Why Interventions Work to Mend Relationships

Understanding why interventions work can be important if you have a loved one struggling with substance abuse and addiction. A drug or alcohol intervention is a way to encourage someone with a substance use disorder to acknowledge a problem and get treatment or at least attend something like an Alcoholics Anonymous program. 

Of course, as with anything, a formal intervention process may not be right for everyone. How well intervention for an addict will work and its effects depend on the person and the situation. 

Below, we discuss why interventions work for some people, how they happen, and how they might impact your relationship with the person dealing with substance abuse. 

What Happens During An Intervention?

Interventions at their core are a form of peer pressure. The loved ones of an addict come together to encourage the person to admit they have a problem with substance abuse and seek treatment. When an intervention occurs, close family and perhaps friends gather. This gathering may or may not surprise the person with the addiction.

Typically, each member of an intervention team will go over the harm the substance abuse causes them and its effects on their lives. The group members will ask the person directly to seek treatment and outline the negative consequences they’re willing to enact if they don’t decide.

For example, if an intervention is for a wife and mother, her husband could point out the specific ways the addiction affects the family. He could then say that he’ll leave the marital home without his spouse getting treatment.

An actual intervention sparks heightened emotions, and it’s important to go into specific details about the consequences of substance abuse issues and the impact.

A mental health professional, social worker, or interventionist is an experienced professional who can help a group prepare for intervention and guide it along.

If the person with a drug or alcohol addiction agrees that they will get treatment, they typically go right after the intervention. Someone who says no to the treatment plan during an intervention should experience follow-through of the consequences outlined.

Addiction treatment centers have counselors and intervention specialists who can help prepare for an intervention.

Types of Intervention

While we most commonly think of the surprise intervention like what’s portrayed on television and in movies, there are actually different types. Some types of intervention are surprises, others aren’t. 

The right option depends on various individual factors like what your goals are, the family dynamics, and everyone’s experience with addiction.

Theory-based interventions for substance abuse include:

  • The Johnson Model – This is the most commonly used version for alcohol and drug addiction. In the Johnson Model of intervention, the family and intervention professionals confront the person with the drug abuse or alcohol problem without knowing it will happen ahead of time.
  • Invitation Model – AKA Systemic Family Intervention, This family-focused model includes attending a workshop that an interventionist leads. The group discusses how a drug use disorder or alcohol use disorder affects the entire family unit during the workshop.
  • The Field Model – A confrontational approach that happens without the person’s previous knowledge and is good for potentially complex interventions. The difference in the Field Model is that the interventionist is specifically trained in crisis management during and after the process. A family could choose this option if they believe their loved one could be a danger to themselves or someone else. This model might also be a good option if the person has unmanaged co-occurring mental health issues like bipolar disorder along with substance abuse or alcohol addiction. 

Preparing for an Intervention

Not every intervention will have the desired outcome, but the more prepared your group is ahead of time, the better the outcomes are likely to be. One of the primary reasons some interventions don’t have positive outcomes is that the group didn’t plan properly for unintended consequences. 

Other reasons they fail include hosting an intervention where the person doesn’t feel safe or staging the intervention when the individual is experiencing withdrawal symptoms from substance abuse or is high or drunk.

Another reason for failure comes from blame, shame, or anger. If you approach an intervention with aggression or defensiveness, the addicted person will likely match your emotions. Individuals with substance use disorders are quick to become defensive or even hostile. 

An intervention will be best when you come from a place of patience, understanding, and compassion. Work to be non-judgmental in your approach.

Specific steps to take as you prepare intervention strategies include:

  • Research treatment programs and options. The goal of effective interventions is always to get the person to agree to go to a treatment center, so you need to have options available. You should try to have a specific treatment option prepared so that that action can occur right away. Beforehand, you can start working on the logistics, like whether or not insurance will cover the treatment program and the types of services it offers.
  • If there are medication-assisted treatment options for the particular addiction, you can learn more about those. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these can significantly help someone with opioid addiction or alcohol addiction and may be an important part of the early days of recovery.
  • Create a team including a professional interventionist. Some people shouldn’t be part of your formal intervention groups, such as people who don’t get along with your loved one, or someone who has their own substance use disorder or unmanaged mental health condition.
  • Create real consequences that you’re willing to follow through with for improved outcomes.
  • Know there are risks. According to the Mental Health Services Administration and empirical evidence, a successful intervention can happen, but it can also backfire and make the person feel attacked. Again, working with an intervention or addiction professional can help you mitigate the risks. 
Why Interventions Work

Why Interventions Work

In the addiction treatment community and among health care professionals, interventions are seen as a useful strategy to encourage someone to seek help for substance abuse. 

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, based on a commitment to seek treatment, has more than 90% success rates. The caveat is that the success rate relies on the appropriate performance of the intervention according to behavioral health statistics and well-supported scientific evidence 

Again, careful planning and research are key here. Having a good rehab center ready and waiting can help improve the chances of success for an intervention.

Rehearsing how the group will communicate and anticipating possible objections is also critical.

You have to prepare to stay on track during the intervention, even if your loved one reacts with hostility or defensiveness.

Can Interventions Help an Addict Improve Relationships?

You may be nervous about staging an intervention for your loved one dealing with substance abuse. You could worry that it will make them angry and resentful toward you. It’s not easy to share how substance abuse affects you. It’s also not easy to outline the consequences of refusing to get help.

Your loved one may express negative feelings toward you in the short term.

In the long-term, however, that’s unlikely to be the case. If your loved one does agree to go to treatment for their addictive behaviors, the intervention could have been your starting point for open, honest, and transparent communication. Then, you can continue to build on that throughout the treatment process and addiction recovery process

If you’re preparing for intervention or you’d like to learn more about drug and alcohol treatment programs, please contact us. By calling 408-547-4089, the Silicon Valley Recovery team can confidentially discuss options and help you explore available programs and treatment providers. We can connect you with intervention resources and information about the general process of treatment for substance use. 

Is Being “In Recovery” a Lifetime Commitment?

The term being in recovery might get thrown around without much thought. Being in recovery isn’t meaningless, however. The recovery process is one of the meaningful things you might have in your life, and you can define it on the terms that work for you.

Being in long-term recovery is a lifetime commitment, which we discuss more below.

What Does it Mean to Be “in Recovery from Addiction”?

What does being in recovery from a substance use disorder mean?

To understand this question, we first should understand what addiction is and what it isn’t.

  • Addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects emotions, thinking, and behavior. 
  • Over time, there are numerous effects of addiction on every part of a person’s life. As addiction to drugs or addiction to alcohol progresses, you may experience breakdowns in relationships, financial and legal problems, and the loss of your career.
  • Since addiction is a chronic disease based on scientific evidence, there’s not necessarily a cure. We talk about other chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes or heart disease, similar to a drug or alcohol use disorder in many ways. 
  • While you can’t cure a chronic, long-term disease, what you can do is manage it and keep the symptoms under control. 
  • When your disease isn’t active, you’re in remission, or in addiction terminology, recovery.
  • You typically aren’t actively using when you’re in recovery, and you have control over your life and behavior.

In 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, recovery is the period you’re in no matter how long you’ve been drug or alcohol-free or how well your life is going. That 12-step philosophy is why we often view recovery as a lifelong commitment.

As you grow stronger in your recovery, which is very much a process, you learn how to handle uncomfortable or difficult situations differently. The risk of relapse can go down over time when you’re in recovery. 

It’s like a practice—the more you practice abstaining from substances, the better you often get.

  • If you have a chronic physical condition, you maintain your remission or recovery by going to doctor’s appointments, making lifestyle changes, and taking your medications to reduce long-term health consequences. 
  • When you’re in addiction recovery, you can maintain it by participating in self-help groups, going to therapy, and getting help when you need it.
  • When you’re in recovery, you’ll likely change your lifestyle. You’re working on rebuilding relationships and developing healthy, lifelong habits.
  • Many people require a formal rehabilitation program to start their recovery plan. It’s similar to criminal rehabilitation within criminal justice in the United States, although, of course, this isn’t to say that addicts are automatically criminals. Instead, a criminal justice rehabilitation program focuses on helping people with a history of criminal behavior separate themselves from the environmental factors leading them down that path in the first place. The idea is in some ways similar to addiction recovery. 

Being a Woman in Recovery

Men and women experience active addiction and mental health differently, which can affect the process of recovery. 

Initially, there are often different reasons women use substances in the first place. 

  • Women frequently use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate when they have undiagnosed or unmanaged mental disorders. 
  • A co-occurring disorder needs to be treated for sustainable long-term recovery.
  • Women are also more likely to have an addiction to alcohol or drugs because of a history of trauma, like sexual or physical abuse.
  • Women often develop addictions more quickly than men, and drugs and alcohol affect them differently.
  • At the same time, women are less likely to seek treatment than men. There are varying reasons for this, including shame, stigma, and an inability to leave family responsibilities.

These differences can continue even after treatment, and being a woman in recovery comes with its own set of challenges you have to prepare for.

  • If a woman returns to her romantic partner or spouse and they don’t support her recovery, or they have untreated substance use disorders, it can derail her recovery. 
  • Many women also fear the stigma of being judged as a bad mother or person for having an addiction, even when they’re in recovery.
  • Navigating romantic relationships early in recovery can be a challenge for women. A relapse can occur because of a breakup, conflict, or feelings of low self-worth that can stem from romantic relationships.
  • Women may also experience other types of replacement addictions that perhaps they don’t realize, such as love addiction or codependency.
  • For women in recovery, food or body concerns can arise. Women may experience weight gain after they stop using certain substances, particularly stimulants. In recovery, that could trigger deep-seated body image issues if not well-managed.

None of these challenges are insurmountable. A treatment program and recovery plan should prepare you with coping mechanisms for any situations specific to you, but being prepared for the realities is critical to your recovery journey.

Being In Recovery

What Else Should You Know About Being in Recovery for a Substance Use Disorder?

In your recovery, you’ll learn so much about yourself that no one could have ever told you beforehand. That’s because it is your experience and yours alone. There are some things that people often consistently share, though.

  • Making small changes will lead to long-term success and big payoffs in your personal recovery. For example, it may not seem like a big deal to meditate every day for five minutes. In the long-term, though, that can be one of the foundations of your recovery that you rely on for mental health and accountability. 
  • Making sure that you attend Alcoholics Anonymous or 12-step meetings is something else you can do that will add up over time. There’s value inconsistency when you’re in the process of recovery. 
  • Sobriety is not the same as a personal recovery. Getting sober is an initial step that you start in rehab. Getting sober is undoubtedly hard work and a major achievement, but recovery is about staying sober. You live in your sobriety, and as a result, you change your behavior, patterns, and lifestyle to maintain it.
  • Getting complacent in your personal recovery can be detrimental. You should always be working on it and building on it. This might mean through the fellowship of participating in a 12-step program, continuing therapy, or always learning more about addiction and recovery.
  • Forgiveness is an integral part of recovery for most people—forgiving means asking for forgiveness from other people and forgiving yourself for what happened during your active addiction. You work toward finding peace with other people and hoping they do the same for you. 
  • You’ll often hear that relapse is part of recovery. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Relapse does occur, and you can move past it, but you also have to be confident in your recovery. Don’t operate under the assumption relapse is inevitable.

Addiction Treatment in the San Francisco Area

Before you can begin to live a life of personal recovery, you have to get treatment for your addiction and get sober initially. We can help, and if you’d like to learn more, we’d like the chance to answer your questions. Silicon Valley Recovery can provide treatment options if you have a co-occurring disorder as well, call 408-547-4089 to learn more.

Living With Chronic Pain In Recovery

According to studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute, around 50 million persons in the United States are living with chronic pain. Individuals, families, and the economy all bear a heavy burden for this. Pain, for example, accounts for $80 billion in lost income each year. This is a massive loss to the economy and will also significantly affect the standard of living of the individual experiencing chronic pains. Pain and related medical disorders significantly impact one’s quality of life and capacity to do daily tasks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and current medical research, roughly 20% of Americans may be suffering from long-term pain. This form of long-term pain is frequently coupled with other chronic diseases, which can have a negative impact on a person’s life.

Can I Work With Chronic Pain?

You might be able to crash through some daily activities, but not all the time. This usually depends on the level of pain that you feel. Assume you have a chronic pain syndrome that makes it difficult for you to work. In that instance, the Social Security Administration may be able to help you file for Social Security Disability benefits. However, proving the presence of pain in this capacity is difficult. This is why you are always advised to visit a medical professional to give you a credible diagnosis and report. You must show the SSA that the source of your discomfort is a mental or physical impairment included on their approved list of impairments. Once you do this, you are in the clear to receive benefits. 

Chronic pain seldom goes away, but one can manage it with various treatments that work well. Scientists are still researching pain problems, and more effective treatments should result from advances in neuroscience and more profound knowledge of the human body. It’s critical to get mental health treatment if you experience chronic pain, despair, and anxiety. Depression and anxiety, if left untreated, can exacerbate your pain and reduce your quality of life.

Is Chronic Pain A Disability?

Even though there is a high chance of getting financial aid for having chronic pain, one might not see it as a disability. The differences between chronic pain and other forms of pain are so blurry that one can conflate them for one another. However, one certain thing is that you can live with them even while being on a disability aid for the pain. If you follow some simple routines and lifestyle habits, you might cope with it just fine. 

Living With Chronic Pain

Take care of yourself at all times, in addition to taking medications, going to therapy, and making lifestyle changes. These are the closest things to natural treatment for chronic pain. It does not matter if you are in pain; personal well-being is essential. The steps listed below can assist you in coping with chronic pain and improving your overall health:

  • Smoking and alcohol intake should be avoided.
  • Don’t overextend yourself. Make a daily plan with a few priorities and stick to it.
  • Rest whenever you have the chance to
  • Join a chronic pain support group to learn from others going through the same thing.
  • Maintain a balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Control your anxiety.
  • Make an effort to think optimistically.
Living With Chronic Pain

What are the Risk Factors Of Chronic Pain?

Living with chronic pain can be easier if one employs some effective lifestyle changes. However, did you know that there are risk factors for chronic pain? There are various risk factors for chronic pain because various diseases or traumas can cause it. Some happen naturally, while some are caused by poor lifestyle choices or activities. The following are some of the risk factors:

  • Age: Arthritis and neuropathy are more likely to cause persistent pain in older persons. Everyone can agree on why this happens, and it is one of the natural causes of chronic pains. 
  • Genetics: Some chronic pain conditions, such as migraines, run in families. You are quite likely to develop illnesses that your parents experienced, especially those genetically transmitted. So make sure to pay attention to your family to see if chronic pain is more common than it should be.
  • Weight and Size: Obesity can exacerbate certain health disorders that cause pain, such as arthritis, by putting additional pressure on your joints. This is why eating healthy and exercising regularly are very important.
  • Trauma: If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury in the past, you’re more likely to have chronic pain in the future. Physical trauma from dangerous activities and accidents usually weakens the body, especially if they happen frequently. 
  • Heavy-duty work: This is quite similar to trauma, and it occurs as a result of the weakening of the body over time. Working in a physically demanding profession: If you work in a physically demanding job, you’re more likely to suffer chronic pain than you might expect.
  • Stress: Chronic pain has been linked to both regular stress and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to studies.
  • Smoking: If you smoke, you’re more likely to acquire medical disorders that necessitate the use of chronic pain medication.

Can Therapy Help?

Therapy can go a long way in helping you get through chronic pain. It might not eliminate the pain completely, but it might find the root cause and give a vital insight into what to do about it. The following therapies may aid in the management of chronic pain:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This type of counseling teaches you how to manage suffering by changing how you think about it. A mind is a powerful tool, and it influences many body functions, even though we might not be aware of them.
  • Counseling: Talk therapy, particularly psychogenic pain, can help you manage chronic pain.
  • Physical therapy: This type of treatment incorporates stretching and strengthening exercises that might help you feel better. However, you should also try occupational therapy which teaches you how to perform routine tasks with the most minimal levels of discomfort.

Treating Chronic Pain Holistically in the San Francisco Area

Having chronic pain is not the end of the world. There are numerous treatments for chronic pain, and some medical professionals even recommend getting a natural treatment for chronic pain. However, the first step is to consciously make some positive lifestyle changes to help reduce the pain while you see a professional for help. 

To learn more about holistic treatment options for chronic pain in the San Francisco Bay area, call 408-547-4089 and talk to a member of the Silicon Valley Recovery team today!

Can Lungs Heal After Smoking?

If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. It’s a huge accomplishment that deserves to be recognized. 

When you quit smoking, you’ll probably have more energy, a longer life expectancy, and better mental health than when you used to smoke.

When it comes to quitting smoking, one of the most important considerations for many of us is the health benefits it will bring to our lungs. However, you may still be unsure about the effects of stopping smoking on our lungs. Perhaps you’re wondering if our lungs can truly recover from smoking. Or, in other words, can lungs heal after smoking?

Effects of Smoking on the Lungs

When considering if your long will heal after smoking, the first thing to consider is what happens to our lungs when we smoke.

When you smoke:

  • your lungs’ airways and little air sacs, known as alveoli, are damaged.
  • At the same time, you’re weakening your lungs’ ability to defend themselves, making them more vulnerable to future harm. 
  • Long-term, this diminishes lung capacity6 and influences lung health, increasing your risk of diseases like lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

What is COPD? 

COPD refers to a collection of progressive lung diseases that make it difficult to expel air from the lungs. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two of the most prevalent, and they commonly occur simultaneously. 

Can Lungs Heal After Smoking

How do Lungs Heal After Smoking?

Short Term

When smokers stop smoking, they can reverse some of the short-term inflammatory alterations in their lungs.

  1. Swelling on the lungs’ and airways’ surfaces decreases, and lung cells produce less mucus. New cilia can form, which are more effective at clearing mucus discharges. 
  1. Former smokers will discover that they have reduced shortness of breath when they exercise in the days to weeks following stopping. It’s unclear why this occurs, although it may have something to do with removing carbon monoxide from the blood. Carbon monoxide, which is contained in cigarette smoke, can obstruct oxygen transfer by binding to red blood cells in place of oxygen. This could explain why some smokers feel out of breath. 
  1. Another reason former smokers have better breathing is that inflammation in the lining of their airways lessens due to the lining no longer being exposed to the chemical irritants in smoke. As a result of the lessened swelling, more air may move through the passages. 
  1. Former smokers may cough more in the first few weeks after quitting than they did when they smoked. This, however, is a good thing since it signifies the cilia in the lungs have reactivated, and these fine hairs may now transfer excess mucus discharges from the lungs into the airways and toward the throat, where they can be coughed up. Coughing removes the mucus from the lungs. 
  1. He said that stopping smoking has another health benefit: it lowers the chance of lung cancer. Former smokers who go longer without smoking have a lower risk of developing this cancer, albeit the risk never totally goes away. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a former smoker’s chances of acquiring lung cancer are about half that of a smoker ten years after stopping. However, an ex-smoker has a higher risk of lung cancer than someone who has never smoked. 

Long Term

Although the body is capable of healing some of the damage caused by smoking to lung cells and tissues, not all of the harm is reversible. 

Damage to the lungs and a decline in lung function are directly proportional to the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day multiplied by the number of years smoked, a metric known as “pack years.” The long years in the pack, the more probable the lungs may be permanently damaged.

  • Although the lungs have protection against injury, long-term exposure to the toxic compounds inhaled from cigarettes reduces these defenses. As a result of the inflammation and scarring caused by smoking, the lungs lose flexibility and cannot exchange oxygen adequately. 
  • Smoking for a long time can cause emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). The alveoli, which are responsible for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs, are destroyed in this illness. Shortness of breath and trouble breathing are symptoms of COPD. When a person’s lungs are damaged to the extent of emphysema, the airway walls lose their shape and elasticity, making it difficult to push all of the air out. These lung alterations are irreversible and permanent. 

Scientists have now discovered that the damage to airways connected to emphysema begins a few years after a person begins smoking. However, symptoms of the condition may not appear for another 20 to 30 years.

Ways to Improve your Lungs After Smoking

It’s critical to look after your lungs. While many of us are aware of the importance of remaining in shape and taking care of our bodies, we often overlook our lungs. 

Neglected your lung health for so long, and you’re unsure how to improve it? Fortunately, you can do several easy things to improve your lung health. Among them are: 

  • Toss out your cigarettes 
  • Keeping pollution out of the air and diseases out of your lungs 
  • Exercise
  • Singing 
  • Dietary balance 
Can Lungs Heal After Smoking

Getting Addiction Treatment in the San Francisco Bay Area

Many long-term smokers have probably told you that quitting now is pointless because the damage to their lungs has already been done. This, however, is not the case. 

While some lung damage is irreversible, some are not. Stopping smoking will protect your lungs from additional damage. Alternatively, if you already have COPD, quitting smoking will help to decrease the disease’s progression. 

This means that, regardless of how long you’ve been smoking, the best thing you can do to enhance your health as a smoker is to quit. Quitting remains the best form of therapy you can provide to your lungs for a long-term basis.

If you’re looking for help quitting smoking or doing drugs in Northern California, call Silicon Valley Recovery at 408-547-4089 today. 

Do I Need a Social Worker?

A social worker can be a mental health professional with a wide-ranging set of skills and abilities, helping people from all walks of life in difficult situations.

These professionals will often work with people in rehab or recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. They can play an essential role in helping connect you to community resources as you work to navigate a new life in recovery.

What is a Social Worker?

Social workers can help individuals, families, and even entire communities. Some of their general duties include counseling, advocacy, and reporting. 

  • These professionals might provide direct counseling to individuals and families. 
  • They can also serve as an advocate on your behalf to community organizations or health professionals.
  • Social work can involve helping clients navigate the legal system, and the most significant goal they have is to help people change their lives in positive ways.
  • Generally, social work programs focus on public health, family services, providing mental health services, working with victims of child abuse, and connecting people with government agencies and social services.
  • These professionals might work in various settings, including health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, school districts, or private practice. 

There are a lot of specialized roles within this field of work. For example, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker can diagnose and treat mental and behavioral health conditions and emotional issues. 

Addiction is itself a specialty within the social work profession. 

  • Broadly, a social worker helps you improve your life as you manage stress and navigate different situations that may be going on at any given time. 
  • They can meet with you, listen to your concerns, and then develop a specific plan to manage problems.
  • Active listening is a big part of what people in social work do, as is observation.

Benefits of a Social Worker in Substance Abuse Treatment

When someone has addictive disorders, whether to drugs or alcohol, and decides to receive treatment, they will often work with a wide range of care providers, including a substance abuse social worker. 

Addiction itself is very complex. With a substance use disorder diagnosis, many factors are part of the addiction. For example, it’s common to have co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. These conditions need to be well-managed for the treatment program to be effective.

  • There may be issues at home that contributed to addiction or occurred because of it. For example, people dealing with substance abuse issues may have broken relationships with their spouse or partner, as well as their children.
  • Someone with an ongoing addiction may be dealing with career problems due to substance use.
  • Legal problems can occur as well.
  • In many cases, physical health conditions also have to be treated as part of a rehab program, from dealing with withdrawal symptoms to getting chronic conditions under control.

A social worker can be part of a larger, multi-disciplinary treatment team.

  • They often work with people in rehab or who have completed a treatment program as they begin to re-enter society and experience their everyday lives without drugs or alcohol. 
  • These professionals have connections to the community that can be invaluable as someone rebuilds their life.
  • For example, if you were to complete a stay in an inpatient rehab program, you might return to your life to find that it’s challenging to manage. You might have lost your job or be dealing with criminal charges. A social worker is someone who can help you in a wide variety of areas in your everyday life. 

When you have someone on your side who serves as your advocate, it can help you stay on track in your recovery.

Many people might not have a home to return to after treatment, and this is another place where a professional can help you. You might only have a home that involves domestic violence, so a social worker could help you find a safe place to live and other assistance programs. 

They can tap into their vast network and make sure that your transition from treatment to real life is as easy for you as possible. Of course, they can’t alleviate all challenges, but they can connect you with the things you need most during a difficult time.

Depending on how you receive treatment, someone in social work may be there from the beginning and be part of the creation of your treatment plan.


To get into the social work field, there are different degree programs. The path someone follows into social work practice can depend on their goals and what they want to specialize in. 

At a minimum, most professionals have a bachelor’s-level social work degree. 

When someone has a master’s, they can perform clinical assessments of behavioral disorders and provide counseling in different settings, including mental health clinics. To follow the clinician career path, a person also has to have a certain number of supervised hours in a clinical setting along with advanced education. 

Substance Abuse and Trauma

Based on decades of research, we know that trauma and substance abuse are closely related to one another.

  • Around 70% of adults in the United States have gone through a traumatic experience at least once in their lifetime. 
  • Trauma is a risk factor for all substance use disorders. 
  • Additionally, people with substance use disorders are more likely to experience traumatic events. This puts people in a cycle of trauma and potential substance abuse that’s difficult to break out of without professional help.
  • Around 5% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) meet the substance use disorder diagnosis criteria. 
  • Additionally, up to ¾ of people who survive abuse or traumatic violence report problematic alcohol use. 
  • Women with traumatic exposures are at especially high risk for alcohol use disorder.

There are different reasons for these connections. One theory is that people with trauma may try to self-medicate to cope or deal with their symptoms. That self-medication can spiral into an addiction.

There’s another theory that people who abuse substances may have a higher trauma rate due to their use. For example, lifestyle choices may increase the risk of trauma exposure stemming from drug or alcohol use.

It’s also possible that people who use substances are more susceptible to developing PTSD after trauma exposure than people who don’t use drugs or alcohol. The same may be true with other mental disorders and emotional disorders. 

In the past, people with a co-occurring addiction or substance use disorder and a trauma disorder had worse outcomes. Often, the treatment approach would separate the addiction from the trauma and treat them individually. 

  • Now, there’s an increasing emphasis on dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders.
  • Treatment tends to be most effective when both issues are addressed and treated simultaneously because they relate to one another.
  • Trauma-informed substance use treatment tends to have good outcomes for many people. There is a recovery mindset in this approach, emphasizing building resiliency.

The Benefits of Having a Social Worker

Social workers can bring a unique perspective to trauma-informed care. They’re highly trained in dealing with trauma, both acutely and in chronic conditions like PTSD. That’s one reason the input from social workers can be so critical to an addiction treatment plan.

Trauma-informed social work means a professional recognizes the signs of trauma and the impact. They can then identify various paths to address the effects and help prevent people from further experiencing traumatic situations. The goal of a social worker in a trauma-informed setting is to stop focusing only on problematic behaviors, like substance use.

Instead, a trauma-informed social worker will understand what happened to someone to cause the behaviors in the first place, such as exposure to a crisis situation. 

If you’d like to learn more about trauma-informed substance abuse treatment, please reach out to us at Silicon Valley Recovery today by calling 408-547-4089.

Achieving Long-Term Sobriety with Mindfulness

The goal of treatment for substance use disorders is to help you achieve long-term sobriety. Of course, we know that recovery isn’t always linear. There are many situations where you can complete treatment successfully and still relapse in your sober life. 

That’s okay, and that can be part of your recovery process. 

However, we always want to equip you with the tools you need to achieve long-term sobriety optimally.

One such tool that can take many different forms to help maintain long-term sobriety is mindfulness. We’ll get more into that, but first, we’ll talk a little more about sobriety in general and what it can look like to learn how to incorporate it into your life on a longer-term basis.

What is Recovery?

When you finish rehab or a treatment program and you’re no longer in active addiction, you have to re-enter the world. In many ways, you might feel like you’re experiencing it for the first time. Without the cloud of substances, you may have to re-learn what it’s like to be part of the world around you.

Undoubtedly, there will be challenges that come with navigating the real world, particularly in the initial stage of recovery. The risk of relapse is highest in these early days. 

These challenges and difficult times will require reaching into the toolbox you created during treatment to face them.

In technical terms, your recovery or sobriety is when you aren’t under the influence of a substance. Your recovery can look individual to you, but overall, the goal is to learn how to be a fulfilled, healthy person mentally, physically, and spiritually.

If you have experienced setbacks previously on the road to long-lasting recovery, you can use these as learning experiences. These are opportunities to explore your triggers and weaknesses so that you can deal with them in different ways.

What is Mindfulness?

A concept you can apply to all areas of your life in recovery is mindfulness. Mindfulness is our ability as humans to be present and aware of what we’re doing in a broad sense. When we practice mindfulness throughout the stages of recovery, we’re less likely to become overly reactive or stressed out by things around us.

We all have the inherent ability to be mindful, but we must train our brains to engage in it. Mindfulness is very active, even though it might not seem like it at first.

Long-Term Sobriety

How to Maintain Long Term Sobriety

To maintain long-term sobriety, while everyone’s recovery plan can be different, general things to keep in mind include:

  • Identify your personal triggers. You can work on this in a treatment program, but it may also be something you explore outside of treatment as you’re navigating life. For some people, triggers include emotional distress, being around people who still drink or use drugs, relationships, or financial problems.
  • Recognize the warning signs of relapse that are personal to you. A relapse isn’t a sudden event. Relapse tends to happen in phases. You are likely to begin the stages of a relapse well before you drink or use drugs. The three main phases of relapse are emotional, mental, and physical. Learn the earliest warning signs so you can start to do the work to avoid a full-blown relapse.
  • Actively avoid your old habits and routines. If you don’t make changes to your lifestyle and routines, it’s going to likely derail your ability to maintain long-term sobriety.
  • Work toward building healthy relationships. While you were actively using, your past relationships may have been toxic or harmful. You may have damaged the healthy relationships you would have had otherwise. Begin to build a social support network of people who positively influence your life or take steps to rebuild existing relationships.
  • Make sure you have support. It’s almost impossible to sustain long-term recovery if you don’t have support. Support comes in many forms. For example, you might work with a therapist or counselor. You could attend a 12-step meeting like Alcoholics Anonymous, or you might make sure that you’re regularly planning activities with family and loved ones. If you don’t prefer 12-step programs, other local recovery programs like SMART Recovery help you navigate your daily life in sobriety.
  • Have a set schedule. Routine is one of the ways you’re going to help yourself stay on track in all areas of your life.
  • Emphasize healthy living. Prioritize making time for self-care, exercise, nutrition, and hobbies and activities. You should also make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and you’re taking care of yourself in all ways. Your mental health should always be part of your healthy lifestyle when you’re in recovery from addiction. Having an untreated or uncontrolled mental health issue will make your recovery process a lot more challenging.
  • Celebrate your milestones and successes. They can be small, and you should still celebrate them. Whenever you make progress, it’s important to recognize how far you’ve come as part of your long-term recovery and personal growth. 


How Mindfulness Helps with Maintaining Long-Term Sobriety

Practicing mindfulness can help us get into the moment where we are at any given time and focus on what we’re thinking and feeling.

Learning how to access mindfulness can help people in recovery stay on track with a life of sobriety. 

There’s nothing special you need to buy or change about yourself to become mindful. Anyone can practice it, and it’s a way of life that brings a sense of awareness and improvement into all areas of our lives.

It’s not as new-age as it might sound either. A growing body of evidence shows mindfulness has tangible, positive, physical benefits.

So how does practicing mindfulness help in maintaining sobriety?

  • Quiet your mind. When you’re more mindful, and that becomes part of your life, it can quiet the talk in your head that might create self-doubt or negativity. Rather than letting your mind ruminate on things that aren’t positive, which can lead to relapse, you can regain a sense of calm and focus. Being calm and focused is going to help you make good decisions.
  • When you stop using drugs or alcohol, you may have difficulty relaxing without substances for a while. Mindfulness allows you to recognize what you’re feeling, and then from there, you can label your thoughts and move away from them.
  • The more you can calm down the noise in your mind, the more you can cope with stress effectively and positively throughout your daily routine and your everyday life.
  • When you pull yourself into the present, you can think before you do anything that you might end up regretting. You can pull yourself out of thoughts like glamorizing a time when you were using substances and get back to where you are at the moment.
  • A lot of what you learn as you practice mindfulness is nonjudgmental. This isn’t just a reference to other people. You can learn to be nonjudgmental of yourself. Too often, addiction and relapse are rooted in a sense of shame. You can begin to evaluate yourself through that nonjudgmental lens to shift those feelings of shame you might otherwise experience.

Interestingly, mindfulness may even help you with things you go through physically in the early days of recovery, such as pain or physical tension.

Rather than turning to drugs or alcohol, mindfulness and everything that goes with it can become your coping mechanism, regardless of the situation you may find yourself in.

If you would like to learn more about addiction treatment and begin your journey of recovery, please reach out to Silicon Valley Recovery by calling 408-547-4089.

4 Life Skills Rehab for Teens Teach

You may not be surprised to learn that many of the patients entering rehab for teens have fallen behind in their studies, but it’s often their life skills that make the most significant hit. Inpatient rehab for teens makes sure that these teens don’t fall through the cracks by teaching crucial skills they need to become successful adults.

New York Center For Living notes that one of the main fears for parents is the impact addiction has on adolescent milestones, such as learning to drive, managing money, applying to colleges, and spending time with friends. Rehabs for teens are mindful of this and prioritize teaching patients the necessary life skills to get them back on track.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an adolescent’s brain is like a car with a fully functioning gas pedal (the reward system) but weak brakes (the prefrontal cortex). Teens are biologically wired for thrill-seeking and experimenting with new things. Unfortunately, because their brains are not yet fully formed, this puts them at greater risk of sliding into addiction.

Inpatient Rehab for Teens

With teen substance abuse and addiction on the rise, inpatient treatment facilities are coming up with new ways to help patients develop better-coping strategies and bridge the gaps in their life experiences.

The good news is that with the right support and strong foundations, patients can look forward to a brighter, healthier future. Rehab for teens provides a safe, managed environment to encourage them back onto their feet, free from outside influences and triggers.

Stepping back into day-to-day life after treatment is a positive move forward, but it can also come with challenges. Inpatient rehab aims to reduce the risk of relapse by setting teens up with all of the tools they need to lead happy, fulfilling lives, creating a smoother transition between treatment and the demands of daily life outside of the facility.

Below are the four key life skills that teens will learn throughout the process.

  1. Planning for the Future

It’s not uncommon for teens dealing with addiction to struggle in school. Substance abuse can lead to poor attendance and neglected schoolwork, causing a decline in grades and a lack of interest in academic success. Many lose sight of their long-term goals and aspirations, giving in to distractions and feelings of hopelessness.

During treatment, patients are encouraged to look ahead, set goals and work to achieve them. These don’t have to be groundbreaking feats. Even small-scale accomplishments, such as developing new skills or hitting personal targets, help rebuild confidence and establish positive learning practices.

Extracurricular activities can also support recovery. Groups that promote team building enable teens to build connections with like-minded people and enrich their social interactions, giving them the chance to broaden their horizons and forge valuable relationships with others.

  1. Growing Communication

Addiction can be an isolating experience. Many people with substance abuse issues find they need to mend relationships with friends and family that have been broken by negative behaviors, e.g., stealing, anger, aggression. A lack of secure friendships and stable connections can often lead to relapse, so building a positive support network and establishing a circle of sober friends is crucial to recovery.

Secrecy can also be a big problem for teens dealing with these issues. It can be hard to reach out and let others know when you’re struggling at the best of times, and the nature of addiction only increases the impulse to withdraw or lash out.

Through inpatient treatment, teens learn how to express their feelings in more constructive ways. They are encouraged to let others know when they need extra support and resist the urge to bottle things up. Support groups and meetings are available outside of the facility, and these are great places to grow strong connections in a safe space.

Improving self-confidence and assertiveness is also vital for those in recovery. Saying no to peer pressure and high-risk social situations is much easier when teens aren’t seeking outside approval and acceptance from the wrong sources. Treatment teaches teens to develop a strong sense of self-worth, making them more likely to stay on the right path.

  1. Changing Habits and Controlling Impulses

The structure is important when trying to form any new habits. A good routine, sleep pattern, and personal hygiene regime (which may have previously taken a backseat) are the building blocks for continuing to progress outside of treatment.

The temptation to fall back into old habits is heightened when teens leave rehab. Inpatient treatment educates them on how to make informed decisions and exert control over their impulses.

Instead of repeating past behaviors in times of stress, such as hanging out with bad influences, they are guided toward alternative coping mechanisms.

Establishing a constant baseline helps teens feel more secure and stable when unexpected obstacles or challenges pop up. Things like sticking to a consistent bedtime, writing out to-do lists, and attending support groups keep them grounded in their recovery.

Exercising can also be a great addition to their schedule. Through exercise, teens can boost their mood and fitness, clear their minds of negative thoughts, and release endorphins. Addiction has a mental and physical impact on the body, so learning about nutrition and how to eat a balanced diet is also advocated.

  1. Self-Care

Rehab teaches teens to maintain the right mindset even as the stresses and pressures of daily life creep in. They are guided toward recognizing their own needs and replacing negative patterns with positive choices.

Teens are encouraged to listen to their minds and bodies and take a step back before things bubble up, and old habits resurface. Self-care practices such as meditation, taking a relaxing bath, or even something as simple as keeping their room clean and tidy make a huge difference.

When we value ourselves and learn to identify which areas of our experience need some extra care and attention, we are more likely to be proactive and employ better, healthier coping methods.

Rehab for Teens

Getting Treatment for Teen Addiction

The journey away from addiction can be a long process with many bumps in the road, but recovery is possible with support, encouragement, and persistence. Rehab for teens will equip them with the life skills they need to become well-rounded, fulfilled adults with promising futures, free from addiction and substance abuse.

If you’re interested in learning more about drug addiction treatment, call 408-547-4089 and talk to a member of the Silicon Valley Recovery team today!

Is an Emotional Support Animal the Same as a Service Animal?

Animals, like the human race, have evolved; they are now more commonly used for purposes other than being pets. As a result, American Addiction Centers grouped pets into emotional support animals (ESA) and service animals (SA), and they have also implemented a pet-friendly rehab policy to treat various behavioral disorders. 

This article will discuss the differences between emotional support animals and service animals.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) vs. Service Animals (SA)

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an Emotional Support Animal is any animal that provides emotional support to its owners to alleviate one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. They are the preferred pets for those suffering from depression, loneliness, panic attacks, and specific phobias. Furthermore, they offer their owners a sense of security.

On the other hand, service animals have been carefully trained to do certain activities or chores to assist persons with disabilities, including physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory. Until recently, service animals were only dogs. For example, some are trained as hearing dogs, guide dogs, PTSD support dogs, or seizure detection dogs. However, miniature horses are now being trained as guides for the blind.

Emotional support animals do not have specialized training to provide certain services to people with disabilities. All they get are toilets and obedience training. This ensures the animal is not hostile and determines if it is safe to travel on a plane. Their owners must also have obtained a medical letter from their health care practitioner or mental health specialist. This letter must confirm the need for such animals to treat mental or emotional disorders. However, the plane is virtually the only place an emotional support animal is permitted to enter. They cannot accompany their owners into other public areas like shopping malls, movie theaters, or restaurants. This is in stark contrast to service dogs, who are permitted to enter any location at any time. 

However, dogs aren’t the only emotional support animals. Cats, peacocks, fish, and hamsters are some other common examples.

The Addiction Epidemy

Addiction is a long-standing issue. In the past, people primarily used addiction to describe those who couldn’t control their urge to drink alcohol or abuse prescription medicines. However, the meaning of addiction has evolved to include disorderly behaviors such as compulsive urges for gambling, food, sex, work, coffee, workouts, and substance abuse.  Addiction is caused mainly by genetics and environmental factors such as social pressure, early exposure to drugs/alcohol at home or school, family problems, work/educational issues, and many more. Trauma from different types of abuse– sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, and mental– has also been a factor in addiction cases.

Addiction causes a plethora of problems. It can cause physical damage like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), psychological damage like depression, social damage like incarceration or broken relationships, and economic damage like bankruptcy and debt. 

Finding a quality rehab center, particularly a pet-friendly one, to tackle this issue before it deteriorates is a must. It is essential! It is critical! It is non-negotiable! The sooner this is accomplished, the better the chances of recovery and the lower the danger of relapse.

Emotional Support Animal

The Need For Pet-friendly Rehab Centers

Rehabilitation centers with a pet-friendly policy aid in treating those suffering from various types of addiction and disabilities. This therapeutic approach is referred to as Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).

As the name suggests, its purpose is to aid in recovering from addiction. However, it is not a cure for addiction! Instead, it is combined with evidence-based therapy to address many mental or emotional illnesses. 

Being responsible for your pet’s needs mirrors the effects of drugs and alcohol on your brain. Drugs momentarily flood the brain’s pleasure centers with the “feel-good hormone,” dopamine. The brain becomes acclimated to these drugs over time, and the patient becomes depressed without them. AAT is utilized to reconfigure the brain to produce more sustained pleasure naturally. This is possible when a patient concentrates on keeping his pet happy, which indirectly brings him joy and speeds up his rehabilitation. Furthermore, the more time you spend with your pet – whether playing with it or caring for it – the less time you have to think about your addictions.

People who own emotional support dogs routinely take their pets for walks, which keeps them physically active and increases their social relationships. It’s a universal truth that most people are drawn to pet dogs.  They always long to touch the dog, stroke it on the back, and comment on how adorable it is. Through this, you get to meet new people and make new friends. This makes loneliness disappear and keeps depression in check. 

Animal Assisted Therapy Is Not For Everyone 

No two men are entirely alike. Support animals are not recommended for people who do not like animals, are known to hurt animals, or are afraid of interacting with certain support animals. People who have allergies to fur, hair, or dander of certain animals are also advised against getting support animals.

Seeking Pet-Friendly Rehabs

Going through loneliness, depression, anxiety, restlessness, mood swings, and other undesirable events associated with rehabilitation for a month or longer is no mean feat. Thankfully, emotional support animals’ emergence has reduced these concerns considerably. Hence, why all addiction rehab centers in the United States of America are now pet-friendly; they now allow support dogs to accompany their owners through treatment on a case-by-case basis. 

Now that you can differentiate between emotional support animals vs. service animals and also understand the importance of pet-friendly rehab centers, like Silicon Valley Recovery (408-547-4089), go ahead and choose what’s best for you!

A Closer Look at the Medical Alcohol Detox Timeline

Alcohol addiction is a serious concern. And as with any other addiction, when you stop drinking alcohol, you will have to go through a detox process.

Learning more about the medical alcohol detox timeline will give you a better idea of what to expect. Once you realize how quickly the withdrawal symptoms will likely pass, that may be the motivation you need to go through the medical detox process.

3 Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

There are three main stages in the medical alcohol detox timeline. Not everyone experiences all of them, but it is best to be prepared.

Stage 1 – Mild

This stage of the withdrawal process can include the following symptoms:

·  Insomnia

·  Headaches

·  Anxiety

·  Gastrointestinal disturbances

·  Heart palpitations

·  Tremors

Stage 2 – Moderate

In addition to the previous symptoms, this stage can also include:

·  Increased heart rate

·  Increased blood pressure

·  Mild hyperthermia

·  Confusion

·  Rapid abnormal breathing

Stage 3 – Severe

If you experience stage 3 symptoms, you may experience any of the above as well as:

·  Seizures

·  Impaired attention

·  Auditory or visual hallucinations

·  Disorientation

How the Stages Fit Into the Timeline

Once familiar with each stage, you’ll ask, “How do they fit into the medical alcohol detox timeline?”

Stage one typically starts within just eight hours. Stage two will begin within one to three days. Stage three starts within a week.

The Importance of Treatment

Importantly, this timeline is for a medical detox process with treatment and the supervision of a health care professional.

If you do not get treatment, the symptoms of stage three can last for weeks. Additionally, it may take less time than outlined above to move from stage two to stage three without proper treatment.

More Detailed Timeline By the Hour

While the above stages can give you a good general idea of the medical alcohol detox timeline, each stage covers a time range and various symptoms. The following is an example of a “typical” timeline.

Keep in mind that the hours refer to the time since the last drink at each point.

6 to 12 Hours

At just six to 12 hours after the last drink, patients may start to notice the mild symptoms associated with early withdrawal.

These include headaches, agitation, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, small tremors, insomnia, and mild anxiety.

12 to 24 Hours

At this point, the symptoms may expand to include disorientation and hand tremors, as well as possible seizures.

At 24 Hours

At about 24 hours from the last drink, some people experience hallucinations. These can be tactile, auditory, or visual.

Within 24 to 72 Hours

The symptoms will have peaked for most patients and started to resolve themselves within 24 to 72 hours after the last drink. For the best chance of this quick recovery, it’s important to undergo a medical detox process with supervision.

That being said, the period of 24 to 48 hours after the last drink requires extra medical monitoring. This is when the risk of seizures is the highest.

Right after that phase, from 48 to 72 hours, there is a risk of withdrawal delirium (DTs) appearing. Delirium tremens is rare but severe. It can include delirium, extreme agitation, changes to the mental status, and occasional hallucinations. It only affects about 2% of those with alcohol use disorder.

About 48 hours after the last drink, other possible symptoms include insomnia, excessive sweating, and high fever. Most people will start to notice their withdrawal symptoms improve within five days.
​​

Medical Alcohol Detox Timeline

Some People Experience Persistent Symptoms

Everyone is different, but some people will continue to notice withdrawal symptoms after the above medical alcohol detox timeline. This is post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which we will discuss in more detail. Most people will fully recover with the proper medical attention and withdrawal assistance.

But some people may notice some symptoms for months after their last drink. These potential longer-term symptoms may include sleep disturbances, mood changes, and fatigue.

Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Another important part of the medical detox process is the possibility of acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Not everyone experiences this, but it can occur in the days and weeks following quitting alcohol. This syndrome includes the potential for seizures, delirium tremens, and loss of consciousness.

The important thing to remember here is that there is a risk of life-threatening health complications when you quit alcohol. Because of that, it is best to have some type of medical supervision when you stop drinking. This will let medical professionals monitor your condition carefully.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) refers to the potential prolonged symptoms that some people notice after they stop drinking. Not everyone experiences these, but they can last for just a few weeks or up to a year.

Some potential symptoms of PAWS include:

·  Anxiety

·  Low energy

·  Emotional outburst

·  Irritability

·  Trouble sleeping

·  Dizziness

·  Memory problems

·  Delayed reflexes

·  Chronic nausea

·  Intense cravings

·  Increased accident proneness

These symptoms typically come and go. You may feel fine one day and have several symptoms the next. The good news is that most episodes of PAWS are only several days at most.

It is crucial to be aware of PAWS as it is among the most common causes of relapse. Anyone experiencing PAWS should remember that the episodes are brief, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

What Affects Your Detox Experience

It’s important to note that all of the information here about a medical alcohol detox timeline varies from person to person.

As mentioned, whether you receive treatment during the process will be a significant factor. Whether you have any mental or physical health issues will also play a role. The extent of your drinking will also play a role, including how much you typically drank and how long that had been your habit.

There is also a higher risk of severe symptoms during the medical alcohol detox timeline for those who used drugs in addition to alcohol.

Conclusion

Most people detoxing from alcohol will experience mild symptoms such as headaches, shaking, or anxiety in the hours after they stop drinking. 24 hours after they stop drinking, symptoms can include disorientation and seizures. Symptoms can worsen within the first 72 hours after the last drink, but they tend to get better after, especially with medical supervision.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with alcohol abuse, call the caring team of Silicon Valley Recovery at 408-547-4089.

How to Get Off Heroin Without Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the big reasons people can struggle when dependent on opioids is the opiate withdrawal symptoms. Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be severe and uncomfortable. Managing these symptoms can help you be in a better place to get addiction treatment and begin a life in recovery.

You may wonder how to get off opiates without withdrawal symptoms. The answers can include medical supervision, tapering off your dosage, and medications. Below we detail more about opiate withdrawal symptoms and what you can expect regarding the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

We’ll also talk about management options for this process of withdrawal.

What Are Opioids and Opiates?

Opioids and opiates are a class of drugs that affect the brain and central nervous system by slowing them down. 

  • The opioid drug class includes prescription pain medicines like morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Heroin is also an opioid.
  • Increasingly, synthetic opioids that are highly potent like fentanyl are making their way to the streets.
  • Using an opioid, by prescription or otherwise, changes how pain signals transmitted from your body to your brain. There’s also a slow down of your entire central nervous system. For example, if you use an opioid, you may feel sleepy. Your breathing and heart rate can slow as well, leading to a high risk of overdose.
  • Opioids and opiates are all chemically related to one another. These substances interact with opioid receptors in your brain and body.

Even when you use an opioid by prescription, regular use can lead to abuse, addiction, and dependence. Overdose and death are also consequences of opioid use.

Opioid Dependence

Opioids are highly addictive. When you take an opioid, it interacts with your brain in a way that can create euphoria or feelings of being high. 

  • Those feelings and effects create a cascade effect in the brain. 
  • Neurotransmitters that make you feel good flood your brain. 
  • Then, your brain’s reward cycle experiences stimulation.
  • All of these effects can lead to addiction. 
  • With opioid addiction, you experience out-of-control cravings and use because of the impact of the substance on your brain and your reward centers.
  • Addiction is a psychological disease of the brain.

Dependence is different. 

  • Dependence usually occurs with addiction but sometimes happens on its own. 
  • For example, if you take opioids with a prescription, dependence can form even if you aren’t addicted.
  • Dependence refers to physically depending on a substance to feel “normal.” 
  • Symptoms of dependence include tolerance. 
  • When you’re tolerant to an opioid, you need larger doses to feel the same effects, whether that’s pain relief or something else. 
  • Another symptom of dependence is withdrawal.

Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal 

The longer you take any opioid, whether by prescription or an illegal drug like heroin, the more likely dependence is to occur. Then, if you try to stop using the opioid suddenly, you may have withdrawal symptoms. 

  • Opiate withdrawal symptoms occur as your brain and body try to readjust without the effects of the drug.
  • Even if you just cut back on your dosage, you might experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • The severity can vary, but opioid withdrawal can be challenging to deal with in some cases.

Early symptoms of opioid withdrawal, which can occur within hours after you take the last dose, include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Muscle aches
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia and sleep problems

Later physical symptoms of withdrawal from opioids include:

  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Joint pain 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drug cravings 

You may be wondering how long is opiate withdrawal symptoms expected to last.

  • The simple answer depends on individual factors like your health, organ function, and weight, and body size. 
  • Other factors that play a role in how long opiate withdrawal lasts include the type of drug you typically use and how long you’ve been using it.
  • Early stages of withdrawal symptoms begin anywhere from six hours to 30 hours after the last time you take an opioid for most people.
  • Later stages usually begin around 72 hours after your last dose of the drug. These latter symptoms are generally when there’s a peak in the severity of what you experience.

With opiate and opioid withdrawal, the first week is usually the worst, but some symptoms can linger for weeks or even months. Depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems are the most common symptoms to stick around for more extended periods.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
How to Get Off Heroin Without Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

How To Get Off Opiates Without Withdrawal

Many people want to stop using opiates and opioids, but they can’t make it through withdrawal without taking the first step to recovery.

  • If you can get help during withdrawal and manage your symptoms, then you’re more likely to be then able to receive addiction treatment and stop using the drugs altogether.
  • There are options available that can help you as you go through opiate withdrawal symptoms.
  • For severe or long-term dependence, going to an inpatient medical detox may be the best option for you. In an inpatient detox, you receive medical care and monitoring. 
  • A team of experts can provide you with medications and other treatments to minimize your symptoms and help you stay comfortable. 
  • Many addiction treatment programs include medical detox, so you can seamlessly transition into rehab after completing withdrawal to receive opioid use disorder treatment. 

If your main goal is to figure out how to get off opiates without withdrawal symptoms, professional care and guidance are the only truly safe way.

You should speak to a health care provider before you attempt to stop using opiates, no matter what. Opiate withdrawal typically isn’t life-threatening, but it’s still something to talk about with your doctor. They may be able to help you with a safe tapering schedule at a minimum. 

Treatments for Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Certain medicines have FDA approval to treat opioid withdrawal as well as addiction. These drug categories include:

  • Opioid receptor agonists, which attach to opioid receptors in the brain. Due to their ability to attach to these receptors, opioid receptor agonists block withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Opioid receptor partial agonists partially activate opioid receptors, helping with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Opioid receptor antagonists block the activity of opioid receptors in the brain, preventing the high you might experience with opioids. This blocking effect helps reduce cravings.
  • Adrenergic receptor agonists are medicines that activate adrenergic receptors in the brain to reduce or alleviate symptoms of withdrawal.

Specific medications for opioid withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Clonidine is a treatment that doesn’t fall into the above categories, but it can be used as part of an opiate detox to help with high blood pressure and other symptoms.
  • Methadone is specifically for opioid dependence, although it’s more common for doctors to prescribe buprenorphine now. Methadone is a long-acting, mild opioid.
  • Buprenorphine is available under brand names like Subutex and Suboxone, and it’s for the treatment of alcohol addiction and opiate withdrawal. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that reduces cravings, among other symptoms.
  • Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid blocker. Taking suboxone can help shorten the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

The above are medication-assisted treatment options specific to opioid detox. Pain relief medications such as over-the-counter acetaminophen are helpful in some cases. Your health care team can use their discretion to treat individual symptoms as they occur during the withdrawal period. 

The big thing to remember is that many effective treatments are available as you go through withdrawal from opioid addiction and dependence. 

Contact the Silicon Valley Recovery team today by calling 408-547-4089 if you want to learn more about supervised detox and the treatments available to help you manage opiate withdrawal symptoms.

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