How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a fellowship of people in recovery from addiction that has helped millions of people in the United States and across the globe. A recent scientific review of numerous studies found that AA helps people maintain abstinence in the long term more than other addiction treatment methods. 

Alcoholics Anonymous provides a setting where you can learn from shared experiences, develop strong support networks and interpersonal skills, and experience the healing power of helping one another. AA meetings are free, accessible to everyone, and can offer support throughout your entire recovery journey.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous is an informal society that encourages people in recovery to meet together in support groups and share their experiences of addiction. It has a community of over two million members worldwide and aims to facilitate the sharing of strength, hope, and mutual support between members as they move forward in a sober lifestyle.

AA membership is free - the only requirement is the initial will to stop drinking. AA is non-political and is not aligned with any other institution. Meetings are self-organized, and there is no central authority directing the operation of each group. Members are free to design their meetings in the way that best suits their members.

What Is the 12-Step Method and How Does It Help Addiction Recovery?

When Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook founded Alcoholics Anonymous almost one hundred years ago, they collectively wrote ‘The Big Book’, which lays out the 12-step method for addiction recovery. 

While not all AA programs now follow the 12-steps, most members find them to be a powerful tool for overcoming addiction and maintaining abstinence. Many other self-help groups, including Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, have also adopted the 12-step philosopy. 

The steps can be split into three main stages:

Acceptance

The first steps involve accepting that you are powerless over your addiction and giving yourself over to a higher power. Accepting your addiction helps you overcome feelings of shame and re-instills a sense of self-worth. You learn to love yourself so you can love the world around you and commit to a life of sobriety.

Personal Growth

The next steps focus on spiritual development and personal growth. They involve recognizing harmful thought patterns and behaviors and replacing them with healthier habits and decisions. They also require making amends to others for the harm you have caused them. This helps you avoid destructive feelings of guilt and lets you find self-worth in the humility and compassion you have shown.

Helping Others

The final step is to share the 12-steps with other people in alcohol recovery. Teaching the 12-steps to others helps you reinforce the steps in yourself and strengthens your commitment to your recovery goals.

What Are the Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous Over Other Treatment Options?

  • AA’s most powerful asset is its ubiquity and accessibility. Addiction is a chronic illness, and recovery is a lifelong process. You can attend AA meetings free for the rest of your life, providing you with a constant source of invaluable support and guidance.
  • AA meetings also give you the chance to support others in recovery. Helping another recovering alcoholic helps you to heal and remain committed to your own recovery journey.
  • When you join a local AA program, you become part of a local community. You’ll meet other people who share your goals and form strong friendships. You may also spend time with these friends outside of AA sessions, which can help you stay away from alcohol and triggers.

At Enlightened Solutions, our entire treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy. We integrate the 12-steps into our treatment approaches and connect you to local AA groups to support you once you have left the center.

Enlighted Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment facility- we focus on healing the whole person, not just treating the addiction. Our individualized recovery plans combine a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation.

If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


The Inner Workings of Rehab

Recovery from alcohol or drug addiction isn’t easy. Overcoming addictive behaviors and staying sober requires motivation, support, and expertise. Rehab centers offer just this. They offer evidence-based treatment approaches under the guidance of professional staff and provide compassionate care to help you develop the skills to overcome your addiction and remain committed to sober living.

What Is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

There are two types of rehab centers - inpatient and outpatient. Outpatient centers offer part-time programs that fit in around your daily life. Programs may offer 10-20 hours of treatment each week so you can continue to work and fulfill other obligations.

Inpatient programs are intensive, residential rehab programs where you stay in the treatment facility. Programs vary in length but most last at least thirty days. Inpatient programs offer a safe and controlled environment with twenty-four-hour medical support. They tend to be more effective than outpatient programs for more severe cases of addiction. 

What Treatment Options Do Rehab Centers Offer?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatment programs offer a combination of different treatment options tailored to match each individual’s needs. Everyone’s experience of addiction is different, and no single treatment approach suits everyone. Rehabilitation programs tend to offer a variety of different therapies and holistic healing approaches to provide a treatment experience that works for you.

These treatment options may include:

  • Individual therapy
  • 12-step program
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy and support groups
  • Experiential therapies such as music therapy, art therapy, and equine therapy
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Family therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Medically assisted detox

Addiction treatment programs help you identify the causes of your addiction and develop the skills to overcome them. This may involve learning what your triggers are and how to avoid them or developing coping skills to deal with triggers in healthy ways. 

Rehabilitation also aims to improve your mental and spiritual well-being. It is a chance to find joy and inspiration in sober life and commit to your recovery journey.

What Is Dual Diagnosis and How Does It Help Treat Addiction?

Almost 50% of people with a substance use disorder also suffer from another mental health condition. Co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression can be the driving force behind addiction. If ignored, they can cause addictive behaviors to resurface, even after years of sobriety.

Dual diagnosis programs treat co-occurring disorders alongside addiction. They offer a holistic healing approach that aims to treat the entire person. Dual diagnosis helps you overcome the underlying causes of your addiction so you can maintain sobriety in the long term.

What Are The Different Stages of a Rehab Experience?

A recovery program usually begins with an in-depth assessment of the nature of your addiction and your circumstances. This allows therapists, medics, psychologists, and other staff to design a treatment plan to suit you.

For most people, the next stage in the recovery process is detox, to remove all traces of the substance and its toxins from your body. Rehab centers typically offer medically assisted detox to ensure that withdrawal is as safe and comfortable as possible. 

After detox, the main part of the treatment program begins. You participate in therapy sessions, support groups, and other treatment modalities over several weeks or months. During this time, you learn and develop the skills you need to overcome addiction.

The final stage of rehabilitation is aftercare. Recovery is a lifelong process that requires continued support and commitment. Rehab programs may connect you with support groups in your local area, provide you with a sober companion, or offer guidance to family members. 

Aftercare programs help you to stay supported and motivated once you have left a rehab center and guide you to lifelong recovery.

If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse, recovery can seem scary or even impossible. However, with the proper support, anyone can recover from addiction. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients a variety of evidence-based tools to assist them with moving forward in their sober journey. We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating their addiction. Our world-class treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan.

We offer a range of advanced treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy. Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey offers unparalleled healing and relaxation.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.

 

 


How Dangerous Are Smart Drugs?

Smart drugs are stimulant prescription medications that people use to enhance their mental performance. Smart drugs can make you feel more awake, more motivated and improve aspects of memory and learning. Like all stimulants, however, they pose serious health risks, and abusing smart drugs can lead to heart problems, psychosis, paranoia, and addiction.

Why Do People Use Smart Drugs?

Smart drugs such as dextroamphetamine (Adderall®) and methylphenidate (Ritalin®) increase the signaling of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that produces feelings of euphoria and may enhance cognitive functions.

Doctors prescribe Adderall and Ritalin for certain psychiatric disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. However, there is a growing trend of the misuse of smart drugs by healthy people without any medical need. This includes:

  • Professionals to increase their productivity
  • Older people to slow declining cognition
  • High school and college students to improve academic performance.  Research suggests that in North America, up to 25% of students may have used smart drugs

What Are The Short-Term Dangers of Smart Drugs?

While smart drugs may cause short-term improvements in brain function, they can also have uncomfortable and dangerous side effects. 

Common adverse effects include headaches, dizziness, nervousness, and insomnia, though some people have more extreme reactions. Taking smart drugs can cause psychotic episodes, extreme paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.

Taking high doses of smart drugs also puts you at risk of an overdose. Stimulant overdoses, while not normally fatal, can be extremely dangerous. You may develop a dangerously high body temperature, fast or irregular heartbeat, cardiovascular failure, and have seizures.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Smart Drugs?

While it may be tempting to use smart drugs to help you do better in college or be more productive at work, repeatedly using smart drugs can lead to a range of severe health problems. 

Using smart drugs may lead to psychiatric disorders such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. These conditions can have an immense impact on your mental well-being and decrease your productivity and performance in the long run. 

Repeated use of smart drugs can also lead to addiction. When you take smart drugs, it activates the reward pathway in your brain, producing urges to seek and reuse the substance. It also interferes with your ability to resist these urges. These effects may be stronger on a developing brain, putting young people at greater risk.

Addiction is a serious illness that can be devastating to your health, work, and social life. It is a chronic brain disease that causes physical changes in the brain, which can be long-lasting or even permanent. Recovering from addiction requires commitment and support, usually from a rehabilitation center or professional treatment program.

Do Smart Drugs Improve Mental Performance?

Most people misuse smart drugs to try and improve their mental performance. However, scientific research offers contradictory evidence on their effectiveness. Several studies suggest that for healthy individuals, smart drugs do little to improve most cognitive functions. 

A systematic review of studies found that Modafinil did increase wakefulness and attention, even in healthy individuals. However, it also made individuals feel more confident, making it difficult to assess its impact on other aspects of cognitive performance. 

Similarly, a study on the effects of Adderall on young people found that there was no improvement in cognitive functions such as working memory, control, creativity, and intelligence for most people. However, as with Modafinil, participants did perceive their mental skills to be enhanced. This overconfidence may hinder someone’s ability to complete tasks and work effectively, outweighing any benefits of the drug.

Smart drug abuse and addiction can cause serious damage to your health, social life, and work performance. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in a sober lifestyle. 

Our treatment program focuses on healing the whole person and not just addiction. Our individualized recovery plans are rooted in the 12-step philosophy and provide a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy. 

Our treatment facilities are located near the southern shore of New Jersey, allowing us to provide optimal healing and relaxation throughout your stay. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


The Dangers of Polydrug Use

Polydrug use is when you use more than one drug at a time or mix drugs and alcohol. People usually mix drugs to enhance their effects and to experience a more euphoric high. However, mixing drugs can compound their side effects and increase the chances of an overdose, respiratory failure, or even death.

What Are the Dangers of Polydrug Abuse?

The dangers of mixing drugs depend on the combination of drugs or alcohol that you are using. While it is possible to combine some drugs safely when following a prescription, mixing drugs without medical advice or mixing illicit drugs is extremely dangerous. Some of the possible dangers include:

  • Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • Liver damage and failure
  • Heart problems
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Respiratory failure
  • Brain damage

Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

Mixing drugs with alcohol is one of the most common forms of polydrug abuse. In 2011, over half of all alcohol-related emergency room visits in the United States also involved illicit drugs. People often mix drugs and alcohol at parties to intensify the intoxicating effects.

Mixing benzodiazepines (benzos) with alcohol can be particularly dangerous. Both substances are central nervous system depressants that work by slowing down the brain. Taking them together compounds their effects and may lead to slow breathing, organ failure, and coma.

Alcohol and Cocaine

People often mix alcohol with cocaine to ease some of cocaine’s negative side effects like anxiety or twitching. It can also re-energize someone and make people feel less drunk.

However, using alcohol with cocaine is hazardous. It enhances the effects of cocaine, increasing its blood concentration by up to 30%. It may also increase your heart rate and cause you to behave more violently.

Combining alcohol with cocaine also produces a new chemical in the liver called cocaethylene. This drug is toxic and may lead to seizures, liver damage, and a weakened immune system.

Opioids and Benzodiazepines

Opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines are both prescription drugs that your doctor may prescribe to treat certain conditions. Combining opioids and benzos is always extremely dangerous. Both drugs are sedatives that impair thinking and suppress breathing which is the leading cause of death by overdose. A study in North Carolina found that death by overdose was ten times higher in patients combining opioids and benzos than in those just using opioids.

Worryingly, many doctors still prescribe opioids and benzos simultaneously. In 2013, 17% of people receiving opioid prescriptions in the United States were also prescribed benzos.

Heroin and Cocaine

Combining heroin and cocaine is known as ‘speedballing’. Taking heroin with cocaine enhances the effects of each drug and produces a new kind of high that you can not experience from taking either substance on its own.

Using both substances together can also reduce some of their negative side effects. While this may make the experience more pleasurable, it can cause you to think that you are soberer than you are. Speedball users may continue to take more of each substance, increasing the chance of an overdose.

The duration of cocaine is shorter than heroin, so the effects wear off earlier. Users who have taken a high dose of heroin can experience respiratory failure when the effects of cocaine subside. Repeatedly injecting drugs also increases the risk of collapsed veins and abscesses.

How Does Polydrug Use Lead to Addiction?

When you repeatedly use an addictive substance, it affects the reward pathways in your brain. Your brain recognizes the pleasurable effects of a drug and produces urges to use the substance again. If you take multiple addictive substances, this reward-seeking behavior is reinforced and intensified. It strengthens the urges to use drugs, increasing the chances of addiction.

Polydrug abuse is a serious problem in the United States that can be devastating to your short-term and long-term health. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients numerous tools to move forward in a sober lifestyle. We focus on healing the whole person alongside addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan.

We offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. Our treatment facilities are on the south shores of New Jersey and provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.


Benefits of Group Therapy

What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is an effective treatment approach for Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It supports individual therapy and medication in a multi-pronged approach to addiction recovery(1). The idea of group therapy can be daunting for many, as people often fear opening up and becoming vulnerable in front of others. These fears usually subside after beginning group work.

Johan Hari says the ‘opposite of addiction is connection.’ Addiction can be a very isolating experience. When we participate in group therapy, we learn to connect and empathize with others. Ultimately, this leads to greater self-compassion and growth, which are two key factors for long-term recovery.

A trained mental health professional leads group therapy sessions. Clients get the chance to share their stories, thoughts, and experiences, and listen to others in the group share similar experiences. This cultivates a sense of understanding and compassion in the room.

Addiction impacts our mental and physical health. It also affects our well-being(2). It is common for those struggling with addiction to feel guilt and low self-worth. Many live with an internal voice that criticizes their life and choices, and the internal chatter, thoughts, and beliefs that come with addiction can be exhausting. 

In group therapy, clients learn that many others also experience these self-criticisms. Groups help us understand that such negative thoughts result from:

  • Addiction
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Other mental health issues

We learn that these thoughts are not a reflection of our worth or validity as a person. 

What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a cornerstone of addiction and mental health treatment. It increases self-awareness and promotes positive therapeutic outcomes. Group therapies for SUD target specific substances. Others in your group will also be in recovery from a given substance, and members may be at different stages of their recovery journey. 

Common benefits of group therapy for SUD include:

  • Compassionate support and encouragement
  • Perspective on one's experience
  • Improved behavioral health
  • Improved communication skills
  • Reduced sense of isolation and loneliness
  • Connection to others

According to SAMHSA, 'the lives of individuals are shaped, for better or worse, by their experiences in groups. People are born into groups. Throughout life, they join groups. They will influence and be influenced by family, religious, social, and cultural groups that constantly shape behavior, self‐image, and both physical and mental health.'(3)

As such, group work is a powerful healing tool. Through connection with and understanding of others, clients in group therapy get the chance to shift their perspective on their circumstances. One of the principles of group work is fostering a greater connection to ourselves and others.

What Types of Group Therapy Are Available?

Treatment providers use various group-based treatment models to help clients achieve lasting recovery. Groups usually consist of members who share treatment needs, and common types of groups used in addiction recovery programs include:

Psychoeducational Groups

Clients learn about the nature of addiction and mental health issues. Psychoeducation (PE) groups cover addiction, medication, mental health conditions, and lifestyle. Topics covered in PE encourage self-exploration, and clients explore how topics relate to their own circumstances.

Support Groups

Support groups provide peer support and a sense of accountability in clients. They encourage resilience and maintenance of sobriety. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This group helps clients recognize limiting patterns of thoughts and beliefs. Clients in this group learn to:

  • Develop practical problem-solving skills
  • Set realistic goals
  • Identify maladaptive behaviors and emotions

Skill-building groups

Skill-building and development groups teach clients about relapse prevention and self-management. In this group, clients learn how to set healthy boundaries. They learn how to manage difficult emotions, how to relax, and how to cope with triggers and stress. 

Interpersonal Process Groups

Interpersonal process groups focus on clients issues and offer effective solutions. A client discusses an issue and works with group members to find solutions. Interpersonal groups offer the chance to practice communication and problem-solving. Clients then apply these skills to their relationships outside treatment.

Each of the above group models has benefits for clients struggling with SUD. A trauma-informed, expert-trained group leader facilitates a powerful therapeutic experience for each group. The type of group offered to a client must suit their treatment needs. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in their sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program rooted in the 12-Step philosophy offers each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our location near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 

(1) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/

(2) Lanier, C A et al. “Drug use and mental well being among a sample of undergraduate and graduate college students.” Journal of drug education vol. 31,3 (2001): 239-48. doi:10.2190/R7T3-T266-JN9E-UX3W

(3) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2005. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.) 1 Groups and Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64223/


How Long Does Cocaine Stay in the Body?

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine, also known as coke, blow, and white, is a powerful stimulant drug. SAMHSA explains that stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system, resulting in a powerful, euphoric high.

The effects of cocaine are intense but brief. They peak within 15 minutes of use and subside within 45-60 minutes. The effects are highly desirable, so the short-lived nature of the high drives many users to take more once the effects begin to wear off. Frequent cocaine use leads to mental dependence, making it extremely difficult to stop.

 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in the System?

When you use cocaine, the body breaks it down into chemicals known as metabolites, which are what show up in drug tests. There are four standard tests used to detect cocaine. These are:

Blood test

Cocaine metabolites remain in your blood for up to two days after last use.

Saliva test

Cocaine metabolites remain in your saliva for up to two days after last use.

Urine test

Cocaine metabolites remain in your urine for up to four days after last use.

Hair test

Hair sample tests can detect cocaine metabolites for up to 90 days after last use.

 

What Factors Influence How Long Cocaine Stays in the Body?

The above tests and timelines are not exact. They are an approximate timeline for how long cocaine metabolites remain in the system and can be detected. 
Several factors influence how long cocaine remains in the body. These include:

  • How much cocaine has been used - higher doses of cocaine lead to higher concentrations of metabolites.
  • The method of consumption - cocaine can be snorted, dabbed on the gums, smoked, or injected. Snorted or dabbed cocaine remains in the system for longer than injected or smoked cocaine. 
  • Frequency of use - regular use of cocaine keeps metabolites present for longer than they would remain after one-time use.
  • Polydrug use - simultaneous use of cocaine and alcohol can keep metabolites in the system for longer than they would remain if cocaine were used by itself. 
  • Weight and metabolism - cocaine remains in the system for longer in those with a high percentage of body fat.

 

What Are the Signs Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

If you have recently used cocaine or know that a loved one has recently used cocaine, it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of abuse. 

Primary Care explains that cocaine has a high potential for abuse. Dependence and addiction can happen after even a short period of misuse. If you believe that you or a loved one may be struggling with cocaine addiction or is likely to develop an addiction, be aware of the following symptoms, as outlined in the Journal of the National Medical Association:

  • Anxiety, panic
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty in cutting down or stopping use
  • Stealing, borrowing, or begging for money to fund cocaine use
  • Lies and secrecy about drug use
  • Feeling that you need cocaine to function in daily life

If you have noticed any of the above signs and symptoms in yourself or a loved one, seek professional help. Effective, evidence-based cocaine addiction treatment is available. Addiction is a progressive condition, which means it gets worse the longer a person goes without treatment. The earlier you seek treatment, the greater your chance of successful recovery.

Psychotherapeutic and behavioral interventions are available to help you overcome cocaine addiction. These approaches consider your history of substance use and your personal background. Addiction often has its roots in other issues, such as unresolved trauma, so it's essential that treatment addresses the entire person.

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients many tools to move forward in their sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person rather than just treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We can treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and offers each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our facility near the southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you seek relief from addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.


Understanding MAT

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective approach to addiction treatment. As the name implies, MAT uses medications to help those struggling with addiction overcome their condition.

SAMHSA defines MAT as 'the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a "whole-patient" approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.'

Medical intervention is one aspect of a broader approach used in addiction treatment. Medication helps clients manage their problematic symptoms. As a result, they can engage more in other parts of treatment. Clients in addiction recovery programs receive intensive psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and counseling, as well as life coaching and skills building alongside medical support.

What Does MAT Treat?

MAT treats clients struggling with:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
  • Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

The medications used in MAT promote healthy brain chemistry by rebalancing the hormones and chemicals in the body that have become out of balance due to alcohol or opioid misuse.

Some MAT medications block the effect of alcohol and opioids on the brain. This serves to reduce cravings and helps clients get through the withdrawal stage of recovery. 

Other medications prevent the body from becoming overwhelmed by abstinence from a given drug. For example, sudden cessation of opioid use can be dangerous if the client has a physical dependence. As such, MAT would involve substituting the client's substance of misuse with a safer, controlled substance, such as methadone. 

What Are MAT Medications?

Methadone

Methadone is an effective medication used in opioid addiction treatment. Methadone treatment aims to ease the withdrawal symptoms that occur when a client stops using opioids. Withdrawal is one of the leading causes of relapse. Methadone helps clients get through withdrawal safely so they can start the rest of their recovery.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine reduces cravings for clients struggling with OUD. Similar to methadone, Buprenorphine is a partial agonist which means it activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a far lesser degree than a full agonist. Buprenorphine, unlike methadone, does not produce a high. 

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is prescribed under the brand name Vivitrol. Naltrexone reduces cravings and lowers rates of relapse in both OUD and AUD. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the brain's opioid receptors. As such, it becomes impossible to achieve the 'high' associated with opiate-derived drugs. MAT providers use Naltrexone after the detox stage of recovery, not before or during. 

What Are the Benefits of Medication-assisted Treatment?

SAMHSA reports that MAT helps clients struggling with AUD or OUD achieve and maintain sobriety. MAT supports clients on a chemical level while also supporting their behavioral health through behavioral therapies. 

Addiction treatment programs use MAT to suit the client's needs. Some medications and therapeutic approaches will be more suitable than others, depending on a range of factors, such as your history of drug misuse and your current health status. MAT's comprehensive and tailored approach offers a range of benefits to clients. Benefits of MAT include:

  • Increased engagement in rehab and therapy
  • Increased likelihood of completing a rehab program
  • Decreased symptom severity
  • Improved chances of gaining and maintaining employment
  • Reduced risk of relapse

Why Choose MAT?

There are many reasons to opt for MAT if you are struggling with AUD or OUD. MAT is an effective treatment approach for both of these disorders. Delivered alongside counseling and behavioral therapy, MAT is an integrated approach to addiction recovery. It can increase the time a person spends in treatment, which increases their chance of recovery success. 

Some people disregard MAT as substituting one drug for another, but this is not the case. MAT is safe. While MAT involves drugs, the medications used are highly regulated at a federal level and are FDA approved. MAT promotes addiction recovery by keeping the body as safe as possible. It reduces the risk of overdose that might happen if a client were to seek illicit drugs on the street. 

MAT is an approach to addiction treatment endorsed and supported by:

A comprehensive and integrated approach to treatment, MAT is a leading treatment type for both alcohol and opioid addiction. By easing withdrawal symptoms, MAT promotes greater resilience and encourages a deeper commitment to one's recovery. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in a sober lifestyle.  We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.  Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and provides each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage,reiki, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy.  Our facility near the picturesque southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.


talking to your kids about addiction

How to Tell Your Children About Your Addiction

Her drinking started when her children were young. She was helping to take care of her aging aunt. The situation was stressful, and she found that having two glasses of wine with lunch made it easier to cope. Her kids were at school, so she thought her drinking would not affect them, as they wouldn’t notice.

Gradually, her drinking increased. She was late picking up her kids from school because she fell asleep. She had been drinking at lunch. The experience was frightening for them and humiliating for her. Episodes like that began to happen more often--running late, forgetting commitments, not keeping promises. She realized that she needed to get help for her drinking and have an honest conversation about what was happening.

If you recognize yourself in the illustration above, you are not alone. While talking about your addiction with your children may seem frightening, it’s an important conversation to have.

Why the Conversation Matters

Telling your children about your addiction is vital for several reasons. Your children may not recognize your addiction to drugs or alcohol, but they likely know that there is a problem, that something is “off.” Although you may think that you are somehow protecting your children by not discussing your addiction, you aren’t. It is better for your children to know the truth about the situation than to be afraid of something they are unsure of. What they imagine about the problem could very well be worse than the reality.

One of the most important messages you can give your children is that your addiction is not their fault. They didn’t cause your addiction, and it’s not their responsibility to try to “cure” it. Living with a parent who has a substance use disorder can cause children to feel insecure and uncertain. While knowing that mom or dad has a drinking or drug problem won’t necessarily make them feel safer, they will have a better understanding of why they feel the way they feel. Children need to recognize and acknowledge their feelings and to know that whatever they are feeling is real.

Children also need to know that they are not alone--that other families have the same experiences. They also need to know that they can talk about the experience with you. It is also helpful to identify another adult that children can talk to, possibly a relative, family friend, or maybe a teacher or counselor.

Having the Conversation

Finding the right time and place to have the conversation is essential. Have the conversation when the children are relaxed, when there is time to answer any questions that may come up, and when you won’t be interrupted. Be prepared to have more than one conversation--your child may need time to process the information and may come back to you with more questions later. Needing time to understand this issue is typical and expected.

Explaining Treatment

Tell the children about the treatment you will be getting. If you are going to a residential treatment program, tell them where it is, what it’s like, and how long you will be there. If you won’t be able to talk to them for a few days, make sure they know. Let them know when you can have visitors and when you can see them or talk with them on the phone. Make sure that they know that family therapy may be part of the treatment plan. Let them know who will be taking care of them while you are away and when you expect to return from treatment. Also, they must understand that when you return from treatment that you will probably be seeing a therapist regularly and that you will be attending some sort of support group meetings.

Talking with your children about your substance use disorder will be hard, but it is imperative to your children’s emotional well-being. Pretending that the problem doesn’t exist will only make the situation worse. Honest, open communication, difficult as it can be, will improve your relationship with your family. Your children will learn how to talk about difficult topics, and they will learn that challenges and difficulties are a part of life and how to solve them. By admitting that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and getting help, you provide them with a healthy example of how to handle issues like addiction. As a result of your honesty and treatment, your family can become closer, and you can all end up in a much better place in terms of mental health.

If you have a substance use disorder, your whole family is affected. It is essential that you talk about your disorder, especially with your children, if you have any. Your family members may participate in one or more counseling sessions with you during your treatment. At Enlightened Solutions, we will include your family in your treatment plan, and we offer education and support programs for family members. We also can help you gain the communication skills you need to talk about your addiction with your family. We are a licensed co-occurring treatment center, and as such, we treat substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction. Our program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. It includes traditional talk therapy and many holistic treatment modalities such as yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, and art and music therapy. Our facility is near the southern New Jersey shore, and we customize treatment for each client. Our focus is on healing the whole person rather than just treating the addiction. If you seek recovery and relief from addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483.

 


Drug Use

Your Brain and Body on Meth

The last time Sam used meth was following a breakup. She was terribly depressed and lonely, and she thought that meth would help her feel better. Instead, she said, it turned her into a “monster.” She recalls that when she was using meth she felt invincible and like she could do no wrong. In reality, she says, she was letting down the people she loved. The high she had experienced didn’t last and became more and more elusive.

In reality, she explained, meth turned her into a selfish, horrendous person. When you are high on meth, you can go for several days without sleep or food. You can’t hold a job when you use meth, she says, because your thinking and behavior becomes completely erratic and frequently violent. When your high wears off, you frequently feel depressed, anxious, extreme fatigue, and intense cravings for more meth so you won’t feel depressed, anxious, and exhausted. And so the cycle continues. Also, meth users can lose the ability to feel pleasure from daily activities. The only thing that brings them pleasure is the drug.

What Is Meth?

Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a synthetic drug made from pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant used in cold and allergy medicine, and common household substances like acetone, drain cleaner, brake cleaner, battery acid, lithium, and others. According to the Department of Justice, meth can be produced in two types of labs: “superlabs,” which produce large quantities of the drug and supply organized drug traffickers or small labs that can be in homes, motel rooms, and cars, among other locations. (Meth labs also produce incredible amounts of toxic waste and are an environmental hazard.)

Methamphetamine comes in several forms (crystal, rocks, powder, and tablets) and can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the drug goes by a number of names on the street including meth, speed, ice, shards, bikers coffee, and crank, among others. Meth is also referred to as “poor man’s coke.”

Scope of the Problem

Meth use is prevalent in the United States. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 14.7 million people, or approximately 5.4% of the population, have tried meth at least once, 1.6 million people actively used meth in the year before the survey was conducted, and 774,000 people used in the past month. Meth is more widely available in the West and Midwest. The NSDUH is directed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the information gathered is used to guide public policy concerning drug use. According to staff members at Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol rehab center located in New Jersey, meth addiction frequently co-occurs with depression and anxiety.

Meth’s Effect on the Body and Brain

According to a report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the effects of meth on the body and brain can be devastating and long-term. 

Perhaps the most common physical problem associated with meth use is the severe dental problems that can accompany the addiction. Commonly known as “meth mouth,” meth users frequently experience severe tooth decay and tooth loss. Meth users are frequently malnourished and lose unhealthy amounts of weight. In addition, meth users frequently have sores and scabs on their face, arms, torso, and legs. These sores come from users scratching nonexistent insects that they imagine crawling under their skin. Meth also leads to cardiovascular problems including rapid and irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. In addition, meth users are at an increased risk of having strokes or developing Parkinson’s disease.

Meth’s effects on the brain are damaging as well. People who use meth experience severe anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and mood disturbances and can become violent. People who use meth can develop psychotic features including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and the sensation of insects crawling under their skin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these psychotic symptoms can occur months or even years after the person has stopped using meth.

Research discussed in the report has shown that meth causes structural and functional changes in parts of the brain. Imaging studies have shown changes in the dopamine system associated with “reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.” These studies have also shown that there are changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion, memory, decision-making, and the ability to stop engaging in “behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive.”

Signs That Someone May Be Using Meth

If you think that someone you love is using meth, there are indicators to watch for. Overall, he or she will lose interest in activities and people that used to be important, like career, family, and hobbies. Signs to look for include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Periods of no sleep followed by periods of excessive sleep, like 24-48 hours
  • Profuse sweating
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Skin breakouts
  • Visible dental problems 
  • Non-stop or rapid talking
  • Short temper
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive, compulsive behavior

Help for Meth Addiction Is Available

While meth is a very dangerous drug, the good news is that treatment is available. Treatment begins with detox. It is best if detox from meth is done in a treatment facility so the user will have medical supervision and be away from the environment where he or she was using. Following detox, treatment can begin. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found useful for meth recovery. CBT focuses on learning new ways to think about and cope with environmental stressors.  A type of treatment called contingency management interventions is also helpful and involves providing incentives for people in recovery to stay in treatment and abstain from drug use. The woman mentioned in the opening paragraphs sought treatment for meth use. She says that recovery was difficult but worth it. She also says that she will never touch meth again.

Meth is a dangerous drug that can destroy lives because of its devastating physical and psychological effects. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can treat the anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies meth addiction. One of the treatment modalities we offer is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be one of the effective treatments for meth addiction. We also offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, equine therapy, family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and sound therapy. In addition, we offer traditional psychotherapy and support groups rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We develop a treatment plan for each individual client. If you are struggling with a meth addiction and the devastation that it causes, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are located on the picturesque New Jersey’s southern shore for optimal healing and relaxation.


Reduce Anxiety

“The Sky Is Falling”: Anxiety and Addiction

Most of us are familiar with the old folktale about Chicken Little. In one of the more familiar versions, an acorn falls from a tree and hits Chicken Little in the head. Chicken Little decides that the sky must be falling and that the king needs to be warned. He (or she in some versions) sets out, proclaiming “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Along the way, he meets other animals who join him. Different morals have been drawn from the fable, among them that you have to have courage and that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.

The term “Chicken Little” has come to refer to a person who is unreasonably anxious or afraid and who spreads unreasonable fear or anxiety to other people. In psychological terms, Chicken Little was probably suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and had a tendency to catastrophize--that is, to always expect the worst possible outcome from a situation.

What Is Anxiety?

Everyone gets anxious or nervous from time to time--you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t--but an actual anxiety disorder is not just something you experience from time to time and it doesn’t just go away. People who suffer from anxiety tend to be easily irritated and to think the worst of any given situation. They frequently have trouble sleeping, difficulty in making decisions, and are plagued by self-doubt. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety can interfere with daily activities and can have a negative effect on job performance, school work, and relationships. Several types of anxiety disorder have been identified. People with generalized anxiety disorder worry excessively about everyday concerns including their health, work, and social interactions. Symptoms include irritability, feeling restless or edgy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and a general feeling of worry. Panic disorder is diagnosed when a person has recurring, unexpected panic attacks. Symptoms include heart palpitations, pounding or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, feeling short of breath or as if you are choking or smothering, and a general feeling of impending doom. Panic attacks can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack and people who have had panic attacks tend to become afraid and worried about the panic attacks themselves.

Phobias are described as “an intense fear of a particular object or circumstance,” but the fear the person experiences is out of proportion to the actual danger. Examples of phobias include fear of heights, flying, spiders, or snakes. If a person has a phobia of a particular object, say spiders, the person will worry a lot about encountering a spider, take extreme measures to avoid spiders, and become extremely and immediately anxious if they come across a spider. Agoraphobia is a specific phobia in which the person is very anxious about two or more of the following situations: using public transportation, being in an open or an enclosed space, crowds or lines, or being alone outside of his or her home. Social anxiety disorder is a fear of being in social or performance situations, and if a person has separation anxiety disorder, he or she will be very fearful of being away from the person that he or she is attached to. Although separation anxiety disorder is often associated with children, adults can suffer from the disorder as well.

Can Anxiety Lead to Addiction?

Anxiety disorders are commonly associated with substance use disorder. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you might turn to alcohol or drugs in an effort to lessen the anxiety and make the symptoms more bearable. You may get relief that way, but only in the short-term. In the long-term, drugs or alcohol can actually increase your anxiety, so you can find yourself in a repeating circle: You feel anxious, so you have a few drinks; the alcohol (in the long-term) increases your anxiety, so you have a few more drinks, and on and on it goes. You could end up with two problems--the original anxiety disorder and a resulting alcohol use disorder. A study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) interviewed more than 43,000 people who had suffered from anxiety in the previous year and found that fifteen percent of them met the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, about twice the rate for the general population.

Treatment for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are usually treated with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is frequently used in treating anxiety because it helps people to see the ways in which their thinking is unhelpful or distorted. Clients learn ways to reframe their thinking with respect to their phobia. 

Treatment for anxiety can also include mindfulness exercises and meditation, both of which calm our minds. Breathing exercises can bring us back to a calm place very quickly. These techniques can retrain our brains, so we realize that we aren’t in actual danger--that the snake dozing in its habitat at the local pet store probably won’t break the glass, escape, and destroy everything in its path.  

Like Chicken Little, when an acorn falls on our head, we need to realize that it’s just an acorn. The sky is not falling.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder as well as an alcohol or drug addiction, both conditions need to be treated. If only the addiction is treated and not the underlying anxiety, it will be very difficult for treatment to be successful. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat substance use disorders and the mental health issues that so often accompany addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We offer traditional talk therapy and many alternative therapies, including yoga, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, art and music therapy, sound therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. We customize treatment for each client and our focus is on healing the whole person, not just the addiction. We are located near the southern New Jersey shore. If you are seeking recovery and relief from addiction and anxiety, please call us at (833) 801-5483.