Monthly Archives: February 2015

Risk of Doctors increasing Opiod Addiction Problem

Policymakers need to look beyond just the recreational abuse of opioids in their efforts to reduce overdose deaths, and focus more on the problem of doctors who are overprescribing opioids as painkillers, said researchers at Brandeis University, the University of North Florida, and Johns Hopkins University.

For more, click here

John Hopkins University

What is an Alcoholic?

Anyone who browses through discussion forums or discussion groups online will inevitably come across one of the most frequently asked questions people have. People will either post a specific thread entitled am an alcoholic ? or the question will come up in the course of a more generalised debate.

When people raise the question and say am I an alcoholic or not, people tend to respond in one of two ways.

They either share a wide range of experiences that they have from AA meetings, or their own life, explaining what an alcoholic is or isn’t and urging the individual to try AA before they die.

The other type of advice tends to be of a more general nature, urging the individual to look at their own drinking, telling them that they can be the only person who can decide if they are an alcoholic or not.

Both of these types of advice can be well-meaning, and both have their merits and their de-merits.

There is a more fundamental issue which does not get addressed, and maybe cannot be addressed in the context of a discussion group or forum.

The issue of whether someone decides they are an alcoholic or not is to some extent irrelevant.

The reason for saying this, is that people can get caught up on whether they see themselves as being an alcoholic or not, and miss the bigger point that it is the problem they are seeking to address concerning their drinking that is the real issue.

Whether they define themselves as an alcoholic will come at any point of the process, and is something that in many ways can be put on hold until they need to address it.

If someone acknowledges that they have a problem with alcohol, or with their drinking, and can refrain from putting any unhelpful labels around it, they are in fact faced with a much starker reality.


It is the reality of what their drinking is doing to them that they then at some level have to address.

They may or may not be able to, and may well continue to deny the problem for some time.

Assuming that they are able to address the issue in some way, and assuming that they decide to seek help, then in many ways they are in a much healthier position if they can focus on the specific issue.

Acknowledging that someone is an alcoholic can be extremely helpful, so long as the notion of alcoholism is given as the context for the person’s drinking and behaviour.

The real problem of trying to define an alcoholic, is that you can’t. You can certainly identify common patterns and behaviours, and someone who is an alcoholic can certainly get real benefit from identifying with other alcoholics in lots of different ways.

The danger is that in setting up any definition or context of what an alcoholic is or isn’t is that you create a predefined set of criteria outside of the individual, that they then feel they need to fit themselves into in order to qualify as an alcoholic, and thereby get better.

The focus should always be on the individual and their life, what their problem is and what they are doing to get better from it. The understanding of alcoholism can certainly be a big help in that, but it needs to come from within the individual not outside.

Portage County Drug /Alcohol Intervention

Portage County is developing new community efforts to increase screening, intervention and treatment for youth affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

The county received a grant in 2014 for $120,909 from the state’s Department of Health Services to develop programs for juveniles affected by alcohol and other drug abuse, or AODA.

Although the county had received the grant in the past, the state changed its guidelines a few years ago and made the grant competitive statewide.

Portage County was one of five counties to receive funding.

For more, click here

What is Treatment?

When people talk about treatment, they are invariably referring to a treatment center, most commonly known as a rehab, where people can go to get help if they have a problem with alcoholism or addiction to other substances or behaviours.

Having said that, the term treatment can cover a wide range of options that can almost be as baffling as some of the behaviours of an alcoholic themselves.

The primary source of treatment for alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA is an organisation that most people have heard of, even if they do not know that much about it.

There is no doubt however, that if someone has a problem with alcohol, a consideration of going to AA is likely to be the first port of call. Anyone can turn up at any AA meeting, or NA meeting and see if they find it helpful or not. AA is free, as are all 12-step fellowships, with voluntary collections taken at the meetings to cover the cost of rent, coffee etc.

The growth of rehabs and treatment centers over the years have to an extent been on the back of organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Many people nowadays assume that if an individual has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs they are likely to go to a rehab and then go on to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous afterwards.


There are certainly benefits for people who prefer to go to a rehab or treatment center as opposed to going directly to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The majority of treatment centers offer a 28 day structured therapeutic programme of recovery that is likely to be based on the principles of the 12 step program of AA. Some treatment centres are specifically non 12-step based, and are more likely to offer some type of recovery program based on a life skills/mindfulness approach to life.

Treatment centers are normally residential clinical facilities, that are likely to be funded through an individual’s health care plan, assuming they have insurance. If the individual does not have insurance that it can be an extremely expensive process.

There are also a number of non-residential options that are often available, depending on where the individual lives. Treatment is sometimes offered under what is known as an intensive outpatient program.

This normally involve the individual carrying on with their normal day-to-day worklife, and attending some type of rehab/evening classes during the week where they will focus on recovery principles.

The other option is what is sometimes referred to as partial hospitalisation treatment where the individual or attend some type of treatment center during the day, and then goes home in the evening.

In addition, some rehabs will offer some type of outreach work in the community, which we will be a mix of the above two types of treatment. If anyone has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, seeking help is the most important element.

Once the individual genuinely seeks help, then they are likely to find it in a variety of different ways, and can adapt whatever their needs are to their recovery process.

Feb 19 Burnsville Minnesota

Residents are invited to a drug and alcohol prevention program sponsored by the Burnsville Police Department, Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 and Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge.

The free event will feature teens sharing their personal stories of addiction and recovery — and how they kept the substance abuse hidden from their parents.

For more info, click here

How to change attitudes

Altered Attitudes is one of the many sayings that are used in meetings and in rehabs that is adapted from the letters of Alcoholics Anonymous into another word or phrase.

AA meetings and the recovery process generally are full of sayings and phrases that for some people are quite catchy, and for other people can be a bit irritating.

What is often important, is to look behind the saying or the phrase, and see what it is really saying to you. Continue reading

High school addiction fundraiser

Interesting story about a high school in Indiana hosting a fundraiser for teens who have addiction problems.

Very inspirational

Fox 59

Changing the things I can

Many people will be familiar with the wording of the Serenity Prayer, often heard at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step fellowships, and often use das almost a type of mantra by many people in recovery.

Indeed many people say that the wording of the serenity prayer in effect sums up many of the principles of the AA 12-step program, especially perhaps the most important principle about that of control.

The wording of the serenity prayer reads “courage to change the things I can” and many people will focus on the word courage.

In fact, whatever one’s understanding of courage, the most important thing is to recognise the sense that there are things you can change, and there are things that you cannot change, and know the difference between the two.

This is more than an issue about semantics. It is a fundamental sense about knowing what you are in control of and what you are not in control of.

Psychologists refer to this process as a ‘locus of control’ which really goes to the heart of the whole recovery process.

In the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the section on Step Three refers to a scenario of an actor on a stage trying to control the environment around him.

The real value of this analogy, may take a while for many individuals to really understand, as it goes to the core of an individual trying to control the life.

Many people in AA and in recovery generally understand this message to mean that they are not in control of their alcoholism, and more widely not really in control of anything that happens to them.

This can lead to real problems, and an inverted sense that if they are not in control of their life, someone or something else must be.

This can have huge implications for an individual’s sense of self, their understanding and their sense of God, and their sense of power or control over their own life.

This understanding of themselves as people, what their sense of God is or isn’t and how it impacts on their lives is hugely important in a recovery context.

Any rational human being looking at their life, what ever the context, would readily understand that at some level they have control or power over some things, and there are other things that do not have control of power over.

Being able to consciously understand this, and make adjustments where necessary is an absolute key to any peace of mind and inner stability. For many alcoholics and people heavily affected by alcoholism it is a lifesaver, often quite literally.

The alternative is that your feel you have no control over anything your life, in which case you are likely to feel that you’re simply drifting through and reacting to life, or that something or someone else is in control of your life.

That scenario is more akin to a cult setting, than the reality of a free human being.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

The term alcohol withdrawal is a name given to the process that used to be referred to as the DT’s, which some people will have heard described in some detail as people’s experiences of what they thought they saw and felt when they began to stop drinking or taper of alcohol.

DT’s are one way of understanding alcohol withdrawal, but there is a broader understanding of the term that is probably more important. Anyone who has had a serious problem with alcohol and suddenly decides to stop is at risk of the body reacting in certain ways which can be damaging or dangerous to their health.

In addition many people who have drug problems or are alcoholics will have also used drugs of various sorts, either prescription or nonprescription, which can have an added impact on the process.

Anyone entering a rehab is likely to be under a lot of pressure, both internally and externally concerning their drinking and/or drug use. A lot of the pressure will be concerning the buildup to the point when they decide to/been forced to enter a rehab.

There might be some concern about the possible effects of alcohol withdrawal, but for many people it will not be at the top of the list.

This is an area where it is crucial to get it right.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Anyone entering a rehab should be absolutely clear that the individual needs to be assessed by a qualified medical team who can decide whether or not the individual needs medical support and supervision when coming off alcohol and/or drugs.

This assessment is critical. The process of overseeing alcohol withdrawal can be done in the rehab itself if they have the necessary staff and facilities, or in a local clinical facility that the rehab has arrangements with.

The nature of the effect of alcohol withdrawal, especially if it is complicated by use of other substances as well, is one that needs to be assessed on an individual basis. For many people, coming off drinking will not be a problem, for other people it potentially is.

This is why it is essential that a rehab has fully qualified medical staff who have experience of alcohol withdrawal, of detox, especially where drugs are concerned and need to make that decision concerning help.

It can sometimes help in this process if you check the website of the rehab concerned, and see how much emphasis they place on the need to assess an individual for help with a detox.

Quite often a rehab will list specific drugs that they can offer help with, and this should imply that they have medical/clinical staff who have experience in dealing with these drugs. This can be checked upon admission, but should be a good indication of their experience.

What is Rehabilitation?

The name rehab is obviously short for rehabilitation, but it is not always fully understood what the process of rehabilitation is, or what the similarities or differences are between a rehab and what is commonly understood as the process of rehabilitation in a medical or clinical sense.

Many people will have heard the term rehabilitation mostly in the context of people needing time or physical space to recover and get better after an illness.

There is a sense that rehabilitation is often referred to as a process that not only allows an individual time to get better, but also time to become ready to be integrated back into society or into the life they had before the illness.

This is certainly true but needs to be more fully explained in the context of an individual going into rehab for alcoholism or drug use.

The point of a rehab is really twofold. Firstly if the individual has misused alcohol and/or drugs and is at risk of alcohol withdrawls, it is to provide medical/clinical help that may be needed by way of a medical detox or of drug withdrawal symptoms.

This is a crucial part of the process, but is mainly a precondition to the main therapeutic work that will be done in the rehab once the individual is there. Most people will stay in a rehab for approximately 30 days, although there are some rehabs that offer longer term and after-care facilities.


The majority of that time spent in rehab will hopefully be helping the individual understand the nature of alcoholism as an illness, and the more general context of addiction and how it affects people.

The individual concerned is likely to struggle with this quite considerably, and many people will still not have fully accepted the process of dealing with an illness by the time they have left rehab.

However, for everyone who has been through rehab the main message of recovery is normally always the same.

That rehab is simply a beginning of the process, and that the main recovery work needs to be done over a long period of time and the individual has left rehab. For many people this will be through a 12 step Fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous, other people will have different routes.

Whatever the individual’s journey, for many the value of rehab is that it opens up the whole process of recovery and gives the individual the freedom to understand their alcoholism, how it has affected their life, and what they can do to get better from it.

Rehabilitation in its more general form is about the individual having a time and space to recuperate from an illness or an accident and get ready to return to normal life. The work done in a rehab certainly follows this pattern, but with the caveat that the time spent in rehab is simply the beginning of the process, not the full recuperation period and it might be with other illnesses or diseases.

What is Caretaking?

Asking the question what is care taking could almost be tagged with what is the relevance of caretaking in the context of alcoholism or other addictions. Caretaking can often be seen in the same context as taking care of people, a healthy thing to be aware of someone else’s needs and helping them take care of them.

It is important to understand the term caretaking specifically in the context of alcoholic homes especially, but other dysfunctional families may give rise to many of the problems associated with alcoholism and other addictions.

Whilst it is always dangerous to generalise about families, is probably fair to say that anecdotal evidence suggests that many active alcoholics, and especially members of Alcoholics Anonymous grew up in alcoholic homes.

This may well be where one or both of the parents were alcoholics, or may well be what our Al-Anon refers to as generational alcoholism. This simply means that one or more of a families relatives may have been alcoholics, and the effect of this may have been passed down through generations.

The process of recovery from the effects of growing up in alcoholic home do not really depend upon identifying who the alcoholic was or when they lived. The issue is much more about the effects of alcoholism in an emotional context upon the family concerned.


There are a number of common features that seem to affect children who grow up in alcoholic homes.

They mostly seem to relate to a lack of boundaries, a sense of enmeshment within the family, and a huge sense of distorted responsibilities. It is very common for children who grow up in alcoholic homes to take on responsibilities that are way above their age, and are not theirs to take.

This is essentially what caretaking refers to in a recovery sense. The effect that it can have on children in the context of becoming responsible for things that they do not have control over can be hugely damaging, both short-term and long-term.

Caretaking has very little to do with actually taking care of people, but has a lot to do with children trying to fill a hole that should not exist but often does. Any child in any family needs a sense of safety in order to grow and lead any sort of decent life.

In an alcoholic home that is likely to be little safety, either of a physical or an emotional nature. This will often lead a child or children to try and create their own sense of safety by overcompensating for the parents.

This often defines their sense of self for life, and their whole sense of identity once they grow up.This process is known as caretaking, and needs to be identified in a recovery context once the alcoholic is sober. This is essentially a process of rebuilding their life and their inner world, that is about giving them any peace of mind and stability as adults, whether in rehab or elsewhere.

How easy is it to Change?

One might easily ask change what, but anyone who has been to any AA meeting or has been through rehab will be well aware that people talk about change consistently, and present change as being perhaps the most important issue that anyone wanting to recover from alcoholism or any other addiction needs to address.

To anyone who isn’t an alcoholic but knows one, what that individual needs to change may well be fairly obvious.

It may start with their drinking, may well continue with their anger and their other emotional reactions to life.

The other person may or may not be aware that they cannot change the alcoholic, but can change themselves in terms of their approach to how they deal with them and help them or not.

Anyone entering a rehab or going directly to a meeting is likely at some level to be pretty terrified about the process, or what it involves doesn’t involve.

One of the underlying fears that may take a time to identify is the fear of living without alcohol.

This is not linked to where the reality of the alcoholism has taken them, it is simply an emotional attachment to alcohol that is likely to have been present for some time, and is likely to have got deeper the worse their alcoholism has progressed.

For many people who are alcoholics the idea of change is pretty terrifying.


It means letting go of the one thing that they believe has held them together most of the lives, which is alcohol, and letting go of the emotional coping mechanisms that have also held them together most of their lives.

For anyone entering rehab therefore, the notion of change can seem pretty terrifying and it is important for everyone to realise this.

People who are in recovery need to understand the process of change and the benefits that come with it and need to remember that this cannot be forced on an individual. Understanding where that individual is coming from and the fears that they are likely to have at some level is a crucial part of helping them feel safe enough to begin the process of recovery, of change.

The key, if there is one, to change is safety.

The individual needs at some level to be able to feel safe enough to begin to heal their inner world, the process that is key to their own long-term recovery. How an individual changes is a uniquely individual experience, and that change they will take time for them to fully appreciate.

Other people may see the change in them quicker than they stayed in themselves. However, the nature of change however it occurs, is that it is likely to happen only when the individual feels safe enough to really begin to deal with the underlying emotional drives that have fuelled their alcoholism.

For many people this is a incredibly scary process and takes some people much longer than others. Giving them time to process what they need is perhaps the greatest gift they can have.