Author: Shernide Delva
Truthfully, I did not know what to expect the first time I discovered I was dating a recovering drug addict. I was slightly concerned it would not be the right match. After all, only another addict could express the same empathy and support, and surely, I would not be able to provide that, right? At least, that was my first thought.
Fortunately, the recovering addict/non-addict relationship can be quite a healthy one. Around the same time I started the relationship, I was hired to write about addiction and mental health. This job was a great tool because it allowed me to educate myself on addiction and open my mind even further. I realized addiction impacts everyone, whether it is through personal experience or from an outside perspective. Over 20 million Americans suffer from an addiction of some kind. Therefore, everyone is affected by the disease of addiction in some way or another.
Furthermore, past challenges like a drug addiction can become be a positive influence on a relationship. In my case, it made for someone who was open, honest, and consistently working on themselves, which was a nice change of pace from the previous guys I had dated.
Still, for a non-addict, finding out the person you’re seeing is in recovery can bring on a host of different reactions and emotions. It can be hard to grasp the idea that someone who seems healthy and self-aware, was dependent on substances at one point. There will be challenges, just like any relationship. However, before you dismiss the possibility of a relationship, and write the past off as “baggage,” pause for a moment and read this article…
Healthy Recovery = Healthy Relationship
In some ways, recovering addicts can be some of the healthiest, most balanced individuals you can ever meet. It can be a refreshing change to be with someone who wants to improve themselves. However, there are a few things to be aware of.
To start off, your potential partner should have at least one year of sobriety, preferably much more. Finding out the guy I was dating had five years of sobriety was a good sign. A person with few years of sobriety under their belt is more likely to be following an effective recovery program. The less time in recovery, the more likely the person could still be finding their way in sobriety.
Everyone has a different idea of what an effective recovery program means. For the most part, it should include a combination of things like attending meetings, having a sponsor/sponsee, therapy, spirituality, exercise, and/or meditation. Staying away from drugs and alcohol does not always equate to recovery. In fact, “dry” is a terminology used to describe a person who is abstaining from drugs/alcohol, however, is absent from a recovery program. Learn about what emotional sobriety means. Ensure your partner is actively pursuing their recovery before entering the relationship.
Here are some dos and don’ts to help make the education process easier. More importantly, keep an open line of communication with your partner. Address your concerns. The key is to be with someone who wants a relationship that focuses on both your needs. Shy away from those who let their past challenges define them. Instead, focus on someone who lets their past positively impact their future.
The Dos and Don’ts of Dating Someone in Recovery:
Do: Get the Facts.
DON’T: Make Snap Judgments.
It can be easy to make snap judgments about drug addiction and recovery. Instead, educate yourself on addiction and learn to let go of stigmas you may have had about addiction in the past. Personally, I always felt like I was a compassionate person; however I found that even I had some stigmas about addiction I needed to let go of. Learning that it was not a “choice” was something I needed understand fully. Until I researched the disease of addiction, I did not fully know what that meant on a psychological level. It is okay to admit that there are some stigmas you have to work on. However, make the decision to get the facts before acting on those judgments. Ask questions and express your concerns.
Do: Support their recovery program.
DON’T: Deter their efforts and push them away from recovery.
When I first found out I was in a relationship a recovering addict, I thought I could not be as encouraging since I did not share the same past. Fortunately, through communicating these concerns, I realized that the most effective thing you can do is support the recovery process. For some addicts, dating someone who is not in recovery can be a refreshing change. The best thing you can do is support their program 100 percent. Encourage them to go to meetings. Go to a meeting, if possible. If they need to go every day, support that need. It may be tempting suggest skipping a meeting to spend quality time together, however, remember the relationship will only work if your partner remains sober.
Do: Stay in the present.
DON’T: Ignore your needs, and resist moving forward.
While it is good to sympathize with the past, remember your needs in the relationship are priorities as well. Most likely, you have also gone through difficult challenges in your life too. Do not get stuck over- sympathizing about the past. Instead, both of you should empower each other. Move forward and grow together.
DO: Trust your Partner in their recovery process.
DON’T: Ignore the signs of a relapse.
Whether it is one year or ten years, addiction is a disease, and relapses do happen. While you should trust your partner in their recovery, it is important to understand and recognize the signs of a relapse. Trust is important in a relationship. However, challenges do happen and you may be able to spot the signs and prevent a relapse in its tracks.
Overall, relationships are challenging, whether addiction is part of the picture or not. Education and counseling can help with overcoming the concerns you may have about a relationship with someone in recovery. Most of all, communication is the key. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call 1-800-951-6135. We want to help.
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Author: Justin Mckibben
For a little over a year now I’ve been writing for a publication in the field of recovery from substance abuse, and I’ve been given the awesome opportunity to touch on subjects that have educated, motivated and even reformed me in the respect of addiction, mental health and recovery.
I’ve gotten to write about different treatment tactics and how they impact the lives of those who experience them.
I’ve read heartbreaking stories.
I’ve shared shocking statistics.
I have been blessed enough to interview amazing individuals about their own journeys through addiction into sobriety. Having been sober for some time now, I have been able to look back and see what writing for recovery has meant to me and what it has done for my own sobriety, and it is safe to say the journey has changed me.
I just felt like maybe now was a good time to share some thoughts on those changes, and use it as a chance to show how in more ways than one we get to keep what we have by giving it away.
In writing for recovery I better learned how to really see the stigma of addiction and mental health disorders, even in my own life and how I contribute to it. Research has pried open my eyes to a new perspective, exposing those presumptions and how each effected my opinions on both people and policies, and I have learned how to let go of a lot of it through simply trying to understand it.
We are not all the same, although we all have a lot in common. Not everyone will have experienced what I have, and I may not even come close to experiencing what others may have gone through. None of us addicts, regardless of our upbringing, our drug of choice or our rock-bottom were better than anyone else. We didn’t have to look the same or even act the same to qualify as peers.
I saw how we addicts hurt ourselves and each other, and I finally saw that now was my chance to change my own expectations, perceptions and contributions.
Reading, writing and debating over an endless list of topics and controversies has actually forced me to understand a few things about my opinions- such as:
- They are not always right
- They should be educated
- They are subject to change (especially when uneducated or wrong)
When I first wrote an article on harm reduction, I was an adversary of it. I didn’t see how giving an addict access to things like needles and other resources was helping, because to me abstinence was the only way, and anything else was enabling… but today I feel that was close-minded.
By reading more and having open communication the conversation showed me a new appreciation for the inspiring work done by harm reduction programs, and I support those efforts today because these may not be permanent solutions, but these programs save lives and can help revitalize communities.
Sure, clean needles won’t keep an addict clean, but it may keep them alive long enough to get there. But that’s just my opinion.
Before I got involved in writing for recovery I never really followed the politics and drug policies. A big part of me felt as if the government had no real clue what was really going on out there, and I believed no politicians would ever truly care enough to protect the rights and the futures of addicts.
The truth is there are active advocates and organizations all across the globe (essentially everywhere) committed to helping treat, educate and protect the population suffering with alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health disorders.
Of course in active addiction politics were the farthest thing from important in my eyes.
As with politics, writing for recovery has helped me to make honest attempts at getting educated. In reading about the elements of mental health and addiction, about new discoveries in science and technology helping us trudge forward in our understanding of it all, I am constantly reminded that our progressive disease is one we may sometimes think we understand, but other times we realize there is so much we don’t even know we don’t know.
In turn I’ve developed a passion for learning again and for sharing the lessons. I always get excited about these conversations raising more awareness. Every time I see a new movement prompting new action I am filled with a sense of hope. Hope of all we can accomplish if we face the disease of addiction with a willingness to change and grow.
This plays into the idea that many more people support recovering addicts than you would think, which is truly amazing and comforting. I guess what really amazes me is how little I used to care, and how important it has become to me for people to be informed and encouraged to get help.
Letting go of stigma, raising awareness and accepting opinions in relationships can make it much easier to be compassionate and supportive. Writing about these changes made me feel compelled to live that way, and our readers have taught me a lot too, so I’m grateful when someone clicks or comments.
Learning to be accepting and speak openly about personal issues or tough and traumatic topics has made my relationships more honest and humble, while research and writing has taught me to focus on being less judgmental and strive to be insightful in all discussions. I don’t always hit the mark, but you guys have taught me to aim higher every time.
- Helping Others
When I stepped into the role of a writer, I never would have imagined these articles could reach as many readers as they do. Over the past year+ I have met strangers, who recognized the posts and content, and I have had letters and phone calls from people in Ohio where I grew up telling me about what they read and what it meant to them. That experience alone has overwhelmed my heart.
Helping others is the point. It was always the point, but what some people don’t get to see either is how much this helps me.
Sometimes I’m just here expressing myself, writing about what I think is interesting or important, usually while sharing as much news, general information and innovation as I can to help people who need it.
But I write because these testimonies of truth, my truth and your truth, can be part of a catalyst that can save a life.
I get to write for recovery, and when it helps someone it magnifies the extent that it helps me. Writing gives me hope, and reading feedback and follow-through gives me more. It’s how we can call others to action, keep the conversation of recovery going in our own way, and how we try to get more people asking questions and seeking solutions for the problems which seem too vast or intense for someone alone to answer indefinitely.
So thank you for letting me write, and for reading and sharing. For an addict who has grappled to find their way more times than once, it is amazing to be reminded why it works, and who it helps.
My recovery has been a gift, and it has been a gift to have a job writing about it and reading about the struggles and the success stories of others. I can only hope that as I keep doing this, more people will see the options available that can change their own lives. My recovery began with Palm Partners, and there are so many people here who want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
This story began just over a year ago when the Church of Scientology bought the plot of land for just over $4 million before announcing the intentions of opening a rehab center on the property. Residents in the area began rallying against these efforts, but the church persisted in its efforts, and actually came pretty close to crossing the finish line. Unfortunately, it was not close enough to get what they wanted, but maybe Maryland thinks it’s too close for comfort.
The Build Up
Narconon has so far been failing in the fight for the goal of establishing a few “Narconon residential drug rehabilitation centers”, including recently one location Maryland at Tout Run, a pristine 40-acre camp in Frederick County which has in the past been visited by numerous presidents including Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, merely miles away from Camp David.
As covered in a previous article, the Church of Scientology has been criticized in the past for the various extensions of the church manipulating circumstances to achieve their ends. The church’s real estate arm and Narconon were able to get every other approval permit that was required to build the rehab, except needing the property to be designated for historic preservation, which would allow them to make changes otherwise banned by zoning laws.
Many local council members expressed concerns and skepticism about Scientology and their plans for the area, including at the time one member of the council who pointed out the power-play by the real estate extension of the church, claiming Narconon was “going through the back end” to get the appropriate licensing for the center, leading residents to regard the organization as dishonest.
Frederick County council had originally decided to postpone the decision until April 21 to allow for more public consideration, and just this Tuesday the council members voted to deny the proposal.
Stage of Denial
The vote cast by the Frederick County Council was pretty one sided, with an almost unanimous 6-1 tally against allowing the church to open the drug rehab facility on the premises.
The one council member who voted in favor of allowing the rehab to be built was Billy Shreve, and he was quoted by local news as stating:
“This application has been clouded because the record does reflect that there was testimony based on Narconon and Scientology. So I think that has clouded our decision a few times, and has led us to probably go a lot further into this decision than it really merited.”
Maryland local Mark Long, an opponent of the Narconon facility being established in the community stated,
“Having a 6 to 1 vote it does show some precedence that the public doesn’t want this here. I mean, to get that vote across party lines is pretty significant. I hope they understand that it’s best just to go home and give up on this.”
However, according to news reports Narconon officials said they may take the matter to court, and that they have not decided exactly what action they plan to take but that the fight is not over and they are “not going away.” So will a second run at this provide them with a different result?
This is definitely not the first time that the Church of Scientology has been shunned by a community for trying to build a treatment center, nor is it the first time they have been accused of using shady or under-handed tactics to try and get their way.
In February there was a story of the church trying to establish a similar compound in Milton, Canada that was met with resistance, and ultimately had a hearing set for March to April to further rule on the case.
Since the center wouldn’t use over-the-counter drugs to treat addiction, it’s not required to obtain a license from the Province to do so. According to company representative Rubina Qureshi,
“And, therefore we were put in a position of having to ask for a minor variance (of zoning bylaw) to clarify that a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre conforms with the Town’s definition of a group home,”
But Barbara Koopmans, the Town’s Planning Director, stated the application for a minor variance was denied because it did not conform with the ‘group home type 2’ definition under which the company applied. Many in Milton were vocal about their opposition, but Scientology officials remain persistent.
Should these communities open their arms to these centers? Or should they be concerned considering the controversy surrounding the Narconon methods and the tragic deaths of some patients under sketchy circumstances?
While some treatment centers have a tough time getting off the ground thanks to questionable methods and a bad rep, some people avoid treatment thinking they are all the same, but this is NOT the case. Palm Partners is a certified and celebrated holistic healing center for those suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, and our skilled and professional staff members want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
How much does drug abuse or narcotic medication have to do with the body-count of a killer? Is the fiction of Dr. Jekyll self-medicating with a bottle of liquid evil and mutating into Hyde an ugly and exaggerated metaphor of a more flesh and blood reality? Or is any speculation of drugs causing psychotic breaks another fear-based propaganda piece?
While the number of drug addicts far outnumbers the population of serial killers or assassins in their midst, which may make this seem like a bit of a reach, some new data is suggesting there may actually be some truth to the idea that drugs can impact the risk of homicide. So why write about it? Truthfully because it is an interesting hypothesis to explore. Could more motives for murder be chemical than personal, and does it make a difference to the average addict?
Killing in the Name Of…
Over time there’s been a lot of debate over whether psychotropic drugs, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants can create violent behavior. This discussion became even more relevant following the numerous massacres committed over the years by young individuals in schools and other public places in the United States and other countries. Many examined the lives of these troubled teens, scrutinizing their vicious crimes and placing the blame on the drugs.
Professor Jari Tiihonen’s, leader of the study, stated in regards to the research:
“It has been repeatedly claimed that it was the anti-depressants used by the persons who committed these massacres that triggered their violent behavior. It is possible that the massive publicity around the subject has already affected drug prescription practices,”
Recently there was a study published in the journal World Psychiatry that was the first of its kind… ever… in the world. This study was aimed to find the relationship between drugs and homicide and in the process the researchers found some intriguing and unexpected revelations.
Professor Tiihonen’s led an international research team at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience, where they analyzed the use of prescription drugs of 959 persons convicted of a homicide in Finland between 2003 and 2011.
The data was collected analyzing the Finnish homicide and prescription drug databases. Researchers found a pattern that associated an increased risk of committing a homicide to use of certain drugs that affect the central nervous system. So what drugs were they, and how big is the risk?
Of course to accurately study the link between drug use and the risk of committing a crime, a certain criteria must be followed, including reason for using the drug. One also has to take into account the effects of any other drugs and intoxicants used simultaneously, so not to dilute the results of one drug under the influence of another. Because no other studies like this have yet to be published further research may expand more on the conclusions drawn here.
The results show:
- Anti-psychotics not associated with a significantly increased risk of homicide
- Anti-depressants associated with slightly elevated risk (+31%)
- Benzodiazepines associated with significantly elevated risk (+45%)
So the research team found the odds of committing homicide were 31% higher during time periods when offenders were on antidepressants, versus when they were not. But while this relative increase might sound concernedly large, it actually represents a small shift in a risk that is already pretty low to begin with. So there is still doubt that this is a cause and affect scenario. And when it came to subjects younger than 26, which is the age for which concerns about antidepressants are greatest considering the numerous aforementioned tragedies, there was no connection between the medications and homicide risk.
Highest increase in the risk of committing a homicide was associated with:
In persons under 26 years of age, the highest increase in the risk of committing a homicide was associated with:
- Opiate painkillers (+223%)
- Benzodiazepines (+95%)
So the team did find that when offenders were on valid prescriptions for opiate painkillers like OxyContin their odds of committing homicide were roughly doubled, versus periods when they were off the drugs. But while the study looked at prescriptions, opiates are commonly abused, and the study concluded drug abuse could make a major difference in what makes these drugs dangerous to people with a history of aggression.
Still this data should offer some reassurance on the safety of antidepressants in that regard, according to lead researcher Dr. Jari Tiihonen, who believes as far as the science goes there’s little evidence that the medications carry such a risk. Two psychiatrists from the United States reviewed the study, and agreed with that assessment.
Cutting to Conclusions
If you have read this far, let me be clear and say I’m not asserting these statistics prove everyone who uses these drugs are killing people because of drugs, if this was the case I’d be the Patrick Bateman of my generation. It’s only referring to those people who are killing, and whether or not they are commonly using these drugs. This study is about attempting to find the connection, following the patterns and assessing the damage.
According to Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, there is no medication influential enough to turn a normally non-aggressive person into a murderer.
While no direct correlation is absolute without more solid and supportive data, this still brings to mind a pretty important question: do people who are already a little unstable or violent run a greater risk of killing someone when using painkillers or other medications? Should “may cause random homicidal outbursts and death of friends and family” be written on the pill bottle warning label?
OK, maybe not to THAT extreme… but you get where I’m going with this?
Any addict can tell you chronic drug use will mess with the mind, that should be a given and that is the point. Drugs can shatter what self-control and logic we hold tightly on to in attempts to stay normal. So this isn’t a scare tactic, it’s an acknowledgement of some extremes of the devastation. We can’t blame the drugs for murder, but can we at least look into the impact they have on a fragile mind?
In this case Dr. Jekyll would have been teetering over the psychological edge far before picking up a pill.
Benzodiazepines are said to weaken impulse control, and past studies have determined painkillers affect emotional processing. As a former addict I can say while I actively abused these exact kinds of prescription medications I see where my own emotional stability had been compromised, and where my impulses were definitely more aggressive, irrational or inappropriate. But then again, drugs take their tolls in different ways on different people. Either way, to say it doesn’t corrupt a persons reasoning is careless, but to blame murder on medication at this point may also be irresponsible.
I’m just saying I haven’t killed anyone… today…… yet.
Drugs and alcohol often change us into people even we don’t recognize, and sometimes we can’t see what a profound change these substances have on us until it’s too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
#Recovery #StayInformed #DelrayBeachChat… how many hash-tags (#) can we use to change the stigma?
Sunny Southern Florida is such an incredible area for people in recovery, even being often referred to frequently as the recovery capitol of the country with a vast network of treatment facilities in the area, and a thriving culture of young and active clean and sober residents. But there is still a population of the general public in these neighborhoods that don’t understand the depths of addiction, or how recovering addicts and alcoholics take the steps toward becoming new and amazing versions of themselves.
There has even at times been concern from citizens as to if this recovery culture isn’t hazardous to the community, but now there is a social media campaign that city officials in Delray Beach have designed to educate the public about the reality of addiction and what it really means to recover.
Drugs and addiction are not very easy topics of conversation, no matter what part of town in what state you live in. When most people hear those words they tend to think of criminals, degenerates, vagrancy and violence. However, that is not the reality. While it may be true that drug use is against the law, it doesn’t mean that every addict is a criminal.
This past Wednesday The Delray Beach Drug Task Force, along with the Delray Beach Police Department and the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, took action to try and inform the public about the positive impacts of the recovery community and the facts of addiction by hosting a Twitter chat under the hashtag #DelrayBeachChat with the purpose of debunking myths and reducing the stigma. When looking at this, it is actually awesome to see city officials taking a stand to support individuals who have been low long enough, to keep those who don’t understand from kicking them while their down. Executive Director of The Delray Beach Drug Task Force Suzanne Spencer explained,
“I actually think one of the mistaken fears that people have is we seem to lump addiction and recovery into the same category and they’re clearly different,”
Suzanne Spencer speaks up about how addiction is not a choice, and supports the understanding of addiction as a disease. She went on to say,
“You don’t wake up one morning and say hey it’s great day in sunny South Florida I think I’ll become an addict today. People don’t have a choice in whether they become an addict, but they do have a choice on whether or not they can recover,”
Spencer attested that there are 20 million American people living in long term recovery, and “that’s definitely signs of success.” Sadly, people are more used to seeing the negatives of addiction being projected through the media and exacerbated in news headlines and celebrity scandals.
Not only does the Delray Beach Drug Task Force support their recovery community, but the whole of the Delray Beach Police Department actually cooperated with the chat. Delray Beach Police Chief Jeff Goldman said he understands the community’s concern, but still supports the recovery industry in the area stating:
“It’s an individual that has an addictive personality that might have been here trying to get treatment, but fell off the wagon as we say. We really didn’t have many programs in place. We are starting to work on some new programs, some cutting edge programs in my opinion, working with The Delray Beach Drug Task Force community. So we’re trying to find a way to solve that.”
Now in regards to the treatment industry itself, Chief Goldman also recognizes there’s some work to be done in Delray Beach. Given the area consists of such a large number of rehabs and sober living homes, there are always going to be a few shady businesses who also reinforce the stigma and give the industry a bad name in the eyes of the public. Goldman stated:
“just like any other profession ninety-nine percent of the people in that business are doing a great job. There is that one percent that is the unscrupulous people. That’s the ones we’re trying to go after.”
The work that has to go into holding these businesses accountable and resolving on how to regulate the industry is the same work that has to go into dissolving the stigma and teaching the community about addiction and recovery, and it all starts with active open discussion. #DelrayBeachChat is one way that these officials utilized the medium of social media to try and make that more possible and make the information more accessible to those who needed it most.
Delray Beach is an amazing place to get sober. For many people it can make a huge difference just because of the size and diversity of the recovery community, and those who actively recover can also help make a positive impact on local businesses and policies. Not everyone will get to experience the recovery life in Delray Beach, Florida because they don’t know it’s there, but for those who do it’s all about improve our own lives and trying to make a positive contribution. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, Palm Partners is an integral piece of the Delray Beach recovery community. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 and get the help that creates change for life.