Why Naloxone Should Be a Part of Your Relapse Prevention Plan

There are two fundamental questions that bear answering in exploring this topic: “What is Naloxone?”, and “What is relapse prevention?” If you have been around those in recovery, been to treatment or have ever experienced a non-lethal overdose, you are likely familiar with these concepts. 

What is Naloxone?

Put plainly, Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan or Evzio, is an FDA-approved medication introduced in the early 2000’s that reverses opioid overdoses. Packaged either as a nasal spray or auto-injectable, advances in technology and litigation have gotten this so-called “miracle drug” into the hands of lay people (friends and family of those who struggle with addiction) who in some studies, claimed to have successfully reversed 25,000 opioid overdoses in the eighteen years between 1996 and 2014.  Naloxone works by restoring breathing to individuals experiencing the depressive effects of high doses of opioids, where breathing slows, and lack of oxygen to the brain causes the body’s organs to begin shutting down. Through a process of binding to the opioid receptors, thus blocking the further effects of any other dosage, naloxone provides individuals with a 30 to 90 minute window of time where they are able to receive further emergency treatment.  Naloxone is now readily available at all major pharmacies, and the associated education of learning to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose takes only about five to ten minutes. Both of these figures contributes to the widespread success of this product, and explain the importance of including naloxone distribution and education to close family members and friends as a vital aspect of your relapse prevention plan. 

What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

This brings us to the second important question of the post: what is the purpose of a relapse prevention plan? In essence, it is the aim of verbalizing or drafting a plan to avoid relapse; to be fully prepared for future cravings, or when facing triggering situations. A good relapse prevention plan will help you to identify your triggers ahead of time, remind you of healthy coping skills to employ, as well as contain a list of supportive people that you can call when in need. Not only should it focus on people or places important to avoid, it should also help to define what you are like when you are “well”, and the self-care maintenance practices to use on a daily or weekly basis that will help to keep you there.  While a large portion of the plan may require individual motivation and effort, the participation and education of close family and friends of the best ways to support you in your recovery journey should not be overlooked. Teaching them communication strategies to help point you in the right direction, giving them permission to help keep you accountable, and arming them with a life-saving tool like naloxone are key aspects of setting yourself up for success in recovery.  This is just a brief overview of the key contents of a relapse prevention plan, and far from conclusive. For further information and assistance in your recovery journey, consult one of our admissions specialists today!

Self-Care: Series Introduction

In the world where we live in, technology has evolved, mindless entertainment is prized, and work is prioritized to the point where many people do not have time to take care of themselves. Even if an individual might technically have “free time”, there is a pervasive notion in today’s society that self-care is a luxury, or an indulgence that cannot be afforded. The professional world is also becoming more demanding and stressful and it seems there is almost no room for kindness and mutual care. In addition, the physical, mental and social health of the rising generation seems to have dramatically downgraded, meanwhile stress, anxiety, and chronic fatigue are becoming normal and expected. Without a huge self-care effort, all these changes take place at the expense of our personal balance, our health and our well-being. The expression “self-care” is now omnipresent in the definitions of health and happiness. However, it often remains very poorly defined and misunderstood. So, what is it really about? What are its foundations? And why does inadequate self-care impair our well-being and our health? The purpose of this series is to answer all these questions and to help you get your life back on track. Definition of Self-Care: Despite its many definitions, well-being is often referred to as a balanced mental state linked to different factors that can be taken into account separately or jointly: health, social or economic success, pleasure, self-realization, and harmony with oneself and with others. All of these factors require continuous care to maintain them, as this maintenance effort is what we talk about when using the expression “self-care”. Many products on the market offer the false promise of providing the ultimate well-being; of bottling happiness and selling it “for just 3 easy payments of $19.95”. However, we all know that the main source of a person’s happiness lies within themselves. This means that there is no magic formula to feel good about yourself. Indeed, self-care is above all, a way of life. It is a set of factors that are intimately linked and interwoven with each other. This self-care effort includes all aspects of life. It is about the food we eat, how much work we do a day and sleep we get a night, but also about how we manage our stress, our thoughts, the relationships we have with our loved ones and the multitude of choices we make every day. However before detailing the main aspects of self-care, it must be remembered that one of the main excuses people have for ignoring self-care is that they just do not have the time. The good news is that there are many different self-care practices, and none of them are particularly difficult or require much planning. The trick is to find out what you really like and what fits your life and your values. Most psychology trends agree on six different areas of wellness which constitute the foundational pillars of this concept: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, relational and professional self-care. Assessment of these six areas is a crucial first step towards creating better self-care practices, as is the vulnerability and bravery to be honest about current habits. In beginning the assessment process, we recommend starting with a resource such as this one to begin thinking about your own self-care and to stay tuned for the next installment in our series: The Importance of Physical Self-Care.

The AP Learns to Talk About Addiction

Last week, The Associated Press took an important step in that direction. The new edition of its widely used AP Stylebook declares that “addict” should no longer be used as a noun. “Instead,” it says, “choose phrasing like he was addicted, people with heroin addiction or he used drugs.” In short, separate the person from the disease. The style guide clarifies another important language to maximize precision and reduce bias in addiction coverage. There are new entries on “alcoholic,” and an array of substances, from bath salts and cocaine to PCP and synthetic cannabis. Unlike many matters of style, these changes aren’t mere semantics or political correctness. Widespread media misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of addiction has led to some deadly misconceptions about how it should be managed. The AP provides news to around 15,000 media organizations and businesses, and its stylebook is highly influential in setting standards for usage. If its more accurate terms are adopted and understood by institutions like The New York Times and CBS News, it could genuinely help improve drug treatment and policy amid an overdose crisis that shows no signs of slowing. “Around the beginning of the year, in January, we noticed that there was a hole in our guidance on addiction,” says Jeff McMillan, an AP enterprise editor who was the lead author of the new section. He adds, “As we began talking to experts, we learned that the language that was traditionally used is changing, and we thought it would be good to give people a vocabulary.” The new language is being widely welcomed. “It’s very good — really well done,” says John Kelly, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard and founder and director of the Recovery Research Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Kelly was the lead author of a study published in 2010 that showed that even doctoral-level professionals take a more punitive stance when patients are described as “substance abusers” rather than “people with substance use disorder.” The stylebook directs its users to “avoid words like abuse or problem in favor of the word use with an appropriate modifier such as risky, unhealthy, excessive, or heavy. Misuse is also acceptable.” Notably, it adds that not all risky use involves addiction — a distinction that has been clear to epidemiologists for decades but has not often been noted by the press. And perhaps most important, the new style specifies that journalists should not use “dependence” as a synonym for addiction. In fact, “substance dependence” was dropped as the official diagnosis for addiction by psychiatry’s diagnostic manual, the DSM, in 2013, in part because it erroneously implied that the two are the same. While the AP doesn’t spell this out, journalists and readers should understand why it matters. In essence, “dependence” means relying on a substance to function normally. People who take certain medications for blood pressure, depression, and addiction will suffer withdrawal if these medications are stopped abruptly, but that does not mean they’re addicted. This is true even for those taking opioids like methadone or buprenorphine to treat addiction. When people are stabilized on an appropriate individualized dose of either addiction treatment medication, they are not impaired at all because of the precise way this specific class of drugs affects the brain and causes tolerance. By contrast, addiction is a medical disorder marked by compulsive drug use despite bad consequences like impairment. So while addiction is always a problem, dependence may not be. Understanding this is critical for good pain care. Patients taking opioids over a long period of time are often physically dependent, but unless they experience negative consequences and compulsive use, they are not addicted. Similarly, babies exposed to opioids in the womb may suffer withdrawal symptoms from dependence after they are born, but they aren’t addicted either. Addiction requires persistent compulsive drug use, and such babies don’t even know that what they need is opioids, let alone have the ability to obtain and use drugs to support an addiction. Yet the media has often failed to recognize these differences. Headlines about “addicted babies” abound and this stigma can itself do great harm. During the crack years, exposed children were subject to abuse and neglect by caregivers and others who misinterpreted normal behavior as malicious. Recently, The Washington Post surveyed chronic pain patients on opioid therapy, asking them whether they were “addicted or dependent” but without defining those terms. Not surprisingly, one-third of the patients answered yes. While that made for a scary headline, it didn’t tell readers how many actually had substance-use disorders. And that is what you really want to know: Stopping effective pain treatment when you mistake it for addiction can be deadly. At The New York Times, there are no plans to update the paper’s style manual along The AP’s lines. “I definitely understand the arguments and the sensitivity,” Philip B. Corbett, the paper’s associate managing editor for standards, wrote in an email, adding that “language evolves, and we will continue to think about these terms and consider changes as they seem warranted.” But about dependence and addiction, he said he thought “very few readers would immediately understand or pick up on the distinction.” Yet an unhappy result of conflating addiction and dependence is to undermine the only treatment we know that cuts mortality from opioid addiction by 50 percent or more: long-term treatment with methadone or buprenorphine. Too often, these treatments are mischaracterized as merely replacing one addiction with another. If the AP’s guidance can help members and their readers stop making this error, it could end up saving many lives. OCOURSE, how the news media talk about addiction is only one aspect of a deep-seated cultural problem. In 12-step groups, which are used in at least 80 percent of American addiction care, people are encouraged to identify themselves as “addicts” or “alcoholics.” They often use what the AP’s McMillan calls this “almost self-punitive language” when speaking to the press, even if they don’t publicly identify themselves as group members. This could be seen as a way of trying to reclaim stigmatized terms by an oppressed group, just as other marginalized people have sometimes done with slurs against them. The AP suggests similar guidelines for using “addict” as a noun. It’s all right when used in a quote or in the name of an organization, but not otherwise. Language is complicated and often slow to change — and for a group that has been criminalized, fighting stigma and misinformation is a constant struggle. But when the media start treating people with addiction with the same respect that they use for other patients, perhaps the rest of America will start to accept that addiction is a medical problem and that moralizing and punishment have failed. Maia Szalavitz is the author of the best-selling “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,” which was just released in paperback. This article has been updated to include a comment from Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards at The New York Times. Source: https://undark.org/article/associated-press-stylebook-addiction/

It Hurts So Good

It Hurts So Good Jenn R I woke up and groaned—every muscle in my body ached—and I wondered how I would move across my small apartment to the fridge. Still, it was the best I had felt in a long, long time. The train wreck feeling was well earned and came as a result of an invigorating, adrenaline-pumping workout the day before with a group of recovery friends at BoxUnion in Santa Monica. For 45 minutes, an energetic, and unbelievably fit, man led us through ducking and rolling, combination punches, and a ton of ab work—the pace was unrelenting. In the background, dance music thumped, lending some rhythm to our awkward movements. We laughed, we begged for mercy, we moaned, and not one of us left without a huge, satisfied grin on our faces. The next day we texted each other, comparing sore muscle groups and complaining about how sitting to pee was painful. We were also making plans to do it again. It wasn’t so long ago when waking up feeling like a train wreck was a daily ritual. My head pounded, my stomach lurched, and I couldn’t figure out how to put two feet on the floor and get out of bed…every day. Then the dread and the anxiety would hit—I couldn’t remember what had happened the day before, but I knew it wasn’t usually good. For me, recovery has been much more than putting down my substance. It has been a journey to find myself again, to reawaken my mind, body, and soul. And I cannot put too fine a point on how important activity has been in this, the more physical the better. After feeling dead inside for so many years, I love feeling alive. And I’m not wrong on this—there is a lot of science to back up the role physical activity plays in recovery. Here are just a few things exercise accomplishes:
  • reduces stress and anxiety
  • releases endorphins—the same ones that are released when we get high
  • leads to better sleep patterns
  • it’s great for anger release
  • builds self-confidence
  • it’s a form of meditation
I’m not going to lie—the motivation to get out there is tough at first. Sometimes, just getting through the day sober seemed like enough of a battle. And it often was, in the beginning. But as soon as I started walking, going to yoga with some friends at the Riviera Recovery sober house, playing softball on the Riviera team, my recovery seemed to go into warp speed. I laughed more, my anxiety disappeared, and I would go days without even thinking of a drink. Today, I jump at every chance to move, to feel alive. So, when Jose texts and says, “Hey, do you want to go boxing?” I don’t even hesitate to say, “Yes!” I know I’m not going to be able to move after, but I also know that I’m going to have a great time with friends, that I’ll sleep well that night, that my body will benefit, and that I’m that much farther from a drink. And now I just got a text from another friend asking if I want to go skydiving next weekend. I think you know my answer.

The New Face of Heroin Addiction

When you think of a stereotypical heroin user, many of us get a certain image in mind. A person who lives on skid row, unshaven and unwashed? Someone who steals, panhandles or turns tricks to score dope money? This is the image that most people associated with a serious heroin addict. Now consider the actual emerging face of the heroin epidemic: it is young, affluent and white. The face of heroin addiction is teens and young adults from good homes who have tragically have turned to heroin – often led to the drug from an addiction to prescription pills. Celebrity heroin deaths, such as “Glee” TV star Cory Monteith or Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, show that heroin addiction can affect those who “have it all”. These men had loving families, fantastic friends and great success with their careers – yet they lost it all to heroin use.

The Rise of Heroin Use in the Middle Class

According to drug rehabilitation center statistics and recent studies, heroin use is sharply increasing in affluent and middle class neighborhoods across the United States. A 2014 study, published in the research journal JAMA Psychiatry, also confirms that there’s been a dramatic shift in the demographics of heroin use in the United States. In the 1960s, the typical heroin user was an inner-city teenager. Fifty years later, the “new heroin users” in America are more likely to be white suburban men and women in their 20s. Why the shift? The “new face” of heroin addiction typically does not begin on the street. It begins with middle and upper class addicts get hooked on prescription opiates and turn to heroin, because the street drug is much cheaper and easier to get than prescription opiate pills. The study was led by Theodore J. Cicero, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Cicero and his research colleagues analyzed data from an ongoing study that included nearly 2,800 heroin addicts entering U.S. drug rehabilitation centers. The researchers conducted intensive interviews with 54 addicts about their experiences and motivations related to using heroin.

The Facts of Heroin Use Today

“Our typical image of a heroin user is a ‘dirty junkie,’” said Cicero. “This is not the current heroin user. This has become a mainstream problem. This is now affecting white children living in the suburbs.” According to data from the study, in the 1960s, nearly 83 percent of heroin users male (median age of 16.5) who lived in urban areas and started using heroin as their first opiate. Before the 1980s, whites and other races were equally represented. In the last decade, nearly 90 percent of new heroin users were white, with a mean age of 23. Addicts today typically start their addiction with prescription pills, such as OxyContin, and progress to heroin. Heroin is much cheaper than pills – and much easier to score on the street, due to government crackdowns on prescription narcotics. That doesn’t mean that prescription pill use is less dangerous than heroin – it’s actually the opposite – but the numbers are alarming, across the board. According to federal figures, prescription opiates cause 16,600 deaths a year. Heroin causes about 3,000 deaths a year – but death by heroin overdose climbed by 45 percent between 2006 and 2010, spurring public health officials to classify heroin as an urgent and growing public health crisis.

Finding a Drug Recovery Center in Malibu California

One of the most effective ways to stop prescription drug abuse and heroin use is to ensure that they receive proper treatment – before the addiction turns deadly. If you suspect a loved one is using heroin or is abusing prescription pills, you need to find a quality drug rehabilitation center. Looking for the best drug recovery center? In Malibu, Riviera Recovery is a recovery center, Malibu sober living facility that offers sober living on the beach. Addicts have a safe place to heal from their addiction and Riviera’s Malibu recovery center provides addicts with the skills, tools and healthy mental outlook they need to navigate their new sober life, free of heroin or other harmful addictions. To learn more about beachside sober living in Malibu, visit the Riviera Recovery’s website and experience the best sober living in Malibu, California.

Famous Women Who Have Never Drank

Many young women worry that if they give up alcohol, they will lose a lot of their friends and their social life will come to a screeching halt. But for those who have overcome alcohol addiction, life just got better – in all aspects. Quitting drinking improves your physical appearance, provides better mental clarity and helps you make better, healthier decisions. And these days, there is much less stigma placed on being sober. In fact, young women are finding they can have an extremely fulfilling and active social life, without relying on alcohol. Nothing proves that more than these young female celebrities – who are at the top of the entertainment industry and whose names are synonymous with fun, glamour and style. They are also completely committed to sober living. Despite the fact that Hollywood is known for its lavish social-scene and booze-soaked events, these A-list starlets choose sober living – and feel that their life is complete without alcohol.
  • Jennifer Hudson: The singer and actress first hit the spotlight on American Idol – and her career hasn’t slowed since. She has acted alongside Beyoncé, reached the top of the Billboard charts and weathered personal tragedy – all without alcohol or drugs. She credits her anti-substance stance with seeing “too many lives ruined” by drugs and alcohol while growing up. “I’ve never had a drink in my life. I’m sober. I’ve never been interested,” Hudson said.
 
  • Blake Lively: Hollywood golden girl Blake Lively has it all: a great career, a marriage to Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Reynolds and a beautiful baby girl. But one thing she’s never had is the need to drink or do drugs to fit in to the scene. “I don’t drink. I’ve never tried a drug,” she told Allure magazine. “It’s just something that I genuinely don’t have a desire for.”
 
  • Jennifer Lopez: Few celebrities have the industry staying power, or the charisma of Jennifer Lopez. Lopez has spent more than 20 years in the spotlight with a resume that includes singing, acting, dancing, as well as successful fashion and perfume lines. Lopez says she prefers life without alcohol and said her sober life makes her calmer, happier and keeps her looking and feeling young.
If you feel that your reliance on alcohol or other addictive substances has taken over your life – or are looking to reassess your relationship with alcohol in a safe, supportive environment – you need Riviera Recovery. Riviera Recovery offers a sober living environment in our luxurious Malibu rehab facilities, allowing you to focus solely on recovery and sobriety. Riviera Recovery’s Malibu treatment center gives young adults the right direction, treatment and tools to embrace sobriety and develop a plan for their future. To learn more about high end sober living in Malibu California, visit the Riviera Recovery’s web site

Surviving the Holidays with an Addict

The holidays are stressful enough as it is – but getting through the holidays with an addict can be much more than most of us can handle. When someone you love is an addict, every day is a challenge. The holidays tend to amplify these challenges and can lead to an incredible amount of stress. Because holidays are already such a stressful time, it is important that you take steps to minimize negative emotions and situations. It isn’t easy, but it is possible to get through the holidays with an addict.

Why Addicts Add Stress to the Holidays

The holidays are inherently stressful. Add the emotional and physical issues an addict creates and it could be a recipe for disaster. For one, the holidays are a time for family and friends to gather together. Family dynamics and the close-knit nature of the holidays can bring up a lot of buried issues and emotions. If an addict has been “hiding” their substance abuse issues, the presence and closeness of family may set them over the edge, causing outbursts or increased substance abuse. The holidays are also supposed to be a time of warm memories and meaningful tradition. As most of us who have lived with addicts know, it can be nearly impossible just to get through an average day – let alone create special moments. Addicts can be distant and bring negative energy to holiday events. You may spend a holiday party worried about their drinking, rather than enjoying yourself. They may not be coherent enough to participate in holiday traditions. This causes hurt, anger and stress.

Dealing with an Addict over the Holidays

The best way to deal with an addict is to be prepared to avoid situations that will cause stress and trigger bad behavior. If you are planning a family gathering, it might be best to reach out to family members beforehand and explain that there are some sensitive issues you’re dealing with and keep judgments and unkind comments at a minimum. One thing that never helps an addict is judgment, especially from close family members. Although it might not be ideal, it could be a good idea to cut down on the amount of holiday parties and work events you attend. These events can be major triggers for addicts and can lead to embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. Alcohol is a big factor at holiday celebrations and if you are dealing with an addict, these booze-friendly events aren’t a good place to be. Try initiating simple home celebrations, such as tree-trimming or just watching a holiday movie together. The trick is to “get through” the holidays without a major incident. After the holidays are over, it may be time to confront the addict and have the difficult discussion about residential treatment centers or entering drug and alcohol rehab.

New Year, Big Changes: Start Fresh with Luxury Sober Living

The New Year is the perfect time to initiate a conversation about sobriety and drug and alcohol rehabilitation and sober living options. The New Year symbolizes a fresh start and can be chance to embrace sober living and reclaim their life. Most addicts, deep down, want to get help. Sometimes it takes a serious conversation about how their addiction has affected their life, relationships, family and friends to prompt them to make a change and seek drug and alcohol rehab. Riviera Recovery is a Malibu drug rehab and luxury sober living center that focuses not only on treating an addiction, but also providing hope and healing to help addicts face the future, sober and with a solid plan in place. Riviera Recovery’s Malibu treatment center offers a different approach to sober living – and that’s why we provide long-term success for young people struggling with addiction. To learn more about our Malibu recovery center, visit Riviera Recovery’s web site.