How to Help a Loved One with Addiction

Orange County Rehabilitation Specialists Provide Tips for Help

If your family member or loved one is suffering in the depth of addiction, it is critical to know the difference between control and pressure versus influence and support. Pressure, control, and change by force is not possible in addiction. Neither the addict nor the loved one is in control in this situation, the substance is truly the one in charge. We cannot force change or trick a loved one into quitting. A better, more effective approach is to offer support and influence via positive reinforcement, information on programs and support groups, and consistent boundaries.

The team of Orange County rehabilitation professionals at Fresh Start of California understands the mental and emotional toll that addiction takes on loved ones. We know that you need support and help as much as the addict. Our team is here as a resource to you and your loved one, and we can help you find a treatment program that will best fit your family member, spouse, or friend who needs professional help. Let our recovery team be the professional support that your loved one needs, so you can get some peace of mind.

Contact Fresh Start of California today to discuss treatment options in Orange County.

5 Ways to Help a Loved One with Addiction

You may think that helping a loved one with addiction involves offering money, housing, and entering into an “enabling” relationship, but that is not the case. There are very important ways to help your loved one without becoming codependent or enabling.

The top 5 ways to help your loved one suffering from addiction are:

  1. Be consistent. Consistent rules, expectations, promises, consequences, and boundaries will help your loved one feel safe and cared for. Also, consistency and rigid rules will help you not to enable.
  2. Be optimistic. Optimism, while being realistic, is important in maintaining sanity while dealing with the aftermath of binges, psychosis, withdrawals, and other negative aspects of using. Whether faith-based or fact-based, find something to keep thinking positive outside of the addiction relationship.
  3. Be encouraging. Use different types of encouragement from physical (hugs, physical presence) to emotional and mental encouragement. Verbally encouraging an addict when he or she is feeling down can make a difference, even if you don’t seem to get a reaction.
  4. Be educated. Inform yourself so that you know the truth about addiction, what it looks like, and how it affects users and their loved ones. Educate yourself on codependency and the signs of enabling so that you can be prepared and avoid making a situation worse.
  5. Be assertive. When addressing the issue, do not sugarcoat or tiptoe, be assertive and straightforward. Do not mask the effects of addiction from the addict. Ignoring the issue of addiction will not make it go away.

A bonus tip, that is equally important as all of the others, is to take care of yourself. Be sure to eat, drink water, and get adequate sleep while caring for and supporting an addicted loved one. It sounds cliché but practicing self-care is important when you are dealing with the stress, fear, and unknowns of dealing with addiction.

Addicts and Loved Ones Both Need Help

It is not uncommon for loved ones of addicts to need some sort of help themselves. Whether you require counseling, codependency therapy, or any other support, there is help out there. Our addiction and rehabilitation team at Orange County’s Fresh Start of California has access to excellent resources and recovery programs for you and your loved one. Let us help you make a difference in your loved one’s life.

Contact Fresh Start of California today to learn about detox and addiction recovery solutions.

How Injuries Cause Opioid Addiction

Understanding Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a national crisis, and a large portion of individuals struggling can trace their point of contact to a prescription following an injury. According to the CDC, more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in the United States in 2017 alone.

Opioid pain medication is a classification of synthetic opiate drugs (heroin) and includes fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and others, and is used to treat mild to severe pain. The most at-risk groups of those prescribed opioids include athletes suffering from sports injuries (particularly youth), work injuries, and those that suffer from chronic pain. Misuse of opioid prescriptions is defined by non-medical use of pain medication: taking opioid medication at a higher dose, or for a longer time than actually prescribed. While prescription pain medication can be safe when used properly and short term, and a dependency to these narcotics can develop in only a few days of daily use.

The physiological effects of opioid use make them highly addictive and the danger of misusing prescription opioids is serious. Nearly 3 out of 4 prescription overdoses are caused by opioid pain medication and these deaths make up more than heroin and cocaine combined. In addition, some of those affected by opioid pain medication addiction turn to non-medication opiates such as heroin and illegal fentanyl to satisfy the body’s chemical dependency—in fact, 80% of new heroin users now in treatment for addiction were first prescribed opioids. This harrowing fact compounds the potential danger of long-term drug addiction and overdose with prolonged narcotic pain medication use.

Opioid addiction after an injury can happen to anyone. It is important to understand that if you or a loved one is struggling with stopping prescribed opiates, it is because the physiological changes due to prolonged use of opioid medication cause physical and mental dependency on pain relievers. Fortunately, there are resources to help, regardless of how severe or prolonged the opioid addiction.

Contact the Orange County detox and rehabilitation specialists at Fresh Start of California for addiction recovery options and where to start. Call our team today.

How Opioids Affect the Body

Simply put, opioids are a form of pain relief. Narcotic painkillers work by reducing your body’s ability to feel pain by attaching receptors to the brain that trigger a dopamine release instead. It is not that pain is actually relieved, but rather, your body simply cannot feel it. This is dangerous long term, because pain naturally triggers the natural release of endorphins in the body, which actually promote healing—without this process due to supplementing dopamine triggers synthetically instead, your body will heal slower and be more susceptible to injury in the future.

While opioids prescribed after an injury or surgery will help pain management during the healing process short-term, the body eventually develops a tolerance for pain medication. This often results in misuse of prescriptions by taking higher doses, by being prescribed stronger or different medications, or by turning to illegal opioids. In fact, when opioids are used for more than 4 weeks, your body actually becomes more sensitive to pain and cannot return to a normal state of healing when stopping opioid medication. In addition, the dopamine high felt when taking opioids is extremely addicting on its own, creating a dangerous cycle of opioid dependency.

There are factors that increase the risk of opioid misuse and potential addiction:

  • Taking higher doses than is prescribed
  • Taking opioids for an extended period of time
  • Taking multiple kinds of opioids at the same time
  • Mixing opioids with alcohol or other intoxicants
  • Mixing opioids with other prescriptions, such as anti-anxiety, anti-depression, or sleeping medications

Opioid medication should never be taken for chronic pain, and following an injury, should only be taken for pain management for a few days to avoid dependency.

Work Injuries and Opioid Addiction

Whether injured on the job or if work habits have contributed to other pain-causing factors, work injuries are often the culprit when it comes to long-term use of prescription opioids, resulting in several harmful side effects.

There are particular additional high-risk factors for at-risk injured workers, who have a higher chance of developing the following after a work-related injury:

  • Depression
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • COPD
  • Heart problems/heart failure
  • Respiratory problems

In fact, according to the National Safety Council, 25% of workers’ compensation prescription claims are for opioid medications, despite the risk of disability doubling for injured workers that are prescribed opioids for more than one week.

Sports Injuries and Opioid Addiction

Sports injuries affect the widest demographic of opioid dependencies—athletes of all ages and backgrounds are at-risk of developing an opioid addiction following an injury. Opioids are commonly prescribed for concussions, broken bones, repetitive injuries, and sports-related chronic pain.

Additionally, this affects youth—young athletes are prescribed opioids at twice the rate of their peers, and 11% of student-athletes have misused prescription opioids. This often comes with the pressure of maintaining performance levels in high school athletes attempting to get onto college teams, and college athletes proving themselves as professional athletes. Coaches, parents, and physicians should closely monitor any young athlete who has been injured and prescribed opioids to prevent misuse and dependency.

The extreme physical strain on athletes’ bodies make them more susceptible to injury, yet often does not allow time for a full and healthy recovery. As a result, many athletes depend on opioids to manage pain in order to prevent taking any time off. On top of this, many athletes turn to opioids as a means to manage depression and emotional tax of sports-related injury.

Post-Injury Opioid Addiction Prevention and Treatment

Managing pain without medication, whether over the counter or an opioid medication prescription can be difficult. However, there are ways that opioid addiction can be prevented during an injury recovery process:

  • Reconsider the use of opioids for pain management in the first place—other pain medications such as anti-inflammatories (acetaminophen and ibuprofen) pose less risk in health-related side effects as well as potential abuse and addiction
  • Advocate for limited term opioid prescriptions—only 2 or 3 days instead of 1-4 weeks
  • Avoid long acting or extended release opioid medication, which pose a higher risk for overdose when misused
  • Communicate with your doctor if you fall in any at-risk category for harmful side effects of prolonged opioid use, such as a history of depression or health issues
  • Monitor loved ones, particularly youth, who have been prescribed opioids
  • Ask your doctor for alternative, drug-free physical therapy treatments that help to heal the injury rather than simply alleviate pain during the healing process

If you are a loved one has had trouble coming off of pain medication or has developed an opioid dependency following an injury, our Orange County rehab professionals can help. The specialists at Fresh Start California understand how difficult this process can be and are sympathetic to each individual circumstance. We want to help you recover, no matter what point of opioid addiction you may be struggling with.

Contact Fresh Start of California in Orange County today.

How Journaling Can Help You Maintain Sobriety

Journaling: A Powerful Tool for Healing and Recovery

The writing process is a natural form of self-reflection with therapeutic benefits, and journaling can help process the emotional challenges that come along with the recovery process. Because journaling requires only yourself and a commitment to the practice, it is a low-pressure communication tool that allows you to dig deep and learn about yourself, your life, and the path you have chosen in recovery.

The practice of journaling is cathartic way to express your emotions and manage mental health issues affected by addiction such as anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as understanding the root of the addiction itself. This healthy form of mental health management should be an accessible tool in your recovery toolbox that you can use to maintain longevity in your sobriety. In fact, even before making that life-changing decision to pursue detox and addiction rehabilitation, keeping a journal can help process and reconcile with the need to seek treatment.

Contact the Orange County detox and rehab specialists at Fresh Start of California for addiction recovery options and where to start. Call our team today.

The Benefits of Keeping a Recovery Journal

Studies have shown that writing in a journal actually trigger positive physiological responses in your mind and body. By simultaneously enacting the rational left side and creative right side of your brain, you are able to freely express yourself without verbal or communicative restraints. Writing in this mindset also improves cognitive function and ability, and strengthens your personal relationship with yourself, empowering your emotions and bolstering your natural coping mechanisms.

Breaking down the many benefits of journaling for recovery can also help boost your confidence and keep you on track. These specific benefits include:

  • Self-reflection and self-actualization: The reflective moments that you allow yourself with your journal allow you to look inward and understand your emotions, encouraging you to reflect and grow. By being in touch with yourself, you will strengthen your emotional intelligence, and learn how to act with integrity while cultivating self-confidence.
  • Naming problems and responsibilities: Self-reflection requires honesty, and honesty is necessary during the recovery process. Journaling compels these honest conversations with yourself so you can recognize your triggers, responsibilities, the root of your addiction, and how to overcome these issues to maintain sobriety long term.
  • Preserve your privacy: It is difficult to be honest with yourself when that information is shared. With journaling, you are having a conversation between you and yourself—no one else needs to read it. You are free to get it all out on the page without judgement.
  • Setting goals and tracking progress: One of the most valuable benefits of journaling is creating a written record of progress and goal-achievements. It is inspiring to look back on previous journal entries and see how much you’ve grown emotionally and how far you’ve journeyed through recovery. This helps maintain progress and keep momentum, especially during periods of self-doubt and when facing external challenges.

Writing in a journal is habitual act that takes commitment and dedication—even a few words a day will help you maintain a helpful, therapeutic practice. By processing and unpacking your emotions through daily journaling, you harvest a growth mindset while stimulating self-accountability that keeps you on track in your recovery process.

How to Start Journaling for Recovery

One of the most beneficial elements of journaling is how accessible it is. You simply need a pen, a notebook, and a sliver of time for yourself. Writing prompts can sometimes help you break the ice and write with certain topics in mind; other writers prefer to record and reflect the day’s events. Journaling while in therapy or rehabilitation programs usually combine approaches to allow both guidance and freedom.

Everyone’s writing and journaling process works differently for them, and you should allow yourself to shed any pressure you may feel about getting started. Remember—it’s just you, and the blank page in front of you.

There are several types of journaling, and each can be accessible and adaptable to your style and preference:

  • A Traditional Diary: You record your day’s events, as well as your emotional responses and overall wellbeing.
  • A Reflection Journal: Usually written in the evenings, you aim for deep self-reflection on specific topics that may have come up throughout your day’s occurrences.
  • A Gratitude Journal: Focusing on the positive, you write about things you are grateful for, whether or not they are connected to the day’s events.
  • Goals and Progress Journal: This can be interwoven in other types of journals and allows you to write down specific goals and track progress towards those goals, while also maintaining accountability.
  • Prompt-based Journal: Prompts can be facilitated by rehabilitation leaders, therapists, or you can purchase a journal with prompts already written. Prompts help you start writing, but it is not a writing assignment. Once you start writing, you freely your mind and pen lead you into self-reflection.

No matter where you are in your journey, maintaining sobriety requires you to confront, process, and overcome the many challenges of addiction recovery. Through the practice of journaling, you can healthily reduce the emotional stress that may be inhibiting your recovery process, while bringing creativity and joy into your life through writing.

Need help getting started? Contact Fresh Start of California in Orange County today.