The Long Road to Opiate Addiction Recovery

Opiate addiction is a dangerous disease that results in tremendous damage to individuals, families, and communities across the nation and around the world. This disease has become so devastating that it has reached epidemic proportions. However, there are treatment options available that can allow sufferers to retake control of their lives and end their opiate abuse. The road to opiate addiction recovery is a long one but one that could save your life.

Opiate addiction recovery pin

The First Steps

The first thing that must be done to recover from opiate addiction is to stop using opiates. This one thing that is easier said than done. Stopping opiate use after becoming addicted is incredibly difficult and may even be dangerous due to intense withdrawal symptoms associated with it. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Insomnia and depression
  • Powerful drug cravings

These symptoms are extremely unpleasant and may even be dangerous without medical supervision. It is for this reason, it you should seek help. The best place to get help recovering from an addiction to opiates is a treatment center.

How Treatment Centers Help Recovering Addicts

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every person and addiction is different, requiring professional evaluation and personalized treatment in order to overcome a substance use disorder. Certified opiate addiction treatment centers have the personnel and resources necessary to perform this function. They have a number of different treatment options to help addicts, but what is most important is that the addict receives treatment.




Proven Treatments for Opiate Addiction

While there are many different treatment options for recovering opiate addicts, it is essential that they are proven to be effective. At this time, only behavioral therapies, counseling, and medications have proven effective in ending opiate abuse over the long term. Common behavioral therapies and counseling techniques used are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Aversion therapy
  • Contingency management
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Family counseling

All of these techniques are commonly used and have been proven effective, particularly when combined with certain medications.

Recovery from opiate addiction

The Role of Medications

Medications are incredibly helpful tools in recovering from opiate addiction. However, it is important to understand that medications alone are not treatment. They are only effective when used in combination with behavioral therapies or counseling. Common medications used include:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Suboxone
  • Naloxone
  • Naltrexone

When used with behavioral therapies and counseling, these medications can help recovering addicts get and stay opiate free.

Aftercare and Continuing Recovery

It is important to remember that no matter what treatments are used, no opiate addict can ever be truly cured. Opiate addiction is a chronic disease and must be managed for the remainder of the sufferer’s life. This does not mean that these recovering addicts cannot get off opiates and remain drug free.  It does mean that opiate addiction recovery is an ongoing process and takes time and effort. There is always the possibility of relapse which makes building a recovery support network and a relationship with a treatment center vital.

Having access to further treatment to help you remain drug free are essential parts of ensuring a drug free existence. Though it is a long and difficult road, it is possible to overcome an addiction to opiates and live a normal life.

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8 Things That Happen When You Enter a Sober Living Community

Completing your treatment program represents a huge step in your journey toward sobriety, and you have finally entered the part where relapse prevention is your highest priority. Entering a sober living community is an effective way to learn how to manage your cravings in a supportive environment until you feel strong enough to return to an independent lifestyle. Choosing to transfer to a sober living house after your primary treatment program ends increases your chances of maintaining sobriety thanks to the support that you receive from the community as a whole.

Sober Living Community

Decrease Stress in Experiential Sessions

Life outside of rehab is stressful, and it is important to learn how to manage your stress so that you do not fall prey to temptation. You learned stress management skills during your treatment such as using mindfulness meditation to combat anxiety, and sober living services bring these types of techniques to life with in-house group sessions. Whether you prefer to decompress with yoga or acupuncture, it is important to continue with your relaxation strategies as you transition to a life of sobriety.

Stay On Track with Transportation to Sobriety-Related Activities

A lack of transportation is a barrier to recovery that many people face as they rebuild their lives after dealing with the devastating consequences of addiction. A sober living community provides transportation services; that means you will never have to miss a group or individual counseling session due to not having a vehicle or license. Since you know that attending your aftercare program is essential for your success, transportation is a critical element of your plans for staying sober.

Make Friends with Other People Who Embrace Sobriety

Letting go of negative influences is much easier when you can meet others who are committed to sobriety. Your sober living community is filled with other people who understand exactly what you are facing now that you are back in the real world. Whether you just need someone to chat with over a cup of coffee or you are looking for a few teammates to shoot some hoops, finding support is never a problem when other sober-minded individuals are always available at your residence.

Rebuild Your Physical Health with Nutritious Meals and Exercise Programs

Addiction not only takes its toll on your mental health, but it has also affected your physical wellbeing. Strengthening your body also helps you to keep your mind clear, and many people in recovery find that eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly helps to combat cravings. Choosing to enter a sober living community gives you access to an in-house chef who prepares nutritious meals throughout the day, and you will be provided with snacks to help you stay on track with rebuilding your body through a healthy diet. While you will always enjoy in-house recreational opportunities, access to a local gym allows you to take your exercise routine even further as you recover your physical health.




Manage Cravings With 24-Hour Support

Eventually, cravings get further apart and easier to manage. However, you need assistance getting through those early cravings that seem so intense. A sober living house provides support around the clock; that means you always have someone available to talk to, even at 2 a.m. when you find it hard to fall asleep. Since staff members at sober living houses are selected according to their understanding of addiction, you never have to worry about judgment. Instead, you can lean on them for support while learning new strategies to ease cravings as you move forward on the road toward beating your addiction.

Stay Accountable with Regular Drug and Alcohol Testing

You are growing stronger every day, yet the temptation to use drugs or alcohol remains. One excuse that people fall into with addiction is the belief that no one will notice if they just take one hit or enjoy a single drink. Unfortunately, that one hit or drink always leads to drug and alcohol abuse that requires starting all over again. This is why receiving regular drug and alcohol tests is an essential part of establishing accountability in your sober living house. In addition to holding you accountable, it also provides reassurance that your housemates also stay committed to keeping substances out of the house.

Receive Individualized Assistance with Career and Daily Living Skills

Reintegrating back into a normal lifestyle after addiction takes dedication and hard work. It also means that you may have skills that you need to learn to be successful once you live independently. When you enter a sober living program, you will be provided with a professional assessment that helps determine what services will best help you rebuild your life. For some, this means having a member of the staff demonstrate the basic skills of daily living such as how to do laundry or prepare a healthy breakfast. For others, career advice is needed, and you will be provided with opportunities to develop a professional resume and practice interviewing skills. All of these individualized programs give you an extra edge when you move to your permanent home.

Gain Strength through Living in a Positive Community

Years of living with addiction often placed you in unsafe, negative environments that were detrimental to your wellbeing. After that, living in a sober community feels like a relief. From enjoying a walk in a tranquil outdoor setting to playing a round of pool with your housemates, rediscovering the beauty of life makes each day a little easier as you work through the issues surrounding your addiction. Weekly goal setting sessions help you remember what you are working toward, and every step you take is guided by both professional and personal support that helps you maintain a positive focus on healing.




Knowing your options for recovery is essential to helping you plan the next step on your path to managing your addiction. Although a sober living community demands strict compliance with staying off of drugs and alcohol, every type of support is available to ensure that you stay sober. When leaving your treatment program feels overwhelming, the doors of your sober living community are open to embrace you with a full network of support that increase your chances of a successful transition into sobriety.

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Retreat Centers As A Recovery Tool

We all are different, it is what we all have in common.  Therefore, I believe with good guidance from a sponsor, that we each need different tools to achieve a full recovery and a happy life.  I have been sober for a long time, long enough to see people come and go.  Long term stable recovery involves changing who we are on many levels.

Some say meetings and conference approved literature are the only way to go.  Some have very regimented concepts of how the steps and recovery occurs.  If that works, then it works, don’t fix it.  I find that I need other tools to help me with my recovery.

One tool outside of the program that I use are retreat centers.  I have found that getting away from my routine occasionally helps me to better understand myself, and work in a focused manner, or learn something new.

One of my character aspects is routine.  Routine, like most character aspects, can be a positive force in my life.  It can be a negative one as well.  I can show up every day to the same job/meetings etc.  Occasionally I need to recover from this by getting out to a safe place where I can see and experience myself from a different angle.

Remember, if we could recover by ourselves, many of us would.  Our higher power works through others, occasionally I need to cut my higher power a break and get to a new place with different people.  Retreat centers can help me with this.

Retreat Center as a recovery tool

I went to my favorite retreat center for the first time in September 2009 for a Labor Day retreat.  It was a social retreat, no big agenda, just fun and meeting others.  Like going to a family event, I took my own car, I backed in.  I felt as out of place as I can get without bolting out the door.  I did not feel right until I had a massage on the second day.

After that, I could understand that there were two folks there that bothered me.  The rest of these folks were amazing friends I just had not met yet.  By the end of the weekend, I was able to understand why the two folks bothered me.

So, some of my core issues are control and isolation.  I cannot control others, so to feel better, I gravitate away from people.  I also learned in recovery that the people I do not like or do not trust, or flat out hate, will teach me the most about myself.

If I have a strong emotional reaction to someone (good or bad), I try to the best of my ability to stick with it and learn what that is about.  Going to a retreat where the entire goal was to be with new people was terrifying for me.

I can go to almost any 12 step meeting anywhere (been to meetings on several continents, different languages, different cultures, same message).  It is safe, I know pretty much what will happen.  If I am uncomfortable, deep in my heart I know it will be over soon…. and I can go on my way.  I can fake it for an hour or two, no problem.  At a retreat center, it is different.  I am there for a few days.

It is not over in an hour.  I have to live with it and try to understand it.  My favorite retreat center provides me with a safe place to be uncomfortable.  I am usually there long enough to figure out what the issue is, and usually enough time to either confront myself about it, or learn that this is part of who I am.

So, retreat centers can be a recovery tool.  The programming often pushes a limit or two within me, but at the same time provides a safe container of spiritual people for me to be with long enough for me to face who I am and understand what is bothering me.

12 step meetings can be formulaic.  They can have stifling routine.  I can hide in that routine.  My favorite retreat center is free flowing and causes me to run in to issues I did not expect.  It gives me people to work with to help figure it out.  Sometimes it gives me someone to just hold me while whatever energy (fear / loathing / love / warmth / whatever…) flows through me and dissipates or grows in me in that moment.

I have found that retreat centers can provide the connection and space that can help me move to the next level in my recovery.  Retreat centers can do this by providing a different environment from a meeting to allow different issues to surface so you can understand them better, to see them from a different perspective.  At least this has been my experience.

At meetings I am usually juggling one ball.  At a retreat center the environment that the staff and volunteers create forces me to juggle a few balls at once.  So, I have to be in a room with a bunch of people, I am opening myself up (something called intimacy, gosh I need to google that one of these days), I am walking through my fear of rejection, I am sometimes allowing myself to be held.  And then to top it all off, I am doing I for 48 hours straight.

I don’t back in any more, I show up, I grow and I learn.

Note:  At the beginning, I mentioned with “good guidance from a sponsor”.  I want to stress this.  Retreats and retreat centers are a tool that need to be used carefully.  Your sponsor will hopefully help you understand what your motives are.

Retreats are not a substitute for meetings and working with others.  Also, some people become retreat junkies, again, your sponsor with help guide you.  You are looking for growth and moderation.  If you figure out moderation, teach me.

I will be leading a 4th Step weekend January 20-22nd, 2017 at Easton Mountain in New York, all are welcome.  Collectively as a group the leader and participants will walk through this transformative step.

Each will take stock of who they are, what they are.  They can then use this tool to figure out what patterns and character aspects combine to produce the toxic mix that one’s drug/behavior covers up or relieves.  Finding this combination opens the lock and lets you out.

I love leading these weekends, I have the privilege of watching recovery take off.  Yes, the change is uncomfortable, the love is amazing.  I do not back in, but do what you need to do to show up.


Andrew Kerivan has been in continuous recovery for 32 years. The Twelve Steps are the cornerstone of his recovery. Andrew does not subscribe to one method of doing the Twelve Steps. He feels that balanced recovery requires that each step be approached with different methods depending on one’s particular experience.


 

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Freedom From Addiction – Life in Recovery is Amazing!

I am so sorry that I have not found the time to post on this blog for about 6 months. The time goes so quickly and I get caught up in life and then I blink and see that my last post here was in April 2016.

A lot of people ask me why I still bother trying to post on this website and my answer is that I just love it. I love the freedom from addiction and I want to share my love for life with other addicts that are in recovery or addicts that feel stuck where they are and perhaps have no hope.

A lot of the posts I have written have been quite dark, but the truth is that I have to share the darkness. A good example of this is how my path into addiction started, it is not a happy story but it must be told.

Today however I want to share about happiness, love and light.

This post is about Freedom from Addiction.

Freedom from addiction life in recovery

 

Freedom From Addiction

9 years ago I was in a terrible place. I was stuck in the cycle of addiction. I was in an abusive relationship and quite frankly I had no hope for my future.

On the 2nd August 2016 I was 8 years clean from drugs and alcohol. On the 1st October 2016 I was 1 year nicotine free.

Yes I totally did it, I quit smoking!

I usually always post on my websites when I have reached awesome milestones and this year I was just too busy with my life.

In a lot of ways that is sad, that I couldn’t find the time to share about such incredible achievements, but on the other side life is great and I am living it to the fullest.

There was a time when drugs and alcohol consumed me completely, yes also in recovery. Maybe I wasn’t taking the drugs or alcohol but in my thoughts they consumed me. The obsessions.

Then for a long time the thought of drugs and alcohol didn’t exactly consume me, but I lived with fear of relapse and I made recovery my whole life.

Recovery is still essential to me but instead of it consuming me and being my life it has become one aspect of my life.

There are many aspects to by being and recovery is one of them. In the same way that I am a mother and my my children mean the world to me, I am not 100% defined by this role of being a mother. It is part of who I am.

How Does It Feel Being Clean?

This is the true miracle for me. I feel amazing.

I can remember being so angry when I went out to eat in early recovery. As we all know one of the first things that happens when you go out to eat is the waiter arrives with a huge smile and asks you what you want to drink.

I would feel this bubble of anger rising and I wanted to scream “What the fuck do you think I want to drink? A stupid chocolate milkshake? No bring me booze you idiot!”.

Seriously I was angry, I was resentful and the worst part is that I couldn’t see how one day it would feel better. I refused to order anything to drink when I went out anywhere for months.

I would also watch what everyone else in the restaurant was drinking and if anyone left some alcohol on their table I would be shocked and it would disturb me. I mean who orders a beer and leaves a third of it behind? I would see people leaving a table with some wine left in the bottle and it would take everything in me not to shout at them and tell them to polish it off or to cork it and take it with them.

But you know what? Today I don’t notice what other people drink and I don’t care what they do with their drinks.

Today I do have that chocolate milkshake and I order it because I love it. They taste great. Or sometimes I order a hot chocolate with a flake in it and sometimes I have a red grapetizer.

The thought of booze doesn’t usually cross my mind.

Every now and then I suddenly have the thought that I want a drink/ drug or cigarette. It comes quickly and it feels strange but not uncomfortable at all. It is more like “oh how strange” and the moment is gone and forgotten.

It happened last night after supper. I thought I am going to make a cup of coffee and go smoke outside. Then I remembered I haven’t smoked in over a year! Thought gone.

I used to think that I wouldn’t want to live my life sober, I thought it would be boring and that I would have no fun at all.

The truth is that life is immensely enjoyable and rewarding.

The Gifts of Recovery

In treatment and in the 12 Step Program people talk about the gifts of recovery.

When I first got into recovery I struggled to see how I would be receiving any gifts of recovery.

A little later on in my recovery journey yes I started seeing and appreciating some gifts of recovery but I still had this niggly little feeling of is this is? Is this all there is, surely there is more?

Even two or three years into recovery there was a little feeling of being let down. There were times when things just felt too tame and mundane and I longed for a bit of something else.

Today I enjoy the “mundane-ness” of my life.

A good example of this is that my hubby and I have two young kids. It was my birthday in April and we had organized one a date night, a very rare occurrence in our life. On the Friday night we were going to go out to dinner and his mother was going to baby sit.

His father then called and invited us out to supper on the Saturday night for my birthday and we said we would go.

A little while later I turned to my husband and said maybe we should cancel our Friday night date otherwise we will be packing our weekend quite full with going out both nights. He agreed and we cancelled our Friday date.

A few minutes later I started laughing and I told my husband it is amazing how content and happy I am with life. How I can happily stay in on a Friday night.

Of course he thinks I am a little batty since he met me when I was already in recovery so he has no idea what I am talking about.

The thought of a 5 day New years outdoor Vortex festival creeps into my mind where I literally did not sleep those entire 5 days, I just partied…. and here I am not able to cope with going out for two (early) nights in a row.

If you only know me from my blog you may not understand how amusing this thought is.

If you ever partied with me you will fully understand the irony in this story.

One day I will share some war stories, some drunken and drugged craziness that happened and perhaps that will shed some light on this strange picture of domesticity of my life.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you too can find freedom from addiction, if you have any questions or just want to chat please leave a comment.

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Addiction Treatment for Recovery: The Start of my Journey

The start of my addiction treatment for recovery was a 3 week stay in a psychiatric ward.

I was still in denial and didn’t have a clue how much trouble I was in. I had blue eyes and a broken nose when I arrived there, compliments of an abusive relationship. I was covered in bruises. I believed I was a victim and had done nothing to deserve where I was in life.

Every addict will lay the blame an anything and everything but herself or himself. If we are in denial we can continue using. We can also blot out everything shameful we have done or been through by using more. And so the cycle continues…

Addiction Treatment for Recovery

Denial

During my stay there I was allowed out for a walk, giving me the perfect opportunity to find my dealer and acquire 2 grams of cocaine. On my return the staff saw immediately something was not right and tested me immediately. They considered kicking me out, but for some reason let me stay. They did make me go to my first 12 Step meeting the following day at the adjoining Addiction Clinc.

I went to the meeting and announced that I was in fact not an addict but the staff at the psychiatric ward thought I might be so I had to come join in. Sound crazy enough to you? Of course it is, I was completely delusional. What sane person leaves a psychiatric ward, takes drugs and comes back an hour later thinking this is normal?

Manipulation

On leaving the clinic I was advised by my psychiatrist to not have any mood or mind altering substances for the next 3 months. Looking back it is clear they were aware I had a serious problem. I considered this advice, to take or not to take as it pleases me. I didn’t use anything for a few days, which to me was hard core proof I didn’t have a problem. A few weeks later I managed to embarrass myself in public by getting so drunk I vomited and then fell out of a truck into my own vomit. I won’t go into too much detail on how that happened, you can use your imagination or you can read about that story and a good few more in my ebook.

Now having blue eyes and a broken nose once again did not sit well with my family that were concerned about me. They wanted me to go for addiction treatment. Once again I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. I managed to convince them that I could get by with an outpatient program instead of being booked in anywhere.

This didn’t work very well for me. I continued to use and I failed every drug test. By the 3rd drug test I came to realise that I was on the verge of being kicked off the program and my family would not be pleased. Instead of telling my family I had been using I told them I was “struggling” and wanted to move out of my parents home into tertiary care, which is a home of safety. Then I told the clinic where I was doing the outpatient program that I was moving to a house of safety and could they please let me continue the program.

They allowed this and I am not sure how I managed to complete this program. I think a miscommunication between the 2 facilities must have occurred because I continued to use and neither facility tested me again.

Now I found myself living in a house of safety and trying to hide my using, not an easy task! One night I overdid, as of course I would. It was 20 minutes before our curfew when I had to be home. I was so drunk I could barely walk and high on cocaine. There was just no way I would be able to pull that off. Instead I texted the manager and told him I had “relapsed” and would contact them in the morning.

At this time I still had no concern about getting clean, it was all about manipulating everyone to leave me alone so I could continue using. I wasn’t an addict! I was just going through a wild phase right? You know, like every normal person does at some stage. The fact that this “wild phase” was going on for about 15 years didn’t really occur to me.

I had to try and get myself out of this mess without my family writing me off. I called my parents and the owner of the house of safety and said I was “ready to get clean, what must I do?”. I thought perhaps acting like I would do whatever needed to be done and following their instructions (for a little while at least) would get me some breathing space while I figured out what to do.

I was told to go into Secondary Care treatment. I happily collected my bags and off I went. Only upon signing the contract upon arrival did I get the shock of my life realizing it was a minimum 3 month stay. What happened to the 28 days thing I had heard about? Oh well, I had to do it because I didn’t really have much choice did I?

Walking the Walk & Talking the Talk

My plan at this stage was to do the recovery act for the 3 months, make it out the other side and then carry on with my life as I felt fit. For about a month I did just this. I shared in groups, I went to AA meetings and I did everything asked of me. I said what I thought they wanted to hear and I followed every suggestion. Not because I wanted to get clean, but because I honestly believed there truly was some big mistake. This wasn’t the place for me, I was misunderstood.

Slowly things must have started to sink in. All that therapy, all those groups and meetings…

Breaking through the Denial

About 6 weeks into treatment I was sitting writing an assignment and I realized a few things:

  • I am an addict!
  • I want to be clean
  • I have a Higher Power and it is working in my life
  • I have been working this program (for a little while at least, certainly not from the start)
  • I feel good, not great but good

What confused me is that I can’t pinpoint the moment something in me had changed. I realised at that moment that I knew I was an addict, but it is not a realization I had that second. I had known it for a while. When did it change?

Where did this Higher Power come from, what is it and how can I believe in God when I am not religious?

What on earth happened?

I have been clean since 02 August 2008 when I arrived at the Secondary Care rehab. I have never touched another mood or mind altering substance and that is a miracle.

I really believe that being in treatment for those 6 weeks, having recovery shoved down my throat made the change happen in me. Without that I doubt anything could have saved me. It might sound crazy but I actually enjoyed rehab, it was the first time in many years I did something for myself, something I could be proud of.

If you are an addict or alcoholic in active addiction, please do yourself a favour and book yourself in for treatment. It can be the life-changing event you need to save your life.

I am sure every addict is scared of treatment but it can be a wonderful experience. I will share more in-depth at some stage about my experiences in treatment.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and got something of value from it, please leave a comment below!

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