Oxycodone is often thought of as the lesser of the two evils as it is most often used in combination with other medications. This opiate is often formulated alongside Tylenol or Ibuprofen in several formulations. The number of prescription pain relievers with Oxycodone components include Tylox, Percodan, Percocet and of course, OxyContin. OxyContin, on the […]
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The first step in fixing any problem is identifying it. Sometimes people just don’t recognize a problem even if it is staring them in the face. And so it’s no surprise that people who are abusing alcohol don’t even know that they are doing it. It becomes especially confusing when heavy drinking is associated with […]
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Alcohol is viewed so casually by this modern-day society that people tend to forget the huge risk that comes with drinking it regularly: alcoholism. In fact, alcoholism is so often portrayed on television, particularly in sitcoms, as a reliable source of jokes. Alcoholic characters are seen as clumsy and bumbling—and we laugh at their inability […]
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When drinking casually with friends develops into abuse, you know you have a problem. But when abuse turns into dependence, and becomes full blown alcoholism, you’ve got a problem that requires medical assistance. It’s hard to recover from alcoholism. The fact that the drink itself is addictive is only one thing you have to be […]
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Addiction Recovery 101, with Tom Horvath, Ph.D.
“Set your own goals for your life -- and for your recovery.” ~ Dr. Tom Horvath
The 5 Things Series contains footage of Recovery Research Institute interviews with international experts in addiction treatment and recovery.
A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., is a California licensed clinical psychologist (ABPP), the founder & CEO of Practical Recovery and a long time volunteer for SMART Recovery.
Alcoholism is something many people struggle with. It’s just the harsh reality of life. People start out drinking socially, until they find themselves abusing alcohol, and then before they know it they lose control. They become alcoholics. And so this harsh reality must be faced with equally realistic solutions. There are alcohol rehabilitation centers and […]
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Having an alcoholic in the family is difficult. Having a friend who is an alcoholic is difficult. But dating an alcoholic is more difficult. It’s not entirely their fault: alcohol has taken control of their body and they can’t live without it. Withdrawal symptoms will keep them drinking even if they want to quit. By […]
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How can you prevent relapse?
Relapse prevention is essential in recovery from chemical and behavioral addictions. Why? Because addiction has been found to reoccur more often when steps are not taken to cope with the cravings, urges, peer pressures, situational cues, bodily discomforts, neuro-biological changes, and other factors which pave the way for slips and relapses.
Therefore, we regard relapse as a “normal” (though distinctly undesirable) possibility on the road to recovery. When you choose to view a relapse as a mistake, grist for the mill, a learning opportunity and a discrete single event rather than viewing it as a total failure and as evidence predictive of failures, then your chances for success increase greatly.
Top 10 relapse prevention strategies
1. Learn to willingly accept your mind – The first step to preventing relapse is to understand and accept your mind. The presence of whatever your mind produces such as thoughts, beliefs, images, memories, feelings, or sensations is temporary. Even if you don’t like them, if you understand that the ideas your mind creates will change, you do not need to act on what your mind is thinking. This goes for urges and cravings. Note how they simply come and go. They may seem like a problem, but avoiding them through addictive behavior appears as the real problem in the long run. Consider learning and practicing “Mindfulness” to increase your ability to “sit with” or “ride out” urges without acting on them.
2. Get psychological and medical help when needed – When needed, seek and get psychological and medical help for psychiatric illnesses and to learn better ways of coping with life events. Treatment options for addiction are not limited to psychotherapy or support groups. Consider the use of prescription medications like Disulfiram (Antabuse®), Naltrexone (ReVia®), Acamprosate (Campral®), etc., as a sign of positive action and never as a mark of failure or inadequacy. Take your medications as prescribed.
3. Stimulus control – Begin to understand and practice stimulus control. Change the “activating events,” cues or “triggers” which can be changed. Accept those which can’t be changed. They can cue you, but they don’t rule you.
4. PIG Awareness – Live with awareness of the PIG (Problem of Immediate Gratification). Learn about the PIG concept and of natural penalties for slips, lapses and relapses. Carry, review and update a Cost-Benefit Analysis or list of reasons for sticking to your change plan.
5. AIDs Awareness – Beware of Apparently Irrelevant Decisions (AIDs) that lead to high risk situations and using. Recovery requires living with greater awareness or mindfulness.
6. Beware of the “Abstinence Violation Effect” (the use of a small slip as an excuse for a major relapse). Carry your how-to-cope reminder instructions. Remember: “One ‘swallow’ does not make a summer, nor a relapse.”
7. Find valued directions for your life – Developing a balanced life with healthy indulgences and activities that can substitute for unhealthy and undesirable addictive behaviors is a good start. But in the long run we each need to decide what is really important to be doing and commit ourselves to acting on those values, taking us each in our own valued life directions.
8. Take better care of yourself – TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Change. Staying clean from drugs and alcohol or abstaining from unwanted behaviors is part of living a balanced life. Ample evidence exists that you can improve your mental health through exercise, better diet and nutrition (including Omega-3 found in fish oils), getting out in nature, developing and maintaining good human relationships, engaging in recreation and vital absorbing activities, relaxation, meditation, and altruistic involvements like volunteering service in one’s community.
9. Learn and apply the SMART Recovery® Four Point Program™ and Recovery Tools – Read, study, learn and apply what you learn. If you don’t help yourself, who is going to help you? Self-help requires determination and work on your part. That’s why it’s called self-help.
10. Reward yourself – Be sure to celebrate successes and reward yourself for successful abstinence, compliance with treatment and follow up.
Dr. Steinberger, licensed psychologist since 1987, Fellow of the Albert Ellis Institute for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy since 1991, holds the Certificate of Proficiency in the Treatment of Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders from the College of Professional Psychology of the APA, and uses Acceptance & Commitment Therapy in his private practice, Advanced Psychotherapy & Recovery Options.
Reference sources: The ideas summarized as: Willing Acceptance and Mindfulness, mentioned in item 1, and finding valued life directions, mentioned in item 7, can be found in the self-help literature of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). You can learn more with a web search. The PIG and Abstinence Violation Effect were suggested and researched by the late Alan Marlatt. The extensive research supporting Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, mentioned in item 8, is summarized in an article by Roger Walsh (“Lifestyle and Mental Health” in American Psychologist, Oct. 2011). The “Cycles of Change Model”, mentioned in item 11, was adapted from Changing for Good a book by Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente. The rest is drawn from The SMART Recovery Handbook (Henry Steinberger, editor, 2004) and the SMART Recovery website where more information on Relapse Prevention can be found.
Opioids belong to a group of drugs user as a treatment for moderate to severe pain. These drugs are derived from the opium poppy plant. Opioids often referred to as opiates and narcotics. Codeine, morphine, and heroin sometimes referred to as opiates. Meanwhile, the other drugs including synthetic opiates like Oxycontin are referred to as […]
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Hi my name is Anna. I got into cocaine and later heroin when I got into the club scene. My friends and I had a great time in our late teens and 20's. However things took a turn for the worse after I was not the cute young girl in the club anymore. I decided I did not want to be defined by drugs or the clubs. I have been living for Jesus ever since. Sharing my struggle and my glory which is revealed in him.