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What Does Living in a Sober House Mean?

Life after rehab or inpatient treatment can be a little challenging. Just detoxification of some drugs involves the use of tapering. Getting back to your life needs the same principle. In the late 1800s, prisoners in England transitioned from prison life to civilian life with the help of halfway houses. These houses were later used to serve various purposes, for example, to shelter the homeless or use disorder patients.  If you need help transitioning back to the community and your life, you will need to understand what a sober house is, how it works, and how it benefits you. You may also use sober house living if or you need rehab for a while longer as an outpatient. 

What is a Sober House?

sky blue couch with a pillow, sober living los angeles, couples sober living, sober living house los angeles A Sober house is a residence specially designed to host individuals discharged from use disorder inpatient treatment. People often confuse sober houses with halfway houses. Sober houses belong to individuals or private addiction treatment organizations and centers. Halfway houses, on the other hand, are owned by government agencies. Sober houses do not receive any funding from the government, which means you have to pay rent for your stay. You will have access to various programs to help you maintain sobriety. The sober house will equip you with the skills necessary to function as a sober individual. You will be able to learn skills like responsibility, how to compromise accountability, and cooking and cleaning for yourself. Sober house living is also covered under addiction rehab licenses, which makes it possible to offer various programs to help continue with treatment after treatment in an inpatient rehab clinic.

How Does it Work?

You will begin at the intake process, where you are expected to provide adequate information that will be used to support you during this. We will ask for details on your general health, mental health condition, and addiction history. The medical professionals will want to know the last time you used any substance if you are under the care of a physician or have any existing medical conditions.  Treatment consultants in sober houses are always non-judgemental, so you should be straight forward when they ask standard questions such as your education, occupation, and criminal background. Addiction consultants also take part in the intake to help prescribe the right program for your use disorder.

What Does Living in a Sober House Mean?

Living in a sober house means that you will undertake daily operations with house managers overseas. Sober houses have evolved to try and offer the best care for their residence. For example, residences like Riviera Recovery have an entire staff that is ready to assist the residents at any time. They have overnight staff or resident managers who will support you when you face cravings, and your sponsor is unavailable.  Some of the staff may not be medical professionals; however, they are well trained in addiction and recovery. Other sober houses rely on community fellowship for support counseling sessions and daily therapy.

Types of Support Available 

a smiling chef holding a cup, sober living los angeles, couples sober living, sober living house los angeles Most community based sober living Homes focus on peer recovery and support. They help establish these bonds through wellness classes outdoor excursions group therapy and 12-step meetings to stop sober houses highly recommend 12 step meetings as they have a high recovery success rate.  The use of group therapy helps residents find solutions for anxiety loss stress from addiction to depression and more. Individuals will feel less lonely when they exchange experiences and relate to what the members are going through. It helps to increase a sense of understanding, empathy, patience, support, and more, which will benefit the community as a whole. The availability of support is important in a sober house. It is a criterion you should consider when selecting which sober house to go to.

Day to Day Life in a Sober House

Rules routine and structure will have a significant impact on your sobriety. They will help you reduce seclusion feelings and outside influences that may trigger a relapse. A healthy routine will not only help with addiction treatment, but it is also used to help with mental health illnesses. The routine in a sober house will include choosing house activities or group activities. There are those residences that the residents attend a school or go to work. This is an outpatient treatment program for such facilities.  Typical activities in a sober house routine include 12-step meetings and house activities such as yoga adventure therapy or holistic treatment. Most residences have a strict visitor policy and a curfew which the residents must abide by. All the treatments and activities you partake in have proven to have a positive effect on the body mind and spirit of residents. There is also a significant emphasis on sobriety healing and self-care as they are recurring aspects of your daily life, even outside the sober house. These activities and routines prepare you for believing when you leave.

How Successful Are Sober Houses?

The biological components make it hard to maintain sobriety after a chemical dependency, but Sober Houses have high success rates. The success depends on the period you stay at the Residence. Most people spend 3 to 6 months in the facility. However, you have an increased chance of sobriety if you visit longer, especially if you have been struggling with use disorder for years. This gives your brain ample time to reset itself.  During this time, you will deal with emotional problems and their underlying causes. Time is also necessary for those struggling with mental illnesses such as depression who are chief stability. The strict house rules and peaceful environment help you to stay sober. There will be random drug tests that will discourage you from relapse.

Riviera Recovery Sober Living

The Riviera recovery sober house helps you in sobriety general wellness and independence. Our health community offers multiple services, including referrals to other outpatient programs, weekly social activities, nightly check-ins, personal trainers, 12-step meetings, food management, random drug testing, and more.  We are a team of medical professionals and non-medical professionals trained with Addiction and recovery. Our organization has two main facilities; the Palisades house and the Barrington house. They are equipped with amenities such as housekeeping private security suites, self-help library weekly family updates participation in outpatient programs weekly mentoring, and more.  a person lying on a sofa while reading a book, sober living los angeles, couples sober living, sober living house los angeles The Palisades House overlooks the Pacific Ocean from the foot of the Santa Monica mountains. You have access to various activities within the local eating places like Malibu Pacific palisades and Santa Monica. Contact us to start rehab today at this high-end facility for long-term sobriety. The Barrington house residence is an all-male location that has access to a couple of Parks and shops within walking distance. It is located in West La with easy access to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. We offer a thriving 12-step program with daily meetings.

Final Thoughts

You can get help to help you lead a sober life in Sober houses. A sober house is a residential facility that enables you to transition back into your life after rehab. You will participate in Multiple activities to help you gain sobriety skills. Such activities include outdoor excursions group therapy, individual therapy 12-step meetings, and more. Sober houses have a high success rate, which makes them trust me.  You can start sober living today in a top facility like Riviera recovery, which is run by medical professionals who know how to handle transition. You may expect to stay in this residence for 3 to 6 months. However, the longer you stay, the better chances you have to lead a sober life over a long time.
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Smart and Sober Living

One’s discharge date from residential or inpatient treatment is likely a day that has been highly anticipated and fought for with blood, sweat, and tears. It represents the end of one key phase of treatment. However, for many individuals, that much sought-after date also represents one of fear and uncertainty related to what they may face once they return home, and how they will be able to put their learning into practice. Individuals may be concerned about their ability to stay sober once they’re back in their old environment, or once they face those old triggers. While facing them is inevitable, there are some smart ways to go about this transition and some key benefits to enlisting supportive housing to facilitate the process. 

Adjustment to Daily Life

Many individuals choose to seek supportive housing as the step in-between residential treatment and coming home, due to an awareness of the stark contrast between the level of support available to them at home and anticipation that they may require more than is currently available. This solution offers them the opportunity to slowly adjust to life outside of a residential center, to the unplanned and unstructured. In this adjustment, individuals can live in the middle ground, still actively working their recovery, while also experiencing aspects of the real world that they may have been sheltered from while in active treatment. 

Accountability in Daily Practices

Living in a sober house offers an opportunity to live in a community of individuals who are pursuing similar goals. Finding others at a similar stage in recovery once back home is absolutely still possible, however, takes commitment and follow-through in order to do so. For those transitioning home right away after treatment, this may not rank as high on the list once all of those real-world concerns come flooding back, despite its importance in sustaining recovery. Seeing others you respect successfully manage the transition to sober living in the real world can offer inspiration to work with equal vigor, to create a sense of structure for yourself, with daily routines and practices, and the accountability of others who believe in your ability to follow through. Once you learn that you can be successful in a less structured environment, you will likely be more inclined to believe in your abilities to do so once you return home. 

Opportunity for Daily Compliance

With those daily routines and practices, you have the opportunity to develop confidence and establish a greater sense of self-esteem regarding your own ability to handle your affairs and sustain recovery. Each day that you follow through with a self-directed routine or accomplish a goal (no matter how small) and you allow yourself to feel proud of your behavior, you are one step closer to being ready to face the triggers that will present themselves once you return home. Again, once you are able to feel confident in your ability to thrive in the less-structured but supportive environment of a sober living house, your likelihood of putting those very same skills into practice once you return home is much greater. 

Transitional Periods

Sober living is a perfect fit for transitional periods of all kinds, but especially when leaving inpatient or residential treatment. Namely, by offering an adjustment period back to reality, and a place for an individual to focus on creating community and establishing daily practices of their own, sober living is truly the smart way to ensure a lasting recovery. Tour our sober living home online now, and see for yourself why Riviera Recovery is right for you!

How to Quit Drinking

Do you ever think to yourself that perhaps it’s time to quit drinking? Maybe you’ve managed to skate by unnoticed at work, and for the most part, been able to keep up with appearances. Maybe your family member has expressed concerns about your patterns, but you never wanted to believe them.  But how can you stop drinking because, in essence, it is much easier to overindulge and grow addicted to alcohol than it is to quit drinking, right? Quitting would mean owning up to that thing you said, or that thing you did. It would mean making apologies, trying new things, and changing your way of life. You may hear all of the difficulty and the challenge written in those words, and it is true, that will come, but also contained within those words, within a life of pursuing sobriety, is hope.

Alcohol Use and Alcohol Dependence

Understanding the dangers as well as the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and its impact on overall life and society at large can help you make healthier choices and eventually quit drinking. Alcohol dependence affects people from all walks of life and has profound negative effects, especially on the brain, as well as the heart, pancreas, liver, and immune system.    Despite its negative impact, alcohol continues to be one of the causes of preventable death, followed closely by tobacco, a poor diet, and living a sedentary lifestyle.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder, and at least 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related deaths.    Do you suspect that you might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder?  Here are the warning signs to look out for:
  • Sub-par or worse performance at work or school
  • Engaging in risky behaviors: drunk driving, sexual promiscuity, and the resulting legal problems
  • Experiencing temporary blackouts or memory loss after drinking
  • Continuing to drink despite health issues like liver or heart disease including diabetes that is made worse by alcohol
  • Failed interventions from family members and friends who are worried about your drinking
  • Making excuses for drinking like to help deal with stress, to relax or feel normal
  • Choosing to drink instead of following through with responsibilities 
  • Distancing yourself from people which may result to drinking in secrecy
  If you exhibit any of the abovementioned warning signs that detect potential alcohol abuse, don’t stop alcohol use abruptly because depending on the severity you may put your life at risk. You may need to attend a detox facility or call in a professional to safely detox from the comfort of your own home   Alcohol abuse can begin to impact a person’s life negatively and tends to spiral out of control quickly if left unaddressed. Of course, signing up for a treatment program is an excellent place to start, as they can assist you with all of the following, but until then, here are a few tips to help you quit drinking:
  1.     Before you can successfully kick alcohol to the curb, you must first take the time to discover why you no longer need it in your life anymore
  2.     Accept that you have a problem and realize you have control over what enters your body. By so doing, you empower yourself, not your addiction
  3.     Recognize and admit your weaknesses when it comes to alcohol and enact change. For example, you may want to avoid going to bars, or being around any alcoholic beverage, and cleaning out your home of all temptations. Remember, you’re only weak if you give weakness a foothold.
  4.     When you catch yourself in the throes of “a happy drinking memory,” stop for a moment and play that memory all the way through and remember how it felt when you woke up the next day.  Use that feeling to fuel your determination to quit drinking
  5.     Reaffirm the benefits you will notice in your life from quitting drinking
  6.     Seek help from family and counseling support groups for a judgment-free, supportive environment
  7.     Contact us today to get started on your treatment journey!

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!

What to Do When You Hit “The Wall” in Recovery

What to Do When You Hit “The Wall” in Recovery

People who are trying to live in sobriety will hear that at some point in recovery, they will “hit the wall”. When people first begin working out, they will notice a big difference in their bodies. This is because the body is experiencing something new and is reacting to it accordingly. After a while though, they hit a plateau. It is not because they are no longer working out. It is more than the body has fully adjusted to the current workout and is ready for something new. When this happens, they have three choices: 1) give up since they no longer see results; 2) remain at that plateau thinking what they are doing is enough and never progressing; or 3) push through it by changing up the current workout. When you plateau in recovery, you are faced with the same three choices. The easiest thing would be to give up, but you did not go into this because it is easy. And yes, you can just hover where you are, but then you will never reach your goal. The best option is to push through it with everything you have inside of you. The following are some ways to help you do just that.

Remember Where You Came From

When you hit a wall, you often look around and feel you have not done enough, that you are not good enough, and that you just wasted your time because you think you are no better than when you started. That is absolutely not true. You have to remember where you came from, how low you were when you started. When you think about how you used to be, you will see the difference and that will push you to continue.

Know Your Enemy

Often, when you know something is coming, you can prepare for it. Understanding what it means to “hit the wall” in your sobriety is the first step in battling it. You do not want anything to catch you off guard that regresses your progress. Study the signs and symptoms, and talk to others who have been there to hear how it really feels. This will help you recognize what is going on before it gets too far, so if you do hit a wall, you can recognize the negative self-talk for what it is: lies.

Be Open About It

One of the worst things that you can do when suffering from any emotions or negative thoughts is to keep it to yourself. Suffering in silence is not going to help you in the recovery process. There are people who know what you are going through because they have been there, but they cannot help if you do not allow them to. Also, speaking to your therapist, counselors, and anyone else involved in your recovery about it can let them know that it is time to change up your program. Discuss these feeling with them and ask what you might do differently or in addition to your current program to stimulate your recovery once again. They, too, are committed to your success and will do what they can to help you move past this phase.

Surround Yourself with Support

There are people who love and care about you, and they want to see you succeed. If you are committed to your sobriety, they are most likely willing to do whatever it takes to support you. Also, when you do feel like you have gone nowhere, those are the people that can tell you just how far you have come. Ask them how they feel about your progress so far and you will probably find that they are proud of you. Hearing the praise can boost your self-confidence and push you toward the finish line.

Conclusion

Though hitting a wall in your recovery may seem intimidating, it does not have to be. It is completely possible to run straight through it with the right support and program. Remember why you chose to reach for sobriety in the first place and keep that goal in mind. Do not wait for help to find you. If you feel yourself struggling with your recovery, reach out to the people that can help you keep pushing and hold you up when necessary. Above all, do not give up hope.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is goal oriented and focused on correcting an individual’s maladaptive thoughts and core beliefs that leads to a whole host of emotional problems, including anxiety, depression and anger, and behavioral problems that follow: not wanting to get out of bed, getting into fights, or deciding to use substances. This kind of treatment helps individuals understand how their thoughts and feelings impact their behavior. An individual will learn to understand the cognitive model by working with a therapist or counselor, and learn to identify the roots of negative aspects of their own life which can be positively improved through its use. The goal of this treatment is to show individuals that despite their inability to control every aspect of their surroundings, they can control how they interpret these interactions and how they choose to deal with them. Changed Perceptions Feelings of stress can easily influence behavior and can distort one’s perception of reality. The aim of CBT is to identify such harmful thoughts and employ strategies of challenging and overcoming them. The cognitive model focuses on three components in order to help conceptualize a problem or situation: thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and it is often depicted with each representing a point on an equilateral triangle. Viewed this way, one can easily understand how each of the elements impact one another, and it helps to provide a framework from which to discuss one’s reaction to any situation. The core belief of CBT is that (1) by becoming aware of your negative, often automatic, thought process, (2) you will be able to view challenges in a much clearer way and (3) respond to them more effectively. It is through slowing down one’s reactions to any given situation that they are able to gain more agency over their life and be able to operate in new ways. Therapy Sessions The therapist’s role is to explain the interaction between these elements, and will ask for the client in the session to break down their current difficulty into the thoughts and core beliefs that fuel their reactions. In analyzing these areas and in determining what effect they are having on the individual, they can now help them to identify their negative thoughts that are contributing to negative emotions and behaviors, and also to identify new, more appropriate thoughts. This may involve asking important questions such as, “Is this thought true?” or “Is this thought helpful?”, or learning about the common cognitive distortions, or thinking traps that one might fall into. CBT is especially helpful in clients in recovery to help recognize and avoid or cope with triggers that in the past have led to substance abuse. Using CBT, a therapist can help train an individual to dismiss faulty belief structures that perpetuate substance use, as well as provide tools to better regulate emotions and teach effective communication. At Riviera Recovery, we understand the importance of continued counseling throughout all stages of the recovery process, as well as using modalities that are evidence-based and proven to be effective. Call today at 1-866-478-8799 to learn more about our program!

5 Great Books on Addiction

The quality of life you enjoy now has a lot to do with the books you read in the past. The information you got through such books put you on the path to the career you have and helped shape your beliefs on life. The same can be said of great addiction books. They can not only help you overcome addiction but also give you insights to help family members faced with the disease. Even fiction novels based on dependence can give you new ideas and a better understanding of substance abuse. Here are some of the best books on addiction.

1.The Shining by Stephen King

What better way to get into the mind and experiences of someone fighting alcoholism than to read a book written by someone who had his battles with alcohol. In The Shining, Stephen King brings out the struggles of an ex-alcoholic, which is perhaps made all the more captivating by the author’s personal experiences. In the book, Jack Torrance, an ex-alcoholic is employed as a caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. It’s winter in Colorado, and he hopes to enjoy the warmth of his family – his wife, Wendy, and son, Danny – away from his latent alcoholism. But it’s not long before he’s pulled back in by a ghostly bartender serving him gin, depicting the struggles many recovering alcoholics face in kicking the habit. And soon Jack goes insane to the extent of attacking his family.

2.Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

One of the most startling revelations you get from Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, is that drug addiction is far more dependent on your childhood and quality of life than the actual drugs or your genes. This, among other incredible insights, puts a stark contrast between the United States’ war on drugs and how drug addiction could be handled better. The book takes you through a heart-wrenching journey of the moving human stories in the disastrous war on drugs. The reporter himself took a two-year, 20,000-mile journey to discover the real-life stories of people affected by the poorly implemented war on drugs. Even the author shares the personal experience of witnessing a close relative and ex-boyfriend bottoming out on heroin and cocaine.

3.Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis & Larry Sloman

This book delivers such an authentic narration of heroin addiction experience that it’s not recommended to someone in early recovery or treatment. For the general public, it gives illuminating insights on the downright heart-wrenching experience of heroin addiction, a far cry from the glamorous hype. The fact that it’s a memoir about Anthony Kiedis, the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman, makes it deeply touching. The author doesn’t spare readers of the raw sadness and deep despair accompanying heroin addiction. He shows just how strong the hold of addiction is such that Anthony Keidi couldn’t kick off the habit even after the loss of Hillel Slovak, his best friend, and bandmate, to overdose. The real-life experiences show the extremely depressing state that an addict falls into.

4.Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie

This is one of the best books for families of drug addicts and alcoholics. Many families end up bearing the burden of caring for drug addicts/ alcoholics. This goes to the extent of such family members losing sight of their own lives while tending to the drug addict/ alcoholic. Such codependency is dangerous and hinders good addiction therapy. No wonder this book is incredibly valuable. It gives you deep insights to understand codependency and helps you unlock the hold it has on your life. It’s not merely instructive lessons, but also illuminating life stories with personal reflections, self-tests, and exercises to help you take practical steps towards a life of freedom. It helps you realize that you deserve happiness, healing, and hope, especially when faced with the challenge of a family member addicted to drugs/ alcohol. And it helps you achieve that.

5.Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction and Recovery by Erica Spiegelman

What better person to understand your struggles than an addiction counselor who has had her struggles with addiction and alcoholism. That person is Erica Spiegelman, a respected addiction counselor. She wrote this addiction recovery book to present a different way of thinking about embracing recovery and living clean. In the book, she goes beyond drug and alcohol abstinence and ventures into a holistic approach in the recovery process. She tackles the attitudes and beliefs accompanying and fueling the disease. The insights in this book are aimed at changing your focus, so your mind, body, and spirit will follow. Best of all, it gives you practical action-oriented positive affirmation and intentions to achieve this.

Conclusion

Reading such books can inspire you to consider addiction therapy seriously so you can take back control of your life. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, do NOT be afraid to reach out. Contact us to get more information and to speak to an addiction professional.

The Dangers of Replacement Addictions

When recovering from an addiction, it is an all-too-common phenomenon for one to replace their primary reported problematic behaviors (usually compulsatory dependence on illicit substances) with other destructive, perhaps thought to be less severe, problem behaviors. Whether only temporary or permanent, a shift towards these replacement addictions are a sign that the person is still caught up in their addictive tendencies. An addicted person may believe that while in recovery, switching to legal substances, such as alcohol or nicotine, or taking up new behavioral patterns, termed “process addictions”, is a step in the right direction. These behaviors may include vigorous exercise, new eating habits, or even spending newly acquired free time online shopping, etc. however all of these options pose potential problems to the recovering addict. While many who struggle with addiction will make justifications for these new behaviors, the key is in understanding the function and role that they may play in the addicted person’s life, as this is the primary way to know when a seemingly innocuous or even healthy new habit may be the cause for concern. Dangerous Habits A good understanding of the definition of addiction is imperative in considering the effects of this phenomenon and remains useful to shed some light as to why an individual might employ the use of a substitute addiction. The three common characteristics of addiction can be understood as:
  1. The disruption of the reward center of the brain that finds pleasure in everyday activities.
  2. Minimal distress tolerance that leads to a compulsion to use or engage in problem behavior (cravings)
  3. Impairment in brain structures meant to facilitate decision making, impulse control, and self-regulation, placing the individual at greater risk for relapse
When engaging in a substitute or replacement addiction, it is clear to see how one or all of these characteristics are present, indicating that true or complete recovery has yet to take place. Common Replacement Behaviors Substitute addictions refer to a variety of behaviors that, when repeated compulsively and in excess, activate the same reward circuits of the brain once triggered by the former drug of choice. Whether legal drugs, or others thought to be “less severe” (i.e. cannabis) or process addictions, one’s relationship with food, exercise, gambling, shopping, love, sex, and even religion can become problematic.  Although the resulting problems vary, is clear that drug substitution is no less dangerous than addiction to a single main substance. Alcohol: Although the study is still required on the subject, a review of the relevant research supports the hypothesis that the use of alcohol post-treatment leaves the individual vulnerable for a relapse of their primary drug. This understanding is founded on two principles: first, that alcohol is used by these individuals as an attempt to manage cravings, and second, that alcohol has a negative effect on the decision-making capabilities and impulse control of individuals. Nicotine: Often times, in the same way that one’s primary drug is triggered by experiencing uncomfortable or negative emotions through repeated use of the drug to cope with the feelings, legal addictions such as cigarette smoking (or alcohol use) become equally paired with the experience and typically increase cravings or can be thought of as a “slippery slope”. Whether smoking cigarettes does eventually lead back to the primary addiction or not, it is still a problem when it functions as a means for the individual to deal with their stress. Excessive Behaviors: With the category of behaviors labelled as “excessive”, problems occur when, as mentioned previously, the behaviors do not increase an individual’s distress tolerance, or ability to deal with uncomfortable negative emotions, and operate only as a means of distraction. These behaviors include: Work or Exercise Shopping Overeating or Controlled Eating Gambling Sex or Love Addiction Some of these behaviors present their own unique health concerns (i.e. increased risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as with sex addiction), and the ability to evaluate these behaviors openly and honestly is the beginning to understanding how they might be working against you in recovery. Lasting Recovery Recovery is absolutely possible for you or your loved one, as is maintaining long-term sobriety long after treatment has finished. At Riviera Recovery, we believe the key is to begin your journey with some accountability, and with trusted professionals who have the knowledge to help, and to set you up for success. Contact us today to find out more.  

Is Addiction a Disease?

A Brief History Although it is now widely accepted by the American Medical Association and the American Society of Medicine that addiction is in fact a disease, this understanding has not always been the case. At one time (and still today to some extent) a stigma around addiction exists, and there are those who believe that addiction signifies nothing but poor choices and a lack of character. However advances in technology have rapidly shaped our present view of addiction, and point towards an educated understanding of addiction as a disease of the brain, just as there are diseases of the heart and kidney. This framework of viewing addictive behaviors considers both genetic and environmental factors in the role that they play in their contribution and perpetuation of addictive cycles in families and in society as a whole. Defining Addiction Due to its vast reaches and complexities, it can be difficult to settle upon a common definition for addiction that spans all levels of impairment and contexts. However in 2016, Volkow, Koob, and McLellan suggested three primary characteristics of addiction:
  1. Desensitization of the reward circuits of the brain that allow us to feel pleasure and motivation which eventually leads to needing the drug/ behavior to feel “well”
  2. Increased conditioned responses to turn to the vice when experiencing stress in our environment or a range of other emotions, which leads to increased experiences of cravings
  3. Declining functions of brain regions that facilitate decision making, impulse control, and self regulation that leads to repeated relapse
When taken into consideration, it is not difficult to see the cards stacking up against an addict who does truly want to get better, and the ways that their brain is actively working against them. Changes in the Brain Scientists have long studied the effects of Dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for flooding the system with a pleasurable response when someone is in the midst of their “high” from engaging with their desired drug. However, this is the same neurotransmitter to blame for the consequence defined in the first characteristic listed above. Slowly, an erosion of the individual’s ability to feel pleasure while completing any other task occurs, as the body comes to rely on the drug to provide the dopamine“fix”. Specific dopamine receptors have additionally been linked with the task of creating motivation to deny instant gratification from a stimulus, and to work towards a rigorous, but more rewarding end. These too, are subject to the laws of supply and demand, and once the outside supply stops, the body has already adapted to no longer produce its own dopamine, and these crucial functions remain lacking. But Isn’t it their Choice? It may seem easy to point the finger all the way back to someone’s first experience with their addictive habit and argue that their initial choice to solve their problems in that particular way was the first in a string of dominoes that led them to today. However, many biological, genetic, and environmental factors are at play in determining one’s unique susceptibility towards addictive patterns. Factors making someone more at-risk for falling prey to addiction initially, continuing in their use, and their resulting brain chemistry consists of things largely out of their control, including family history, early exposure to drug use, exposure to high-risk environments, and co-occurring mental disorders. Under this logic, where you grew up (high socially stressful environments, or where there is easy access to drugs) and how you grew up (unsupportive parenting practices, permissive attitudes towards substance use) have much greater influence on one’s vulnerability. Culminating in the decision to turn to addictive substances or behaviors is much less a one-time judgement, and more like a series of generational choices leading to the moment of decision. Overcoming Addiction At Riviera Recovery, we understand that addiction is a disease like any other, and requires specialized and informed approaches to treating it. We have the knowledge and expertise to help if you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction. Call us at today 1-866-478-8799 to get connected to the support you need.