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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Need a New Book to Read? Check Out These Powerful Addiction and Recovery Memoirs

books about addiction and recovery
Reading is so much more than just a temporary distraction from the reality of your daily life. The books you choose can help you gain a new perspective on your own struggles or better understand what the people you care about are going through.

Addiction and recovery have long been popular themes in the memoir genre. Although it's important to note that no two people with substance use disorders are exactly alike, memoirs can be useful tools to improve your understanding of what it means to come back from the brink of addiction and build a successful sober life.

Addiction and Recovery Memoirs Written from a Male Perspective

From inspirational bestsellers to celebrity memoirs, these tales of addiction and recovery offer advice, encouragement, and tips to help you face the challenges of sober living head-on.

Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff: Drunk for the first time at age 11, Sheff soon graduated to pot, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and crystal meth. This bestseller paints a vivid picture of the lies substance abusers tell themselves to deny they have a real problem. We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction is the sequel focusing on Sheff's rehab experience and continuing efforts to stay clean.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: This memoir recounting Burroughs’ troubled childhood explores what it's like to grow up with a parent who suffers from mental illness and addiction, as well as how that trauma influences the development of an adult substance use disorder.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey: Frey's memoir describes his journey through rehab after abusing alcohol and crack cocaine. A Million Little Pieces is controversial due to later acknowledgment by Frey that some of the events portrayed were fictional, but the representation of hitting rock bottom due to substance abuse has struck a chord with millions of readers.

Permanent Midnight by Jerry Stahl: Detailing Stahl's heroin addiction and experiences with Hollywood drug culture while working as a screenwriter with a $6,000 a week drug habit, this memoir explores the self-destructive tendencies that fuel an addict's inner life. It was adapted into a 1998 film starring Ben Stiller.

Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life by Neil Steinberg: This memoir by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg looks at how you can appear outwardly very successful, yet struggle with inner demons. Beginning with a look at his personal rock-bottom moment, Drunkard shows how court-ordered alcohol treatment counseling helped him turn his life around. Steinberg is also the author of Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery.

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg: A thriving business as a literary agent, supportive friends, a loving partner, and a recent stint in rehab couldn't keep Clegg from a two-month crack binge. This memoir is a must-read if you're interested in learning about how to move forward after relapse.

Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand: Part memoir and part self-help guide, this book uses Brand's talents as one of the world's most celebrated stand-up comedians and work as a longtime mental health/drug rehabilitation activist to educate, motivate, entertain, and inspire.

Memoirs by Women Who Struggled with Addiction

Although both men and women struggle with substance abuse, the issues that influence a woman's descent into addiction and journey to sobriety are unique. These memoirs by female writers may strike a cord with women in treatment or help their loved ones better understand the experience of a female substance abuser.

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas: Considered shocking by many who mistakenly believe substance abuse is a man's problem, Smashed details the experience of a young woman who took up binge drinking at a dangerously young age to cope with emotional pain and a severe lack of self-confidence.

Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel: Wurtzel struggled with severe depression as a young woman, which led to the development of her addiction to alcohol. Her memoir is a poignant expression of the longing and emptiness that so many young women with mental health issues seek to address via substance abuse.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison: Jamison takes an honest look at the role alcohol has played in both her career as writer and her life as a woman, touching on a history of self-harm, anorexia, and familial addiction despite being publicly viewed as a "nice upper-middle-class white girl." She strives to answer the question, "What makes alcohol so alluring, and can sobriety fuel a creative life?" by looking at her own story as well as a survey of others who've struggled with addiction and recovery.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola: A funny yet sad look at a woman who initially equates recklessness with freedom, Blackout looks at how social drinking can develop into a full-blown addiction with real-life consequences.

How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea: A young struggling artist with low self-esteem learns that alcohol can't soften the blow of real life in this collection of personal essays exploring what it means to consciously choose to live a sober life.

Parched by Heather King: People often think of addiction as a quick fall to rock bottom, but King eloquently describes a decades-long descent into alcoholism and how her family's help convinced her to turn her life around. Since getting sober, King uses her experience of personal pain to inspire others to have compassion for those who are suffering.

unSweetined by Jodie Sweetin: Best known for her role as Stephanie Tanner on the hit sitcom Full House, Sweetin details her recovery from methamphetamine addiction in this utterly raw yet ultimately inspiring memoir. Even if you're far from famous, you'll relate to her tale of how becoming a mother gave her the courage to finally get sober.

Stories About Loving Someone with an Addiction

Substance use disorders affect the entire family. These haunting memoirs look at what it's like to have a parent, child, or spouse with a drug or alcohol problem:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: This best-selling memoir details the author's poverty-stricken childhood at the hands of her brilliant yet troubled father. Rex Walls likely suffered sexual abuse as a child and struggles with alcoholism that affects his relationship with both his wife and children. The Glass Castle was published in 2005 and made into a 2017 feature film starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts.

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff:  Upon learning his son Nic (the author of Tweak, listed above) was addicted to crystal meth, Sheff found himself wondering where he went wrong as a parent. Going to extreme lengths to save his son, this tale of a father's never-ending love is both relatable and inspiring.

Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home by D'Anne Burwell: Burwell's son Jake began abusing OxyContin as a teenager, dropping out of college and ending up homeless on the streets of Boulder. This heartbreaking yet hopeful memoir looks at how a child's addiction impacts the entire family.

I'm the One Who Got Away by Andrea Jarrell: Jarrell forges a close bond with her mother due to the trauma they've suffered at the hands of her charming yet violent alcoholic father. As an adult, she struggles to find happiness. Her first serious relationship is with a man who drinks too much, then she marries the love of her life who has been hiding a drinking problem. Intimate and honest, I'm the One Who Got Away shows what it's like to do the hard work of helping a loved one through recovery.

By Dana Hinders

Monday, May 14, 2018

5 Ways to Prevent Relapse After Leaving Treatment

At first glance, you may think the initial stages of drug and alcohol treatment are the most challenging part of getting clean and sober. Once someone “graduates” from rehab, they must have recovery figured out and it’s smooth sailing from then on, right? 

Wrong! Life after leaving rehab can be very challenging for addicts who are new to recovery. Relapse prevention needs to be a priority during this time.

Why The First Few Weeks After Leaving Treatment Are Dangerous

When an addicted person goes to a residential drug and alcohol treatment center, he gets plenty of support at the facility. The schedule includes counseling, 12-step meetings, and recreational activities.

Meals are provided on a regular schedule. Clients get up and go to bed at the same time each day. Even leisure time is put on the schedule. When clients need extra support, they can access the help they need quickly.

Once the initial phase of treatment is finished, clients have developed some skills for relapse prevention. However, they must learn to use them independently without 24/7 support. For this reason, the first few weeks after leaving treatment can be especially challenging for someone new to recovery.

How to Prevent Relapse After Leaving Treatment

No strategy will guarantee that someone new to recovery will avoid a relapse, but these suggestions can help prevent problems after leaving treatment.

1. Continue Attending a 12-Step Program
Completing a treatment program doesn’t mean the end of going to 12-step meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other programs meet across the US to offer support to members. In many cities, you can find meetings every morning, afternoon, and evening.

2. Stick to a Regular Schedule
It’s important to continue the practice of a regular schedule started during the treatment program. This includes taking meals at the same time every day and getting enough sleep.

When people become overtired or skip meals, they are more likely to be irritable or short-tempered. During these times, it’s easier to make snap decisions that aren’t necessarily very healthy, such as choosing foods that are higher in fat, sugar, and salt. It may also make resisting cravings more difficult.

3. Avoid Large Blocks of Unfilled Time
Boredom is an enemy, especially in the early stages of recovery. Unfilled time allows the person in recovery the chance to think about “the good old days” before treatment. She may even start remembering the time when she was drinking or using as something different from the reality, i.e., not as bad as it was. These kinds of nostalgic thoughts can be enough to trigger a relapse for some people.

4. Keep a Gratitude Journal
If using drugs and alcohol was a way to anesthetize against strong feelings, keeping a gratitude journal is a way to learn how to get in touch with emotions again.

Each day, write down five or more items that are a source of gratitude. Examples could be something as simple as another day of continued sobriety, feeling grateful for the first cup of coffee in the morning, enjoying the feel of sunshine on your face, or having the support of family and friends during your recovery.

5. Explore Ways to Have Fun
During the cycle of active substance abuse, using drugs and alcohol becomes the main activity in the affected person’s life. It’s not uncommon for him to stop spending time on pastimes that he previously enjoyed.

The early days of sobriety are a good time to rediscover old hobbies and find new enjoyable activities. This is a wonderful way to relieve stress, make new friends, and rekindle relationships with family members.

Relapse Prevention at English Mountain Recovery

English Mountain Recovery offers a relapse prevention program to its clients, along with flexible inpatient drug and alcohol treatment to support their individual needs. Call today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one take the first steps towards recovery.

By Jodee Redmond

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Adderall Addiction: What You Need to Know

Adderall is a medication that has become synonymous with college students looking to get better grades, but it's much more than just a “smart pill” and must be treated with respect. Anyone thinking about taking Adderall without a prescription or at higher doses than prescribed by their doctor is putting themselves at risk for addiction or a serious interaction when mixed with alcohol.

Adderall Basics

Adderall is a medication prescribed to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and narcolepsy (excessive sleepiness). It was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960. The combination of ingredients (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) is also available as a generic drug.

Adderall is a stimulant. It works by increasing the level of the chemical transmitter dopamine in the brain. When someone with ADHD takes Adderall, they are able to feel calmer and more focused. This is likely the reason that people who don’t have difficulty focusing mistakenly believe Adderall is a study aid.

Adderall as a Study Drug

Despite Adderall being commonly used by college and high school students as a study drug, it doesn’t enhance a user’s ability to focus if he doesn’t have ADHD. Taking Adderall in this instance isn’t likely to improve school performance.

Since it does increase the brain’s production of dopamine, which is the body’s “feel good” hormone, taking Adderall can produce feelings of euphoria, as well as motivation.

Students attending college or university who are feeling pressured to keep on top of multiple demands on their time can feel hopeless if they fall behind, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Michigan Daily. If they find themselves in a situation where they are really pressed for time, 25 percent of the 1,300 respondents said they had used drugs like Adderall to get their schoolwork completed or to take an exam.

Illegal Use of a Schedule II Drug

Some students who have been prescribed Adderall will sell their medication to fellow students to make extra money. They don’t seem to be concerned with the legal risks associated with it, even though Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).

Schedule II drugs are ones deemed to have a “high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.”

Other examples of drugs in this category include methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and methadone.

How to Tell When a Loved One Is Addicted to Adderall

If a loved one has been prescribed Adderall and is using the medication as directed by her doctor, the likelihood of becoming addicted is low. The signs of an addiction problem include the following:

  • Taking higher doses than recommended 
  • Inability to feel or stay alert without taking Adderall
  • Needing to take Adderall to complete assigned work
  • Amount of money spent buying Adderall creates financial difficulties
  • Continues using Adderall, knowing that the drug use is harmful

Danger of Mixing Adderall and Alcohol

Consuming alcohol while taking Adderall can be very dangerous, especially among users who are taking the drug without a prescription. The DAWN Report, released in 2013, revealed that 19 percent of Emergency Department visits related to ADHD medications in the US for patients aged 18-25 involved alcohol use.

Adderall and alcohol are a dangerous combination because both substances act on the body’s central nervous system. We know that Adderall acts as a stimulant. Alcohol has the opposite effect; it slows down the effect of neurotransmitters in the brain, acting as a depressant in moderate and large quantities. In small amounts, such as a single drink, it can act as a stimulant.

Taking Adderall and starting to drink alcohol may intensify the stimulating effect of small amounts of alcohol. It can delay the sedating effects, which is what may cause someone to realize they have had enough to drink and stop for that occasion. Without this built-in warning system in place, it’s more likely that a person combining these two drugs will drink to excess, which brings with it the risk of alcohol poisoning.

By Jodee Redmond

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Codependency and Substance Abuse Influence Family Relationships

Most people would agree that loving someone means being prepared to be part of their life during good and bad times. When someone we care about is facing a personal challenge, we step up to do whatever we can to help them. Our hope is that the people we are closest to would do the same for us. This type of interdependent relationship is healthy and a source of strength, but codependency in a relationship is different situation entirely.

What Is Codependent Behavior?

On the face of it, codependent behavior can look a lot like providing support to a spouse, partner, child, or other family member. The difference is that instead of the relationship being one of mutual “give and take," the codependent person “gives” and the other person “takes.”

Codependency may be associated with these behaviors:

  • Attempting to “fix” other people or their problems
  • Difficulty with intimacy
  • Fear of being abandoned or rejected 
  • Guilt
  • Lack of trust in self and others
  • Need for control
  • Perfectionism

Someone who is codependent will place the needs of a loved one above their own. This is not something that they do situationally or in extraordinary circumstances to deal with a crisis. This type of learned behavior can become a way of life.

Codependency and Substance Abuse: Life with an Addict in the Family

No one ever anticipates a situation where they will have an addict in their family. Even though research has shown that addiction is a brain disease and not a character flaw, there is still a stigma to face. Many families still feel some combination of guilt or shame when they realize that a loved one has developed a substance abuse problem.

Early Stages of Addiction
In the early stages of the substance abuse, the person who is becoming more dependent on drugs or alcohol is likely to hide evidence of the existence of his consumption or the amounts consumed. He is likely to deny that there is a problem at all.

During the same stage, a spouse or partner may not immediately want to jump to the conclusion that an addiction exists. Children in the family who notice that a parent or sibling is acting “different” may conclude that they have “done something” to cause the situation.

All family members who notice a change in the family dynamic may alter their behavior to try to improve the situation and restore the family relationships.

Addiction Is Firmly Established
At this point, the addict is drinking or using drugs regularly. She may think that she has things under control; however, her addiction is at the point where cracks are starting to show. She may be missing work or school and having issues getting along with coworkers or supervisors. Financial problems may be starting, as funds are being used to support the addiction instead of paying bills. The addict may be spending less time on family activities and hobbies, as the addiction takes up more of her time.

A parent, spouse or partner who is codependent will go to great lengths to keep up the appearance that everything in the household is working well. They will not discuss their loved one’s addiction with people they consider to be outsiders. In some instances, the subject is not even discussed within the family even though the family knows about it. This enables the addiction to flourish by keeping the addict from feeling the consequences of her actions.

Addict Goes to Treatment
When an addict goes to treatment for his addiction, he is making the positive step to get help for substance abuse. Going to detox and seeking professional drug and alcohol treatment are the first steps toward the goal of long-term sobriety.

If the codependent family members don’t seek help as well, the recovering addict leaves treatment to return to the same family dynamic that existed before he sought help. Family members will continue to behave in the same codependent manner, which will not be the healthiest way to support someone new to recovery.

Family Program at English Mountain

The Family Program at English Mountain Recovery provides support for family members. It allows for healing in the relationship between addicts and those who care for them. One of the main areas of focus is identifying unhealthy patterns and learning new, healthier ones. Healing emotional scars allows the entire family to move forward in a positive manner.

By Jodee Redmond