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Poverty and addictionThe relationship between addiction and poverty is complicated. Lower income people are slightly more likely to struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that poverty causes addiction. In some cases, financial troubles are the result of a substance use disorder.

Poverty Increases Addiction Risk Factors

There are several ways in which financial struggles increase the risk of a person developing a substance use disorder:

  • Poverty increases stress. Stress is well recognized as a risk factor for substance abuse and relapse after treatment. Worrying about how to afford shelter, food, and other basic needs causes a tremendous amount of stress. When you’re struggling to make ends meet, there is a great temptation to turn to drugs or alcohol to temporarily escape from your problems.
  • Poverty increases feelings of hopeless. When meeting daily expenses is difficult, dreams of attending college, buying a home, opening a business, or traveling the world seem impossible. Feeling as though you are powerless over your own future creates a vulnerability to substance abuse.
  • Poverty decreases self-esteem. In a culture that values material possessions and financial success, being poor can feel like a moral failing. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and diminished self-worth. According to Psychology Today, people struggling with low self-esteem have an increased vulnerability to developing substance use disorders.
  • Poverty decreases social support. Having the emotional support of friends and family helps people cope with difficult situations in their lives. However, lower income adults are less likely to have strong social support networks simply because they are expending all of their energy on trying to survive from day to day. For example, a UCLA survey found that lower income adults are less likely to be married even though they value marriage just as much as their higher income peers.
  • Poverty decreases access to healthcare. Although the number of uninsured adults has decreased in recent years, the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation found that 45 percent of uninsured adults lacked coverage simply because the cost was too high. Despite the fact that most of these individuals had at least one working adult in the family, 1 in 5 admitted to foregoing recommended medical treatment due to cost. Access to preventative health care is also severely limited for members of this group. Untreated mental health conditions or chronic illnesses that are poorly controlled can lead to the use of drugs or alcohol to self-medicate symptoms.

One frequently cited example of how poverty affects addiction risk is the Appalachian opioid epidemic. Stretching from the Southern Tier of New York to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, the Appalachian region of the United States has struggled with widespread poverty since the early 1900s. The majority of the available jobs are physically demanding, carrying a high risk of injuries despite their relatively low wages. Residents who begin taking opioids to cope with chronic pain from their employment-related injuries often find themselves spiraling into addiction. The effects of substance abuse make it nearly impossible to keep working, thus perpetuating financial struggles.

Addiction Can Cause People to Slip into Poverty

It’s important to remember that people with substance use disorders don’t necessarily develop an addiction simply because they are poor. Someone who is solidly middle class can easily slip into poverty as the result of an untreated drug or alcohol addiction.

As an addiction develops, it becomes increasingly likely that a person will have problems performing at work. This might include arriving late, missing shifts, failing to meet project deadlines, or getting into arguments with colleagues. Eventually, this can lead to job loss.

Being terminated for performance issues will make it harder to find another job. This increases the overall stress in the person’s life and provides an incentive to engage in criminal activity to fund continued substance abuse.

Middle class individuals can also slip into addiction-related poverty by selling assets or dipping into retirement savings to buy drugs or alcohol. Untreated addiction impairs judgement and critical thinking skills, which can lead someone who is normally very financially responsible to burn through decades of accumulated wealth in just a short time.

Promoting Recovery by Treating the Root Causes of Addiction

No two people with substance use disorders are exactly alike. To promote a lasting recovery, it’s vital that treatment plans address the underlying issues contributing to addiction. This could include providing job skills training, affordable housing resources, or access to community-based assistance programs for low-income individuals in addiction to detox and substance abuse counseling.

By working to heal the mind, body, and spirit, St. Joseph Institute helps clients move towards a future free from the burden of addiction. With personalized care, you can regain control of your life.

 

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

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Open bookThere are thousands of self-help books promising to teach readers the secret to leading a better life, including many dealing with addiction recovery. Although you can’t cure drug or alcohol addiction simply by reading a book, self-help books can increase your understanding of addiction and help you figure out ways to handle cravings, codependent family relationships, and the challenges of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

6 Addiction and Recovery Self-Help Books to Add to Your Reading List

If you’re in the early stages of recovery, the following titles can help you stay motivated and on the right path to building a successful sober lifestyle.

1. Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction by Maia Szalavitz

Published in 2017, Unbroken Brain is a New York Times bestseller by one of the premier American journalists covering addiction in America. Szalavitz has written for TIME.com, New York Magazine, VICE, Scientific American, Psychology Today, and The Guardian among others. She is also in recovery herself, giving her a personal perspective on this complex issue.

Unbroken Brain reviews recent scientific research to make the argument that addictive behaviors fall on a spectrum, much like autistic behaviors. The author states that instead of suffering from a “broken brain” or being afflicted with an addictive personality, someone abusing drugs or alcohol has a learning disorder that can be addressed with targeted treatment.

2. Sober For Good.: New Solutions for Drinking Problems — Advice from Those Who Have Succeeded by Anne M. Fletcher

Featuring advice from recovering alcoholics of many different backgrounds, Sober for Good shows that recovery is possible for everyone. Sober for Good is often recommended by people who don’t feel that the 12-step approach of AA is the right fit for their needs but aren’t sure what alternatives are available.

Fletcher has been featured on The View, Good Morning America, CNN, and other national media programs. She is an award-winning health and medical writer, speaker, and consultant on the topics of addiction and lifestyle change.

3. Living with Co-Occurring Addiction And Mental Health Disorders: A Handbook for Recovery by Mark McGovern

Co-occurring disorders such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety are common among people seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Although a dual diagnosis can present challenges for recovery, having a co-occurring disorder doesn’t mean that sobriety isn’t a realistic goal.

McGovern explains how co-occurring disorders can affect the recovery process while stressing the importance of working with your treatment team to set achievable goals, create a support network, and make positive changes that support your recovery. A Professor of Psychiatry and of Community and Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, his professional career is devoted to research into the needs of persons with co-occurring disorders.

4. Willpower’s Not Enough: Understanding and Overcoming Addiction and Compulsion by Arnold M. Washton

Washton seeks to dispel the oldest and most persistent myth in addiction recovery: No matter how badly someone wants to change, willpower along can’t cure a drug or alcohol addiction. Addiction represents a desire for a change in mood, which means recovery must involve addressing the underlying issues that contributed to unhappiness with one’s current lifestyle.

Willpower Is Not Enough was first published in 1990, but each printing has involved updating the information to reflect contemporary views. The title is regularly recommended by members of 12-step groups as well as people who struggle with process addictions such as gambling addiction and sex addiction.

5. Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change by Jeffrey Foote, Carrie Wilkens, Nicole Kosanke, and Stephanie Higgs

Attempting to shame or punish people with a substance use disorder is a popular approach, but it’s one that never works. Beyond Addiction explains why positive reinforcement and kindness are more effective than “tough love” in promoting a lasting recovery. The book draws on the authors’ 40 collective years of research and clinical experience to promote progressive treatment approaches that make lasting change possible regardless of past struggles.

In addition to offering valuable insight for individuals in recovery by stressing the value of positive affirmations, Beyond Addiction provides a guide for friends and family of recovering substance abusers who wish to learn more about how they can best support their loved one’s sobriety.

6. Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand

If traditional self-help books are too dry for your tastes, Russell Brand’s humorous and entertaining approach may be just what you need. Part memoir and part self-help guide, Recovery advocates the 12-step approach to sobriety by explaining in great detail how the steps can apply to your life.

An English comedian, actor, and radio host, Brand has been an outspoken recovery advocate due to his own struggles with heroin, alcohol, sex, and food addictions. As part of his activism in the recovery community, he opened a nonprofit coffee house in London operated by people in abstinence-based drug abuse recovery programs.

Understanding the Limits of Self-Help Books for Addiction Treatment

Although self-help books do offer some important benefits in recovery, they should not be used as a replacement for traditional forms of addiction treatment. Detox, counseling, and holistic treatments provide the best foundation for sobriety.

Self-help is only effective when a person can:

  • Clearly identify the problem
  • Approach treatment logically
  • Dedicate the necessary time and energy to achieving the desired results

Someone who is actively abusing drugs or alcohol is suffering from impaired impulse control, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. He or she is likely in deep denial about the extent of the addiction and will continue patterns of substance abuse despite any negative consequences that occur.

If you wish to use self-help books as part of your addiction recovery, they are best incorporated into your aftercare plan for maintaining sobriety following residential treatment.

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

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Sign of Pennsylvania

St. Joseph Institute for Addiction’s rehab programs can provide you with medically supervised detox and counseling to build the skills necessary for sobriety. However, since addiction is a chronic illness, you may find it helpful to take advantage of some of these community-based resources for ongoing support.

Penn State Collegiate Recovery Center

Penn State’s Collegiate Recovery Community helps students recovering from substance abuse successfully reach their academic goals by connecting them with a variety of campus-based resources.

For example, students in need of campus housing can choose to live in the ROAR (Residence of Addiction Recovery) House. Located in the White Course Apartments, this drug and alcohol free community connects students with their peers in recovery to provide a safe and supportive living arrangement.

Support for students doesn’t end after they graduate. In addition to the student-run Lions for Recovery, there is also an alumni support group that helps graduates with substance abuse issues stay sober and take advantage of professional networking opportunities.

United Against Heroin Addiction

Formed to address the heroin epidemic in Centre County, United Against Heroin Addiction offers direct assistance to people with addiction problems, emotional support to those affected by addiction, and a number of community education and awareness programs. A key component of this process is the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), a self-designed prevention and wellness process that can be used by people of all ages to address substance abuse as well as other mental health challenges.

In addition to working directly with those affected by addiction, United Against Heroin Addiction also advocates for effective legislation to address the state’s growing opioid epidemic and additional funding for research into new addiction treatment options. All of this work is made possible by a group of dedicated volunteers.

Just for Today

Founded in 2006, Just for Today provides addiction education and advocacy for the recovery community in central Pennsylvania. They are a licensed provider of Vivitrol, a non-narcotic, monthly intramuscular injection that blocks receptors in the brain associated with the “high” from opioids such as heroin or Oxycontin.

In addition to providing general recovery services, Just for Today offers special recovery houses for veterans, as well as recovery groups and meetings focusing on the unique challenges former service members face in maintaining their sobriety.

Women for Sobriety

Founded in 1975, Women for Sobriety is self-help recovery group for women offering face-to-face meetings as well as online chats and a 24/7 forum. They are not affiliated with any other recovery organization and operate by the philosophy ” “Release the past – plan for tomorrow – live for today.”

Although Women for Sobriety is based in Pennsylvania, they have members from throughout the U.S. and Canada. In June, the organization hosts an annual three-day conference to help members take the next step in their recovery.

Hearts for Homeless

If substance abuse issues are related to a lack of stable housing, Hearts for Homeless can help by provide temporary shelter, access to case managers, and 24/7 support. The organization serves those who are currently homeless as well as those who are in danger of becoming homeless.

In addition to offering connections to substance abuse treatment resources, Hearts for Homeless can provide job search assistance and help navigating problems with the criminal justice system. They are one of the few community shelters open during the day and encourage residents in need to drop in whenever they have questions or need a place to get away from the elements.

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

This state-run website helps you learn more about your insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment and provides a searchable directory of care providers within the state.

You can also use the site to search for your local county drug and alcohol office. Staff members at these offices are able to provide personalized assistance finding addiction treatment options, with a focus on free or low-cost choices for individuals who do not have adequate insurance coverage.

Centre Helps

Centre Helps offers a 24-hour hotline at 800-494-2500 or 814-237-5855 to help residents in crisis. In addition to answering questions about addiction treatment and recovery resources in Pennsylvania, they can provide answers about financial assistance for low-income people, help for victims of domestic abuse, and resources for the disabled.

If you’d rather talk to someone in person, you can visit the drop-in center that is open weekdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at 410 South Fraser Street in State College. At the drop-in center, you can request a case manager who will be able to provide personalized assistance tailored to the specific challenges you are facing.

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

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