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5 Ways to Make Friends Other Than Going to Meetings

5 Ways to Make Friends Other Than Going to Meetings

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The early stages of recovery can be a tumultuous time. After all, you are entering a new way of living.  One challenge those in recovery face is making new friends. Sometimes the only friends a person has are the friends they used drugs with. Those friends are certainly not ideal.

The first advice most people offer is to find friends in 12-step meetings.  While fellowships like A.A. and N.A are great places to meet people, one should not be limited to meetings to make new friends.

There are hosts of places where sober people can socialize and meet well-rounded people.  Making friends as an adult is challenging, and sobriety intensifies that challenge. However, there is hope.

Other than 12-step meetings, there are a plethora of resources available to make new friends. You do not have to go bar hopping to meet friends like you used to.

Here are five ways to make new friends in sobriety other than meetings: 

  1. Check Out Local Meetups.

    Meetup.com is a great way to track people who are interested in similar things as you. You can find people to play ultimate Frisbee on a weekly basis, or you can find an art group. There are so many sober activities on Meetup. Nowadays, there is an increasing trend of individuals trying to find activities to do that do not include drinking. Take advantage of this.
    Meetups are run by independent organizers, and they range tremendously. Everyone can find something they are interested in on Meetup. If you do not find something that interests you, then create your own Meetup! You’ll be surprised by who could possibly show up, and it’s a great way to develop your leadership skills.

  2. Go to the Gym.

    It can be difficult to work out, especially in early recovery, but going to the gym is a great way to make new friends. Fitness classes and exercise groups are great ways to make friends with people who care about their health. Even if they are not sober, people who workout are usually more conscious of what they put in their bodies.  Plus, working out is good for you, so it is a win-win.

  3. Reconnect with existing friends.

    Another way to make friends is to connect to people you already know. For example, if you are in a new area, ask around and see if there are friends-of-friends around that you can connect with. Contact your existing friends and see if they know anyone that they can introduce you to. Maybe one of your friends knows someone in your area who loves art or writing as much as you do. Network and build your circle using these types of strategies.

  4. Tap into your Facebook Network.

    Facebook has nearly 2 billion active users, and it has the tools to help you connect with tons of potential friends. There are a variety of groups you can join on Facebook to meet people with similar interests. For example, there are travel groups with hundreds of thousands of members in them.  People connect through groups like this all of the time. Join Facebook groups based on your interests and track people in your area to connect with. Like any scenario, be safe and always meet in a public place.

  5. Socialize More.

    If you are an introvert, it can be difficult to open yourself up while doing day to day activities. However, this is an excellent way to meet new people. Whether you are running errands or going to work, everyday ventures are an opportunity to connect with people. The more you talk to people, the more people you will meet. I hate small talk as much as the next guy, but I have to admit, those who do more of it reap the benefits of having more connections with people.
    You can meet people while shopping for a new blouse or getting your hair washed. Put yourself out there and open yourself to new friendships. You’ll be surprised at the results!

Overall, recovery is a great time of reinvention and with the reinvention comes the opportunity to build your social network. Creating a solid group of friends is an excellent way to maintain your sobriety. You will begin to learn a variety of ways to have fun without the use of drugs and alcohol.  You do not have to meet friends only in meetings. The world is your oyster.  If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, call now. Do not wait.

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1 Out of 12 Doctors Get Incentives from Opioid Makers

1 Out of 12 Doctors Get Goodies from Opioid Makers

Author: Shernide Delva

Free lunches?

Airfare?

Complementary drinks?

These are just a few of the incentives doctors have received from prescription opioid companies. Did these goodies get you your last opioid prescription?

Could incentives be responsible for our current opioid epidemic?

That’s exactly what researchers set out to understand.

A recent report confirmed what many have suspected: doctors are receiving incentives from major opioid makers. In fact, one out of every 12 U.S doctors gets money, lunch or something else of value from companies that make opioid drugs, the study concluded.

Furthermore, companies are spending more time and effort marketing opioids to doctors than they are other less addictive painkillers. These finding will help understand why doctors have played such a major role in the opioid addiction crisis.

“A large proportion of physicians received payments — one in 12 physicians overall,” said Dr. Scott Hadland of the Boston Medical Center. “Tens of millions of dollars were transferred for marketing purposes for opioids.”

Dr. Hadland and colleagues went through databases from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal government office that oversees public health insurance.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act includes the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act. This act required medical product makers to report any offerings or goodies made to doctors or to teaching hospitals. However, incentives are often disguised as something else.

“In some cases, they are money provided directly to physicians — for example, the speaking fees, the consultant fees and the honoraria. In other cases it is reimbursement for things like travel,” Hadland said.

On average, doctors get a single “payment,” usually a mean worth of $15 about once a year. Still, there are a select few doctors that are reaping the most benefits.

“The top 1 percent of physicians (681 of them) received 82.5 percent of total payments in dollars,” the team wrote in their report, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

These incentives could influence doctors to prescribe opioids to their patients:

“One of the main drivers of the epidemic has been the vast overprescribing of prescription pain medications,” the study notes.

Between 2013 and 2015, the team found 375,266 payments totaling 26 million distributed to more than 68,000 doctors.

While larger fees mostly accounted for speaker fees, more leisurely incentives like food and drink accounted for 94 percent of the payments.

“I do think the practice is exceedingly common. Increasingly, medical schools are restricting the ability of pharma companies to come to speak to medical students and even faculty,” Hadland said.

So what?

With all this said, do small incentives really make a difference? After all, can a doctor really be bought for the price of a boxed lunch?

The research indicates that, yes, these little goodies do influence prescribing. Last year, a study revealed that physicians who accepted even one meal by a drug company were more likely to prescribe a name-brand drug to patients later.

This is not the first time investigations were conducted on possible incentives. After earlier controversies and studies, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America issued a voluntary code of conduct to curb the once widespread practice of handing out free mugs, prescription pads, and other swag covered in drug brand names.

Some cities and states especially hit by the opioid abuse epidemic have even sued drug makers saying their practices have helped fuel the problem. The CDC states doctors have contributed to the addiction crisis by prescribing opioids to too many patients. These prescriptions are often prescribed at high doses for too long which only increases the vulnerability to addiction.

The result is deadly.

There were more than 30,000 fatalities in the United States in 2015, the federal government said.

“I think that first and foremost we have known that one of the main drivers of the epidemic has been the vast overprescribing of prescription pain medications,” said Michael Botticelli, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and now executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at the Boston Medical Center.

According to Botticelli, the answer is independent education, free of the need to promote a specific product.

“At the federal and state level (we may need to) move toward mandatory prescriber education to counteract industry’s influence over prescribing behavior,” he said. “Clearly, guidelines are not enough.”

For a long time, prescribing opioids was one of the first responses to pain management. Now other alternatives are being promoted such as pain management devices and holistic alternatives.

Botticelli agrees that while pain is a major problem, the answer is not more opioids.

“Yes, we want to make sure people’s pain is appropriately treated, but we know that longer and higher doses have significantly added to the addiction problem that we have in the United States,” he continued.

What are your thoughts? Did you know about these incentives? More studies are coming out revealing the back story to what led to the prescription opioid epidemic.

Opioid addiction has become a public health crisis. Now, more than ever is the time to seek treatment. Recovery is possible. You do not have to feel out of control. There is a solution.  If you are struggling with substance abuse, call now. Do not wait. 

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

 

The Dangers of Overconfidence in Addiction Recovery

The Dangers of Being Overconfident in Addiction Recovery

Author: Shernide Delva

Overconfidence in Recovery:

Confidence is supposed to be an excellent quality. We are always told to believe in ourselves in every endeavor we pursue. Whether it is a sport or a school exam, having confidence is touted as the key to success. However, when it comes to addiction recovery, can too much confidence actually become harmful?

Overconfidence Can Lead to Relapse:

The reality is too much confidence is not great in recovery. While it is great to have confidence in your program, it is important to stay humble. The emotions that arise from overconfidence can block underlying issues. Having an overconfident mindset can hinder your recovery process. It is important to make recovery a priority regardless of how much time you have.

Why Overconfidence Encourages Relapse:

  1. Distorted Self-Image: A major part of recovery is staying humble. Overconfidence makes someone believe that they are not as bad as newcomers. They may start to feel they no longer need their program and start to ponder if they are an addict at all. Overconfidence encourages the belief that it is not a huge deal to have a drink or use casually, which is far from true for an addict.
  2. Irrational Thoughts: Overconfidence can lead an addict to believe they deserve certain rewards in conjunction to their success. They might feel they are worthy of a celebration. They quickly convince themselves that one drink is not going to hurt them because they are now “in control” of their addiction. This is risky behavior and can lead someone down a slippery slope.
  3. Complacent Behavior: This is when an addict starts to believe that their addiction is not nearly as bad as they once thought. They start believing that they can now live normally due to the length of time they have been sober. They think they are cured so they slowly stop going to meetings and stop thinking of themselves as an addict. This leads to new addiction or a relapse.

Signs of Overconfidence Include:

  • Rejecting suggestions from others
  • Seeking immediate results
  • Belief in having all the answers
  • Always seeing your situation as unique from everyone else
  • Feeling that you deserve preferential treatment
  • Feeling “healed” or “in control”
  • Always wanting to lead instead of listening

It is crucial to understand that addiction will not simply disappear. Regardless of how long you have been sober, addiction can always creep up again. Addiction is not a curable disease; it is a manageable disease that does not have room for overconfidence.

How We Become Too Confident:

Overconfidence may be a trait acquired in recovery, or it can be a trait a person struggled with before sobriety. In fact, most addicts battle overconfidence their entire life. For example, those times you tried to use and thought no one would notice.

Sadly, this behavior can persist after recovery even after hitting rock bottom. Even those with no history of overconfidence can start to become overzealous in their recovery program. They start to believe that they are above the rest of their friends and family because of the work they have done in their recovery.

Consequences of Overconfidence:

When you act too confident, you hurt yourself and others. You hurt others who are still learning to trust the person you have become. You hurt yourself because overconfidence increases the vulnerability to a relapse. It is important to remember that recovery is something that takes effort every single day. Regardless of how much time you have, stay humble in your program. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Remember to support others struggling, and stay focused on your recovery. Overconfidence is not a quality anyone should strive for. Instead, focus on staying sober every single day. If you are struggling to stay sober, or are currently having issues with substance abuse. Please reach out. We want to help you get back on track.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Controversial Harm Reduction Method Highlighted On Megyn Kelly’s Show

Controversial Alcoholism Treatment Highlighted On Megyn Kelly’s Show

Author: Shernide Delva

The controversy surrounding the Megyn Kelly Sunday Night show continues. The first investigation piece on drug addiction focused on issues plaguing the South Florida recovery community.

Now, Megyn Kelly returns to cover addiction treatment, and this time her show is highlighting another polarizing subject: harm reduction programs. On Sunday night, Megyn Kelly’s shows featured  The Sinclair Method. The Sinclair Method is a harm reduction treatment program that allows patients who struggle with alcohol use disorder to continue drinking.

The segment introduces viewers to Marisa, a 25-year-old binge drinker. The crew follows Marisa around for day one of her introduction to The Sinclair Method.

First Marisa sees a doctor, who gives her a prescription. Shortly after taking the prescription, she has a drink. According to Marisa, her intense cravings to binge disappears.

“I feel like I could have another drink or not have another drink and be totally fine,” she tells the camera.

What changed?

The apparent miracle pill is naltrexone, a commonly used opioid antagonist typically used to treat heroin addiction. However, under The Sinclair Method, the drug is used to treat alcoholism.

“The drug blocks pleasure receptors in the brain―a buzzkill,” Melvin explains in a voiceover. “And when combined with psychotherapy sessions, the theory goes, eventually the cravings go away.”

Essentially, the idea behind the program is patients take naltrexone before drinking and over time, the desire to excessively drink diminishes. For Marisa, the unorthodox treatment seems to have worked. Only three months after starting the treatment, she told NBC she had lost her drive to drink.

Still, this approach is far from traditional. The 12-step model of addiction promotes abstinence only treatment. The show highlighted an interview with Hazelden Betty Ford’s executive director, Chris Yadron.

“The 12 steps are crucial because it’s a spiritual program of recovery,” he told Melvin.

Dr. Mark Willenbring who once ran the NIH’s alcohol recovery research defended The Sinclair Method, added that 12-step approaches do not rely on modern science.

“We don’t send someone with diabetes to a spa for a month, teach them diet and exercise and then say, ‘Go to support groups, but don’t take insulin.’ I mean, that’s the absurdity of what we’re doing now,” he said. “We’re still providing the same pseudo treatment that we provided in 1950. And 85% of rehabs in the country are 12-step rehabs. People don’t have any choice.”

The tension between abstinence-based and harm-reduction approaches to treatment has created a long-standing controversy in the recovery community. Throughout the segment, tweets were displayed from people who were for and against harm reduction strategies.

“This is very troublesome to see that some doctors are giving people with a thinking disease a “magic” pill,” tweeted one user.

Others felt the treatment option provides another solution than the standard abstinence-only approach. We’ve seen harm reduction programs like Moderation Management receive massive criticism, specifically after the founder, Audrey Kishline, killed a 12-year old girl and her father while driving in an alcoholic blackout.

Overall, programs like these remain controversial and risky. It is best to get treatment to address the underlying issues behind your addiction. If you are struggling with mental illness or addiction, please call now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Should We Have Seen Chester Bennington’s Suicide Coming?

 Linkin Park Singer Chester Bennington Commits Suicide

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Another devastating tragedy in music occurred on Thursday.

Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, was found dead at just 41 years old due to an apparent suicide. Brian Ellis, the chief of operations for the LA County coroner’s office, confirmed the death hours after it was reported by a TMZ article.

The death struck similarities to the death of Sound Garden frontman Chris Cornell, who killed himself in May. Chester Bennington was very close to Cornell, and his suicide occurred on  Cornell’s birthday.

On the day of Chris Cornell’s suicide, Bennington wrote an open letter expressing his grief.

“I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” he wrote.

“I pray you find peace in the next life.”

The Era of Linkin Park

Linkin Park had a string of mega-hits over the years, including “Faint,” “In the End” and “Crawling.” Linkin Park even crossed music genres, collaborating with Jay-Z. The Linkin Park album, “Meteora,” was one of the biggest alternative albums in music history.

The death is a shock to millions of fans; however, Chester Bennington’s struggle with addiction and mental illness is not something he was ever private about. Bennington has opened up various times throughout his career about his struggles with substance abuse and mental illness.

In a recent interview, Bennington elaborated on what he had to overcome over the past few years. In 2015, Bennington broke his ankle while playing basketball.  The ankle injury forced the band to cancel all of the tour dates they had remaining for The Hunting Party Tour that year.

Stone Temple Pilot guitarist, Dean Deleo, talked with radio station WAAF-FM about how severe the injury was:

“He hurt himself badly. It was not only a break — the guy tore darn near every ligament in his ankle,” DeLeo says to host Mistress Carrie. “They had to go in on each side. He has about a five-inch incision on each side. They had to go in and assemble a big bowl of spaghetti.”

Talks of Depression and Addiction Issues

In May of this year, Bennington talked about how his ankle injury took a significant toll on his life.

“I needed reconstructive surgery and like plates and screws and more surgery,” he says. “It was like ‘wow.’ It was nasty, and that took me into a depression.”

Bennington says he started falling into bad habits due to the severity of the injury.

“I got to a point where I was like medicating, kind of having issues with that, kind of like falling into old habits, into old behaviors.”

This was not Bennington’s first injury. He says injuries have been an ongoing part of his life since 30. He described it as a tumultuous cycle of rehabbing injuries, reinjuring himself, and undergoing multiple surgeries.

Along with the stress of his injuries, the hardships of life continued to take their toll.

“Being in Linkin Park, it has a lot of perks, and it’s really a fun life, and it’s a blessed life. I get to do what I do with really talented exceptionally decent people,” he says.
“At the same time like none of us are immune from just sh*t happening to you and not to you but just making poor choices or being human. There’s always that element.”

Bennington talked about the band’s newest single “Heavy” and the challenges that inspired the song. He explains in the interview how problems started to stack one on top of the other.

“Life got really weird and really hard all at one time,” he says.

“It was like one of our friends died from cancer, my step dad died of cancer.  I broke my leg and had to rehab that for a year. I quit Stone Temple Pilots because it was just too much. I felt bad about that, and then I was depressed and drinking again and doing all this stuff and I was like ‘Dude, this is crazy.’”

“I even told one of my therapists at one point that I just don’t want to feel anything,” he admits.

On Surrendering Control:

Although Bennington talks about his struggles throughout the interview, he remains positive.  He learned to surrender to life instead of always having to be in control.

“I find myself personally when I’m stuck, it’s because I haven’t just surrendered to the process of life.  I’m trying to like be in there and do things my way. I’m trying to steer the ship or whatever,” he says, “There were a few times over the last couple years when I was ready to throw in the towel and give up on everything.”

The band was promoting their new album and tour and had dates set for the rest of the year.

Bennington is survived by six children and his wife, model Talinda Ann Bentley.

“I came to a point in my life where I was like, ‘I can either just give up and f—ing die or I can f—ing fight for what I want.’ And I chose to fight for what I wanted,” he says in the interview obtained by The Mirror. “I wanted to have good relationships. I wanted to love the people in my life. I wanted to enjoy my job.”

As a long-time fan of Linkin Park, I was devastated by the news of his death. Mental illness and addiction were challenges that plagued the singer’s life for decades. Still, in recent interviews, Bennington appeared to be making progress.

However, this simply confirms how serious mental illness is. It is not something that is easily understood, and none of us really know what pushed Chester Bennington to his breaking point. Regardless, the stigma has to stop. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental illness, please reach out. There is help out there. Call now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

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