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The Financial Realities of Living with an Addict

Posted on August 14, 2018 at 11:54 AM Comments comments (3)
NEW YORK (Reuters) - For David Sheff, there is nothing worse than the sheer terror of witnessing your own child slip away into a life of drug abuse.
The San Francisco writer felt helpless as his son Nic became addicted to substances like methamphetamine and heroin over the course of a decade, beginning in 1997 when Nic was around 15.
Nic eventually triumphed, and has now been clean for more than five years, to his parents’ great joy and relief. But his lengthy struggles with addiction had another long-term victim: Their family budget.
“Credit cards would disappear, checks would disappear, stuff would go missing,” remembers Sheff, who wrote the 2008 book “Beautiful Boy” about his family’s experiences. “Eventually he even broke into his little brother’s piggy bank; that’s how bad it got,” he said in an interview.
“Then he would disappear, and we would be terrified for him, and just send more money,” he says. “I did that until someone told me that sending money to a drug addict is like giving a loaded gun to someone who is suicidal.”
But even when his son began to turn a corner, it wasn’t the end of the family’s financial challenges. Next came the rehabilitation programs, which can cost $25,000 or more every month, and be required multiple times when relapses occur.
Sheff’s son went through six such programs, and Sheff’s insurance ran out early, leaving him with towering bills. He spent $60,000 on his son’s care, $28,000 of that in installments that he only recently finished paying.
Having an addict in the family presents a deeply troubling dilemma for spouses and parents. How do you help those you love, while protecting your own financial future?
After all, a serious substance abuser is likely to do whatever it takes to feed an addiction. That might include tapping a partner’s savings account, home equity, 401(k) or individual retirement accounts, or even the college savings - and piggy banks - of their kids.
Even if the addict isn’t sneaking money, relatives might spend every penny they have willingly to help fund a successful recovery.
“I’ve heard of relatives literally selling everything, mortgaging everything,” says Sheff. “Then you’re not only dealing with the terror of losing a child, but with being broke as well, with no idea of what’s going to happen in the future.
“And since relapses are part of the deal, what if you sell everything to help, and then you’re faced with the same crisis all over again? Then you have no options left.”
It’s an alarmingly common problem. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 22.2 million Americans had abused or been dependent on drugs or alcohol within the previous year.
So what is a loving spouse, parent or child to do in such a situation? Here are some pointers.
Check your financial accounts carefully to get a handle on exactly what is going on. “Addicts are very skilled at hiding transactions and siphoning cash away,” says Brent Neiser, the Denver-based senior director with the National Endowment for Financial Education. “That’s why you need to be hyper aware of your personal finances.”
Some red flags that an addict is at work, according to Neiser: Savings accounts being depleted more rapidly than usual, regular payments going to organizations you’re unfamiliar with and home equity lines of credit being tapped.
Keep an eye out for cash advances, evidence of payday lending, credit card or bank statements being rerouted to different addresses, and changes to credit reports, he says.
 
KEEP THEM SEPARATED
 
If you suspect something is up, couples should establish separate financial accounts in each spouse’s name. That doesn’t mean spouses necessarily have to give up anything - the usual state rules would apply to splitting up marital property in the event of a divorce, for example, said Matt McClintock, vice president of education for WealthCounsel, a membership organization for estate planners.
But it would act as a barrier to any short-term raiding by the addict, who might have more trouble getting to money in an account that didn’t have his or her name on it.
 
IN THE ABSENCE OF TRUST, USE A TRUST
 
In some situations, it might be worth setting up a trust. You could arrange for large assets like a home or planned inheritance to be housed in the trust and have it administrated by a spouse or a third party such as an attorney. That would help prevent a user from tapping those sources to fuel addictions.
“It can be sensible to have a third party as a co-trustee, since spouses can sometimes be bullied, or throw up their hands in frustration,” says Bill Conway, a tax attorney specializing in wealth preservation with Conway & Pannell in McLean, Virginia.
A trust could also help if a parent is planning an estate with concerns for a drug-addicted child. “A trust could buy a home for the person to live in, or always provide money for food, while making sure those funds aren’t being converted to pay for drugs,” he says.
 
WHEN TO SAY, ENOUGH?
 
The key question: Do you use up your own financial resources to keep a roof over your child’s or partner’s head? Or do you practice tough love and cut them off, which would restrict their cash but could precipitate a crisis?
These are questions with no easy answers, and should be handled case-by-case, likely with the help of addiction specialists.
Sheff recommends targeted assistance aimed at keeping the person off the streets.
“You want to do everything you can to help them get well,” says Sheff. “ But you don’t want to lose your house or spend every penny you have, because that’s not going to do anybody any good.”

Demi Lovato and Pals 'Were on a Binger' Night Before Overdose and Had Narcan on Hand: Source

Posted on July 26, 2018 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (2)
Prior to her apparent drug overdose on Tuesday, Demi Lovato‘s friends had a strong suspicion an incident like this would occur.
“She and her ‘friends’ were on a binger the entire night,” an insider tells PEOPLE of the house party that continued after the group left Saddle Ranch. “They keep Narcan on hand for such situations – they were prepared for this. The people she has been hanging around lately aren’t her real friends – they don’t have her best interests at heart. She’s pushed her true friends away.”
The source adds, “She had to find creative and sneaky ways to get drugs because her team and those that really care about her really try to keep a close watch on her.”
The “Sorry Not Sorry” singer was rushed to the hospital Tuesday morning following the incident at her Hollywood Hills home, hours later appearing “alert and stable,” a close source confirmed to PEOPLE.
According to the emergency call audio obtained by TMZ, Lovato had been unconscious prior to the arrival of EMTs and revived by her friends with Narcan, an emergency medicine used to reverse the effects of a narcotic overdose. Though reports have indicated the overdose was heroin-related, a source close to Lovato claimed to PEOPLE that it was not.
And while the insider says Lovato is “capable” of pulling through this, sources close to the star told PEOPLE they had been fearing an incident like this for an extended period of time.
“Things have been a total mess for months. She and her team severed ties, and they played a large part in getting her sober years ago. She hasn’t been in a good place,” a close source claimed.
Last month Lovato released her new hit song, “Sober,” revealing her recent relapse following six years of sobriety. She performed “Sober” in Paso Robles, California, just two days prior to the apparent overdose.
Since her apparent overdose, Lovato has received a massive amount of support and well-wishes from fans and close friends, including ex Wilmer Valderrama.
“He knew she was going through a tough time but he wasn’t prepared for this,” the source told PEOPLE. “He saw her through so many ups and downs and was her rock through some of her darkest moments. To see her back in such a sad and vulnerable place is heartbreaking for him.”
The source added Valderrama has “always cared deeply for her and they truly remained friends after they broke up.”
And though Lovato has been vocal about her struggles throughout the years, another insider revealed that Lovato’s period of sobriety was full of ups and downs.
“Demi was never really clean and sober from all of her demons. She has been fighting depression and anxiety for quite some time — and is still in such a dark place. She was sober for a while, but not completely sober for six years.”
 

The Gift of Desperation

Posted on July 18, 2018 at 12:37 PM Comments comments (1)
"Our disease always resurfaced or continued to progress until, in desperation, we sought help from each other in Narcotics... Anonymous."
  - Basic Text, p. 13
When we think of being desperate, we envision an undesirable state: a poor, bedraggled soul frantically clawing at something sorely needed, a desperate look in the eyes. We think of hunted animals, hungry children, and of ourselves before we found NA.
Yet it was the desperation we felt before coming to NA that compelled us to accept the First Step. We were fresh out of ideas, and so became open to new ones. Our insanity had finally risen higher than our wall of denial, forcing us to get honest about our disease. Our best efforts at control had only worn us out; hence, we became willing to surrender. We had received the gift of desperation and, as a result, were able to accept the spiritual principles that make it possible for us to recover.
Desperation is what finally drives many of us to ask for help. Once we've reached this state, we can turn around and start anew. Just as the desperate, hunted animal seeks a safe haven, so do we: in Narcotics Anonymous.
Just for Today: The gift of desperation has helped me become honest, open-minded, and willing. I am grateful for this gift because it has made my recovery possible.
  - Corresponding page Sixth Edition
  - Basic Text, p., 13
Most of us realized that in our addiction we were slowly committing suicide, but addiction is such a cunning enemy of life that we had lost the power to do anything about it. Many of us ended up in jail, or sought help through medicine, religion and psychiatry. None of these methods was sufficient for us. Our disease always resurfaced or continued to progress until in desperation, we sought help from each other in Narcotics Anonymous.
After coming to NA we realized we were sick people. We suffered from a disease from which there is no known cure. It can, however, be arrested at some point, and recovery is then possible.
 

'Storm Chasers' star Joel Taylor died of ecstasy overdose

Posted on July 12, 2018 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (9)
The cause of death for Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" star Joel Taylor has been revealed. 
On Friday, TMZ reported that the reality star died from an ecstasy overdose, citing toxicology results obtained by the outlet. 
The Bureau of Forensic Sciences of Puerto Rico confirmed that the 38-year-old died of MDMA poisoning and added he had traces of ketamine in his system.
Taylor's sudden death occured in January while the star was aboard the Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas cruise.
Taylor reportedly was found dead in his cabin and a cruise official told TMZ law enforcement officials were notified of the star's death when they docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 
"It appears the death could be an overdose and Joel Taylor was consuming controlled substances," a law enforcement official said at the time. 
On the night of Taylor's death, "Grease" star Olivia Newton-John and Swedish DJ duo Galantis performed on the ship. 
RIP my best friend and storm chasing partner, Joel Taylor. I am shocked and absolutely devastated by the loss of my incredible, caring friend. We chased so many intense storms, and I wish we could have just one more storm chase. I'll miss you forever, Joel. We lost a legend pic.twitter.com/htN45t8wik
— Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) January 24, 2018
Guests on the cruise told TMZ a few people were arrested for drug possession at the port in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before the boat departed. 
Taylor studied meteorology at the University of Oklahoma before becoming a driver with his friend and “Storm Chasers” co-star Reed Timmer and chasing storms in Oklahoma's Tornado Alley. Taylor starred on “Storm Chasers” from 2008 until it was canceled in 2012.
Fox News' Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report. 

Addiction and Recovery

Posted on July 4, 2018 at 1:03 PM Comments comments (3)
Very, very, grateful to be here today and get to share a little bit of my story with u. Its come to my realization that my selfish pride is what's been keeping me from sharing it with u, coupled along with some shame and embarrassment. In February i relapsed and after about 6 wks my body had started to shut down. My liver, tormented from drugs and alcohol over the yrs, along with Hep C couldnt process anymore poison. On 3.21.18 i ODed and was taken to the hospital unable to b...reathe on my own...without a pulse. They called my mom in from Phoenix, told her to hurry, they didnt know if i was gonna live. After 4 days on life support i came out of it. Unable to walk or feed myself, i knew i had really fucked up this time. After a month i was released still unable to function without meds and even then im still learning and fighting to do basic normal everyday functions. I lost oxygen to my brain and now i have the fight of my life staring me square in the face in the form of rerouting the signals from my brain to my limbs and core. I know why im here today and it's to help. Im here to help other addicts and i hope my story will give anyone having any doubts some hope. Im not giving up! I have a purpose and i aim to see it through! The spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self discipline.-Timothy Ch.1 v7

Can we talk about alcoholism and Anthony Bourdain?

Posted on July 1, 2018 at 11:49 AM Comments comments (3)
I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain, but felt like I did in one small important way. In him, I saw a drinking alcoholic with a front-stage vigorous attempt to do it successfully. His was a fantastic life-embracing show, with drinking taking a prominent role in the joie de vivre, and sometimes that made it hard for me to watch.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/article213372539.html#storylink=cpy

Accepting Life

Posted on June 16, 2018 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (6)
“Some things we must accept, others we can change. The wisdom to know the difference comes with growth in our spiritual program.”
Basic Text, p. 95
 
It’s relatively easy to accept the things we like—it’s the things we don’t like that are hard to accept. But remaking the world and everyone in it to suit our tastes would solve nothing. After all, the idea that the world was to blame for all our problems was the attitude that kept us using—and that attitude nearly killed us.
In the course of working the steps, we begin to ask ourselves hard questions about the roles we ourselves have played in creating the unacceptable lives we’ve lived. In most cases, we’ve found that what needed changing was our own attitude and our own actions, not the people, places, and things around us.
In recovery, we pray for wisdom to know the difference between what can and can’t be changed. Then, once we see the truth of our situation, we pray for the willingness to change ourselves.
 
Just for today: Higher Power, grant me the wisdom to know the difference between what can be changed and what I must accept. Please help me gratefully accept the life I’ve been given.

Addiction and Sleep

Posted on June 1, 2018 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (3)
Anyone who’s gone through addiction, or cared for a loved one with addiction, knows firsthand the devastating effects it has on a person’s life. Addiction disrupts all areas of your life, and sleep is no exception.
According to one estimate, individuals with addiction are 5 to 10 times more likely to have comorbid sleep disorders.
Sleep and addiction are intricately linked. Many people use alcohol or other drugs to help them fall asleep and treat their insomnia, and accidentally become addicted as a result. Even if one didn’t have sleep problems before their addiction, long-term substance abuse physically changes your brain’s sleep architecture, disrupting your sleep patterns and sleep quality. Then, just as they come to rely on the addiction substance to function during the day, they also can’t sleep without it. Things only get worse in recovery, with sleep problems being one of the longest-lasting symptoms of detox.
Fortunately, there is some hope: addiction, and many of the sleep problems along with it, is treatable. The better you sleep, the lower your risk of relapse. Master your sleep, and it’s much easier to stick to your recovery plan.
If you or a loved one are dealing with addiction and seeking help, please visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration online provider directory or call 800-662-4357 (available toll-free 24/7).
Keep reading to understand how different addictions affect sleep, the common sleep disorders associated with addiction and recovery, and how you can sleep better during recovery.
 
How Different Addictions Interfere with Sleep
 
We mentioned in our introduction that certain addictions actually alter one’s sleep architecture. Below we review how different addictions – drug, alcohol, and behavioral – negatively affect sleep.
 
Sedatives: alcohol and marijuana
 
Alcohol is a depressant, which leads many people to mistakenly view it as a sleep aid. Between 20 to 30% of Americans with insomnia report turning to alcohol to help them fall asleep.
As a depressant, alcohol does help you fall asleep, but alcohol-induced sleep isn’t restful sleep. Alcoholism or not, people who sleep after a night of drinking increase their risk of nightmares, bedwetting, night sweats, snoring and sleep apnea.
Much of alcohol’s disruption to sleep has to do with how it affects your core body temperature. Your body temperature is just one of the many mechanisms involved in regulating whether you’re asleep or not. In the evening your body temperature begins to drop, making you feel drowsy as your brain releases melatonin. In the morning, your body temperature begins to rise again, waking you up for the day. Alcohol drops your body temperature, which is why it helps you fall asleep, but as the alcohol wears off, your body responds by increasing your temperature, which leads to night sweats and early waking.
Alcoholics also spend less time in REM sleep, the stage of sleep where we dream, process learnings from the day and commit them to memory. Scientists have linked daytime cognitive performance with sufficient REM sleep. Without it, our creativity and mental performance suffer.
Alcoholics also experience alpha and delta brain waves together – rather than separately, leading to disrupted sleep. Insomnia and sleep deprivation are present throughout alcoholism and recovery.
Like alcohol, marijuana is another substance people often use as a sleep aid. It doesn’t cause early waking like alcohol, but it still interrupts with sleep, decreasing the user’s amount of REM sleep. The effect on REM sleep is so strong that marijuana users who quit are prone to vivid, odd dreams for months afterwards.
 
Stimulants: cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA and hallucinogens
 
Stimulants like cocaine, amphetamines, and MDMA are all energizing drugs, so it’s easy to imagine how they interfere with sleep.
Users of these drugs become addicted to the energizing high they create by flooding their brain with dopamine. During their high, they’ll experience insomnia, so energized that it’s tough to fall asleep, followed by periods of hypersomnia during withdrawal.
Just as a night of casually drinking alcohol affects REM sleep, so does a low dose of cocaine. Chronic use of cocaine and ecstasy both reduce REM sleep, causing sleep deprivation that has a noticeable impact on their daytime cognitive performance.
MDMA has a special effect on the brain and sleep architecture because it gradually eats away at the brain’s serotonin levels. Since serotonin is part of the melatonin production process, ecstasy users experience sleep deprivation symptoms sooner than users of other types of drugs, especially in regards to their cognitive performance (“Percent Correct” in the chart below on the left) and impulsivity:
Even once they’ve gone through recovery, especially heavy MDMA users display apparently permanent changes to their sleep architecture. Heavy users of cocaine and amphetamines also appear to permanently alter their circadian rhythms and may experience disrupted sleep forever.  Additionally, cocaine withdrawal is associated with nightmares as well.
 
Opioids
 
Our bodies are not equipped to handle intense levels of pain on our own, which is why opioids like methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are available in prescription form. These drugs help individuals cope with the severe or chronic pain associated with surgery, cancer, or other health procedures and issues. Opioids work by attaching to the dopamine receptors in your brain, enabling your brain to better handle the pain.
Unfortunately, when abused – or not used as directed – opioids create a similar euphoric effect to cocaine, due to the way they interact with your dopamine receptors. If a person continues to abuse opioids, the more reliant they become on them in order to deal with even lesser amounts of pain. This results in addiction.
Like the other addictions on this list, opioid abusers experience less REM sleep. Their REM sleep is cut in half, as is their deep sleep (the stage of sleep where your body repairs and restores your muscles and body tissue). More of their time is spent in light sleep, which, while important, is much less restorative. They also get less sleep overall, and incur an increased risk for central sleep apnea.
All these effects combine to cause sleep deprivation that affects opioid addicts mentally and physically during the day, worsening their memory and their tolerance for pain. Even without abuse, chronic as-prescribed use of opioids interferes with your sleep architecture to such an extent that it causes fatigue.
Like most forms of addiction, opioid withdrawal is intense, but opioid addicts in particular are at increased risk for restless legs syndrome (RLS).
 
Sleep medication
 
Like opioids, prescription sleep medications like Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta are another common and legal form of medication people become addicted to. Because it’s a legal drug, sleep medications seems safe, so people take liberties with their dosage without consulting their doctor first. They may increase their dosage or take it more often than prescribed, increasing their risk for addiction.
Like a glass of wine before bed, people think nothing of taking sleep medication before sleep. However, these drugs are not approved or intended for long-term use. Unfortunately, the more often people take them, the more likely they are to come to rely on them to fall asleep just as opioid abusers need their drugs to manage their pain.
The moment they have trouble falling asleep, people go straight back to sleep medication instead of trying other behavioral methods. This results in overuse and abuse of the medication that’s especially dangerous and associated with a tripled mortality risk, cancer, and driving while asleep.
 
Behavioral addictions
 
Behavioral addictions like gambling and internet may not initially have the devastating physical effects of other drugs, but they do interfere with sleep and worsen one’s emotional and mental health. When you consider the correlation of poor mental health with outcomes like suicide, the physical risk becomes clear.
Addictive gamblers and internet users alike are at increased risk for anxiety and mood disorders that often cause, co-exist with, or contribute to insomnia. The worse their sleep, the worse they feel about their addiction – fueling a vicious cycle.
For example, studies of college-aged smartphone addicts show a direct relationship between high smartphone use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and associated daytime dysfunction. The sleep deprivation caused by behavioral addictions like internet addiction leads to depression and a significant increase in suicide attempts:
 
Addiction-Related Sleep Disorders
 
You probably noticed a common theme as you read the above section. Across the board, addictions reduce REM sleep, which is a problem in itself. However, many addictions are associated with specific sleep disorders as well.
While many people turn to alcohol, drugs, and other substances to help them sleep in the first place, these addictions exacerbate existing sleep problems and cause new ones of their own. Sleep problems caused by the addiction are known as substance-induced sleep disorders.
 
Substance-induced sleep disorders include:
 
  • Insomnia: Chronic insomnia describes regular difficulty falling or staying asleep, perhaps waking up too early or multiple times during the night. Insomnia is an extremely common symptom of both addiction and recovery, for sedatives, stimulants, prescription drugs, and behavioral addictions alike.
  • Hypersomnia:Hypersomnia describes excessive daytime sleepiness, or a lack of feeling unrefreshed from sleep. Often, it occurs with insomnia. People who can’t fall asleep tend to demonstrate symptoms of hypersomnia as well, frequently oversleeping or falling asleep during the day.
  • Parasomnias: This is a catch-all for abnormal sleep behaviors, such as sleepwalking or night terrors. Parasomnias are a common experience of hallucinogen abuse, and may create further insomnia, as individuals become afraid to fall asleep and experience the behavior. Nightmares are a frequent occurrence for those in marijuana or cocaine withdrawal.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a form of sleep-disordered breathing where the individual stops breathing momentarily during sleep. It may be caused by a relaxation of the throat muscles (as occurs with alcohol abuse and obstructive sleep apnea), or from a miscommunication with the brain (as with opioid addicts and central sleep apnea). The brain has to “wake up” in order to get you start breathing again, reducing the quality of your sleep even if you don’t remember waking up. Sleep apnea is experienced by over half of people with addiction.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS):RLS is a disorder where individuals experience an uncomfortable sensation in their lower limbs that can only be relieved by moving them. It typically occurs when the individual is lying down, as one is when you’re lying in bed. The constant need to move the legs in order to calm the sensation makes it difficult to relax sufficiently to fall asleep. RLS affects a third of addicts and is particularly common among opioid addicts.
  •  
    Sleep deprivation
     
    Each one of these sleep issues contributes to the sleep deprivation that makes one more reliant on their addiction to sleep, focus, or just feel okay – and makes it that much harder to stick to a detox plan.
    Whether they’re not getting enough sleep overall, or the sleep they’re getting is just lower quality, people experience the same effects of sleep deprivation. These include difficulty focusing, trouble remembering things, poor decision-making, emotional volatility, decreased reaction time, and in the long-term, increased risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
    Sleep deprivation is often linked with substance abuse, as both a symptom and a cause. Among adolescents, poor sleep is itself a predictor for marijuana and cigarette use. Chronic sleep deprivation reduces your dopamine, and since addicts may already be damaging their dopamine receptors, this makes them even more dependent on their addiction to regulate their emotions and response to pain.
     
    Sleep Problems During Addiction Recovery
     
    The beginning stages of detox are rough for all types of addiction. The first few days to a week see physical symptoms that are extremely uncomfortable, such as shakes or tremors, fever, vomiting, and headaches. Emotional symptoms understandably accompany these, including poor mood, depression, anxiety, and irritability.
    Symptoms vary by individual, addiction, and the severity of their addiction. For instance, some people withdrawing from sleep medication may experience seizures, and 5% of alcoholics may experience delirium tremens (DTs). DTs describe a group of additional symptoms such as hallucinations, heavy sweating, and increased heart rate.
    Because symptoms can vary, it is important to seek medical help and guidance as you begin recovery. While some can succeed with a cold turkey approach, for others it can be dangerous. Individuals with addictions to opioid and sleep medications are often advised to go slowly and taper their dosage down to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce their risk for relapse.
    By the end of your first week of detox, most of the physical symptoms either disappear or significantly decrease in severity. Remaining symptoms will continue to gradually diminish in the following months.
     
    Insomnia during detox
     
    However, one pesky symptom that stays ever present seems to be sleep problems. Insomnia is one of the most common, and persistent, symptoms of withdrawal. Between one to three-quarters of people in detox experience insomnia.
    Insomnia is challenging enough to deal with when you’re not in detox. As we noted above, it’s so challenging that it’s what drives many people to sedative drugs and alcohol in the first place. When you’re in withdrawal, however, you’re experiencing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, sensations, and feelings that you haven’t encountered before – and you’re having to face them without the crutch that got you by before.
    Many of the drugs we described above, such as cocaine, ecstasy, opioids, and amphetamines, upset your brain’s dopamine production. During your addiction, your brain became used to a new level of “normal” – which relied on those drugs to help you deal with pain and stay balanced emotionally. During the first few weeks of withdrawal, your brain slowly stabilizes back to normal dopamine production. While that’s happening, however, physical pain and negative emotions like stress and anxiety are much harder to bear.
    It’s not just physical, either. People who drank or smoked marijuana before bed trained their mind to recognize those activities to precursors to sleep. Without them, your brain is suddenly left wondering when it’s time to go to bed.
    Meanwhile, you’re running on less or poor quality sleep thanks to your detox-induced insomnia. This causes sleep deprivation that further reduces your tolerance for pain, and makes you quick to lash out at others or get irritable.  
    Insomnia is one of the biggest predictors of relapse, and the risk is doubled for those who develop a sleep disorder. This is why experts recommend that individuals include sleep as part of the treatment plan. Research shows that treating insomnia improves both sleep quality and symptoms of depression in those with alcoholism.
    Depending on the severity of your addiction, sleep problems associated with recovery can last for years. Fortunately, once you start sleeping better consistently, you can take it as evidence that you’ve fully detoxed.
     
    Tips for Improving Sleep During Addiction Recovery
     
    One of the best things you can do to ease the uncomfortable symptoms of recovery and ensure your ultimate success is to get good sleep. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
     
    Follow these tips to get better sleep during addiction recovery.
     
    1. Get help from others.
     
    It takes a village to recover from addiction. Open yourself up to others and ask them for help during this difficult time. Your loved ones care about you and want you to succeed; chances are they will be happy to help. Ask if you can spend the night with them during rough periods, or coordinate times for them to check in on you and see if you need anything.
    Consider joining local support groups, too. Speaking with others who have gone through addiction recovery, or are currently going through it  like yourself, can be helpful because they understand just how you feel. This website lists resources for various addictions, including 12-step groups, online forums, and treatment center locator tools.
     
    2. Try cognitive behavioral therapy.
     
    You round out your support system further with professional therapy and medical help. Recovery.org and SAMHSA both offer online directories to help you find treatment centers and health professionals who specialize in treating your addiction.
    Cognitive behavioral therapy in particular may be helpful. It’s a psychotherapy technique that involves 6 to 12 sessions. A therapist works with the patient to help them recognize the negative thoughts and behavioral patterns contributing to their problem. CBT treats a variety of issues ranging from addiction to mood disorders and insomnia.
    CBT-I is a subset focused specifically treating insomnia. In CBT-I, therapists work with individuals to educate them about sleep hygiene (more on this in the next tip), adjusting their sleep environment to promote sleep instead of prevent it (more on this in the tip after that), and practice different therapies such as relaxation exercises to induce sleep, sleep restriction to retrain the body to follow a specific sleep schedule, and more.
     
    3. Improve your sleep hygiene.
     
    Sleep hygiene describes the behaviors and thoughts you have around sleep. Having good sleep hygiene is often as simple as learning what it is, and adjusting your behaviors accordingly.
    For instance, good sleep hygiene includes following a regular sleep schedule, keeping your bedroom cool and dark, not eating or exercising before bed, avoiding alcohol or caffeine later in the day, and turning off your electronics before bed. Electronics energize the mind, flooding your retinas with strong blue light that tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime and time to be up and awake.
     
    4. Turn your bedroom into a sleep-promoting environment.
     
    Devote your bedroom to sleep and sex only – this trains your mind to associate it as a place of relaxation only. Avoid doing work or hobbies in your bedroom.
    Make this goal easier to achieve by removing stressful clutter, work items like a computer or desk, and even fun distractions like a TV from your bedroom.
    Invest in a comfortable mattress that feels great to sleep on. Keep your bedroom dark and cool with blackout curtains. Force your mind to focus on sleep alone with eye masks that block out light and white noise machines that drown out the noise.
    If you have difficulty falling asleep due to the feelings of anxiety that accompany the recovery process, try keeping a diary. You can write your thoughts down in there, freeing them from your mind so you can focus on sleep and leave your worries for another day.
     
    5. Follow a regular sleep schedule.
     
    Set a regular sleep schedule and follow it daily, even on weekends. You want to train your mind to naturally tire and wake up at the same time each day. Sticking to a schedule makes it easier to stick to other parts of your treatment plan.
    Avoid taking naps if possible, but if you absolutely must, limit them to 30 minutes and don’t take them past the afternoon. Otherwise, it will only be harder to fall asleep that night.
    Consider pairing your sleep schedule with a nightly bedtime routine. In the 30 minutes before bed each night, follow the same set of calming activities to teach your brain that it’s time for sleep. You might practice meditation, read a book, or listen to some relaxing music.
     
    6. Try bright light therapy.
     
    Bright light therapy involves sitting in front of an artificial light box that’s specially designed to mimic the strength of sunlight without the UV rays.
    Exposure to this light in the morning helps reset your circadian rhythms and can offset the fatigue of sleep deprivation and hypersomnia.
    Alternately, boost your energy levels by getting lots of natural sunlight. Go for a walk in the morning outside, or position your work desk to be by a window.
     
    7. Watch your diet and exercise.
     
    Speaking of walking, exercise is a great way to get out excess energy and physically tire your body in preparation for sleep later that night. Just be sure to do it in the earlier part of the day, or you’ll be energized to go for another run when you need to be falling asleep.
    Watch what you eat as well. Avoid heavy meals before bed, and try to eat healthy generally. Healthier foods promote better mood and better sleep. Limit your caffeine intake, and satisfy your thirst with water instead.
    Avoid taking melatonin or natural sleep aids. While these are generally considered safe, individuals in recovery are prone to addiction and would do best asking their doctor first.

    What Is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

    Posted on April 22, 2018 at 11:56 AM Comments comments (5)
    Many know the answer to the question “what is dry drunk syndrome?”, but sometimes the family members or close loved ones do not.
    So what is dry drunk syndrome? It is when an alcoholic is not drinking, yet they are still exhibiting the same behaviors they did while drinking. For example, a dry drunk can be someone who is a violent person while drinking, but remains violent even after the drink has been removed. Though the alcohol has been removed, the family is still experiencing chaos, if not even more so than before.
    There tends to be more arguing and turmoil, much to the dismay of the family. How can this be when the drinking has stopped? This occurs when the alcoholic is not working a program of recovery. Many times the family is perplexed because they think that the drink problem has been removed, so all of the following negative characteristics should be gone, too. Why does dry drunk syndrome happen?
    The disease of alcoholism centers in the mind of the alcoholic and is followed by a physical allergy.
    This means that in no way are we ever able to safely consume alcohol. When the mental craving is followed by the actual taking of a drink, the allergy kicks in. This makes it virtually impossible for us to stop unless we either run out or pass out. Because the disease centers in our mind, the simple removal of the substance is not enough to create a balanced mind. We must commence on a path of vigorous action in the form of a spiritual program.
    When someone is in the midst of dry drunk syndrome, it is because they are not working a program that removes their defects of character. Our defects, along with an array of other attributes, are what tend to propel us into alcoholic drinking in the first place. Sure it is great to remove the drink, but working a spiritual program of recovery is actually so much more than just not drinking.
    It teaches us how to live and behave with others in mind.
    Our selfish and self-centered way of thinking is replaced with a need to be of maximum service to others. These things are not achieved by merely putting the drink down. They are achieved by proper treatment, a program of recovery such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and staying plugged into the recovery community.
     

    Addiction

    Posted on April 8, 2018 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (3)
    A lot of people don’t know, a lot of people can’t imagine. I have a disease that you can’t see. Some people don’t think it’s a disease. Some people think it’s u...sed as an excuse. Some people think I had a choice or could just STOP. I fight stigma every day. I experience death more than the average person. I also experience compassion more than the average person. I am insecure and fearful more than most. I have a past due to animalistic behavior and survival. I have a future due to finding freedom from my disease. My disease is deadly. My disease is in my mind and my only defense is self-awareness and total abstinence. My disease has been medically proven to exist. There’s no magic pill that will ever cure me. I am grateful for how far I’ve come. I am grateful to get to see others with the disease come back to life. There are people who don’t believe, who think they’ve got it all figured out. We are selfish, we are criminals, we are losers. They would rather hide from the truth and throw stones. That’s okay. I will still fight. I will still live my life and support others in my predicament. One day others may see. We are worth our breath. We are suffering. We are many. We are human and deserve love. It’s okay that they don’t believe right now. They don’t have to live with the disease and for that I am grateful too. They never have to experience the darkness the way we have. I choose hope. I choose compassion. I choose the trenches. Where there is so much darkness, on the other side, there’s much more light. Ignorance can change into understanding. All things are possible. Today I will keep fighting. Tomorrow too. For those suffering from this disease, Addiction...Keep fighting, there is a way out and we are waiting for you. No judgment, just open arms.

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