Senior Substance Addiction

For many people, the idea of south Florida detox is a place where young ‘goons’ go when they’ve been bad, that Broward County drug rehab is only a place for wayward kids with no parents and discipline. Unfortunately, statistics and measurements exist and they are in the process of painting a completely different picture. Addiction doesn’t care about a person’s age, sex, location or any other arbitrary personal attributes. Religious or atheist, productive or slothy, it actually plays absolutely no role in whether a person can develop substance use disorder.

That said, it should also be both surprising and of no surprise at the same time that the increase of addiction in people age 60 and older has jumped by six-hundred percent in the last ten years. In 2007, there were around 582 recorded addictions to some kind of painkiller in seniors. In 2018, that number is an astounding 2,520 and shows very little signs of slowing down. Many experts believe this is a ‘tip of the iceberg’ moment and that the actual numbers of seniors addicted to some kind of opioid prescription may be far higher.

One reason for this could be a generational understanding of addiction that contradicts the more modern perception of it. For decades upon decades, any kind of addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol, was socially believed to be an individual’s shortcomings, an indicator of morals (or lack thereof) and general absence of discipline. Someone with an addiction, even in psychological fields, which have come a long way since the 50’s, used to be considered clinically ‘psychotic’. Then using these primitive and mostly wrong ideas of addiction and drug use, the US Government created the policy called the War On Drugs, which furthered these views by literally criminalizing those who might be suffering from addiction, making no distinction between user and seller; they were equally terrible in the eyes of the law.

Since then, medical research and psychological research has learned an enormous amount about the mechanics and fundamental nature of addiction and drug use which completely contradicts how the country has traditionally treated the condition, often ostracizing and passing harsh social criticism on those suffering. This could be contributing to the belief experts have that the number of seniors checking into treatment centers could be just a drop in the bucket compared to the actual number of seniors who are silently fighting their substance use disorder.

Even today, it’s estimated that there are over two million Americans, young and old, who show signs of substance use disorders who go untreated for their addiction. Stigma only plays a small part in this scenario today with the real hurdle for people affected is often related to access to mental and physical health care. The stigma still exists, but for those who understand addiction to be an illness, finding treatment is still an exercise in futility for many.

No matter your background or age, substance use disorder needs professional treatment by south Florida rehab centers like First Step Behavioral Health.  Call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options today.

The Itch of Relapse

South Florida detox handles the physical components of addiction, the chemical dependence part. Just that part. With substance use disorder, there are psychological and neurobiological aspects which will last beyond that, a change in a person’s physiology that will likely never be the same which is why addiction is spoken about as a chronic illness. While drug rehab centers in south Florida can offer all kinds of therapies and tools for a person in recovery to take with them back to the world outside of a treatment facility, there’s the ever lingering challenge of dealing with those psychological and biological changes that have come about as a result of drug abuse.

It is believed that around two-thirds of patients who graduate from treatment will relapse within a year. While programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) will will treat these as moral failings and treatment failures completely, those with degrees related to behavior, psychology and neurobiology agree that this simplistic view, while neat and tidy, doesn’t begin to describe these circumstances.

Karen Tyrell, a spokesperson for the charity Addaction, says of the high relapse rates early after treatment, “We’re talking about a learned behavior. People who have developed a dependence on substance have, over a period of months or years, developed a cycle of habitual, repeated responses. When something stressful occurs, their automatic response is to use that substance. They have to go through a process of retraining their brain, and learning to respond differently to stress. It takes a long time to do that, and often it takes several attempts.”

These stressors are often referred to as ‘triggers’. Sometimes they are environmental, such as being in a place where a person used to use a substance. Sometimes, it’s an event, such as having a fight with a family member. Karen adds, “It could even be a sensation at the back of your mind; an itch that you really want to scratch.”

Sometimes, the trigger might be nearly indistinct. In some recovery circles, a saying exists, “If you hang around a barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.” This translates to going back into the cycle of addiction simply by trying to enjoy yourself in a place like a bar or club, where the majority of people there are partaking in at the very least, alcohol, which itself can often be a catalyst due to the impulsive behavior it often invokes in people intoxicated by it. For an addict of hard drugs, it can be their Achilles Heel that catches them by surprise when they least expect it.

The important thing about relapse after treatment is to understand that riding a bike doesn’t happen the first try and to not give up. Treatment takes more than a simple single visit many times and to give up after one relapse is to give up riding a bike just because the first time you tried, you fell off.

If you or someone you know might be suffering from addiction or need therapy for a relapse, call our top-tier south Florida rehab center, First Step Behavioral Health, at (866) 319-6126.

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.

Understanding Your Prescription Options Can Prevent Addiction

There is a saying that ‘Knowledge is Power’.  In the world of consumer advocacy, this is probably one of the most true statements one can make. Considering that the United States largely operates on a consumer/market model for things like dentistry, being an informed consumer could be the difference between a successful visit with no problems or having to check into a south Florida rehab center for oxycodone withdrawal symptoms. The opioid crisis is often framed as ‘the opioid’ crisis with one or two names of drugs frequenting the news, often being oxycodone and heroin, but the truth is, opioids have many forms and names and even dentists have been living by the ‘ignorance is bliss’ saying rather than taking the initiative to understanding the drugs they prescribe for operations such as wisdom tooth removal.

As a consumer in a ‘free market’ such as this, it’s important to understand what exactly the risks are of drugs prescribed to you by a physician or dentist. While they may be experts on knowing what drugs will operate as a painkiller, they may not be aware of the addictive properties of said painkillers when prescribing them.  A recent article in the Washington Post by Ronnie Cohen described their own personal lack of attention paid to a relatively harmless situation.

“A few days before extracting my teenager’s wisdom teeth, an oral surgeon wrote him a prescription for painkillers. My son filled it but never felt a need for anything stronger than ibuprofen. Three years later, I found an unopened bottle of Percocet—an opioid– in the back of a bathroom cabinet. I had no idea a dentist had prescribed..the highly addictive pills.”

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, dentists prescribe twelve percent of all painkilling opioids and family doctors prescribe fifteen percent. An American Dental Association survey of 563 oral surgeons in 2004 revealed that eight-five percent of oral surgeons wrote opioid prescriptions to their patients after removing wisdom teeth.

While some operations and injuries do require heavy doses of painkillers, it’s often overkill for many kinds of visits. Anti-inflammatory analgesics like ibuprofen often end up being a more beneficial choice, not only for its lack of addictive properties, but also for effectiveness in minimizing associated pain. When coupled with the fact that many people who find themselves inside the halls of a south Florida detox program often find they have undiagnosed secondary mental health issues like depression or anxiety, it becomes even more important to really pay attention to what a doctor or dentist prescribes as it may be the difference between a simple procedure or a complicated lifelong chronic illness known as addiction.

As more studies come about showing the harmful effects of such drugs, physicians will eventually become aware of the carelessness on their part with their patients lives. Until then, however, you as the consumer have to exercise your role as being informed as possible when going into these situations. Otherwise, you’re playing roulette and the losses can be up to and including your life.

If you are or someone you know might be suffering from substance use disorder, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

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 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.

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.

Born Into Addiction

With the increasing numbers of people addicted to opioids and other substances seeking drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale, it’s more likely that some of them will be pregnant women. A study of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) babies born to St. Louis Children’s Hospital found that in the last five years, the number of children born with addiction has doubled. The increase throws a monkey wrench into the often repeated belief that moral failings lead to addiction, but also shows some of the more serious effects of addiction itself on a person’s family and the generational impact of the condition.

While many suffering from substance use disorders will behave in such a way that they become estranged from their family, (possibly steal from them to feed their uncontrollable habit originates from a neurobiological change in the user) pregnant women who are struggling can pass on their addiction to their unborn children. Children born with a heroin addiction give doctors little choice in how to handle the issue, often having to give morphine, another opiate like heroin, in small doses to reduce the child’s withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal, even in adults, can be extremely dangerous and painful, requiring specialist monitoring in south Florida detox.

Dr. Steve Liao, who works at the hospital where the study was conducted admits that in the situation of neonatal abstinence syndrome, there’s not a lot of options. “When I first came into this, I probably had the same set of biases and some of them are hidden, some of them are subconscious.”

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t track the number of children born into the condition of drug addiction, making the issue of finding safe solutions for treatments even more difficult to achieve. Without recognizing the situation, creating a movement to find safe methods of treatment is left up to those who are in the medical field, who often have to ‘wing it’.  

The St. Louis Children’s Hospital is nearly unique and alone in putting together healthcare plans for children born with substance use disorder. Currently, the only thing they’ve found that has any positive effect is to give the child morphine in smaller and smaller doses over time. However, the long term effects of being born with the neurological changes that occur in most addicts has yet to be studied to any extent to understand how the child will grow up and how susceptible to relapse when they get older might be. If they are born into an environment which puts them more at risk to come into contact with illicit addictive drugs, it’s unfortunately a high likelihood they will quickly develop an addiction compared to a child born without NAS.  

The problems from substance use disorders can be generational and the growing number of children born with addiction due to no fault of their own is more evidence that there’s a long way to go before the country’s problem will truly be under control.

Substance use disorder is a serious health issue that requires professional help from south Florida drug rehab centers like First Step Behavioral Health. Call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

ADHD And Addiction

According to various studies backed up by south Florida rehab centers, there is an estimated 25 percent overlap within adolescents that have substance use disorder and also fit the criteria for ADHD diagnosis. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a chronic condition that includes a combination of persistent problems such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Many teens who experience ADHD also may struggle with low self esteem, poor school performance and troubled relationships. There is not any specific ‘cure’ for ADHD but treatment will involve medications and behavioral therapy and intervention, very similar to treatment options for many substance use disorders.

ADHD also comes with it a difficulty of ‘staying on task’, or even simply being still for extended periods of time. People with ADHD also find themselves interrupting people when they talk and being forgetful about completing activities they start.

One thing the research didn’t uncover, though, is that there’s no real answer as to why there is such an overlap between these two conditions. According to Dr. Sarah Johnson, MD, medical director at Landmark Recovery, people with ADHD have issues regulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. People who have severe addiction often are found to have issues associated with dopamine releases in the brain. Addiction neurobiological research, which is relatively young compared to other medical research, has already identified connections between dopamine and behavior.

Many adults have been found to be carrying with them ADHD but haven’t been properly diagnosed. Just as with addiction, the earlier the identification of the symptoms, the higher the likelihood of success when dealing with the symptoms in the person. Behaviors end up becoming habits, which in turn make reversing the behavior far more difficult as the condition is allowed to progress and be untreated.

Treatment centers that deal with substance use disorders are moving more and more toward a holistic approach, in which conditions like ADHD, as well as depression and other mental health conditions are simultaneously treated as many times, the addiction is triggered by these undiagnosed mental illnesses. However, if someone with one of these related mental health issues develops a chronic addiction, simply treating that condition without addressing the addiction is guaranteed to actually handle the addictions themselves. When substances also introduce a chemical dependency, such as alcohol and opiates like heroin, the problems can become complicated by withdrawal symptoms. In fact, many people who find themselves addicted to opioids like oxycontin and heroin will attest that many times, they simply continue using to avoid the pains and discomfort of withdrawal itself and not for any ‘high’ that comes from using the substance itself.

As research continues to uncover more about how the human mind works at a neurobiological level as well as how habits are formed and induced by brain activity, treatments for conditions like ADHD and how they tie into substance use disorder will become more effective.

Substance abuse disorder is a chronic mental illness that affects thousands in south Florida and requires drug rehab. 1st Step offers treatment options in south Florida including detox. For more information, call (866) 319-6126.

Public Opinion & Opioid Addiction

This is a small sampling of responses to an article by award winning journalist Jennifer Percy’s article on Kensington’s open-air drug market, “Trapped by the Wal-Mart of Heroin” which appeared this month in the New York Times, which covers the problems facing people trying to find Oxycodone treatment, but ended up in a downward spiral of heroin abuse.

“I wish cities could sue Halliburton for sending our kids to war, for having to dull the emotional and physical pain with opioids, while they made billions.” – NYCGal

“…So much of this started with the advertised-as-safe drugs like Oxycontin that were approved by the FDA and misleadingly marketed by Purdue and Mallinckrodt, and which led users down the path to heroin. The article shows what a death sentence heroin is, oth for the users and for the community the users (and pushers) inhabit. Why do we as civilized and supposedly advanced society allow this?” -J.M.

“Soldiers go to Afghanistan to secure the poppies they will later be addicted to.” – T.P.

“Heroin dealers are murderers and should be treated as such. Zero Tolerance for the sale or possession of heroin. If there were no heroin, there would be no heroin addicts. I’m not being totally uncompassionate. My son was addicted to heroin after oxycodone for a broken shoulder. He went through cold-turkey withdrawal by choice. He knows full well what any future use of heroin would involve. Eventually, if the addicts do not accept the offer of help, then they have made their choice. It’s their life.” – E.W.

“I went to rehab in 1988. I remember vaguely the leader of our program saying that of the 50 people I was there with, only 5% would be sober in one year. The statistic dropped in half for five years. After two years, I believe there was one other person and myself still sober. I have since lost track of him, but hold out hope that I am not the only one still sober almost 30 years later. Addiction is hard. It’s a daily battle, and if you don’t do a lot of intense personal work, all the rehab in the world won’t work.” – R.O.

“If you could see inside people’s minds you would, in many cases, never stop crying. Whether by way of trauma, or some genetic cruelty, some people are shackled with a life-wrecking primary drive: GET ME OUT OF HERE. The drugs are being used because the drugs work.” – M.F.

“For many of the addicts described, their community is a big part of why they can’t recover. ‘It’s where I belong’, one woman is quoted as saying. People yearn for community, and as long as they are doing drugs, they have a place to belong. How do you fight that?” – C.

“So many commenters here have the answer to the problem of heroin addiction! Please, run for office, win and put your plan into action despite opposition, since the current crop of mayors and governors are doing so poorly. Or become an advocate to bring about change following your recommended solution. Armchair quarterbacking is much easier, ay?”

Substance use disorder is not an easy obstacle to overcome and can’t be overcome alone. If you or someone you know is need of a south Florida Detox center or residential detox, , call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.