10 Ways to Prevent Relapse

Relapse does not have to be part of recovery. To ensure that you or a newly sober loved one don’t fall victim to a relapse there are many things that you can do. Preventive techniques and coping skills can really help someone before they relapse and some of them are very simple. Here are 10 simple ways to prevent a relapse from occurring.

Talk to a friend
It sounds so simple, but talking to someone about what you are thinking or feeling can really help get you through that tough time. Whether you have been thinking about drinking or using a drug, letting someone know is an easy way get it off your chest and can alleviate the thought or craving. Sometimes it’s the action of talking about it that helps, but the feedback that you may receive from the person you told could also help get you through the tough time.

Find support
If you don’t have friend or someone you can talk to when you are feeling close to a relapse, then finding support is very important. Drug and alcohol support groups exist all over the world. 12-step groups advertise in newspapers and various news sources, but there are many other types of support groups also. A simple google search can help you find very specific support groups in your area for what you are looking for. If a support group isn’t what you want, that’s fine too. Therapy and counseling is a great way to get support as well.

Stay busy
Trying to stay busy is a great way to prevent a relapse in early recovery. Find a hobby or a job and start working. It’s amazing how quickly the mind can get distracted from a thought about relapse when you are busy working or doing something like a hobby. Boredom is an easy way to find yourself close to a relapse, so if you stay busy then you are less likely to get bored.

Stay away from old friends
12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have a suggestion that it is a good idea to stay away from old drinking buddies after you enter recovery. This suggestion is really for preventing a relapse, because the idea is that you could run into an old friend and find out that all you had in common was drinking or using drugs, so inevitably, you would relapse with them. Obviously, this isn’t always the case with old friends, but if your old friends do use drugs or alcohol, then staying away from them will probably make it easier for you not to relapse.

Clean out your car and house
Making sure that your car and home are free of drugs and alcohol is a great way to ensure that you don’t relapse. It is not always easy to be able to clean out your home and car by yourself especially when drugs and alcohol are the main thing that you are throwing away, so try and see if you can get a friend or family member to help. If you are able to have someone else do it altogether, it is probably even safer.

Try yoga or exercising
Taking up practices like yoga or starting to exercise can be great ways to calm the mind which may end up helping prevent a relapse also. Whether you are looking for a drug free rush of endorphins or just need to take a deep breath and meditate, yoga and exercise is a great way to use your energy. Many people find it necessary to get out excess energy in order to relax or focus better and this could help prevent a relapse, because not only is yoga and exercise going to have you breathing heavily, but it is also a great way keep you focused and relaxed in life.

Change your phone number
In order to stay away from triggers like people that used to sell drugs to you, it is a good idea to have someone delete those numbers from your phone. Take it one step further and you could change your phone number altogether.

Help someone
Giving your time to someone in need is a great way to stop thinking about whatever it is that is making you feel like relapsing. This is another simple tactic for keeping busy, but it is also self-fulfilling. Maybe you have a friend that needs someone to listen to them or just needs a ride somewhere. Either way, both is giving of yourself to that person and helping them, which may also help you forget about whatever was bothering you in the first place. Just be careful if you are trying to help someone who is using drugs and alcohol. It is probably a good idea to have some other sober help available if you find yourself in a situation where you want to help someone who is currently using drugs or alcohol.

Take your medication
If you are prescribed medications for a mental health condition, then make sure you continue taking them while you are sober. Just because you may not be feeling anxious or depressed, doesn’t mean that you should abruptly stop taking prescribed medications for those conditions. A relapse can occur after a person stops taking their medications, because the person may start feeling anxious or depressed again and use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with these conditions. Please talk to your doctor if you are thinking about stopping a medication, rather than trying to stop taking it by yourself.

Stay Connected
If you were in a substance abuse facility and have left that treatment center, then try and stay connected with regular communication with staff or attendance at alumni events. Staying connected to the place that may have started your journey to recovery is a great way to prevent a relapse.
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Fun Ideas for a Sober Bachelorette Party

Having the task of planning a bachelorette party is a big responsibility, whether you’re planning it for yourself or someone you love. Maybe you’re sober, or the bride is sober, or you just want to have a bachelorette party that isn’t revolved around alcohol. All too often we see pictures on social media and Pinterest about ‘cute’ bachelorette party drinks or drinking games, or parties that are planned in bars or clubs. This mainstream view of bachelorette parties is not how all of them are, or have to be. There are many fun ideas for bachelorette parties that don’t involve alcohol.
Get Crafty
I’ve seen it done before where women make arrangements to go to a wood-making class and makes personalized signs for the bride. These are signs that she can hang in her home and create everlasting memories. This can also be done with dishware! Each attendee at the bachelorette party makes a piece of dishware that the bride can use in her own kitchen. Each time that her and her significant other sit down to eat; they’re reminded of the love that went into each plate or bowl. This is a super cute idea for someone that might appreciate hand-made gifts. Another idea similar to this is to go to a pottery class, each member of the bridal party can make a unique piece of pottery to commemorate the special day spent together.

Dinner and Desert
If you’re a part of someone’s wedding, I’m sure you know them well enough to know about their favorite food or restaurants. Make reservations at a cute or swanky restaurant that is either or fave or something new. You can accent the reserved table with some cute decorations (I’ll namedrop Pinterest here too), as long as you check with the restaurant that you can have access to the table ahead of time. If you add an additional layer of fun, plan some games to do during dinner. A really fun game I’ve done is to create a scavenger hunt that the bridal party has to complete before the night is over. Some examples that don’t include drinking could be; find someone at the restaurant to sing the “YMCA” song with you, prank call a friend, dance with a stranger, etc. This can create a ton of fun memories to talk about for years to come.

Spa Day
Who doesn’t love a spa day? Plan a day where the bridal party gets facials, nails, hair, massages, etc. done. It’s relaxing and a great way to spend time together. I mean, let’s be honest, what bride doesn’t need some R&R before her wedding day?

Get Away
Plan a getaway for the bridal party for a night or longer somewhere that the bride enjoys, or that you think she would enjoy. This doesn’t have to be a super expensive vacation; rather you can find an affordable Airbnb in a local town or somewhere just a few hours away. Have everyone pitch-in on food and other necessities and explore the area that you’re visiting. What makes this extra fun – taking a road trip with the gang.
When I had my bachelorette party in recovery, my sister planned a camping getaway in her RV. My bridal party was pretty small, so everyone was able to stay in the RV and we had a great time. We spent most of the time just hanging out in nature, sitting and laughing by the bonfire, and we also planned a couple events like doing a ropes course at a local mountain. It was an easy, affordable trip and we had an amazing time that I’ll remember forever.
Bachelorette parties don’t need to cost an arm and a leg, and certainly don’t need to include drinking. There are plenty of fun things you can do based on what the bride likes and enjoys.
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Ways to Have a Sober Bachelor Party

Obviously, the number one thing to do in order to have a sober bachelor party is to not drink, but can it be that easy? Yes, it can be very easy to celebrate someone’s bachelor party and still have fun without drugs and alcohol.
Early in recovery it can be hard to think about those milestone events, like your own wedding day and not drinking that cliché glass of champagne during your best man’s toast. Or not getting drunk at your own bachelor party, but these classic scenarios are not all about getting wasted. Wedding planning and the events leading up to that big day have almost nothing to do with drinking or drugs, but for some reason it can seem so hard to imagine those life events without drinking or drugs in early recovery.

Get Creative and Think Outside the Box
Whether you are getting married or planning your best friend’s bachelor party, drugs and alcohol do not have to be a part of the party. Some of the best ways to plan a bachelor party are to make it be about something that the groom really enjoys. Thinking outside the box, like taking a weekend trip or visiting somewhere for the day are usually great ways to start the planning.

Plan a Trip
If you are the best friend to the groom and have to plan a sober bachelor party, then try thinking about the groom and all the stuff that matters most to them. If they really enjoyed skiing at a mountain house while growing up or playing cards on the porch at the lake, then you already know that recreating a similar scenario will be a perfect way to celebrate a bachelor party without drugs and alcohol.

Do Something Local
Maybe going away for the weekend is hard for the group that will be coming. Why not just make it a day trip to somewhere special? Renting a big van, bus or even limo and riding it to a high-end restaurant is a great way to celebrate a sober bachelor party too. All that may be needed is a night out on the town with close friends and relatives, enjoying good food in an elegant ambiance. That could make almost anyone forget that alcohol is not a part of the evening.
Not into going to a fancy dinner with friends? Then how about some games at a local adult arcade? There are tons of different places that offer entertaining games for adults without drugs and alcohol having to be part of the entertainment. You can really have a fun time with old arcade games or even the newer 3D ones that offer a little more thrill while celebrating a buddy’s bachelor party.

The People Make The Party, Not The Drinks
These are just a few suggestions for how to get a memorable bachelor party started without any need to get high or drunk, but the main thing that is really going to make the party memorable is the moment you are with all of your friends and family celebrating. It doesn’t really matter what the scenario is as long as everyone there is present for the moment and not wasted on drugs or alcohol.
Try taking some of these ideas listed above and make them your own. Try looking up some local game spots in your area if you’re not interested in an arcade. The options for sober and fun bachelor parties are almost endless, because all you need is the people for the party and the sober environment.
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10 Fun Things to do When You Are Sober

In the beginning of sobriety, trying to find fun activities can seem hard. Typically, this can be due to the fact that almost everything prior to getting sober involved drugs and alcohol. Now, you have to find new ways to have fun that do not involve any mind or mood-altering substances.
Sometimes it can feel like there is almost nothing you can do that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol, but this is very far from the truth. Most things that you used to do while using or drinking can still be done without drugs and drinking and they may even be more fun!
Sporting events
You can go to sporting events sober and even remember who won! Trying to break the habit of getting a beer or two every inning of a baseball game may seem dumb when you first get sober. After you experience your first game sober, you will definitely see that the sport has a lot of action that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Sure, some people feel like the only way to dance is with some ‘liquid courage’, but have you ever tried dancing without drugs or alcohol? It is quite the rush and can really make you realize that you never needed the stuff in the first place. Next Friday night, try sweating it out on the dance floor with some sober friends.
You can workout at home or in the gym. Nobody needed drugs and alcohol to have fun with exercise, so why would you need it now. If you don’t want to commit to a gym membership then try going for a run around your neighborhood or at the local park. The endorphins will kick in and you may feel way better than you ever did high on drugs.
Go to the movies
Watching movies at home with friends can be fun, but going to the movie theater sober is a whole different way to really experience the movies. You can really get a thrill with 3D movies and they’re definitely cheaper than any day using drugs or alcohol.
Whether its painting a picture, knitting a scarf, making something out of wood, there’s so many different things to make with your own two hands. Some people really find that they have a talent for making things when they get sober. Others may reconnect with an old passion for making things they used to make before they started getting loaded. Either way, there are so many things to create when you can think straight!
Spend some time outdoors
Go for a hike! Parks and local nature spots are all around and you can really feel alive when you are outdoors hiking. Grab a snack, a friend and some boots, and you are ready for a hike. You don’t have to climb a mountain, but you can always go exploring in nature without drugs and alcohol.
Have a game night with friends
Play games with your friends! Board games, cards, video games, sports…there are literally a million different ways to have fun playing games sober with friends.
Go to a concert or live music event
Seeing your favorite bands and artists doesn’t have to be ruined just because you put down the blunt or beer! Try going to a concert with your friends and you will see that it is even better sober. Many live concerts and festivals even have areas of the event that promote sobriety!
Plan a trip or vacation
Whether it’s just a drive to the local beach or booking tickets to Europe, travelling sober is the best way to see the world. You can really remember how good of a trip it was and even avoid getting in trouble going through customs! Just remember your passport and you can go anywhere you want.
Learn something new
If you want to go back to school, take an art class or even just read a book. Learning can be fun sober. Many people are intimidated to go back to school, only to find out that when they are sober, they really enjoy learning. You don’t have to go back to school to learn though. Picking up a book or watching an educational documentary can be just as fun sober.
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How to Help a Teenager Struggling with Drug Addiction

Many teens experiment with drugs and alcohol, but few realize how dangerous that can become. Drug abuse during someone’s formative years can have long-term cognitive effects as well as lasting effects on their conduct, demeanor, and quality of life. It is important to remember that experimentation does not always lead to addiction; the most salient course of action would be to create a safe and judgment-free space for your teen to feel able to be honest with you about their experiences. Early intervention and education are the best methods in terms of helping a teen who may be developing bad habits.

Warning signs
Symptoms of drug abuse may vary and can only be determined on an individual basis. It can be hard to differentiate between general teenager angst and drug abuse, and no single symptom can definitively ascertain whether or not a child is abusing drugs/alcohol. Some red flags may include:
red eyes
sudden lack of interest in hobbies/extracurriculars
poor hygiene
dropping grades
changes in eating habits
rebellious behavior/rule breaking
excessive sleeping/trouble sleeping
detention/suspension from school or other disciplinary action
depression-like symptoms
Teenagers can be notoriously rebellious and are sometimes struggling to find their own identity. Creating open lines of communication and being proactive are the best methods for early intervention. Asking difficult questions compassionately and being actively involved in your teen’s daily routine can help prevent drug abuse now and later in life. Teens who feel supported are more likely to be honest and to ask for help if need be.

Commonly Abused Substances
Alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medications are the most commonly used substances in teenagers. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 teenagers have abused prescription medications. By age 18, 58% of teenagers reported having had at least 1 drink, and 24% of students admitted to using marijuana. 5.8% of students polled in 2019 reported they were cigarette smokers. Most teens reported they accessed these substances through a parent or the parent of a friend. This was usually unbeknownst to the parent but it is imperative to remember to keep any alcohol or prescription medications in a safe place in your home and away from children.

How to Help
If a teen has already attempted to stop using substances on their own and has been unable to, it’s important that they receive support in doing so. Therapists, addictions specialists, school psychiatrists, and pediatricians can help diagnose if a teen is struggling with substance abuse as well. Often, adolescents are not the most forthcoming about their emotional health or use of drugs. Enlisting the help of a professional can ensure your child gets the help that they need. It is important to remember that there are many resources available to a family who needs help supporting a child who is struggling. Home drug tests can help uncover an issue, and there are many adolescent programs available to children and teens of any age. If you feel you need some assistance in finding these facilities or more resources, a good first step would be to reach out to your healthcare provider. Many adolescent substance abuse programs allow teens to continue with schoolwork as well as offer counseling and family therapy services.
Lastly, it is always important to create an environment where a teen feels like they are able to share and will be received with compassion. A child or teen who feels loved and supported is always more likely to seek help or to be honest about needing it. Parental involvement is the strongest factor in preventing drug abuse and detecting mental health concerns early on.
Parents need support too. Don’t neglect to reach out to your own doctor or professional for guidance and advice. There are many online forums, support groups and therapists who can help to support families and parents as well. Remember, no one has to do this alone.
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Breaking News: Safe Injection Site in Philadelphia

You may have been hearing in the news, or perhaps read my last article, regarding the safe injection site that is being debated in Philadelphia. There was a recent development in the legal case of the United States versus Safehouse.
What is Safehouse?
Safehouse is a project that has been debated legally in the city of Philadelphia to integrate a safe-injection site. A safe injection site is a medical facility that provides medical supervision to individuals whom use illicit drugs. This is the reason for the legal contest and popular opinion to vary regarding the site. The intention of the site according to their web page is to provide individuals who are using illicit drugs means by which to use in an environment that provides sterile needles, access to social workers, referrals to treatment programs, and other resources that may help the individual in a myriad of ways. The hope is to engage with individuals in a way that promotes harm reduction. Harm reduction acknowledges that drug use occurs and aims to reduce risk of lethal overdose or other medical complication, (spread of transmittable disease or other result of use) in a hope to preserve lives.
So wait…It helps people use?
Not quite. The site is not a legally sanctioned place where people can use drugs. It is also not a place to “remove the consequences of use” as this is often a criticism I have heard. The use of drugs can result in things that are consequential and can be motivation for the individual to change. If, however, they die, those consequences are lost on them, as is the opportunity to change. The Safehouse and the idea of harm reduction is to allow individuals to reduce instances of transmitting diseases or having other medical results of drug use. This compassionate approach has been introduced in Europe as well as in Canada with success rates highlighted in my previous article. The use of resources and referrals to treatment occurred at higher rates for those who used the sites in other countries.
So what happened today?
A U.S. District Court Judge, Gerald McHugh, has ruled that Safehouse does not violate a law passed to prevent “crack houses” as the intention of the non-profit is to save lives and provide assistance rather than encourage drug use. No drugs will be sold at the site. Individuals who intend to use the site to use the drugs they find elsewhere would be provided with clean needles and a method to dispose of them as well as other sterile steps. They will also have access to medical and social work staff to assist with issues surrounding their use or find other ways to address their use should they elect to stop.
What are people saying and what happens next?
A Safehouse board member, Rhonda Goldfein, reported that she was pleased with the ruling and the plans to open a site in south Philadelphia in the following week. The Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the District Attorney Larry Krasner are reported to be in support of the site as a means to address the opiate crisis occurring in the city and beyond in the country at large. The US attorney who was addressing the case against Safehouse, William McSwain, in the lawsuit may appeal to a higher court and it could result in being discussed in the Supreme Court.

You can read the document from the court ruling today here
Image Sources:
SafeHouse Philly Twitter Account
Jim Kenney Twitter Account
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What Happens After Addiction Treatment?

If you’re planning for life after addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, there may be many questions going through your mind about what to expect or do. While treatment is a structured, contained environment that provides safety and security, the thought of leaving can often be scary. Since treatment doesn’t last forever, it’s ideal to make some plans ahead of time about what will be in place for you or your loved one before getting out of treatment. I’ve outlined some things to keep in mind in your planning process.

Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient treatment often provides an easier transition to life outside of addiction treatment. Since outpatient takes place on a lesser scale than inpatient treatment, it offers a smooth transition from 24/7 supervision and care to being home or in sober living. In outpatient treatment, you can expect to receive both group and individual therapy which provide an outlet for difficulties that you may be experiencing, as well as the continued learning of coping skills and strategies that can further enhance your relapse prevention plan. It is ideal to set up an appointment with an outpatient provider immediately following your discharge from inpatient treatment in order to improve the continuum of care. See also “What is Outpatient Treatment” for more information about what you can expect in an outpatient program.

Recovery Network
Building a recovery network is an important step in any aftercare plan and in order to continue on in the recovery journey. You can work on building your recovery network by attending local meetings in your area in fellowships such as: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, any other Anonymous fellowship, SMART Recovery or Dharma Recovery. No matter the path that you choose, it’s important to be open and willing to meeting new people to expand your network of supports. By getting involved with these recovery communities, it makes it easier and more beneficial to the recovery process.
A recovery network can also consist of any friends or family members that are supportive of your recovery. Not everyone might be, so it’s important to assess these relationships responsibly. If you have someone that doesn’t support your goals to be in recovery, or maybe doesn’t follow your wishes about not drinking or using near you, then they may not be beneficial to your new journey. Navigating these relationships can be challenging, so before making any decisions on what to do about them I would talk to people that you know and trust. Sometimes we have to completely end relationships, while others we just have to put on hold for a while. It’s up to you and your support network to figure out what’s best for you. For the relationships that are in favor of your recovery, it’s good to incorporate them into your relapse prevention plan so they can help to support you and hold you accountable. It also helps to let them know what your triggers are and also what helps you when you’re going through a difficult time so that they can be there for you and offer some help.
Any healthy recovery network is going to have some variety of people, but if you don’t have anyone right now, that’s okay too. Get to some recovery meetings as soon as you get out of treatment and let people get to know you, and you get to know them. Be open to building new relationships, and your network will grow quicker than you think.

Get Involved
Some people return to work or school after addiction treatment, while others take their time and focus on building their recovery network and system. However, you choose to spend your time, make sure you’re using your time productively. Get involved in something that makes you feel good or useful, whether it’s work, school, volunteer work, hitting meetings, making new friends, getting in service, engaging in exercise, etc. Making good use of your time helps to build self-esteem and also helps prevent idle time that you may find challenging or triggering.

Engaging in self-care is important for any human, but particularly for those in early recovery. Finding joy and peace wasn’t something that came naturally or easily, if at all, for us in addiction. But it is really important for us to find those things in the recovery process. Maybe you had a hobby or hobbies that you enjoyed before addiction, or maybe you have no clue what you enjoy doing. Setting aside time to find things that you enjoy is a crucial part of the healing process. It doesn’t have to cost money either, so if you’re on a budget or maybe lacking income, you can find some things to do that are free or low-cost, like walking in a park/taking a hike, reading a book, people-watching, getting coffee or ice cream by yourself or with a friend, etc.

Your new journey in recovery outside of treatment may feel really unnatural and uncomfortable at times. You may have a lot of questions and feel really unsure about the whole process or what to expect. The bottom line is that there are people and places that are going to support you and your journey in sobriety, and it’s important that you make an effort to find those people, especially if you don’t already have some of them. Developing a thorough relapse prevention plan with the help of your counselor before you leave treatment is important, and following that relapse prevention plan after you leave treatment is imperative. Look within yourself for some open-mindedness and willingness to try new things and put yourself out there a bit, even if it feels weird. Do things that feel good for you. Make time for yourself. And most of all, work really hard on figuring out who you truly are without the use of substances, allow yourself to feel, and don’t beat yourself up for your journey thus far. It doesn’t always feel as uncomfortable as it may feel in the beginning, but the uncomfortability is important for us to grow.
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Ben Affleck on Addiciton- Part 2

Ben Affleck opens up to Diane Sawyer
Ben Affleck opens up to Diane Sawyer on his supportive friends in Hollywood, his sobriety and his new movie “The Way Back.” https://gma.abc/3bQOO2Z
Posted by Good Morning America on Friday, 21 February 2020

Ben Affleck continues to share his vulnerability in discussing his experience with addiction. The interview with Diane Sawyer is bringing a lot of positive attention for Ben, with people thanking him for being open about his experiences with addiction as a man in the spotlight. The fact that Ben’s interview and openness is bringing positive attention provides hope that the stigma on addiction is fading. Ben’s bravery, along with so many others in the spotlight such as Eminem, Robert Downey Jr. and Elton John, is helping to pave the way in showing that recovery is possible and available to anyone.

Addiction and Mental Health
Ben has been struggling with anxiety and depression since his mid-twenties, trying many different therapies and medications to help him with his mental health. As many of us know, addiction is often co-morbid with a mental health diagnosis. As we often see, and is discussed by Ben as well, mental health and addiction often run within family systems and are genetic in origin. For some, the addiction becomes a way to self-medicate the mental health symptoms.
Ben describes his routine in maintaining his mental health and recovery and describes himself as someone who likes to have meaning and purpose. He discusses his spirituality, and although he doesn’t consider himself religious, he finds it important to attend church with his children, a tradition that started during his previous marriage.

Having Regrets
In the interview, Ben talks about having regrets and sometimes wanting to go back and change things in his past, from divorce to not being present for his children. However, he has chosen to learn from his mistakes and move forward in his recovery and is also dedicated to speaking out about his experiences in an effort to help others. Instead of dwelling in his past, he chooses to learn and continue to take steps ahead, as many of us often have to do in recovery as the pain of living in the past is too painful.

Living in Hope
The biggest part of Ben’s message is to live in hope because regret can be the thief of your joy. This is one of the most important aspects for someone in recovery to practice. In order to heal, we need to place our focus not on the things we’ve done or how much pain we’ve caused, but rather how we can take steps to heal that pain in ourselves and others. As Ben discusses, finding joy and creating joy are the two biggest parts of the healing process. In the interview, not only can you feel the pain as Ben talks about his life, you also experience the gratitude in his message. Experiencing addiction or a relapse is painful but getting out of the addiction and using that pain as a motivator to grow and succeed is possible, whether you’re a celebrity in the spotlight or a regular person in an everyday life.
Regardless of your experiences with addiction and mental health, or your family history or genetics, you have a chance to change the cycle and create your own narrative on a new journey. There’s a lot we can learn from Ben’s interview with Diane Sawyer, but the biggest take-away is that the lie is dead, recovery is possible.

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Ben Affleck on Addiction Part 1

Ben Affleck opens up about his battle with alcohol
GMA EXCLUSIVE: “I really don’t want my children to pay for my sins.” Ben Affleck opens up to Diane Sawyer about his sobriety battle and how his dad’s addiction to alcohol taught him “how important it is for me to be sober.” https://gma.abc/32dwcpy
Posted by Good Morning America on Thursday, 20 February 2020

This morning on Good Morning America, Ben Affleck took part in an interview with Diane Sawyer on his experiences with addiction, relapse and recovery. Ben offered his story that mirrors so many of the stories for those that have struggled with addiction. He talks about how he first got sober in 2001, stayed sober for a couple of years, and eventually began to believe that he could drink again at dinner, with friends or at special events.
Guilt, Shame and Relapse
He quotes that “sooner or later your vulnerabilities can find you”, and he found himself drinking more, and telling himself that he could stop again, denying that he was an alcoholic. However, despite his previous experience in sobriety, he found himself nearing a divorce and experiencing the guilt and shame of letting his family down and potentially recreating his family cycle.
Ben describes his upbringing and alcoholic father, a grandmother that committed suicide amidst alcohol and barbiturate use, and an aunt that was also an addict. He also had a history of depression that he struggled with for years. He recalls having thoughts as a child that he didn’t want to end up like his father, that he “was never going to do that.” He now, in his recovery, uses that experience to learn from his father and decided that he wants to be present for his children during their formative years. Drawing from his own experiences, he doesn’t want to repeat the same patterns for his own children.
Finding Recovery Again
He went to rehab twice within the last 3 years, with the hope of not making his children pay for his mistakes, or to be afraid for him. Ben’s relapse was made public via social media and TMZ. He recalls this moment as a wake-up call for him, and became ready to make a change in his life.
In Ben’s new movie, The Way Back, he illustrates the pain and consequences of addiction through his character that plays a basketball coach struggling with addiction, who suffers consequences related to his addiction such as losing his job. The character finds his journey toward recovery, along with the underdog basketball team that he works with who end up finding their own successes as well.
Learning from an Underdog
Ben’s story doesn’t just signify the part of addiction that people like to laugh at or point at or make judgments towards on a public forum like social media, as seen by the responses to his relapse that was made public. Ben’s story paints the picture of any persons recovery story, inside or outside of the spotlight. Not every recovery story is free of speed bumps, relapses or mistakes. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that takes a lot of learning and growing and motivation to believe in yourself. Although relapse doesn’t have to be part of someone’s story, if it is, it still isn’t the end of the road. There is hope no matter how much harm has been caused, or time lost, or feelings of hopelessness or feeling defeated. Although we may not view Ben Affleck as someone that we would consider an underdog, his experience with addiction isn’t any more glamorous or less painful because of his celebrity status. Every underdog has a chance at recovery.

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What is the Difference Between Suboxone and Methadone?

When looking into chronic pain management or Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT), there are many different options that you may come across. Suboxone (brand name for Buprenorphine) and methadone are the most common forms that you may find or hear about. While methadone is approved to treat both chronic pain and opioid dependence, Suboxone is approved only for opioid dependence. There are many important factors to consider when comparing Suboxone and methadone, and it’s really important to do your research before you or a loved one start the treatment process for either one of these medications.

Potential for Abuse
Methadone is considered a Schedule II controlled substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and could potentially lead to physiological and psychological dependence. Other drugs in this category that are considered to have the same abuse potential include: cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, Adderall and Ritalin.
Suboxone is considered a Schedule III controlled substance, which indicates a moderate to low potential for dependence. Other drugs within this category include ketamine, Tylenol with codeine and anabolic steroids.
Depending on the method of administration, some forms of methadone and Suboxone are easier to abuse depending on how they’re taken/given and where they’re stored. If someone is on a methadone maintenance program and receives their dose at a clinic, it’s important that the clinic staff have sufficient protocol in place in order to reduce clients diverting the dose to either save for later or sell to someone else. For those on Suboxone, if they’re in charge of their prescription and responsible for taking the daily dose at home, it’s easier for them to misuse the medication or avoid taking doses in order to sell them. As discussed, both drugs have potential for abuse as well as physiological and psychological dependence.

Regardless of whether or not someone is on methadone or Suboxone, both drugs require a valid prescription from a licensed physician as well as regular oversight and monitoring from that physician. If the physician that you’re working with isn’t particularly trained or educated in addiction medicine or treatment, I would consider doing some research to find a provider that is, so that you or your loved one can be properly treated and recommended to the best course of action for the individual. Dosing depends on the individual’s history of drug abuse, chronic pain, and/or risk for withdrawal symptoms. Typically, with methadone, someone is started on a lower dose and is then increased in increments to get them to a therapeutic level.
Typically, methadone is provided at a clinic that the individual has to go to every day, usually in the morning hours, to receive the dose. Sometimes participants will be eligible for what’s called ‘take-homes’ which means that they can bring home their daily doses to take on their own. If it’s a quality clinic, they typically provide some outpatient counseling services to supplement the methadone treatment.
Suboxone is most often prescribed on an outpatient basis by an addiction treatment provider, psychiatrist or primary care physician. The prescribing physician will order the medication from the patient’s pharmacy for them to pick up and take at home (usually ordered in 30-day increments). The individual is in charge of taking their daily dose responsibly in this case, although sometimes family members will choose to hold on to the medication and give it to their loved one as prescribed in order to reduce the risk of abuse.
Buprenorphine has recently become available in an extended-release injectable form, which is given on a monthly basis in a physician’s office or outpatient center. This new injectable form makes it significantly more difficult to divert and abuse the medication.
Taking too much of either of these medications can lead to overdose. It’s important to follow physician recommendations in order to avoid overdose.

Cost and Insurance
Both the brand-name Suboxone and the generic Buprenorphine are more expensive than methadone. Both Suboxone and methadone require a prior authorization from your physician to approve payment by the insurance company. If you’re unsure whether or not your insurance provider will cover the cost of either of these medications, you can call the phone number on your insurance card and ask.

Withdrawal/Coming off of methadone or Suboxone
Because methadone and Suboxone are opioids, they’re going to induce a similar withdrawal experience as other opioid drugs when decreased or removed from the body. These symptoms are uncomfortable and sometimes life threatening if not treated properly by a medical professional. It is not advised to discontinue the use of these medications without the assistance of a licensed physician or substance abuse treatment center that can provide a medical detox. These symptoms can include:
Muscle aches or cramps
Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
Feeling hot or cold
Nausea or vomiting
Goose bumps (also called goose flesh)
Watery eyes
Runny nose
The withdrawal process for Suboxone can last around one month for complete cessation of all physical symptoms. The first 72 hours of withdrawal are the worst. After the first 72 hours and within the first week, the individual can expect to experience body aches, insomnia and mood swings. While the physical symptoms of withdrawal may subside after the first month, the psychological symptoms may linger, along with cravings and depression.
Complete physical withdrawal symptoms from methadone can last anywhere from several months up to 1 year, depending on the dose and length of use the person was on. This is known to be a very uncomfortable and challenging process for many people coming off of methadone.
Regardless of either substance, it is important for a person to be involved in a medical detox protocol in order to ensure safety of the person. This process needs to be overseen by a physician and trained clinical team that can support and assist in the detox process.

Choosing a method of Medication Assisted Therapy is a big decision and shouldn’t be considered without some information and research on behalf of the individual involved as well as the support of their loved ones that are involved in their recovery process. MAT is not for everyone, but it can be really helpful and beneficial to the recovery process for those that struggle with chronic use and addiction. Before deciding if Suboxone or methadone are right for you, be sure to consult with your physician, counselor or therapist, psychiatrist, or any other professional that may be involved in your life and treatment process. If you’re considering either one of these medications, or maybe already on one of these paths, be sure to follow the recommendations of your physician and treatment team before making any changes in your plan or regimen.
The post What is the Difference Between Suboxone and Methadone? appeared first on Steps to Recovery.

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