Staying Sober On New Year’s Eve

New Year's EveTomorrow is New Year’s Eve, which for most people means bringing in 2016 with a bang. Typically, when the sun sets people put on festive clothing and venture out to parties where people will be drinking alcohol to excess. For those who are working a program of recovery, and are planning on attending such gatherings, it is vital that you remain focused – reminding yourself that you cannot drink or use no matter what. Whenever one is in the presence of people who appear to be having fun while drinking, it can become easy for those in recovery to romance alcohol – feelings may arise that can be difficult to resist.

Forgetting How Bad It Was

People in recovery who plan to spend time around people drinking alcohol tomorrow night need to remind themselves of the dark places that alcohol brought them. Addicts and alcoholics excel at remembering the joy that drugs and alcohol made them feel, and easily forget that drugs and alcohol brought them to their knees.

If you are finding yourself having cravings for alcohol, it is vital that you play back a tape of your addictive past. Failing to do so may result in thinking that you can drink like everyone else, and not experience any consequences. While it may be possible that you can drink tomorrow night without problems arising immediately, it will start you down a path that can be hard to reverse. You know all too well the hard work that was required to get you to the point you are at, having just one drink will through it all out the window.

There Are Better Alternatives On New Year’s Eve

If you actively attend 12-Step meetings, then you are likely aware that recovery events will be going on throughout New Year’s Eve, and round-the-clock meetings as well. Whether you are new to recovery or have accumulated a significant amount of time, the best thing you can do tomorrow is stay close to your recovery peers. Filling your day with 12-Step meetings, followed by a recovery event at night will help you make it through the day sober and will be a lot of fun.

It is likely that your recovery friends will have the same plan for tomorrow. It is also fair to say that being around people who are intoxicated is not much fun for those in recovery and is hardly worth the risk. At N2 treatment, we would like to wish everyone a safe and sober start to 2016.

Christmas, and the Shield of Gratitude

addiction, gratitudeWith Christmas around the corner, it is crucial that those who are actively working a program of recovery remain grounded and calm during the big day. While the holidays are cause for celebration, recovering addicts and alcoholics need to celebrate in a different way and it may require that one celebrate different things. Celebrating one’s recovery often means living in a place of gratitude, and sobriety is definitely something for which to be grateful. On Christmas, it is important that those in recovery for addiction remember where they came from and how far they have come – even if they have only been clean and sober for a short period of time.

The Shield of Gratitude

Most people who are in recovery were once in a very bad way, when they get sober it opens up all kinds of possibilities that are only possible because of their recovery. Remembering the people and things that you are grateful for can be your greatest protection, if you are finding yourself feeling blue on Christmas Day.

The holidays can be trying, and it can be difficult to attend events where alcohol is in abundance without encountering strong feelings, which, left unchecked can lead people in recovery to think it is OK to have a drink. It is at times like those that you remind yourself where that drink will take you, playback the tape of your past, and be grateful that you don’t have to go there ever again. Recovering addicts and alcoholics have so much for which to be grateful, failing to acknowledge the miracle of one’s recovery can be dangerous.

Christmas Meetings

Just as on Thanksgiving, meetings will be held all day long on Christmas. It is always wise to attend a meeting, or more, after you finish with family obligations. Being around one’s family can be stressful; therefore, it is crucial that you join your recovery peers so you can discuss how you are feeling. Surrounding yourself with like minded people, working towards the same goal is sure way to decompress from the pressure of a family gathering.

If you are estranged from your family it can be painful, but it does not mean that you have to pick up to manage those feelings. Drinking or using will not bring your family back into your life any sooner, it will surely prolong such an eventuality. Instead, put your faith in the power of the program, and channel your energy into those who are actively part of your life. You may find yourself as a source of strength to the newcomer who is struggling more than you.

The Hand of Recovery

We at Next Step Intervention would like to wish everyone in Recovery a Merry Christmas, free from alcohol and drugs. Please remember that the hand of recovery is always there, never hesitate to reach out for help if you find yourself in need.

Needle Exchange Programs Reduce Disease Transmission

needle-exchangeThere are a number of lawmakers who have mixed feeling about needle exchange programs, places where IV drug users can exchange used syringes for clean ones. Many taxpayers are not comfortable with fronting the bill for addicts to continue their drug use, despite the fact that needle exchange programs have proven to reduce the spread of infectious disease. On top of that, needle exchanges give counselors a perfect opportunity to discuss recovery with active users, potentially channeling them into treatment.

Exchanges Reduce Transmission

New research suggests that after Washington D.C. lifted the ban on funding needle exchange programs it prevented 120 new cases of HIV in just two years, USA Today reports. The ban was lifted in 2007, giving the District’s health department the power to provide free:

  • Clean Needles
  • Condoms
  • HIV Tests
  • Referrals to Addiction Treatment

“Policy change makes a difference,” says lead author Monica Ruiz of George Washington University.

The Research

If the DC ban had not happened, Ruiz calculated 296 HIV infections would have occurred, according to the article. In the two years after lifting the ban, there were 176 new cases of HIV, which means that lifting the ban prevented 120 cases. Ruiz and her colleagues calculated the average lifetime cost of treating the 120 people had they been infected, about $44 million.

“Our study adds to the evidence that needle exchange programs not only work but are cost-effective investments in the battle against HIV,” says Ruiz, an assistant research professor of community health at George Washington’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

The findings were published in AIDS and Behavior.

DC is Not Alone

A number of states have seen an alarming rise in the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, forcing government officials to change their stance on the value of having clean needle programs. The Governor of Indiana declared a state of emergency regarding HIV transmission linked to the prescription drug Opana ®. Governor Mike Pence allowed for needle exchanges in the most troubled areas of the state. Indiana’s state health commissioner, Jerome Adams, said that needle exchanges “have been shown scientifically to slow the spread of infectious disease across time and across the country.”

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If you are or your loved one is struggling with opioids, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Cutting Off Veterans from Opioids

veteransThe prescription opioid epidemic has had a lasting effect on every demographic in America. Years of overprescribing and limited options for those who become addicted to drugs like OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Vicodin ® (hydrocodone), have created a problem that no one has been able to control. Efforts to reduce addiction rates and overdose deaths have done some good, but at the same time, new policies have failed to address the underlying addiction.

One demographic that has been hit especially hard by the new policies is veterans. Measures made to reduce opioid painkiller prescriptions among veterans, in favor of alternative pain management, have left many struggling with chronic pain, The Star Tribune reports.

A Double Edged Sword

Over an 11-year period, the number of prescriptions for opioids prescribed by VA doctors increased dramatically. In fact, prescriptions for oxycodone and morphine jumped 259 percent nationwide by 2013. After more than a decade of war, almost 60 percent of veterans listed chronic pain as their most common medical problem, according to the article.

Prescription opioids, while addictive, are by far the most effective way to manage chronic pain. The problem starts when addiction sets in and the drugs are still required. The federal government’s mandate to reduce opioid prescription did manage to reduce the rates of addiction, the article reports. Unfortunately, many veterans were left to deal with pain on their own, a number of which sought out illicit methods to manage their pain.

No Offers Of Assistance

Individuals who use any narcotic, especially opioids, require detoxification and effective alternatives to the drugs they were using. Simply cutting off the supply may look good for reports, but fails to address the addiction that comes with years of use. Addicts who are cut off from their supply will seek other avenues to find what they need, unless an effective alternative is offered.

“There wasn’t a lot of discussion with the veteran except for the provider saying, ‘We’re not going to be doing this anymore because it’s not good for you,’ ” said Joy Ilem, of Disabled American Veterans, one of the nation’s largest veteran service groups.

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If you are or loved one is addicted to prescription opioids, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you learn how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

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