Tag: relapse

Addiction Relapse: Disease or Choice?

Addiction Relapse Lighthouse RecoveryAddiction and Addiction Relapse – What Causes It?

Addiction and addiction relapse are viewed by different people in different ways, with most of our society in one of two schools of thought – that 1) it is a disease the addict is powerless over, or 2) it is a choice. There is plenty to be said about both of these, and perhaps the answer isn’t wholly one or the other, but rather a combination of the two.

Psychiatry recognizes addiction as a disease of the brain and addiction relapse is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and using, despite the known harmful consequences. Some would argue that addiction is a behavior and that the individual therefore has a choice in whether or not they will continue to use or relapse.

Disease Vs. Choice

People who argue that addiction is a disease say that it is a brain defect, and just like any other part of the body, the brain is a muscle that can have faults. Addiction and addiction relapse is a defect of the brain’s hedonic system which perceives pleasure. This defect causeAddiction Relapse Disease or Choices an addict to subconsciously believe that their drug of choice or alcohol is the answer to pleasure and life, and the brain sends out signals to crave the substance. This craving can become so strong that even the most in-control, mature person could break down and do whatever it takes to get their hands on the drug or drink. It becomes a necessity for survival, and craving is a very real mental pain and suffering.

On the flip side, you have the people who say addiction relapse is a choice. They’ll give you something like the following example. If a person is suffering from cancer, changing their behaviors will not definitely cure their cancer, and if they could make such a change, they would. Those same people will say an addict can simply stop using or drinking and their disease is gone.

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As in most things, this debate is not black and white only. Science has long separated mind and body, which is part of the reason behind the lack of acceptance of addiction as a disease. Many people still have trouble believing that anxiety or depression is a disease as well, and they think these can be changed by using different thought patterns and changing other behaviors. Mental health is slowly becoming much less stigmatized and accepted as a part of society, and treatments like rehabilitation and prescription drugs are becoming less looked down upon.

Mental Illness and Addiction Relapse

Also, this brings to light the correlation of mental illness and addiction relapse. Dual diagnosis – which is the treatment of both happening at the same time, is incredibly common, and if things are looked at in this light, addiction could be a symptom of an anxiety or depression disorder.

The fact is that these two opposing standpoints are still being studied, and it is likely to be a long time before a conclusion is reached. Even then, there are bound to still be people on either side of the coin.

Are you or someone you know battling addiction? What is your take on the matter?


I’m in Love with a Recovering Heroin Addict

I Fell In Love With a Recovering Heroin Addict Love Heroin Addict Lighthouse Recovery

We can’t choose who we fall in love with. Three years ago, I knew nothing about addiction, even though I was suffering from alcohol addiction myself, it just hadn’t been brought to light quite yet. I definitely knew nothing about heroin addiction, and would never think to associate myself with a heroin addict or anyone who was into hard drugs like that.

Him and I met through mutual friends in recovery, which is a large scene in South Florida. I remember seeing him on the beach one of the times our group got together and having an undeniable attraction to him. He apparently was in love with me the moment he first saw me – I had no idea.

We Met in Recovery in South Florida

A few months went by and we became closer, eventually going on our first date, which led to many dates, which led to us becoming a couple. His spirit matched my own and every time I looked into his eyes I felt a reflection of myself in a way I had never experienced before. We knew all about each other’s screwed up history – nothing was left in the dark between us.

Since coming to South Florida for addiction recovery, I had met my share of drug addicts, and seen relapses and ODs left and right – the first couple of times I was shocked and sad and tried to help each person, but after the 4th, 5th, 10th time – you are forced to turn a blind eye, tell the people close to you how much you love them, and hope for the best. It isn’t fun – it’s gut wrenching, heartbreaking, and my facebook feed turned into something more like an obituary of friends in recovery who lost their battle.

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He was different. The closeness we shared and still do was like nothing I had ever experienced before. So when he overdosed and nearly died, I was in shock, I was mad, I was terrified. I was lost. We had recently decided to move in together and ended up in a horrible flop house in Delray Beach. We were told by a “friend” that it was a solid halfway that we could live in as a couple while we looked for an apartment of our own.

A Halfway House Gone Bad

Love and recovery Lighthouse

The first few days were fine, but by the end of the first weekend there were fights in the middle of the night, an overdose, and we realized the houses next door to us were all huge drug dealers. We lived with a padlock on our bedroom door, and there were nights I was so scared about what was going on beyond our door that I didn’t sleep for more than a few minutes.

I knew seeing the drugs and being close to all of that was tough for him. I always knew I would be ok but my worry for him was all consuming. We moved out of that house as soon as we could, and to a friend’s house while we apartment hunted and finally found the perfect place for us and signed the lease.


The Heroin Overdose I didn’t Expect

I thought we were in the clear. I thought things were looking up. So when I was calling him one afternoon and didn’t hear anything from him for over an hour, I was slightly concerned because it was unusual but I wasn’t freaking out – I went back into work and figured I would hear back from him soon. I walked out of a meeting and checked my phone and had missed calls from a mutual friend, and a text that simply said, “Did you know what happened? If not call me ASAP.”

He had taken a huge dose of heroin and was found unresponsive, dead for all intents and purposes. The next hour or so was a blur, I felt every emotion in the book. I confirmed that he was breathing and alive when the ambulance took him away, but that’s all I knew. I drove to three separate hospitals looking for him, calling my best friends and screaming because I wanted to scream at him but I couldn’t reach him.

The only place I stopped was Walgreens to get cigarettes because my mind was a mess, I broke down crying and shaking to the lady at the counter who tried to get me to stay and not drive because I was such a wreck but I had to find him.

I found him at a hospital in Boca Raton. He survived. It wasn’t his time to go. I brought him home and held him all night, and he doesn’t remember a thing from that day. All he could say for himself was that it all got to be too much, seeing everyone using at the halfway, knowing I was unhappy with all the moving around we were doing, and some personal things he had going on. It was going to be his last “hoorah” before we moved into the apt the following weekend. That last hoorah almost killed him.

Living With and Loving A Recovering Heroin Addict love heroin addiction lighthouse

We moved into our apartment. Things are great, we’re both so happy. I’d love to say my fear of another overdose is gone, but it’s still very prevalent. My heart jumps into my throat every time I get a call from a number I don’t recognize, or if I don’t hear from him for an unusually long time. I have him on a short leash, and I don’t care if anyone else thinks I’m being needy or annoying, all I want is for him to live because he’s the most amazing soul I’ve ever met. I only want good things for him. 

Living with and loving a recovering heroin addict is not easy. As I said in the beginning of this article, we can’t choose the ones we love. I will not leave him, I won’t give up on him, and he’s doing well. I am grateful for every single positive moment we have together, and look forward to all the rest that we have in front of us.


Addiction Relapse After Long Sobriety

Addiction Relapse LighthouseLength of Sobriety Does Not Prevent Addiction Relapse

Addiction relapse is a part of recovery, and it doesn’t matter if you have one day sober or 30 years. In a recent interview with WNYC, popular actor Jeff Daniels, known for his roles in Dumb and Dumber and The Martian, opened up about his relapse after years of sobriety and is shedding light on an issue few people understand.

Addiction Relapse Can Happen To Anyone, Anytime

If you have been to Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, you have heard the phrase “Just For Today”. What that means is that just for this day we will focus on our sobriety, we will focus on staying away from our drug of choice, we will focus on our higher power and putting our best foot forward. Because, in truth, today is all we have.

An addict or alcoholic who has ten sober years is just as close to a person with one day in the sense that they both canrelapse and recovery lighthouse reach for a drink or drug at any given moment. That is why stringing together days and living in the present is the most we can do to maintain our sobriety. Looking too far in the future will be overwhelming, and celebrating lengthy sobriety to the extreme may cause our guard to go down and the walls to come crashing down.

How Common is Relapse?

In recovery, relapse happens left and right. In the first year of recovery, more than half of people will relapse. The number become more promising after that – with 66% maintaining sobriety after they hit the year mark, and it jumps to 86% after 5 or more years. That being said, relapse is circumstantial and personal, and nothing concrete can predict or prevent relapse, besides having a strong support system and the desire to stay sober.

Addiction relapse can be heartbreaking for friends and family to watch. It’s the last thing we want for those close to us, especially after seeing how far they have come. It is important to support the person and do what you can to encourage them to get help, ideally before the relapse occurs.

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How to Handle a Relapse

If you have relapsed, the important thing is not to get into a huge downward spiral because of it. This is a time to learn from your mistakes, gather yourself up, and move forward. First of all, remove yourself from any situation or people that contributed to your relapse. Make sure to get rid of any alcohol or drug paraphernalia you might have laying around, and if needed, seek a medical detox center to help you recover back into being clean.

If a loved one has relapsed, encourage them to get help before the situation escalated. As heartbreaking as it may be, try not to be terribly outwardly angry with them, because chances are they are feeling very low, and this kind of “attack” may make them use or drink even more.

We only have today. So, let go of your mistakes from yesterday, and forget about tomorrow. Focus on being sober, happy, and positive – just for today.

Rehab Centers in Florida and Recovery

Why Are There So Many Rehab Centers in Florida?

South Florida, especially Palm Beach County, has long been known as America’s treatment capital of the world. All types of treatment and recovery programs can be found here, including medical detox programs, inpatient rehab centers, sober living environments, and 12 Step meetings.

There are many reasons for the abundance of rehab centers in Florida, some of which include South Florida providing a prime location for treatment, paving way for the standard of treatment, and accumulating a large group of individuals in recovery.

Sunny Location Helps to Alleviate Depressive Episodes

The location is great. After all, sunny skies and clear beaches can lift anyone’s spirits. Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t exist down here, and believe it or not, seasons play a huge part in affecting a person’s mood. Episodes of depression could potentially lead to a relapse as addicts and alcoholics tend to “self-medicate” without healthier coping mechanisms. You’ll find a lot of northerners are in South Florida simply just to escape the dark and cold of winter.

Rehab Centers Follow the “Florida Model”

The treatment industry is huge in Florida. In fact, South Florida has its very own model of rehab called, appropriately, the “Florida Model.” As a result, other states recognize this and attempt to mirror the quality by offering the same types of programs and services that are typically provided in Florida.

Florida typically offers separate living quarters from where daytime activities are held so that clients feel like they are living in the real world and not necessarily in an institution.

The best drug rehab centers in Florida provide on-site support and monitoring all throughout inpatient treatment. In addition to this, these leading centers offer individual counseling, group therapy, community events, meetings, and a wide of array of treatment services.

The Drug and Alcohol Recovery Community

There’s no denying that there are plenty of drug rehab centers in Florida. No matter what type of facility you prefer, or what your drug of choice is, you are pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your needs when seeking inpatient treatment.

As a result, there is a large recovery community of support once you leave treatment. Many people end up staying down in Florida once they complete rehab, and as a result, there are a lot of recovery-based activities and organizations.

There are two sides to a large recovery community. It’s great to have the support and so many people going through exactly what you are going through. The flip side is that with recovery can come relapse. So while recovery is big, it’s important to stay on the right path because if you slip and relapse, the current is strong and ready to suck you right back into addiction.

Treatment centers are left and right. After all, there is such a large community of people in recovery and some may need treatment again one day, especially if they just came to Florida for treatment only to relapse and are looking for a different rehab center to provide a higher level of care.

A large amount of people in recovery and many rehab centers does leave room for many job opportunities for those new in recovery. Many halfway houses require their tenants to have a job within a week or two of living at their house, and clients are forced to get out and re-integrate themselves into the real world.

Lots of employers are knowledgeable about the recovery scene, and may even be in recovery themselves, so it is great for someone fresh out of rehab to have that support.

Lighthouse Is One of the Premiere Rehab Centers in Florida

At Lighthouse, our biggest focus is getting you or your loved one better. Based in Delray Beach, which is a huge recovery hub, we take the essence of South Florida and aim to help people from all walks of life who may be struggling with addiction. Our staff is passionately dedicated to helping addicts heal and become functioning members of society. Many of our staff is in recovery as well, so we speak from the heart, as well as from experience.

Our Team Genuinely Cares About Each Patient

While there are a number of drug rehab centers in South Florida for a variety of different reasons, Lighthouse is focused on the interests of the addict and alcoholic. We truly want to help people take that first step toward a newfound life. At Lighthouse, we get the opportunity to make the difference and change people’s lives.

No Other Rehab Center in South Florida Compares

Though there are many rehab centers in South Florida to choose from, no other compares to Lighthouse. We have been providing treatment to individuals suffering from drug addiction and alcoholism for many years. Our team of professionals is equipped with the knowledge and background to help you each and every step of the way during your journey toward recovery.

Variety of Treatment Programs and Services Offered

Lighthouse understands the importance of providing step-down care, which is why our treatment programs don’t end with medical detoxification and instead extend to dual diagnosis treatment, Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and more. We even extend our addiction treatment services, like relapse prevention, life skills, and family therapy, to further enhance the recovery experience.

When you need a treatment center that provides the highest level of care, you can always depend on Lighthouse. We always go the extra mile to help the individual struggling with addiction because we know, from first-hand experience, how painful the pit of addiction can be. Let us help you get sober and work toward a new life in recovery today. Call Lighthouse now at 1-866-308-2090.

Addiction and Prescription Medication

Prescription Medication and Recovery

In this day and age it is extremely commonplace for doctors to jot down and hand out prescription medication – often without many questions or knowledge of the patient’s history of drug abuse. Xanax, Vicodin, Valium – you name it – these drugs can be readily available at your closest Family Practice Physician. Say the right things, and you can walk out with a script to your drug of choice. Sounds insanely ridiculous and easy? Well, it is, and this is why you need to be completely upfront about your history of drug and/or alcohol abuse whenever you see a new doctor if you want to stay sober.

Don’t Accidentally Create a Drug Dealer Out of Your Physician

According to one statistic, over 52 million people in the U.S. Alone have used prescription pills non-medically. Where do they get these pills? Doctors, often more than one, or friends and family. Pills are so easy to obtain for a plethora of reasons: some doctors tend to over prescribe, it is a societal norm for people in America to “put a bandaid on” disorders with pills instead of treating the root cause, and unfortunately many doctors and patients alike are unaware of the dangers lurking in those sleek orange pill bottles.Prescription Medicine Recovery

Drug Addiction is a Slippery Slope

In recovery, we learn that we must maintain an all-or-nothing attitude. Once substances are introduced back into our lives it is an incredibly fast, slippery slope, and even the most innocent of gestures can bring us right back into full-fledged addiction before we can even recognize what is happening.

Being upfront with doctors about our medical history is incredibly important. Alternatives are available for nearly every drug out there – pain relief, anxiety, muscle relaxers – whatever your ailment, modern medicine likely has a non-narcotic fix for it. Go into your doctor’s appointment with a plan and allow yourself to be an open book about your history. Your doctor will be happy about your honesty and it will save you any temptation of mood-altering substances.

Addiction and Prescription Medication

Think you can handle prescription pills? Don’t be so sure, and to err on the cautious side, don’t even think about trying it out. Even if pills weren’t your drug of choice, as addicts we don’t have a healthy sense of moderation. As they teach in rehab, play the whole tape through. This means, when you think about picking up a drink or substance, no matter how innocent it may seem, think about all of the events that happened leading up to you coming to treatment. You undoubtedly started drinking or dabbling with drugs in an innocent way – say for a little weekend or social fun – and had no idea how much it was going to destroy your life and ultimately take control.

Stop a Relapse Before it Starts

Going to your next doctor appointment or procedure with this knowledge can help save you months or years of battling a relapse, or it may even save your life. You have spent so much time and money rebuilding your life back to normal, so why even risk putting it back on the line when there are alternatives out there. Don’t be shy about discussing your addiction with your doctor – they are professionals who have seen and heard it all – they too will be happy for your upfront honesty and commitment to maintaining a completely sober lifestyle.


How to Come Back from a Relapse in 5 Easy Steps

Coming Back From a Relapse

You will likely hear many people in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous say things like, “Relapse is not a prerequisite to recovery”, and, “Relapse is never necessary.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that it never happens. In fact, it happens quite frequently. It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of drug addicts and alcoholics will relapse into old behaviors after receiving prolonged, professional treatment. In most cases, this relapse is a direct result of a failure to continue with long-term aftercare.

Steps to Take When Coming Back from a Relapse

It is important to recognize that a relapse back into drinking or using does not mean that treatment has failed. It does not mean that the individual in question is incapable of getting sober and maintaining sobriety, either. It simply means that some alteration must be made – that the individual must take an honest and searching look at the way he or she is conducting his or her life, and make necessary changes in the decided problem areas.

  • Humble yourself.

Holding onto your ego will only prevent you from bouncing back as quickly as you potentially could. If you fear what others will think of you, what others will say about you, and how others may treat you, you will only be hurting yourself in the long run. Remember that this is YOUR recovery, and shying away from jumping right back in will only affect you. Hold your head up high and inspire others with your bravery and determination.

  • Surround yourself with close, sober friends.

One of the predominant reasons as to why those who relapse stay ‘out’ for prolonged periods of time, finding it exceptionally difficult to get back to the rooms of a 12-step program, is simply because they let shame and guilt push them away from those who truly love them. Get right back into your circle of friends. Let them know what happened, and let them know you are serious about your recovery – and that you recognize you cannot do it alone.

  • Dive right back into the basics.

Back to square one. And that means a meeting every day, calling your sponsor as much as you need to (once a day often suffices, but don’t be afraid to reach out to as many sober supports as necessary), starting your stepwork over, and opening your ears wider than they have ever opened before. Do what you need to do to get back on track – save your own butt!

  • Pick up as many service commitments as possible.

Go to as many meetings as you can and pick up as many service commitments as you can possibly muster. Chair meetings (one or two a week), greet newcomers at the door, and pick up cigarette butts and empty Red Bull cans once the meeting has ended. Do service outside of meetings as well – volunteer at outside organizations, give newcomers rides to the grocery store – do everything you can to stay involved and get outside of yourself.

  • Bolster your relationship with God.

Spirituality is often the vital component that those who relapse are missing. Pray and meditate on a daily basis. Explore new ways to foster a relationship with your higher power.

Relapse is certainly never a necessity, but it does certainly happen to the best of us. It is difficult to get things right the first time, and when we do it is an immense and beautiful blessing. And it is possible – it is possible no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far down the scale you have gone!

Treatment centers in Florida such as ours will certainly help you to set a solid foundation for lasting sobriety, but true recovery comes when you whole-heartedly commit to a long-term program of continuous aftercare. Lighthouse Recovery Institute is always available to provide support and point you in the right direction – simply give one of our trained representatives a call today at 1-866-308-2090. 

Stay Sober Throughout the Holidays

How to Stay Sober

Happy Holidays from Lighthouse Recovery

Family – gotta love ‘em, right? Mom and dad, bickering over the le

ngth of time that the in-laws will stay; belligerently drunk Uncle

Jim, knocking down the wreaths and bows, cursing his father for playing favorites and spilling eggnog and rum all over the rug. Five obnoxious cousins, four high-maintenance aunts, three screaming babies, two awkward ‘family friends’, and a dog eating right off the table. With all of the chaos and confusion, it is sometimes difficult to find a moment to sneak away and meditate. But because being surrounded by such dysfunction for even a couple of days can be so overwhelming, maintaining your spiritual footing throughout the holidays is nothing short of essential.

Family Dysfunction Around the Holiday Season

Of course, family is far from the only seasonal stressor we will be faced with. We will be attending company Christmas parties, ugly sweater events, and what with New Years right around the corner, the festivities are only just beginning. Triggers will be popping up left and right, and all of the financial, familial, and emotional stress of the holidays may tempt us to toast with champagne if our own houses do not remain in order. So how do we stay sober throughout the most wonderful time of the year? First of all, it is important to remember that the ensuing mayhem is only temporary. Once February rolls around you will be entirely in the clear, free from all of the gift-giving and forced festivities for at least another 11 months. Remaining in the moment and remembering that ‘this too shall pass’ is not always the easiest course of action throughout this time of year, however. For this reason, we have compiled a list of certain frequently occurring, sobriety-compromising situations, and presented you with potential courses of action to take that will help protect your recovery and keep you happy, jolly, and free all year round.

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Keep Your Sobriety Intact Throughout the Holidays

Scenario #1: Christmas Dinner at the Parent’s House.

Solution: Have an escape plan, keep sober supports on speed dial, and bring a book (maybe a big one). Remember that your sobriety is far more important that helping your frazzled mother cook the ham. If you need to step away and hit a meeting or call up your sponsor – do it. Maybe look up nighttime meetings in the area beforehand, so you know exactly where to go if you start feeling overwhelmed. Bring your Big Book with you, and lock yourself in an upstairs bathroom for a little light reading from time to time. Meditate, pray, meditate, pray. And then pray a little more.

Scenario #2: Company Christmas Party.

Solution: Arrive early, leave early. Like… very early. Like ‘stay for an hour’ early. Yes, okay, so you’ve had a major crush on Jim from Accounting for years, and now seems like the perfect opportunity to finally corner him under the mistletoe. If it’s meant to be it will be regardless, and you should probably avoid mingling with coworkers right in front of Cindy from HR anyways. Get in, enjoy some cream puffs and cheese dip, and get out. If you have to stick around for a ‘white elephant’ gift exchange, keep a wine glass full of cranberry juice on you so nobody obnoxiously asks questions.

Scenario #3: Ugly Sweater Party with Friends.

Solution: Make an appearance and bounce. Or, if you feel at all uncomfortable, just say ‘no’ altogether. Chances are, you have been around your drinking friends while they were drinking many times before, and this event will be no different. Practice setting boundaries and spending your time in more productive and rewarding ways. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or bring a meeting into a treatment center. Find some way to bide your time in a more fulfilling and spiritually-bolstering way.

Scenario #4: You Have No Money, No Friends, and No Family.

Solution: Welcome to early recovery! One thing addiction is good at is stripping us of literally everything we value. Fortunately for you, this too shall pass, and if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next right thing, the coming year will be beyond your wildest dreams. Truly. It might suck right now, and that’s okay – we often need to wade through piles of dense and seemingly unrelenting crap in order to get to the good stuff. Fortunately for you, the Alcathons that most meeting houses hold around-the-clock during the holidays are open to absolutely everyone. Look into volunteering at a nearby Alcathon, and spend your holidays helping others (or simply attending meetings). One month of major crappiness is absolutely worth a lifetime of immense and unbelievable happiness, beauty, and freedom. You can do it.

Scenario #5: New Year’s Eve.

Solution: Spend New Year’s Eve with sober friends, and do something cool, fun, and not-in-a-bar. Take a nighttime hike and pack some bottles of Martinelli’s – toast to the New Year with a couple of close friends under the stars. Watch the ball drop in your living room with a close friend or two, and discuss resolutions while eating popcorn and pizza. As addicts and alcoholics, we often feel that if we aren’t “out” we’re missing out on some marvelous and life-changing action. All we’re missing by not going to the club on New Year’s is a champagne vomit-stained outfit, a deeply regrettable drunken hook-up, and a really unfortunate January 1st. Waking up without a hangover on the first day of the year is worth everything.

Staying sober through the holiday season can seem, at times, impossible. But keep the word ‘temporality’ in mind – unless you’re dreaming of a white chip Christmas, staying spiritually in-tune and surrounding yourself with support will be essential. And remember – this is the season of giving. The best gift you can possibly give yourself and your loved ones is the gift of dedicated and long-term sobriety.

Help! I Can’t Stop Using Drugs!

The Ugly Cycle of Drug Abuse

My name is David and I’m an addict and alcoholic. I’ve been sober since April 17th, 2008. Despite those many years of sobriety, which I’m grateful for, I’m still an addict and alcoholic at heart.

want to stop using but cant
via Flickr user Clare Bell

That means, by default, I can’t stop getting high and I can’t stop drinking. It means that once I put a mind altering chemical into my body, I continue to use until the wheels fall off. It means that I’m great at starting, but horrible at finishing.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you have a loved one who’s like me. Maybe you’re confused and unsure about what you are. It doesn’t matter – you’ve come to the right place!

I’m going to share my experience with active addiction and alcoholism below. After that, I’m going to share how I got sober once and for all. I was as bad an alcoholic and junky as they come. If I can put down the needle, the powder, the pills, and the bottle – so can you!

If you need immediate help – if you or a loved one can’t stop getting high or can’t stop drinking and want to start a new way of life today – call Lighthouse. They’re the unrivaled experts at addiction treatment.

Read on for my story of compulsive relapse and to learn how I finally stopped drugging and drinking.

Learn why halfway houses help lead to long term sobriety!

I Can’t Stop Getting High

My addiction “origin story” isn’t much different from anyone else’s. I always felt uncomfortable and awkward in my own skin. Whenever I did anything good or accomplished something, I felt like a fake and like everyone was about to figure me out.

You know, common addict and alcoholic thinking.

I’m going to focus on what happened to me after I was introduced to recovery, which, ironically enough, was about a year before I actually got sober.

I’d been to an inpatient rehab because I couldn’t stop using drugs. I was in there for over four months. I got out and started attending meetings, going to therapy, and trying to live a healthy life.

I was high within a month. What happened? I wasn’t ready to deal with life on life’s terms (it’s cliché but also true).

I wasn’t ready to face the world without the comfort of painkillers and heroin. I wasn’t ready to be accountable for my actions. I wasn’t ready to do “adult” things like pay rent on time, pay credit card bills on time, show up for work on time, etc.

I basically wasn’t ready to do anything on time! I wanted to do things my way and my way led me to a place where I hated myself and couldn’t stop getting high. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t!

It talks about this place in recovery literature. It’s called the jumping off point and is described as the place where us addicts and alcoholics can’t imagine life with, or without, chemicals.

Sound familiar?

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I Can’t Stop Drinking

There I was, stuck in a vicious cycle of relapse, short periods of recovery, and more relapse. I was living in halfway houses and, when I got kicked out for failing a drug test, the streets.

My life was a mess. What did I do? I stopped getting high. I marshaled all my willpower and decided I was never again going to stick a needle in my arm or a dollar bill up my nose.

Guess what? It worked…sort of.

I stayed off drugs for a period of months, but I began to drink like a fish. Instead of taking a good, hard look at myself – I turned to alcohol to make everything bearable.

It did, for a while, but then I was left in a familiar position. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stop drinking! All my addictive tendencies had been uprooted from the land of narcotics to the land of booze.

Again, I found myself at that jumping off point within a short period of time. I couldn’t imagine living with or without liquor and beer. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t stop drinking.

Finally, on April 16th, 2008, I took my final drink and drug. I forgot to mention that after about six months I’d started to use pills and heroin again.

On April 16th, 2008, I took a few chugs from a bottle of gin and used the last of my money to buy some pills. I injected the pills around midnight. I walked into treatment the next morning and never looked back.

Speaking of relapse, learn how to avoid one!

There is a Solution!

So that’s my personal story of being unable to stop getting high and drinking. What about the good stuff though? What about recovery? What about the solution?

cant stop drinking or getting high

Well, I found my solution in treatment and twelve-step fellowships.

While in treatment, I actually listened to my therapist. Whatever he said, I did. He told me to complete assignments by a certain date and I had them done the day before.

I shared in all the therapy groups and took an active role in the treatment community. I was still scared out of my mind by life, but I was making an effort to show up anyway.

After treatment, I began to regularly attend a twelve-step fellowship. I got a sponsor and, like my therapy, did whatever that man said. He told me to read a certain page – I read it everyday. He told me to write out my resentments and fears – I wrote them out.

I’ve been doing that ever since and it’s working pretty well. I just celebrated seven years of continuous sobriety. What a blessing! More important, though, I celebrated seven years free of fear and behaving like a crappy person. I celebrated seven years of being a good son, friend, student, employee, and significant other.

What more can you ask?

So, if you’re like me – you can’t stop using drugs no matter how hard you try – or if you have a loved one like me – they simply can’t stop drinking even though they want to – you’re in the right place.

Call Lighthouse today! Our addiction professionals are compassionate, caring, and often in recovery themselves. They’ve been where we’ve been. They know how to get better and they’ll be able to guide you along the road of sobriety.

Until then, good luck and God bless my friends!

Should I Work in Treatment if I’m Sober?

Working in Treatment as a Recovering Addict

We recently reported on a New Hampshire woman who was arrested for trafficking heroin. That on its own is hardly newsworthy. There are hundreds of people each month arrested for possession and distribution of heroin.

should i work in addiction treatment

What was interesting, though, were the circumstances surrounding her arrest. See, she’s a substance abuse counselor at a New Hampshire treatment center.

This story got me thinking about the men and women who work in addiction treatment. So many are in recovery themselves. This gives them the unique advantage of being able to empathize and relate to patients.

It also puts them at risk for relapse and, as we all know, a relapsing addict or alcoholic is a dangerous person to be around.

I haven’t been able to shake this thought from my mind. So, let’s explore the phenomenon of working at a drug rehab center and being in recovery. It offers some major benefits and some equally major pitfalls.

People are always arguing about whether Kava is a relapse…well is it?

Helping Others

The major benefit of working in treatment and being sober, in my eyes anyway, is the ability to help addicts and alcoholics in early-sobriety. What’s that we’re always being told in meetings? That newcomers are the most important people and we should always have our hand out!

Working at a rehab and being in recovery gives us the ability to help newcomers on an unprecedented scale. Still, there is a major drawback – we’re being paid. It’s one thing if you’re volunteering at a treatment center. It’s another if you’re an employee.

See, getting paid to perform twelve-step work cancels out the performing twelve-step work part. While we may very well be helping newcomers in treatment by sharing our experience, strength, and hope, we’re not doing it for free. We’re doing it for money and that isn’t the same as twelfth-step work.

There are some other benefits of being a man or woman in recovery and working in treatment. We’re able to connect with patients in a way that “normies” aren’t. We’re able to offer patients a level of compassion, care, and assurance that “normies” aren’t.

Basically, being sober and working in the field gives us the ability to be a more effective worker. That’s true of behavioral health techs (BHTs), therapists, doctors, group leaders, alumni coordinators, clinical directors, and everyone else who makes a rehab run.

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The Risk of Relapse

If there’s one major risk of working in addiction treatment and being in recovery ourselves, it’s this. The risk of relapse is very real and very dangerous.

working in rehab and being in recovery

Imagine you’re a patient in treatment (shouldn’t be too hard for most of us!). Imagine your life is a mess in every sense of the word. Imagine you’re a ball of nerves, fear, selfishness, and resentment.

Now imagine your therapist goes out on a run. I would take that as a personal betrayal. Of course it isn’t, but we’re not thinking the clearest when we’re in treatment. The damage that a relapse can do to patients can’t be overstated.

So, the question then becomes how do we avoid relapse while working at a treatment center? Well, we avoid a relapse in treatment the same way we avoid it anywhere else – we live by spiritual principles.

These are things like honesty, open mindedness, and willingness. These are things like prayer, meditation, and service to others. In other words, these are the building blocks of everyone’s sobriety.

This town has some interesting ideas about how to end the opioid epidemic!

Well, Do I Take the Job or Not?

Okay, we’ve looked at a few of the benefits of working in treatment as a sober individual and we’ve looked at the major drawback. What now? If you’re offered a job in the field – do you take it or not?

Well, it all comes down to the individual, their personality, and their choice. I’ve known people in recovery who’re amazing addiction professionals. I’ve known people in recovery who should never be allowed to step foot in a treatment center.

Like most areas of recovery, there’s not an easy answer. Some people will be able to work in treatment, live by spiritual principles, and flourish. Others won’t. It’s that simple and that complicated.

If you’re offered a job at a rehab and you’re in recovery – do you take it? Why not ask the people around you. Ask your sponsor, your sober supports, your significant other, your family, and your God. See what they have to say. The answer will come. I can promise you that!

Addiction Treatment Therapist Arrested for Trafficking Heroin

A Very Strange Story

Amy C. Gagnon and David S. Yeomans were arrested in mid-June for trafficking in heroin, possession of a Class B drug, and conspiracy to violate Massachusetts’ drug laws.

Ms. Gagnon, of New Hampshire, and Mr. Yeomans, of Massachusetts, are an interesting pair. Yeomans is a stock boy at a small grocery story, while Gagnon is actually a substance abuse counselor at a New Hampshire treatment center.

arrest for drug powder

Yeah, that makes her arrest a bit more confusing. What’s an addiction therapist doing trafficking heroin? Why was she arrested with a man on methadone maintenance? Where the drugs hers or his?

These questions are still up for debate in the courtroom. Both Gagnon and Yeomans have plead not guilty and both are saying the drugs belonged to the other party.

Despite finding heroin on Ms. Gagnon’s person, and $1,000 and eight oxycodone pills in her purse, her lawyer is arguing that her client was scared for her life. Mr. Yeomans is accused of threatening to kill her unless she copped to the drugs being hers.

It’s a complicated, confusing, and ultimately sad story. More important than any specific details, which are still unclear anyway, is the larger implication Gagnon’s arrest brings up. Many addiction treatment specialists – be they therapists, counselors, doctors, or support staff – are in recovery. Since relapse is a part of recovery for many individuals, it makes sense that some addiction professionals will indeed relapse.

Was that the case with Gagnon? We don’t know. All we do know is that she was arrested with Yeomans, who was under the influence, and she had drugs in her possession.

As the legal system sorts out exactly what happened, let’s look at the larger picture. Let’s look at those that work in treatment and are in recovery themselves.

The frightening truth about doctors & drugs…

Substance Abuse Counselors & Sobriety

Recovering from any sort of addiction is hard. That’s actually an understatement. Recovering from any sort of addiction is the hardest thing most people will ever do. It requires sustained focus, uncomfortable emotional, mental, and spiritual work, and a tremendous humbling of the ego.

Those are things that most people avoid. When it comes to addicts and alcoholics, however, those are things they avoid like the plague. I know because I’m a man in long-term recovery myself.

As of writing this, I’ve been sober for just over seven years. In a typical alcoholic story, those seven years really took me about ten to get.

So, after finally getting sober, I decided it was my duty to help others. I started working in treatment when I had a few years. I started as a behavioral health technician (also known as resident assistant, counselor assistant, and a host of other names).

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It wasn’t hard to find work in treatment. I am, after all, in South Florida. You can hardly throw a rock without hitting some sort of treatment center, addiction therapist, or sober living home.

Guess what I found once I started working in the field? Most everyone else was also in recovery. At the first treatment center I worked at, pretty much everyone from techs right up to the clinical director were sober. There were a few outliers (who were either saints or insane!), but 99% of the employees were recovering addicts and alcoholics.

With this huge number of men and women in recovery working in addiction treatment, it’s only natural that some will relapse. And that relapse, despite being par for the course, can have some disastrous effects on the very people we’re trying to help.

How to avoid relapsing on drugs & alcohol!

Relapse is Real

I’ve seen a lot of people in treatment relapse. While working as a BHT, I watched my fellow techs drink frequently. Now, that’s not to say everyone was drinking around the clock, but on average one tech drank every couple of months.

This led to high turnover and a decreased level of care for the patients we were there to serve. It also made sobriety and recovery appear tenuous to these “fresh into sobriety” folk.

At the end of the day, sobriety is tenuous…if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to. If you’re not going to meetings, helping other alcoholics, regularly examining your behavior and motives, and seeking to grow as a man or woman of God – then of course you’re going to drink.

relapse in recovery

Still, that’s not a good look for patients, many still detoxing, to see. Things were slightly better the further up the “treatment ladder” I climbed. I saw therapists, counselors, and group facilitators drink, but with much less frequency. Still, a relapse is a relapse.

Where am I going with all this? How does my experience working in treatment and seeing men and women relapse relate to a therapist (who may not even be in recovery) being arrested in Massachusetts?

Well, they both reinforce one major point – sobriety isn’t guaranteed. It’s only by doing the work mentioned above (going to meetings, helping others, etc.) that we’re guaranteed to stay clean and sober.

Simply having time doesn’t cut it. Working in the field obviously doesn’t cut it. Being intelligent and knowing that relapse isn’t a smart idea…that doesn’t cut it.

Individuals in recovery from substance abuse need to be constantly vigilant about their sobriety. This is true whether you work in treatment or in finance. It’s true across the board.

Was Amy Gagnon in recovery? Did she suffer a relapse and get caught while using? I don’t know. Ultimately, I don’t have to know. What I do know is that as long as I keep doing what I know to be good for me – I won’t relapse. What a gift!

Speaking of relapse…are steroids in recovery a relapse?

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Lighthouse Recovery Institute