observe a person’s life seemingly spin out of control all due to decisions they know they shouldn’t be making. It appears as if that person has a moral failing or lack of self control, or simply gets off on stressing themselves out and this is just one more thing they’ve chosen to do in order to get their kicks.

The science, medical and psychological communities will tell you this is not the case and never has been. Unfortunately, there are some institutions which didn’t get the memo. An Ireland addiction treatment facility claiming they use a therapy plan which closely models the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program was instituting outright insults as a part of their therapy. The goal was to get someone to retain sobriety by shaming them into it. Unfortunately for them, a study into their history of successful treatments and interviews with current and former patients had a differing idea.

According to an evaluation of their methods and records made by a secondary critical source, it noted many studies which provide there’s no evidence to their efficacy and that ‘furthermore, there are numerous studies citing the harmful effects [of tough love style therapy], particularly in vulnerable individuals.’

Several patients interviewed mention a particularly aggressive session called the ‘Hot Seat’, where counselors would berate, humiliate, agitate and instigate patients, similar to how one sees things like military boot camp depicted, with an overbearing, cursing person in uniform that lets you know that you’re beyond worthless. Some of the sessions would go on for three hours or more, leaving at least one patient ‘hysterical’.

Staff members at the clinic themselves admitted to ‘difficulties with the confrontational approach’, noting that it causes clients to drop out early, and usually the ones that do leave earlier are ones they believe need help the most. Often times, mental illness accompanies addiction, most commonly depression, so it’s little wonder to most people in the field of addiction why the effect would be the opposite of the state goal the facility had.

This does go to show that while much is being learned about addiction, it’s causes, prevention and how to treat people afflicted with it, there are still some treatment centers that will be behind the curve, simply use outdated information or worse, and make problems worse for their patients, even if they don’t mean to. Their particular brand of applying moral failings to a patient thankfully was put to rest. Hopefully the rest of society will understand this doesn’t work on any addicts and that morality often times does not play a role in an addict’s actions because of the their mental illness stemming from dopamine disorders.

Addiction is a serious chronic illness so finding the right drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale is important. Whether seeking residential detox options or need alcohol treatment in south Florida, calling 1st Step Behavioral Health ((866) 319-6126) can help get the treatment you need.

Common Myths About Addiction

We are living in the information age. However, even though great information is readily available, there is also a lot of misinformation out there today. One of the topics that many people today are misinformed about is addiction. There are several common myths about addiction. 

Myth: Drug Addiction is a Choice 

Fact: A person’s drug use is their choice. However, it is no longer a choice once an addiction develops. Everybody is different, so drug use does not affect everyone the same. Many people believe that a person could stop if they really wanted to. 

People often do not understand what an addiction really is. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a condition that causes a person to compulsively use a drug. People who have an addiction often lose their jobs, families and friends. However, they continue to use the drug despite all of the negative repercussions. When a person has an addiction, their whole life centers on feeding it. 

Myth: People do not Seek Treatment Until They Have Hit Rock Bottom 

Fact: You have probably seen television shows and movies where a person decided to go to treatment after they lose everything. However, that is not always the case in real life. This misconception is what causes the family members and friends of a person with an addiction to not seek help for them. 

You should not wait until a person has hit rock bottom to encourage them to get help. If you get them into a South Florida alcohol treatment center early, then you may be able to prevent the addiction from ruining their lives. 

Myth: Addicts are Bad People 

Fact: Addiction does not occur as the result of a person being immoral. While it is true that addicts make bad decisions, that does not make them a bad person. It is also important to note that there are several factors that can lead to an addiction. These include genetic factors, environmental factors and psychological factors. 

Myth: Rehab is Only for the Wealthy People 

Fact: The cost is the first thing that people think about when they go to a drug treatment facility. People think that rehab is only for the wealthy people. However, there are several ways that you can pay for drug rehab. For example, if you have health insurance, then it may cover the cost of rehab. You may also be eligible for other financial assistance. 

Myth: It is Easy to Spot an Addict 

Fact: Many people have an idea of what they think an addict looks like. However, you may not be able to spot an addict. There are addicts in every race, socioeconomic status and background. There are also male and female addicts. 

Myth: Prescription Drugs are Safe All of the Time 

Fact: Many people believe that drugs that are prescribed by a doctor are always safe. However, it is possible to become dependent on a prescription drug. 

If you or one of your loved ones are battling an addiction, contact our drug rehab treatment center now.

Even Forbes Has Concerns About Addiction

The reach of the negative effects of drug addiction know almost know bounds. All too common are stories about health deterioration up to and including death, the estranged families and friends who become unable to handle the addict’s behaviors, not to mention the psychological trauma that an addict endures even as a side effect of the drug itself at times.

But drugs addictions cost money and a recent study by True Link pointed out that financial issues plague addicts who’s behavior becomes more irrational the further they priority spending on their next fix. Only 18% of the 149 families related to addicts reported that the illness didn’t get to the point where their finances were negatively affected. Of the remaining 82% who’s money situation did fall into troubles, a whopping 65% of the study’s respondents said that their affected family member had asked for money to help their situation. Just under half of the addicts had emptied their savings and a tad over ten percent had even filed for bankruptcy as a result of their drug use.

Not always was the cost of the drug itself the primary reason for these devastating numbers. As the article in Forbes pointed out, the use of the drug itself can lead to loss of work days, demotion and unemployment, leaving a user to have lowered or no income to support their habit. In the researcher’s estimation, a person can spend over $10,000 a year to support a cocaine or heroin habit, which is the cost of a one bedroom apartment for a year in some smaller cities in America.

There’s also a hidden cost pointed out in the report which can get as high as $30,000 a month depending on circumstances and that’s the rehab that addicts will have to seek treatment in. Not only that, while in recovery, patients may find spending money on frivolous things instead of drugs to fill an emotional void can unconsciously lead to even more debt, and ultimately creating a depressive state which could end up leading to a relapse and more treatment costs incurred. It certainly seems like it can be a vicious  cycle in a world where it’s impossible to exist without some way to pay for things like food and shelter.

The very fact that many addicts get into so much trouble that their family ends up paying from their pockets to handle the damage as well contributes to estrangement. Parents put into this situation often don’t know whether they are hurting or helping their relative when providing financial support for food or bills after they have exhausted their income on substance abuse.

Regardless of specifics, it’s clear that addiction can have a long lasting financial effect and the further into addiction a person falls, the more it costs on not only their own, but their friends and family’s ability to financially take care of themselves.

Recovery can be expensive but south Florida rehab centers like 1st Step Behavioral Health accept insurance which can easy the financial pressure. Rather than risk possibly going into debt over addiction and then get treatment, you or someone you know who might be suffering from addiction can break the cycle today by calling (866) 319-6126 to talk to specialists about treatment options like residential detox. 1st Step also offers south Florida alcohol treatment for alcoholics as well.

Depression + Alcoholism = Devastation

One of the most common things we find in culture is the companionship between sadness and alcohol. If these two are allowed to become intimate, it’s a one-two sucker punch of alcoholism and depression. People often seeking treatment for depression are found to have developed symptoms of alcoholism along the way, often ‘drowning sorrows’ with spirits. Conversely, alcohol use has been known to cause the depression because of the way that prolonged use can affect a person’s mental state as well as their ability to combat daily life being minimized if they can’t get a drink…but if they do, they are likely to make whatever their responsibilities are turn into mounting accountability for poor actions. Families are strained, jobs can be lost, friendships ended; all things that can bring on anxiety and depression crashing down on a person. The two are seemingly inseparable.

In fact, recent scientific evidence has highlighted the role of inflammation and alterations to the immune system in both clinical depression and chronic excessive alcohol drinking. The inflammation increases depression which fuels the search for the happiness in a liquid form. Even in non alcoholics, depression can result in nearly identical inflammation. These studies are still very new with regards to finding a link that can lead to an effective treatment for both ailments. In 2019, The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine will hold a seminar explaining the relationship and causes of depression and alcoholism regarding this connection of inflammation. It’s a free and public educational event and will include mental health screenings and also allow interested parties to participate in new studies into stem cell research that may help future generations combat both conditions more effectively.

Such studies are necessary for the future of clinical treatment of mental health and the illness of substance abuse disorder, for which alcoholism falls under. It’s been suspected for a while that there are some physical traits passed down through heredity that can lead to higher risk of the disease in some people over others, but because this research is still so new, nothing conclusive can be determined, much less a ‘cure’, if one even exists. Today, the best help one can get is a holistic treatment at an alcohol treatment center which helps people suffering from alcoholism to get mental health therapy and treatment for addictive behaviors which feed the disease. Addiction is a chronic illness and most chronic illnesses are possible to have while a long, happy and healthy life as long as that person with it knows how to deal with that illness when it throws curve balls into their daily existence.

If you or anyone you know might be suffering from alcoholism or any other substance abuse disorder, south Florida rehab centers like 1st Step can help get the addiction under control. To learn more, contact us online or give us a call at (866) 319-6126 at your earliest convenience.


Alcohol Deaths On The Rise

While media attention centers on the ‘opioid epidemic’, it’s obscured another addiction that is claiming an increasing number of lives. Alcohol kills more people than overdoses of opioids through both accidents while under the influence and health effects of prolonged alcohol use such as cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis and suicide. The increase of alcohol related deaths between 2007 and 2017 has risen 24%, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Among the most affected of this increase are women. The rate of alcohol related deaths in women rose by 87% during this period. While teen deaths dropped 16%, the deaths are increased along with age due to the prolonged use of alcohol leading to chronic illness. State restriction on the substance typically had a negative correlation to the death rate. Alabama, for instance, has very strict laws around alcohol purchasing yet was ranked third in states with the most deaths. In fact, southern states, like Florida, had higher death rates due to alcohol related reasons responsible partially to the level medical care in the region. Southern states rate lower overall in areas related to overall health care. The only difference in consumption between states with stricter alcohol policies was lower overall amounts of binge drinking.


Studying Binge Drinking

A study into binge drinking conducted by research reported in the February 2018 journal issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research an increase in women ending up in the emergency room, mostly middle-aged. The complications of prolonged drinking, along with binging, would lead to complications of dealing with multiple issues at once; pumping the stomach, draining trapped fluid from the stomach due to cirrhosis and emptying their lungs of vomit to prevent drowning. Other complications included brain hemorrhaging or internal bleeding due to alcohol’s effects on the blood which prevents clotting while thinning the blood itself. With age and continued drinking, women are falling ill to dementia, heart failure and immune suppression resulting in infections that spread rapidly.

While the opioid epidemic claimed around  70,000 lives in 2017, alcohol claimed 80,000 but still being largely unnoticed as an epidemic itself. One of the causes of this oversight comes with the fact that alcoholism’s propensity to lead to so many other health problems that end up being the final ‘reason’ reported as a death. A person who dies of heart-valve disease isn’t seen in the public eye as an alcoholic or alcohol related death. Combined with the legality of the substance, it makes overlooking its effects on Americans, especially women, at this scale quite easy to miss.

If you or anyone you know could be suffering from alcoholism, call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for more information about South Florida alcohol treatment and to find out more about treatment options in Pompano for you or a loved one.

Work And Addiction Recovery

Drug addiction can affect many parts of a person’s life including their work history and ability to get a job after being treated. Employers may require immaculate work history and criminal record that is nearly impossible depending on how a person’s addiction illness has played out. Many addicts end up homeless from their substance abuse or can end up in jail due to their use and simply possessing the drug they use. Simply getting rid of the substance abuse behavior many times does not create a straight path to recovery and restoring a person’s life. Finding and keeping a job can prove to be even more of a struggle for a recovering addict itself.

Federal statistics show approximately 22 million Americans are in recovery. The Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2017 conducted a study which discovered that the rate of unemployment of people in recovery from addiction is 3 times higher than average unemployment rate. This can be discouraging for those on the road to recovery.


Researching Work and Sobriety

Research has shown that working helps keep people sober giving them a renewed purpose, but if finding that job is difficult, that recovery can turn into relapse. The situation isn’t hopeless for those who have had addiction impact their lives in more significant ways such as criminality and work history. Some companies are operating as a support system themselves and welcome the recovering addict. In New Hampshire, for instance, an employee owned company called Hypertherm which builds industrial machinery for heavy manufacturing plants has ingrained within its company environment an addiction assistance framework. This includes medical leave and financial assistance for those who may fall into relapse and offering extra pay for volunteering after-work programs for recovering addicts to stay sober. Employees find a purpose within the work itself which builds loyalty to the other employees and the ideal goal of being productive and staying sober.

Once sobriety is achieved, becoming stable both socially and financially becomes all the more important. While the statistics point to a greater challenge to overcome for addicts who are in recovery, it’s always helpful to have tools which can minimize these issues. Using resources to find recovery friendly workplaces can mean the difference between a relapse and successfully staying sober. Recovery friendly work sites help place workers into positions in which the employer helps contribute to the community affected by addiction, much like Hypertherm. Knowing the options available for assistance is half the battle.


Getting Drug Treatment for Opioid, Alcohol, or Heroin Addiction in Broward County

Addiction to substances like alcohol, opioids, heroin, or anything else is a serious illness that can lead to physical damage and even death. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance addiction or abuse in the south Florida area, the trained professionals at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help treat the underlying causes that lead to drug and alcohol abuse. Call us at (866) 319-6126.