Entries tagged with “Overcoming addiction”.


Opioid abuse remains a serious public health issue throughout the United States. This is, however, an often misunderstood type of addiction, since many people who use opioid pain medication have a valid reason for doing so and abusers often begin due to an appropriately diagnosed medical condition.

About Opioids

Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication. They’re designed to interact with the opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brainstem, spinal cord, and limbic system to relieve pain.

Commonly prescribed types of opioids and their associated brand names include:

  • Fentanyl: Actiq, Duragesic, and Fentora
  • Hydrocodone: Hysingla ER and Zohydro ER
  • Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen: Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin
  • Hydromorphone: Dilaudid and Exalgo
  • Meperidine: Demerol
  • Morphine: Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, and Oramorph SR
  • Oxycodone: OxyContin, Oxecta, and Roxicodone
  • Oxycodone and Acetaminophen: Percocet, Endocet, and Roxicet
  • Oxycodone and Naloxone: Targiniq ER

Heroin is also a type of opioid. Many people who begin abusing prescription pain medications eventually turn to heroin to get the high associated with opioid pain relievers at a lower cost. In fact, studies have indicated that as many as four out of five new heroin users started using after developing an addiction to prescription opioids.

Opioid Dangers

When used in a supervised medical setting, opioids are generally considered safe. However, the medication has a potential for tolerance, dependence, and abuse. The negative health effects of long term opioid abuse include a depressed immune system, lowered libido, respiratory difficulties, osteoporosis, abnormal heartbeat, hallucinations, delirium, and increased fatigue. Overdoses can lead to fatal oxygen deprivation.

Responsible Opioid Use vs. Signs of Addiction

Recognizing the signs of opioid abuse presents unique challenges because the medication serves an important purpose. Short term use after an injury or surgery helps patients recover with minimal discomfort.  People who suffer from chronic pain can also use opioids in cooperation with other techniques, such as physical therapy to help keep their pain levels in check so they can go about their daily routine. Some of the many conditions treated with opioids include:

  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Migraines
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Fibromyalgia

Appropriate opioid use includes the following:

  • Taking medication in the prescribed dose at the correct time
  • Avoiding alcohol or other drugs that could interfere with the effectiveness of the medication
  • Being cautious about driving or operating heavy machinery until you understand how the medication affects your body
  • Keeping medication in a secure location where it’s not accessible by others
  • Refraining from sharing or selling pills
  • Keeping all recommended follow-up appointments with your doctor

Unfortunately, due to the addictive nature of these opioid pain medications, it’s easy to slide from appropriate use into a more serious problem. Signs of potential abuse include:

  • Making excuses to get refills ahead of schedule, such as falsely claiming you lost your medication or had it stolen
  • Seeing multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for several different types of opioid medications
  • Mixing medications with alcohol or other drugs
  • Buying or stealing pills
  • Requiring an increased dosage over time to get the same effect
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you’re unable to use
  • Lying to friends and family about your use of opioid medication
  • Avoiding hobbies and other activities you previously enjoyed in favor of using
  • Continuing to use despite experiencing negative consequences in your personal or professional relationships

People of all ages, races, and economic classes can develop an opioid addiction. However, women appear to have the highest risk. Research shows that prescription pain reliever overdose deaths among women increased more than 400% from 1999 to 2010, compared to a 237% increase among men during the same time period. In addition to being more likely to seek out prescription pain relievers from a doctor, women are more likely to become physically dependent on the medication due to their smaller size and hormonal makeup.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Naloxone, sold under the brand names Narcan and Evzio, has received extensive media attention for its role in treating opioid overdoses. Paramedics, firefighters, police officers, and public safety workers are being trained to administer the drug in hopes of combating the opioid epidemic. However, the best way to fight opioid addiction is to seek treatment as soon as a pattern of abuse is identified.

Treatment programs for opioid addiction provide medically assisted detox and cognitive behavioral therapy to help substance abusers learn different ways to cope with the underlying issues at the root of their addiction. To learn more about treatment options for yourself or someone you love, contact the experienced staff at St. Joseph Institute today.

By: Dana Hinders


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man using computer

Job hunting is never an easy process, but people in recovery face some distinct challenges. From the need for a flexible schedule to explaining a spotty work history, landing a new position while in recovery will require careful planning and preparation.

Daniel Krasner, Summit Behavioral Healthcare’s Assistant Vice President of National Business Development, has a unique perspective on the post-recovery job search. He launched his own successful career after receiving addiction treatment and has helped fill multiple marketing and sales-related positions.

Recently, Krasner volunteered to share some advice for job seekers in recovery.

1. Don’t Share Too Early in the Process
Krasner believes your recovery shouldn’t be mentioned in your resume or cover letter. Employers only need information that’s relevant to your ability to perform specific job duties.

“I look at addiction as a disease, like diabetes,” Krasner said. “Just as you wouldn’t immediately tell a potential employer that you’re a diabetic, you don’t need to mention that you’re in recovery until an offer is on the table. It’s not necessarily something you need to share until it becomes relevant to the job at hand.”

2. Decide How Much You’re Comfortable Disclosing
Seeking addiction treatment is nothing to be ashamed of, but people in recovery have different levels of comfort when discussing their sobriety with others. To a large extent, how much you share is a matter of personal preference.

“Everyone is different as far as their willingness to disclose,” Krasner said. “You can come right out and say you were in recovery or you can simply say you had a medical issue that needed to be addressed. If you’re still in treatment or at a halfway house, you might need to provide more detail than someone with a few years of sobriety simply because you might need to leave early for meetings. If you’ve been sober for several years and it won’t affect your job performance, a full disclosure is less important.”

3. Be Honest
Wanting to protect your privacy is understandable, but it’s vitally important that you tell the truth when asked. Although a potential employer isn’t entitled to know every detail about your addiction treatment, the issue becomes relevant if you have a criminal record from your addiction or were terminated for addiction-related performance issues. Lying about your background will lead to automatic termination for most employers, regardless of whether you’re fudging your educational credentials or omitting the fact that you have a DUI and a possession charge on your record.

Owning up to your past isn’t easy, but Krasner points out that the best way to get a job is to help an employer see that you have the maturity to use past mistakes as an opportunity for growth. “You have to go into the process assuming that they will call your past employer and conduct a background check,” Krasner said. “Be honest about the mistakes that you’ve made, but show that you’ve changed since then.”

If you’re worried that you’ll get tongue-tied when asked about a specific issue on your resume, write up a detailed response beforehand and practice it with a friend or your sponsor. “God didn’t carry you this far to see you fall,” Krasner said. “Lean on your support network and practice your interviewing skills to calm your nerves and boost your confidence.”

4. Be Open to Feedback
Rejection is unfortunately part of the job search. This can be hard for someone in recovery, as it may trigger feelings of being not good enough or unworthy of success. However, successful job seekers are those who can turn rejection into a new opportunity.

“If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, ask for feedback on areas you need to improve,” Krasner said. “You may also want to take a deep hard look at your resume. To be effective, it needs to portray your background honestly but positively and be targeted towards the specific job position.”

5. Be Willing to Start Small
When it comes to your post-recovery career, you can’t expect to land your dream job immediately. Change takes time, so patience is a virtue. Treat your job search like a full-time job, be strategic, and stay confident in the belief that you’ll eventually find a position that’s right for you.

“It’s always easier to get a job if you already have a job,” Krasner said. “You may have to humble yourself somewhat to get your foot in the door, especially if your professional reputation suffered due to your addiction. This is a consequence of the choices you’ve made. Take what you can get, but use the opportunity as a steppingstone to something better.”

By Dana Hinders

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website.


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holidays

The holidays can be a difficult time for those who are in the early stages of recovery. If you’re used to a holiday season that involves using alcohol or drugs to socialize and celebrate, navigating a sober Christmas may feel a little intimidating. Prepare yourself for the challenge with this 7-step game plan.

1. Organize Your Support System
Experts agree that having a strong support system in place is the single most important thing you can do to help yourself stay sober over the holidays. Here are some simple ways to prepare your support system for the holidays:

  • Make a list of 5 to 10 people you can call if you’re struggling and feel tempted to relapse. Carry the list with you in your wallet or purse.
  • If you’re traveling, look up addresses of meetings in the area you plan to visit. Keep this information with your list of emergency contacts.
  • When you’re attending social events, try to go with a friend or family member who is supportive of your recovery and willing to help you navigate tricky situations, like politely refusing alcoholic drinks.
  • Ask someone you trust to check in on you regularly during the holiday season.

2. Give Yourself Permission to Let Go
The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is permission to let go of the toxic people in your life. People who are ill mannered, mean spirited, unsupportive, and manipulative drain your emotional energy and jeopardize your recovery. You deserve better.

Giving yourself permission to let go may mean not returning phone calls or skipping a few holiday parties where these toxic individuals are likely to be in attendance. This isn’t rude; you’re simply giving yourself the space you need to move forward with the next chapter of your life.

3. Keep Your Expectations in Check
The media hype surrounding the holidays makes it seem like everyone has a picture-perfect Christmas celebration. However, the reality is often that children squabble amongst themselves, dinner gets burnt, the dog breaks your favorite tree ornament, and bad weather cancels your favorite cousin’s flight.

These unexpected setbacks are bound to be frustrating, but they’ll be less bothersome if you try to keep realistic expectations for the holidays. Accept that the best parts of life are often messy and imperfect. When you’re frustrated, take a deep breath and try to find humor in the situation.

4. Make New Holiday Traditions
If you’re worried about being tempted to relapse due to holiday rituals that center around alcohol or drug use, now is the time to create new traditions. Make positive memories that fit into your new sober lifestyle.

Ideas for new holiday traditions you might want to incorporate into your Christmas celebration include:

  • Bake and decorate cookies for friends and family.
  • Pick a Pinterest DIY décor project to try.
  • Go caroling.
  • Pop a bowl of fresh popcorn and watch classic Christmas movies with your loved ones.
  • Purchase a special ornament for your tree to commemorate the year.
  • Organize a small Secret Santa gift exchange.
  • Send Christmas cards to family and friends.

5. Take Time to Help Others
Helping others during the holiday season lets you make a positive change in the world while providing a welcome distraction from your own struggles. Once you see how wonderful it can be to do something kind for people in need, volunteering might become a regular part of your routine.

Some ideas to consider include:

  • Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
  • Spend some time helping care for pets waiting to be adopted at an animal shelter.
  • Make a donation of food or toiletries to a nearby homeless shelter.
  • Visit nursing home residents who don’t have any family nearby to keep them company during the holidays.
  • Deliver puzzles, coloring books, or other inexpensive gifts to a children’s hospital to provide joy to kids who won’t be home for Christmas.
  • Bring homemade treats and a handwritten note of appreciation to firefighters, law enforcement officers, or others who work to help keep your community safe.

6. Make Time for Self-Care
Self-care is a vital part of your recovery, even during the holidays. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season that you forget these vital self-care principles:

  • Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Regular physical activity strengthens your body, boosts your immune system, and releases endorphins that help balance your mood.
  • Strive to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. A healthy diet helps repair some of the damage to your body caused by drug and alcohol abuse, while giving you the energy you need to get through your daily routine. It’s fine to indulge in a few Christmas sweets, but make sure you’re still getting the fuel your body needs.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, even if it means turning in earlier at night or making time for a short 20-minute nap during the day.

7. Monitor Your Triggers
The most common triggers for relapse can be remembered with the acronym HALT: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. These triggers can all be successfully managed, but only if you’re making a conscious effort to think about how your mood affects your urge to drink or use drugs. Writing in a journal each day can be a helpful way to identify patterns in your mood and behavior so you can proactively manage your recovery.


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