Category Archives: Relapse Prevention

Reducing Risk of IV-Related Infections

drug-safetyOne of the risks associated with the progression of opioid addiction is the increased probability of an addicted person moving to injectable heroin as a last resort in dealing with opioid withdrawal. In the early years of methadone’s adoption in treatment centers, it was used primarily to help heroin addicted individuals detox from heroin and eventually remain heroin free.

While heroin is definitely resurfacing, the opioid epidemic of recent years has primarily been about prescription opioids taken orally. Following this pattern of use, users eventually discover that crushing and snorting pills is a more efficient means of getting an opioid into their system. Injecting is typically the last step in this progression of the disease of addiction.

But with injection comes a variety of new risks and health problems such as skin abscesses, localized infection at the site of injection, as well as hepatitis C (a viral infection of the liver) and HIV infection acquired through needle sharing with infected persons. A recent story in the news highlighted a sudden increase in HIV infections in Scott County (Indiana) in conjunction with the rise of opioid addiction there and injectable drug use.

Indiana’s governor has temporarily approved the use of needle exchange programs to help reduce the risk of virus transmission resulting from the use of dirty needles. The story indicated that the number of documented HIV infections had risen month over month. The county is presently trying to locate over 100 people who may have been exposed to the HIV virus in connection with injecting opiates.

Methadone and other medication-assisted treatments have been conclusively proven to reduce heroin/opiate relapse and injection drug use. For many individuals trapped in a daily cycle of perpetual drug abuse, the risk of acquiring a deadly infection increases with every day that they are not in treatment receiving help.

Treatment leads to recovery, and recovery leads to dramatic lifestyle change. Many patients who choose methadone as a tool in their personal recovery never go back to injecting drugs. This obviously is a life saving choice.

Someone recently stated “If you’re dead, you can’t recovery.” This is a rather blunt way of expressing a profound and meaningful truth. Addiction does rob loved ones, friends, family, and neighbors of life, health, and happiness. Recovery has the ability to restore all of these. Let us keep our minds and hearts open about the value of medication-assisted treatment. It is making a real difference for numerous people around the world.

Right Path Clinics Offer Suboxone and Addiction Counseling

right-path-clinics-2Right Path is an opioid treatment provider operating in the greater Hampton Roads area of eastern Virginia. The organization specializes in the use of burprenorphine (the critical ingredient in Suboxone that alleviates opioid withdrawal symptoms).

Right Path currently have outpatient services in Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Suffolk, but plan to soon offer a location convenient for residents and visitors along the Outer Banks.

Recognizing the importance of individualized treatment plans, Right Path tailor their services to the needs of the individual patient. While suboxone is beneficial in eliminating the pain of opioid withdrawal, addiction counseling is essential in helping patients to understand the addiction and recovery process. Right Path provide addiction counseling as a component of their overall treatment program.

Evening and weekend hours are offered, and most insurance is accepted. The Right Path website has a helpful page that outlines various questions and issues that you might cover with your Suboxone Doctor in your first appointment. Their website provides another highly informative page on Suboxone which answers many common questions about this increasingly popular medication. More information on Right Path’s locations and contact information can be obtained here:

When Emotional Pain Fuels Relapse

grief-and-lossPeople in recovery from addiction face very substantial stresses. The stress of trying to cope with cravings & urges, the stress of facing life and trying to resolve problems, and the common pressure of trying to make ends meet when finances are not in good shape.

While many addicted individuals find that they are more resilient than perhaps they ever believed, loss can sometimes be a particularly crippling experience. People from all walks of life suffer and struggle with losses – divorce, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, income, security, or health.

A recent New York Times article briefly profiled a young woman released from prison who was trying to stay clean from heroin. She really missed her child who had been removed from her custody. While she loved her baby, she also recognized she was not yet ready to resume the pressures and responsibilities of parenting until she got herself on more solid, sober ground.

With the death of a loved one, the feelings run so deep that coping is sometimes beyond one’s inner resources. Grief has a way of overwhelming the senses and the heart such that making rational choices is much harder than would normally be the case. In extreme emotional situations, thoughts can become paralyzed and feelings intensified. Such a combination can make sobriety incredibly challenging.

Emotional pain is part of life. We have all felt it. Recovery teaches many principles that help to make life more manageable and which can help a person to hold on, to survive the lows of life. And for those that slip, life must go on. All is not lost. In 12 step meetings, they say “keep coming back”. In treatment, they say, “don’t give up”. While these may sound like annoying platitudes, they are generally true and correct sentiments that are there to remind us that pain subsides, and the human heart can find a way to survive and to be happy again.

How this happens varies greatly from one person to another. Support from others can make a huge difference. Prayer and connection with the proverbial higher power can make a difference. We are connected (or can be connected) to good people and good things if we try to open ourselves to them. It is not always easy when we are hurting. Therapy and counseling sometimes point us to answers that we didn’t know even existed. Spiritual support can achieve this as well. Whatever life brings us, good or bad, happy or sad, hopefully we can pause for a few moments to reflect on the small blessings that so often go overlooked and underappreciated.

The message for today is to remember that you are worth it! It can get better. Recovery is always here for you.

Repairing Life After Opioid Addiction

methadone-recovery-1Addiction is an uphill battle. We have heard this said many times before. Many who found themselves in the midst of a personal opioid addiction were swept along on a nightmarish roller coaster ride with seemingly no brake pedal within reach.

Fortunately, addiction recovery is real, and people do get off of the roller coaster ride to hell. This is accomplished in a variety of ways with one method sometimes being the decision to try opioid replacement therapy such as methadone or suboxone.

Once off the roller coaster, individuals have an opportunity to survey their surroundings, to reflect on what has happened in their lives, and to begin moving along a better, safer path. Inevitably, facing the consequences of one's past becomes part of this gradual recovery process as does repairing the damage that occurred.

It is important to remember that change does not happen overnight, and repairing one's life happens step-by-step a little each day. There is a popular saying in recovery circles that is profound in its wisdom. It's "progress, not perfection". What this means is that no one is perfect, and that chasing perfection is perhaps an unrealistic goal. The goal should be "progress". This … is achievable. In repairing one's life and in living a new life of recovery, pursuing "progress" is enough.

Another insightful saying is this … "A journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step". Once you have committed to sobriety and living your life in a better way, you have already taken several steps in the right direction on your new journey. You do not have to reach your destination in 24 hours. The journey itself is a huge part of your personal healing & personal growth.

Repairing one's life after opioid addiction will require several things of you. One is to cultivate patience with the world. The world often moves at a different speed than we do, and it is in our best interest to adjust to that rather than to try and control the speed of the world around us. This will require patience. Patience can grow. We can develop patience through mindfulness, prayer, therapy, and in other ways.

Also important to repairing one's life is trying to live with a sense of purpose. We must be committed to something, or someone, in order to live with a sense of purpose. In active addiction, the daily purpose was to get by without becoming sick, and that defined many addicts' focus day after day. Life loses its purpose when one is reduced to chasing drugs to avoid being dope sick.

Recovery offers so much more in terms having a new and improved life purpose. I can't tell you what that should be. But for some, it's being a good son or daughter, or a good spouse or parent. Or regaining a renewed sense of pride in their job, or "giving it away" and helping another addict or person in need, or volunteering to help a child learn to read, or mowing the yard of an elderly neighbor who can't do for themselves as well anymore.

Your purpose may not be known yet. But you can certainly discover what is really important to you once you get off the roller coaster ride of opioid addiction. As always, recovery is a choice. No one can force it on you. But it is there, available to you … when you are ready. Call your local clinic today. Ask a friend to help you find local resources. Choose to take your first step.

When Methadone Clients Get Stuck

methadone-clinic-3

Clients across the country in methadone clinics and suboxone treatment programs are required to receive counseling while taking methadone or suboxone medication. Opioid replacement therapy specifically treats the painful opiate withdrawal, but counseling addresses the thinking, behaviors, and lifestyle that fed the addiction or that made individuals more vulnerable to developing addiction-related problems.

While in early recovery from opioid addiction, individuals begin to look at themselves and their lives through the process of counseling. It is during this time that clients face the truth about themselves and the effects that their addiction may have had on family and friends, finances, personal reputation, employment, and a host of other real world considerations.

It is easy to understand how some people can feel overwhelmed as they take their first sober look at the consequences of their recent addiction-based lives. However, change does occur … and change is a choice. A very personal and deliberate choice.

Many addicted individuals come to understand that one must face recovery one step at a time. No matter how much one wants to erase or repair past damage, there is only so much that he or she can do on any given day to start anew. What is required in this early phase of recovery is the simple desire to stay drug free and to try and make better decisions one-by-one with each new day. This sounds simplistic, but is a profound & powerful personal philosophy that leads the recovering person down a road to success. ACTION is a must. Action … is not optional.

Many suffering addicts are tired from fighting their addiction, but they also have an innate desire to move forward and to address their addiction problem. So many people become stuck in an active opioid addiction, spinning round and round, sometimes for years. They wonder if things will ever change. As the addiction becomes a familiar foe, addicts grow weary of the fight and settle for feeding the monster just to get through the day.

If you are opioid addicted, you do not have to be "stuck" in this addiction. You do not have to settle for a life of perpetual worry. It is important that you take action. You must take action. You must not wait for someone to come along and drop a miracle at your doorstep. Get into treatment immediately. Connect yourself with an addiction counseling center or detox or inpatient rehab. There is hope there. There are answers. There is support. There is real recovery going on everyday all over this country, and it is happening to people just like you. Believe that … because it is true! There are recovering people who have made the journey. There are treatment professionals with decades of experience. They have a clear road map and can offer you a new direction.

You can become unstuck! Methadone or suboxone treatment may be a part of the new solution for you. Or perhaps a medically supervised detox where they ease your withdrawal symptoms using safe medications. And you then follow that up with admission to an intensive outpatient counseling program (IOP) to learn the new coping tools you'll need in order to avoid relapse.

Maybe your first step is to go to a 12 Step meeting and ask for help, or a friend, or a pastor, or walk into the local mental health clinic and ask for a referral. Being "stuck" is a result of inaction, or taking the wrong action over and over. If you're serious about a new life and finally facing this opioid addiction, take the right action for yourself. So much is possible. You can do this. It can be done.