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Sober Things to do On St Patrick’s Day

Sober Things to do On St Patrick’s Day:

Sober Things to do On St Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is associated with fun, Irish-themed activities.  Typically, one of those activities is drinking green beer and Guinness, among other favored alcoholic drinks.  This can be tricky if you love to celebrate Irish culture but wish to have a sober St. Patrick’s Day.  With a little research and creativity, you can be proud about your Irish roots, maintain your sobriety, and still have fun!

Sober Activities to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Cooking Traditional Food: The Irish diet offers many classic delicious dishes.  Though they may not be the most health-conscious, the choices are often hearty and mouthwatering. Some examples:

-Corned Beef and Cabbage

-Shepherd’s Pie

-Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

-Irish Soda Bread

A quick Internet search can you help you find the recipes.  You could host a potluck with your friends, plan a themed dinner party, or just pick your favorite dish, pull up a TV tray and have a quiet night in.

Irish Breakfast:

Irish Breakfast Tea is another classic, non-alcoholic beverage.  You could combine the tea with the Soda Bread and have a mini St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.  Or add in the sausage biscuits and gravy for a full on, cozy morning meal.

Dine Out:

If cooking isn’t your specialty, the other option is to make a reservation at a restaurant that serves any of these traditional Irish meals and make a night of it. 

Irish Movie Night:

A quick search will yield no shortage of results for Irish-themed cinematic features.  The best news is that movie night is a versatile option.  You could host a party with your friends or just make a list of Irish movies you’ve always wanted to see, throw on some sweatpants and make it a solo venture.  A few examples of Irish-themed favorites from the good people of Hollywood:

-The Boondock Saints: 1999 film about Irish Catholic twin brothers who attempt to wipe crime from the streets of Boston using their own brand of vigilante justice.

 -Commitments: 1991 film about a music promoter who tries to form an R&B group to fill the genre’s void in Dublin, Ireland.

 -My Left Foot: a 1989 classic about an Irish boy with cerebral palsy who overcomes his disability to become a painter and a poet. This movie also features the celebrated Academy Award winning role of Daniel Day Lewis.

-Far and Away: the 1992 story of Joseph and Shannon, who travel from Ireland to America in search of land and a better life. The main draw of this film is to see then husband-and-wife team Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman act opposite one another. 

By no means is this a comprehensive list of classic Irish movies, but a quick search of any number of entertainment websites will lend more options.  If you’d like to mix and match, you could also do a dinner and a movie combination. 

St Patrick’s Day Parades:

Almost every town or city has some type of parade to celebrate the occasion.  There may be people drinking at this type of event, but if you bring some snacks and some chairs to make yourself comfortable, a parade can be a family friendly option. Besides the parade, there are bound to be other community initiatives.  Just direct your browser to your local town or city web page and see what there is to offer. 

Irish Dance:

Dancing is a huge source of Celtic pride.  At this time of year, shows and recitals are abundant.  This will make it easy for you to take part in displays of Irish culture and art, feel like a part of the community and not compromise your choices toward healthy living. 

Irish Themed Book Club:

Whether you’re a part of an established book club or you’d like to chat among friends, there are many celebrated authors with Irish roots.  Frank McCourt of Angela’s Ashes fame is one. Maeve Binchy wrote Circle of Friends (which was made into a film if you’d like to add that to your movie night list).  A quick visit to the nearest library or bookstore could send you down a glorious, Irish centered path. James Joyce and WB Yates are famous Irish poets if you prefer your literature in a stanza format.

St Patrick's Day Community Events:

A quick scan of community bulletin boards or websites should list a variety of fun, family, sober options for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.  There is no shortage of themed 5k walk/runs or other athletic ventures.  Your local sports teams will most likely host an “Irish Night” and celebrate accordingly.

With a little research and a healthy mindset, you can be involved in the holiday, celebrate with friends and family and still have a sober St. Patrick’s Day.

Be sure to share these ideas with your friends by sharing the graphic below!

st patrick's day sober, things to do on st patrick's day without drinking

PTSD and addiction

The Connection Between PTSD and Addiction

The Connection Between PTSD and Addiction

For many people, PTSD and addiction go hand in hand. As many as 66 percent of people who suffer from one of these conditions also struggle with the other.

Why are PTSD and Addiction So Commonly Found Together?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as defined by the National Institute of Mental Health, is a reaction to a past traumatic, stressful event that occurs after the initial event is already over. It can be acute or chronic, sometimes lasting years after the traumatic incident. The patient's heart races, the fight-or-flight reaction activates, and the stressful memories come flooding back in the form of flashbacks or nightmares. Episodes can be triggered by seemingly innocuous and mundane things, such as an unexpected noise or a particular object. The person may go to great lengths to avoid these triggers in daily life, but eventually something will happen and then the trauma comes rushing back.

It is easy to imagine a chronic sufferer of PTSD must live under intense amounts of stress, always fearing the moment when he or she will re-experience the trauma and have a recurrence of symptoms. Given that constant, high stress level, it is reasonable to understand how some people turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Desperate for relief, unhealthy choices are made.

Why is Recovery So Difficult For Some People?

Unfortunately, many people seek treatment only for the substance abuse. When a person's life is severely negatively affected by addiction, that addiction becomes the scapegoat It is easy to focus on that as the problem that needs to be fixed in order to get life back on track. It is easy to point to alcoholism, for example, as the reason for failing relationships or a lost job. It is much more difficult to look deeper into the underlying trauma and admit that addiction is another symptom of a whole separate problem.

Sometimes, the reverse is also true. A therapist sees a patient coming in with addiction related to past trauma, and the therapist's instinct is to help the patient work through the trauma with the assumption that the addiction will disappear when that coping mechanism is no longer necessary. Sadly, that is just not the case.

By the time substance abuse has solidified into true addiction, the brain's reward and motivation pathways have already been rewired. Altered chemical release and uptake systems have a cascading domino effect on everything from mood to sleep to behavior. The addict is no longer in control of his or her ability to limit or quit the drug. The brain's disrupted circuity makes it harder to control cravings, to maintain healthy behaviors outside of the drug usage, and even to recognize that there is a problem at all. Except in rare cases, a severely addicted person is not a person who has the capacity to rewire the brain with healthy behaviors through sheer force of will. At this point, the addiction is not something that will clear up with treatment of PTSD.

What Are the Best Treatment Options for PTSD and Addiction?

Both conditions must be treated simultaneously. A patient will have a much easier time recovering from addiction if the PTSD that caused the addiction in the first place is also being treated. Likewise, a person seeking treatment for PTSD will have a much greater chance of success if he or she is not struggling with a private, untreated addiction that leaves the brain muddled and working at partial capacity.

Every person has an individual reason why he or she experiences trauma and copes with stress in a certain way. While it is tempting to explain away the link between PTSD and addiction as a case of self-medication in response to unpleasant thoughts or feelings, that overly simplistic answer leaves too many questions unanswered for some patients. The best treatment plan for someone suffering from both PTSD and addiction takes into account the very personal and unique reasons the patient has ended up going down that path.

Therapy vs Medication 

Talk therapy and medications are usually the first lines of defense against PTSD. Within that umbrella, patients have a few options. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs help stabilize moods and reduce fear and stress responses. While sedatives are often prescribed to PTSD patients to help with troubled sleep, they may not be a good idea for those struggling with addiction. Therapy can include anything from traditional talk sessions to guided hypnosis. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), such as exposure therapy to desensitize patients to possible triggers, helps many people.

With any severe substance addiction, the most helpful treatment is to enter rehab. Ocean Hills Recovery offers therapy as part of their treatment programs, but they are not all equipped to deal with PTSD specifically.

If you or a loved one is struggling with both PTSD and addiction, choose a treatment center that will provide optional medication, talk therapy with a licensed therapist who has experience with PTSD, detox facilities, and a supportive rehabilitation environment. Do not underestimate the power of a customized treatment plan when you are dealing with such complicated and interrelated disorders.

What are Some Resources for Anyone Struggling with PTSD With Addiction?

Reaching out and taking a leap of faith is no easy feat. Every failure and bad experience makes it that much harder to continue to seek help. It is absolutely critical to have a network of reliable resources available to help with recovery.

Ocean Hills Recovery is an ideal treatment facility and provides everything in one package. Custom treatment plans, PTSD-specialized therapists, a team of doctors to prescribe medications, drug and alcohol detox protocols, and a healthy, rehabilitative environment will all smooth the way toward recovery. But if you are struggling with PTSD and addiction and have no current treatment facility available to you, start by contacting the following resources for help and information.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine provides a patient resources page with physician and clinic locators.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists several methods for finding help with mental illness.

If critical, immediate help is needed, dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time, day or night.




how not drinking can improve your health

How Not Drinking Can Improve Your Health

How Not Drinking Can Improve Your Health

Drinking alcohol is viewed as a socially acceptable activity within western society, as it is available for purchase at many social venues and events. But the prevalence of alcohol and drinking in our society is not evidence that this substance is safe or healthy to consume, as there are many downsides that can accompany drinking. In fact, not drinking can improve your health substantially and is one of the biggest actions a person can take to improve their physical and mental health.

Gut Health and Inflammation

One of the biggest reasons how not drinking can improve your health lies in your gut. Recent research is uncovering the importance of gut health to our overall physical wellness. Our gut contains trillions of bacteria referred to as the ‘microbiome’, and maintaining a healthy gut has been shown to benefit our body as a whole. An unhealthy gut can lead to serious health issues, such as reduced immunity, increased cancer risk, digestive issues, and hormonal and adrenal gland difficulties, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, consuming alcohol can severely impact our gut health, as even a small amount of drinking can damage our gut wall and potentially lead to a malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. Alcohol can also lead to leaky gut syndrome, a condition which can cause problems for our immune system and also lead to an increase in the amount of inflammation within our body. Drinking can lead to gastritis, which inflames the lining of our stomach, potentially leading to chronic vomiting and eventually tearing the oesophagus if the condition isn’t treated. Gastritis can also lead to malnutrition and anaemia, further compounding the health effects associated with alcohol.

Regular consumption of alcohol can negatively impact the gut-brain relationship, leading to alterations in how our brain and central nervous system function. The neurotransmitters produced in our gut can also affect how our brain operates, as a troubled digestive system will send signals to the brain, potentially leading to an increase in anxiety and depression. Alcohol negatively impacts positive gut bacteria vital to our overall health, giving clear evidence of how drinking can wreck our physical wellness.

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how not drinking improves health

Another huge downside to consuming alcohol comes in the form of inflammation, a health condition which has been shown to contribute to many serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Alcohol use has been shown to increase inflammation and may eventually lead to a leaky gut which expands the amount of inflammation throughout a person’s entire body. Sugar is one of the biggest contributors to inflammation, and because alcohol is fermented sugar, it’s no surprise that this substance leads to inflammation.

Heavy and prolonged drinking has been shown to lead to inflammation of the nerves in the arms and legs. Symptoms include tingling and pain in these parts of the body, showcasing how alcohol can impact a person’s health in a multitude of ways. Gout, a condition which causes inflammation in a person’s joints, has also been linked to heavy drinking. Although this condition is generally seen as a genetic condition, drinking can make this issue much worse for the affected individual.

The Benefits of Not Drinking for Your Mental Health

While drinking alcohol can provide a temporary elated or relaxed feeling, this substance also includes a number of downsides which can seriously impact a person’s mental health. Alcohol is a depressant which alters our brain chemistry and can disrupt our mental balance. Our brain contains neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals from one neuron to another. When you consume alcohol, you are causing a chemical change in your brain, as it is depressing the part of the brain which is associated with inhibition.

This is where we experience a temporary feeling of pleasure or relaxation, as we feel less inhibited by our normal mental state. However, repeated use of alcohol will begin to lessen this benefit and you may begin to experience negative reactions, such as increased anxiety and stress. Prolonged use of alcohol can lead to feelings of depression, as intense drinking interferes with neurotransmitters associated with sound mental health.

When we rely on alcohol to provide a relaxed state free from our normal inhibitions, we may actually find ourselves in a more depressed state over time. Drinking regularly lowers the levels of serotonin in our brain, causing our mood to become dysregulated and unbalanced. Some signs that alcohol use is beginning to significantly impact one’s mood include things such as poor sleep, low mood, and abnormal levels of anxiety in normal situations.

When we stop drinking, we reduce the chances of experiencing mood imbalances and depression associated with alcohol. If you have existing mental health issues, drinking will likely exacerbate this situation, making it vitally important to avoid alcohol to prevent this scenario.

Abstaining from alcohol will also increase your overall mental clarity and focus, as alcohol can leave a person groggy and unmotivated. With this newfound level of clarity and intention, an individual can compound their personal progress by focusing on activities and goals which bring about a lasting level of happiness and satisfaction.

Beyond the neurochemical benefits associated with sober living, quitting drinking can also provide a serious increase in self-esteem. Drinking can often shield a person from dealing with lingering issues, preventing an individual from reaching their full potential. Going through the experience of quitting alcohol can offer a major boost to one’s confidence and can provide the fuel which can lead to improvements in other areas of a person’s life. No longer needing alcohol to feel confident is a serious benefit to giving up drinking.

Getting Help to Stop Drinking

If you or someone you love is experiencing the negative health impacts of drinking, contact Ocean Hills Recovery today. Our expert team of addictions’ specialists can help address all of the health concerns associated with alcohol and can provide a safe place to regain a sense of normalcy before facing the world.

Addiction doesn’t need to be a life sentence, you don’t need to wait longer for the life you want to achieve.

lies we tell ourselves in addiction

The Lies We Tell Ourselves in Addiction

The Lies We Tell Ourselves in Addiction

Addiction can transform our normal, routine habits into a chaotic, unpredictable mess. Often, it causes us to begin to be dishonest with ourselves about our current situation. Many times it’s easier to distort reality than to face it head-on. The lies we tell ourselves in addiction begin to impact every area of our life, as we become experts in embellishing and misleading ourselves in order to preserve our pride. Unfortunately, these lies begin to add up to a personal life that is out of touch with how things actually are. Here are some of the common lies we tell ourselves in addiction:

“I Lost Control in the Past, but This Time Will Be Different”

Individuals struggling with addiction are often able to acknowledge to themselves how they’ve previously lost control drinking or using drugs. However, when it comes to the present moment, this inconvenient truth is often thrown out the window. Instead of coming to terms with being out of control with one’s substance abuse, it is easier to simply tell oneself that things will be different and that those situations were in the past.

This lie is incredibly alluring, as it allows us to believe that every time we decide to use a substance, we are doing so with a clean slate. Unfortunately, past actions are a major indication of how the future will play out. Simply telling ourselves that things will be different this time is not enough to overcome the overwhelming trend towards using substances with an unchecked sense of control.

“Life is Hard and I Deserve to Use This Substance to Cope”

A common refrain many people addicted to drugs and alcohol use to justify their substance abuse is that they ‘deserve to use’ due to the hardships they have experienced (or still experience) in their life. While it is certainly understandable why someone would decide to use substances as a coping mechanism for traumatic or difficult life circumstances, it is ultimately an untrue statement in the overall scheme of life.

Stating to oneself that you ‘deserve to use’ overlooks the incredible amount of damage that substance abuse can have on all aspects of a person’s life. Instead of focusing on the substance as the thing you deserve to have, think about the underlying feeling you are seeking as a result of using and find a healthy alternative to replace the addictive behavior. If you’re seeking comfort or relief, find an activity which will fulfill this desire without also negatively impacting your physical and mental health in the process.

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“I Don’t Use Every Second of the Day, Therefore I’m Not Addicted”

It can be easy to believe that one’s addiction isn’t that serious if we have a small window where we aren’t using drugs or alcohol. However, an addiction doesn’t necessarily equate to being intoxicated every second of the day, as there are varying degrees of severity when it comes to addictive behavior. The truth is, if our substance use has become a dependent behavior, we must face the reality that we are dealing with an addiction. No amount of bargaining with ourselves about how much we are using is going to change this fact.

“I Haven’t Missed a Day of Work Due to Using, so I Don’t Really Have a Problem”

A common lie addicted individuals will use to avoid facing their condition is to use their ability to function within their behavior as evidence that they aren’t really addicted. Those scenes of out-of-control addicts in movies and television can allow a person to believe their problem hasn’t reached the point of becoming a problem, as they aren’t as bad as those people.

If you are a functioning addict, it is much easier to lie to oneself about the problem. There hasn’t been a stark instance where your addiction cost you a job, relationship, or other valuable part of your life. However, simply because you are able to function within your addiction does not mean that you don’t have a serious problem which needs to be addressed. In fact, many addicted individuals are able to function within their life’s responsibilities for years prior to coming to terms with their condition. Remember: you can function and still be addicted.

“I Can Quit Anytime I Want”

This untruth is one of the most frequently-used lies by individuals suffering with addiction, as it allows a person to believe they are still in control and that their substance abuse is not an issue. By telling yourself that you can stop anytime you want, you are ignoring a painful reality that your behavior has reached the point of becoming a serious dependence. This is one of the most powerful lies we tell ourselves in addiction, as it gives us the illusion that we are still in control while still allowing us to use our preferred substance.

“I Don’t Want to Burden Anyone Else with My Addiction”

One of the biggest reasons individuals addicted to substances suffer in silence is due to the belief that being honest about one’s addiction will be a burden to other people in our life. Indeed, it can be an intimidating prospect to admit a problem exists and discuss this issue with those closest to us, but it doesn’t have to be viewed as a massive burden to unload. The truth is, loved ones who truly care about our lives are usually going to view this level of honesty as a positive step, as they may already suspect that a problem exists. While honesty is not always the easiest prospect, it is more likely to result in a positive outcome in the long-term than continuing to lie about the issue.

If you find yourself being untruthful regarding your addiction and are in need of professional assistance, contact Ocean Hills Recovery today to jumpstart your life on the path to recovery. We offer a solutions-focused approach which is uniquely-structured according to each person’s situation. Leave behind the lies and start living the honest life you deserve today.

stages of heroin withdrawal

Stages of Heroin Withdrawal

Stages of Heroin Withdrawal

There’s no doubt: going through heroin withdrawal isn’t easy. Whether you’ve used the substance for years or are seeking to quit an occasional use of the drug, heroin withdrawal symptoms can be intense and, in a word, frightening.

If you or someone you know is beginning the path to quit using heroin, you likely want to know what to expect. Let’s look at heroin withdrawal, the symptoms and the safest way to discontinue use of heroin.

Heroin Withdrawal: An Experience Unique to You

There are quite a few factors which impact how your body will tolerate heroin withdrawal. Your body composition will play a part. The length of time you’ve used heroin will affect your withdrawal symptoms, too. If you’ve previously experienced heroin or opioid withdrawal, your experience may be different from that of a first-time user.

With that said, heroin is a highly addictive drug. If you or someone you know is considering quitting the drug, please be advised that most people have a more comfortable withdrawal experience when monitored in a medically supervised heroin drug detox center.

There’s nothing inherently life-threatening about heroin withdrawal. However, you’ll find that some symptoms are difficult to overcome on your own. When you use heroin, your brain is flooded with a “feel good” chemical called dopamine, which blocks your ability to feel pain and gives you a sense of euphoria.

It naturally follows, then, that quitting heroin can trigger some severe psychological effects. Anxiety and depression are common, as are intense drug cravings and an inability to feel pleasure. With professional help, you can lessen the intensity of these withdrawal symptoms, allowing you to overcome your heroin addiction in a safe way.

The First Stage of Heroin Withdrawal

Whether you’re a long-time heroin user or someone who’s only occasionally used the drug, heroin withdrawal won’t be without symptoms. In most cases, your first withdrawal symptoms will begin in the first day following your last heroin use.

In the first 12 to 30 hours following your last heroin use, you’ll likely experience some symptoms that might make you quite uncomfortable. These symptoms include:

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle twitching
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or diarrhea
  • A feeling of irritability
  • Anxiety and possible depression

If you’ve experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety in the past, it’s absolutely critical that you seek professional help to quit using heroin. Feelings of depression may lead to thoughts of suicide, and it’s important that you have someone by your side throughout the process.

It’s true what they say: the first few days are the worst! Your withdrawal symptoms will usually be at their worst in the first three days. You may feel some flu-like symptoms for up to ten days. Be sure you’ve got a support system in place, whether it be your family or a team of professionals.

The Second Stage of Heroin Withdrawal

For about two weeks following the initial phase of heroin withdrawal, you may feel odd or out of sorts. 

Heroin use impacts your brain, and part of the withdrawal process includes letting your brain’s natural chemicals to stabilize. Most people say the second stage of heroin withdrawal is much more comfortable than the first. But, as in the first stage, you’re likely going to experience a few symptoms. You may notice:

  • Chills or a cold feeling
  • Goose pimples on your skin
  • Continued muscle cramping and twitching
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite
  • General aches and pains

Remember that withdrawal is different for everyone! You may report more intense symptoms than someone else, or you may find that you’ve got few symptoms at all. Be sure to check in with your healthcare team, whether you’re in an inpatient or outpatient program, to let them know of any discomfort you’re feeling.

The Third Stage of Heroin Withdrawal

Throughout the first and second phases of heroin withdrawal, your body has taken steps to return to normal. Your hormones and the chemicals in your brain have stabilized and you may be feeling like your normal self again!

There’s a third stage to heroin withdrawal, though not all users experience it. This final phase can last anywhere up to four weeks, or longer for some individuals. Symptoms of this stage are mostly psychological, and include anxiety and insomnia.

Generally speaking, most people can deal with these symptoms effectively at home, without direct supervision by medical staff. However, remember that if you feel out of sorts, depressed or overly anxious, it may be wise to talk to a doctor or counselor.

Overcoming Heroin Addiction

By choosing to quit using heroin, you know that you’ve taken an important step – one that will change your life. However, remember that overcoming heroin addiction is a long-term commitment. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal are just the beginning; you may need to consider lifestyle changes to keep clean.

First, we recommend meeting with a reputable rehab facility to discuss your desire to begin recovery. Not all people will need to go through detox, but having the option available is helpful. It is especially beneficial to utilize a detox facility that is associated with a rehab program. Some detox facilities are free standing and the risk of relapse is great. Once a person gets through heroin withdrawal, physical dependence may have decreased or gone away, but the psychological, emotional and mental addiction hasn't. It's imperative that continued addiction treatment take place, whether through inpatient or outpatient care.

Recovery from heroin addiction can be an uncomfortable process, sure. But with the right help and support, you can safely navigate the withdrawal symptoms. Remember that everyone has a different experience, but starting recovery will be one of the best decisions you’ve made.

For help, or more information, contact an addiction counselor at Ocean Hills Recovery today.

alcohol use disorder

Red Flags for Alcohol Use Disorder and When to Seek Treatment

Red Flags for Alcohol Use Disorder and When to Seek Treatment

When you think of drugs, what comes to mind? If you thought of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal street drugs, you’re not alone. However, legal drugs like alcohol can be just as dangerous – if not more dangerous – when they lead to long-term diseases like Alcohol Use Disorder.

Alcohol is 2nd in addiction rate in the United States behind only tobacco, another legal substance. Due to its availability in stores all around the country, many don’t think of alcohol as dangerous. Instead, drinking is socially accepted and even encouraged in some cases despite the dangers that alcohol addiction poses to your physical and mental health when taken irresponsibly.

If you find yourself or a loved one drinking too much at once, drinking too often, or revolving your life around drinking, you may be suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Most people have had a drink or two in their lives, and in moderation alcohol can pose minimal threat to your health (as long as you drink responsibly). However, when your drinking begins to affect your physical or emotional state, it becomes more than just a way to relax or a habit – it becomes a disorder.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is characterized by a physical or mental addiction to alcohol that causes you to drink compulsively & in excess to the point of it impairing your life. In order to be diagnosed with AUD, you must meet 2 or more (with more meaning a greater severity of disorder) of the DSM-5 requirements provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

According to the NIAAA, approximately 16 million people (about 6.5% of the US) suffer from AUD – including more than 600,000 adolescents aged 12-17. However, many of those suffering from AUD don’t even know that they have a problem due to being unable to recognize the signs of the disorder.

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red flags for alcohol use disorder

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder?

As with many forms of addiction, those suffering from alcohol use disorder don’t often believe they have a problem. This is especially true for high-functioning alcohol abusers; after all, they still work, have friends, and have a place to live. How could they have a problem if they’re still so “normal”?

The truth is, many people only see drinking as a problem if you end up on the streets or with severe health complications from it. However, these are just the avoidable later stages of alcohol use disorder and not the only sign that someone is struggling with alcohol abuse.

If you notice the following signs in yourself or a loved one, consider getting help before it’s too late.

  • Avoiding Social Engagement & Responsibility
  • Drinking Until Drunk Semi-Daily
  • Drinking Despite Financial Hardship
  • Irritability, Anxiety, or Depression
  • Drinking in Secrecy
  • Strained Relationships
  • Drinking to Cope with Chronic Stress
  • Inability to Stop
  • Withdrawal Symptoms like Shaking, Headaches, Seizures, Insomnia, Sweating, or Confusion

When to Seek Help for Alcohol Use Disorder

Perhaps the best indicator of the severity of your alcohol addiction is the loss of control over the quantity or frequency of drinking. The CDC defines a standard drink as 12 oz. of beer, 8 oz. of malt liquor, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits or liquors & recommends no more than 1-2 drinks per day to fall within “healthy” guidelines for use. When you suffer from AUD, even if you don’t necessarily want to drink, your brain can still give your body signals to crave alcohol, causing you to pass the safe limits without considering consequences.

Additionally, seek help if alcohol begins to seriously affect or even run your life. If you find yourself avoiding things that are important to you so that you can drink, that may signal a loss of control. It can also lead to dysfunctional relationships, hurting your personal life & social connections which leads to further isolation, depression, and more coping with alcohol. Addiction can create a vicious cycle, and until it is broken, the problems can continue to compound until you’ve done permanent physical or emotional damage. Fortunately, there is still hope.

Take Back Control with Alcohol Addiction Treatment California

The first step towards recovery is accepting that you have a problem, and the next is getting help. If you’ve realized that you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse, you need help from the very best. With the expert addiction treatment services we offer at Ocean Hills Recovery, you can kick the bottle and get your life back on track. With 30, 60, and 90-day programs available in beautiful Dana Point, California, our comprehensive, effective, and relaxing rehabilitation services will help you to detox from alcohol, recover from the physical & mental effects of abuse, and learn proper coping skills to maintain your sobriety after you leave.

Alcohol Use Disorder is a serious problem, but one that can be solved before serious damage is done. Give us a call to get started today.

opioid epidemic and alcohol consumption

The Politics of the Opioid Epidemic and Alcohol Consumption

The Politics of the Opioid Epidemic and Alcohol Consumption

By the end of today 115 people - nearly five an hour - will die from an overdose of opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The opioid crisis is so serious, former congressman Patrick Kennedy described it as “cataclysmic” during a 2018 interview with The Washington Post. But what many people are not taking into account when considering the opioid epidemic and alcohol consumption is seeing how prevalent alcohol use disorder still is - yet it doesn't seem to get as much attention.

The Rise of the Opioid Epidemic

The epidemic started in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies introduced a new type of synthetic and semi-synthetic pain management medications such as Tylenol 3 with codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. Collectively the drugs are known as opioids due to their addictive properties or physiological effects. 

At that time, drug manufacturers assured prescribing doctors that the medications were non-addictive. It turns out they were wrong. Yet doctors continue to prescribe opioids as the go-to meds for pain management.

Patients who rely on opioids frequently build up a tolerance for the drugs and then require increasingly strong painkillers to achieve the same pain relief.

On the flip side, some patients who no longer need pain relief have discovered an unintended benefit of having opioid prescriptions at their disposal. There’s a big market of people who are willing to pay anywhere between $5 to $80 per pill for a quick high. Combine powerful pain medication that gives users a sense of euphoria with an opportunity to sell pills for a tidy profit and the result is an epidemic.

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How the Government is Lending a Hand to the Opioid Epidemic

Cities across the country have dealt with the crisis for years. In 2018, the department of Health and Human Services created a number of initiatives geared to end the overwhelming crisis. It formed the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within HHS, to promote prevention, treatment and recovery support services initiatives.  Specifically, SAMHSA has also been tasked with providing communities with services such as health centers, substance abuse rehab programs, support groups and even inpatient care.

Federal and state governments, and local communities have a lot to lose if the opioid crisis isn’t curtailed. The blow to the overall economy is nearly $80 billion annually, a figure that is likely to grow unless the epidemic is addressed.

Why Isn’t Alcohol Consumption Considered Cataclysmic?

There’s an even more concerning epidemic that plagues the US, but there isn’t the same public outcry to fix the problem.

By the end of today, 241 people - ten an hour - will die from alcohol consumption or related incidents according to the CDC.

The negative effect of alcohol use disorder on the US economy is estimated to be more than a quarter trillion dollars annually. With double the number of people who abuse alcohol and an economic impact nearly four times that of the opioids, it would stand to reason that there would be some well-established, publicly financed alcohol abuse programs in place. That would be an incorrect assumption.

So What Gives? Why Isn’t Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery a Priority?

SAMHSA says there is simply too much demand for alcohol recovery assistance so the agency has reverted to “serving as a hub” for treatment referral services. In other words, SAMHSA provides information on programs and services around the US but doesn’t actually get involved with rehabilitation. There aren’t many publicly funded support services for those who abuse alcohol so if you need help, it’s likely that you’re on your own to find the options.

The federal government makes a halfhearted attempt to attack the problem. It threatens to withhold highway appropriations from states that don’t follow the nationally mandated guidelines such as the minimum drinking age and blood alcohol levels. For their part, state governments impose sin taxes on alcohol sales with an eye on curbing consumption through higher prices.

Neither option has proven to be very effective.

Under the Affordable Care Act, rehab services are technically covered but the service provider of choice may not accept ACA coverage. However, if you have low income or are over the age of 65 you may qualify for rehab assistance through Medicare or Medicaid. The catch is that not many rehab facility accepts Medicare or Medicaid. Veterans may be able to tap into VA funds to pay for treatment but the process can be cumbersome.

If you fall outside of these groups it’s likely that the financial responsibility for rehab will be on you.

How To Handle a Family Member Struggling with Addiction - of Any Substance

It’s important to realize that someone who has an addiction, of any kind, affects everyone in their sphere – family as well as friends. When a family member approaches the individual, the first line of defense is typically to show anger or unwittingly cause an argument about the dangers of abusing drugs or alcohol. This approach is unlikely to yield positive results and may drive a wedge between the abuser and the accuser.

Frequently family members or friends will deny that there’s a problem. That doesn’t yield good results either as the behavior either continues or gets worse.

To help someone who has an addiction here are some tips:

  1. Do your homework. Learn about the disease and its triggers so when you have the intervention discussion you’re armed with facts.
  2. Understand the signs and symptoms of addiction, which will give you solid examples of the addiction.
  3. Have a plan. Research the various options (inpatient, outpatient, detox vs. medication, length of stay in a rehab center, 12-step plan).
  4. If possible, have the patient be part of the decision-making process. If they’re amiable, visit the facilities together, have the patient meet the staff and get buy-in.
  5. Keep your cool. The last thing a patient needs is a parent, family member or friend going off. By its nature interventions can be combustible conversations. Try to remain calm.
  6. Stay involved. There are no overnight success stories. Helping someone through an addiction crisis is going to have bumps along the way. Stay involved and stay patient.

How to Help Someone Struggling with Opioid or Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved suffers from alcohol addiction, chances are it’s on your shoulders to find your own sobriety program. The process of choosing a rehab can be daunting. The chances are good that if you have an alcohol addiction problem you or your family will need to find your own sobriety program. The options range from inpatient or outpatient rehab to 12-step programs and counseling. The process of picking the right program can be daunting.

Here are five tips to help identify the right program for you:

  1. Consult with your doctor, mental health professional, addiction specialist or social worker to determine which treatment program is best for you. Explore all options including residential treatment, outpatient or a 12-step program. A person who has trouble functioning with day-to-day living will likely be encouraged to enter an inpatient treatment facility. Not every person will require detoxification, but finding an inpatient program that offers detox as well is helpful. For inpatient programs a person should expect to stay for at least 30-days. Others who have not been successful with month-long programs may be encouraged to stay for up to 90-days.
  2. Good inpatient treatment programs usually combine therapy and counseling, support groups and education. If the patient suffers from depression or anxiety, it’s best to look for a facility that offers mental health and psychiatric services in addition to drug and alcohol counseling.
  3. Some patients are addicted to both alcohol and drugs. Many treatment centers treat both at the same time. When weighing the various options ask if the rehab facility uses detox methods or abstinence to rid the body of drugs and alcohol and make sure the patient understands the pluses and minuses of both.
  4. Before choosing a rehab center find out how long it’s been in business. If the facility has been around a while the chances are good that it has successfully treated many patients. Five years in business is a good indication that a facility has had success.
  5. Many people believe that you get what you pay for but when it comes to rehab centers price doesn’t equal success. When visiting a high end rehab center it’s easy to be lulled into thinking that the plushy surroundings will provide the perfect atmosphere for success. Resist the urge to focus on the glitz and focus on the programs and the staff. Ask how they will work with your loved one, how they make patients accountable for their actions and how the patient will be supervised. It’s important to feel comfortable with your choice, so while it may seem like a good idea to contact your insurance company for a recommendation, some policies have out of network benefits that will cover some of the stay, and ultimately comfort and feeling good about the process should take precedence.

For more information on how to begin your addiction recovery journey, or for a free consultation, contact Ocean Hills Recovery today. 


customized 12 step rehab

Customized 12 Step Rehab

Customized 12 Step Rehab

The 12 Step Rehab approach was created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. They viewed this as the best way to establish guidelines for overcoming alcohol addiction. Because of the high success rate of the program, other addiction groups and rehab centers began taking the approach and adapting it to meet the needs of their patients. Countless people have found that 12 Step Rehab is very effective to addiction recovery.

Many 12 Step programs have been developed for various kinds of compulsive behavior and addictions. While using those same 12 Steps, the programs are adjusted to meet the patient needs on different levels. While the 12 Steps do rely heavily on spirituality, many who are not religious have found the program to be extremely helpful in overcoming their addictions and behaviors.

The 12 Step approach has language emphasizing God’s presence – but it is as each participant understands Him – which in turn, allows different religious beliefs and interpretations to use the program successfully.

Looking at the 12 Step Rehab

Recovery is a lifelong process, and there is no wrong way to approach the 12 Steps of the program. An individual will need to figure out what best suits their specific needs in order to learn how the 12 Steps can help them and what approach they should take. Most participants find that they will have to revisit some steps more than once, and some patients might have to focus on more than one step at a time.

The 12 Steps as used by Alcoholics Anonymous are:

  • Admit that you are powerless over using the specific substance and your life is not manageable as it is.
  • Believe there is a greater Power than you who can restore your sanity.
  • Make the decision to hand over your life and your will to God as you personally understand Him.
  • Search yourself and do a moral inventory of the situation.
  • Reach the point of readiness for God to remove character flaws.
  • Ask God to take away all your shortcomings.
  • Make a list of individuals that you have hurt, then be willing to apologize and make amends with those individuals.
  • Make things right to those that you have wronged and hurt throughout life whenever and wherever possible, unless to do so would injure them or other people.
  • Continue taking personal inventory and admit your wrongs.
  • Use meditation and prayer to improve conscious contact with God as you see and understand Him. Then pray for knowledge about His will for you and the ability and power to carry it out.
  • Because of these steps, you can experience a spiritual awakening, so try to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in your daily lives.

The Effectiveness of 12 Step Rehab

There have been many studies regarding 12 Step programs. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, those who participate in a 12 Step program are twice as likely to still be abstaining from using drugs or alcohol a year after starting the program. Much of the credit was given to the positive results learned in rehab. Combining the 12 Steps with rehab allowed for continued abstinence because of the psychological and spiritual mechanisms being intertwined.

There was a group of individuals who had entered a program that didn’t involve 12 Steps. A year later, between 20% to 25% of them were still abstaining from drug use. When a similar group that had undergone the 12 Step approach was interviewed, almost twice as many – nearly 50% - were still abstaining from drug use a year later.

The Veterans Administration has also published information that revealed patients who attended a 12 Step program more often in each three-month interval after finishing treatment were much more likely to abstain from alcohol use during that specific interval. The findings revealed that those who participated in such programs were much more likely to abstain from substance use for as long as 15 years after completing the program.

Choosing a Rehab Program

If you are struggling with addiction, finding the right rehabilitation center to work alongside you is essential to your recovery. In order to be successful, it is important to consider a program that uses the 12 Step approach. Ocean Hills Recovery utilizes the principles of the 12 Step approach in conjunction with other treatment methods and approaches.

We use the basics of the successful 12 Step program and will expand on it to develop a program that is even more effective for individuals that are ready to rid themselves of their addiction.  

Ocean Hills Recovery understands that you can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach or a cookie-cutter approach because each patient comes to us with different needs. When you choose Ocean Hills Recovery, a thorough assessment will be done to determine which kinds of therapies and processes will work best for your specific needs and situation.

In order to come up with an effective approach, we take the time to consider your addiction history. We will look at your vocational needs, social circumstances, mental and physical health, family connections and living conditions and other factors in order to provide the right treatment for you.

To learn more about Ocean Hills Recovery and the different treatment programs offered, contact us today.

Gratitude in Recovery

Finding Gratitude in Recovery

Finding Gratitude in Recovery

Dealing with addiction is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. While the addicted lifestyle itself is hard, nothing is harder than admitting that you need help and taking the steps towards recovery.

Once you’ve made the brave decision to get help and have kicked the physical addiction with the help of a rehabilitation facility, you’ve entered the recovery process. Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as the short-term detoxification process. The recovery phase never truly ends, but with the coping skills you’ve learned and our recommendations for finding gratitude in recovery, you can make every day a little bit easier.

The Benefits of a Healthy Mentality

Your mental and physical health are more closely related than you may think. Part of finding gratitude is improving your outlook to a more positive disposition – looking for the positives rather than the negatives.

Thinking positively has been proven to have a positive effect on multiple parts of your life, many of which work closely together. Those most relevant to your recovery include:

  • Reduced Stress Levels
  • Strengthened Immune System
  • Stronger Personal Relationships
  • Greater Motivation to Pursue Interests

These benefits will make recovery much easier. You’ll feel healthier and more motivated as well as less likely to use again to cope with stress. You can also work on repairing your relationships now that you have a clearer and more positive mind, enriching your overall quality of life.

Strategies for Finding Gratitude in Recovery

Holidays can either be a great time for your mental health and full of reasons to be grateful, or a painful reminder of the past. The major part of finding gratitude is remembering to be positive, which can be easier during times like Thanksgiving or Christmas where reminders are everywhere. However, once the winter season ends and life returns back to normal, you’ll still need to find the positivity in things when there’s much less holiday cheer around. If you’re having trouble getting into a positive mindset or something has you down, try these exercises to give yourself a little boost and reduce the urge to relapse.

Start the Day with 3 Things You’re Grateful For

Good things happen to us every day, and there is always something to be grateful for. Unfortunately, if you’re struggling with the recovery process it can be hard to consider the positives when everything seems so negative.

The practice of starting the day by recording 3 things you’re grateful for is the perfect way to start the day off with a positive outlook. No matter what the rest of the day has in store for you, you can take solace in and appreciate the positives in your life. Whether it’s a bed to sleep in, the love of a family member, friend, or pet, or just a sunny day, write it down. That way even if you’re feeling down in the morning, you’re finding the positives in life and maintaining a healthy mindset. You can also reflect on the words when you’re feeling down.

Keep a Positivity Journal

To add onto your morning grateful journal, you can also keep notes with you throughout the day where you write down anything that made you happy. There are many positive things that make us smile but slip our mind. If you keep a record of them you can look back and remember how you felt when it happened as a motivating factor in maintaining your sobriety and optimism.

Acknowledge That Your Life is in Your Hands Now

During your recovery – especially early on – there will be rough days where you feel weak and consider using again. However, once you’ve rid yourself of the addiction and begun on the road to recovery, you’ve taken the reigns when it comes to your life. The past is behind you, and you’re able to move on living the life you want to live. It may not be an entirely fresh start, but your future is entirely up to you and the possibilities are endless.

Embrace the Benefits of Sobriety

Your life is in a much better place when you’re sober than when you’re suffering from addiction. What better way to remember and prove that to yourself than doing something you couldn’t do before?

You could spend time with friends or family that your addiction isolated you from, learn a new skill or start a hobby with your improved focus and free time, enjoy the health benefits of your sobriety with exercise, or anything else you may have missed out on during your struggle with addiction.

Help Someone Else

There are few more therapeutic activities than helping others. Giving back to those in need is one of the simplest ways to be grateful for your newfound sobriety. Whether it is volunteering at a local soup kitchen, being a sponsor for Alcoholics Anonymous, or just doing your best to be kind to those you run into, the goodness and positivity that you spread can help to stave off negative thoughts. Putting others before yourself can motivate you to keep recovering, and appreciate the opportunity you have to do good.

Choose a Rehab That Instills Positive Habits for Recovery

When it comes to how easy and successful your recovery process is, your treatment program plays a major role. At Ocean Hills Recovery, our approach to drug rehab continues with you even after you leave our 30, 60, or 90-day program. In addition to detoxification, our treatment center will address the underlying cause of your addiction. Our caring staff will set you up with the necessary coping skills and self-help guidelines for maintaining positivity, making healthy decisions, and finding gratitude in recovery.

With decades of experience between our staff and exceptional, compassionate care, there is nowhere better to begin your road to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one take back your life.

Buprenorphine addiction

Buprenorphine Addiction

Buprenorphine Addiction

Buprenorphine is a drug used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. Leading brands include Suboxone and Zubsolv. It is largely safe, but that’s not always the case; buprenorphine-related emergency room visits increased five-fold between 2006 and 2011. Buprenorphine is not without health risks and side effects, and buprenorphine addiction is a distinct possibility.

What Was Buprenorphine Designed to Do?

Opioids such as painkillers and heroin bind to opioid receptors in the brain. They slow down breathing, alleviate pain and induce relaxation.

When an opioid and the opioid receptors are a perfect match, intense euphoria is another effect. As tolerance builds, duplicating that sense of well-being requires higher doses. You might say that opioids teach your brain to crave them.

Buprenorphine is classified as a mixed opioid agonist-antagonist. Simply put, it’s a partial opioid. It attaches to receptors as well, but the binding process is not an ideal match. Two things happen as a result.

First, the brain receptors are tricked into thinking that a full opioid has latched on. The euphoric effect that makes opioids so addictive is much weaker. However, the receptors are satisfied, so to speak, and withdrawal does not occur.

Second, since the receptors are already occupied by buprenorphine, there is no opportunity for full opioids like heroin to bind to them. The brain flips on a no-vacancy sign. Buprenorphine is long-acting, so it can bind for up to three days. Using opioids while taking it won’t do much for you, so cravings are not as intense.

Buprenorphine treatment takes place in three phases: induction, stabilization and maintenance. Its effects gradually increase until they eventually hit a ceiling and level off. The idea is to slowly, gently wean off a drug of choice like heroin.

Buprenorphine is formulated to discourage misuse and prevent dependency. In theory, cravings and other side effects of withdrawal are easier to manage so that people in rehab can focus on proven methods of treatment.

Unfortunately, not every user has that experience.

What Can Go Wrong?

Like any drug, buprenorphine can be dangerous if a patient has certain health issues or misuses the product. Substance abusers are often in poor health, and they tend to knowingly or unknowingly take drugs at the wrong doses.

Conditions that any prescribing doctor should know about include liver disease, head injury, seizures and breathing problems.

Many buprenorphine users experience side effects similar to those of opioids:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

What Is the Likelihood of Becoming Addicted to Buprenorphine?

It is telling that drug dealers sell Suboxone on the street. If it weren’t addictive, that would hardly make good business sense.

Because buprenorphine acts somewhat like an opioid, many doctors view taking it as more or less swapping one bad habit for another. Remember that buprenorphine is just a watered-down version of more powerful drugs. People who miss the intense high of opioid use may be tempted to up the dose.

Some users who didn’t have an opioid addiction to begin with use it recreationally. They are at equal risk of becoming addicted.

Naloxone, a drug designed to reverse opioid overdose, is added to buprenorphine to block opioid withdrawal. Taken in tablet form, the combination drug is generally safe. However, many recreational users crush the pills and either snort or inject them, which causes the naloxone effect to dominate. There is a brief high before severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings set in. Drug-seeking behavior and addiction are likely outcomes.

It’s worth noting that needle use comes with a high risk of contracting hepatitis. Since buprenorphine isn’t exactly liver-friendly to start with, injecting it is a recipe for disaster. Dark urine, loss of appetite, yellow eyes and skin tone, severe stomach pain and persistent nausea are all signs of liver damage that warrant a visit to the doctor.

Buprenorphine is even more dangerous if it’s used in combination with other drugs that slow down breathing. Mixing it with alcohol, tranquilizers, sleeping pills or marijuana increases risk for all addictions. Respiratory failure or fatal overdose are also possible.

Impaired coordination, brain fog, slurred speech and itching are telltale signs of buprenorphine addiction. You may also be on shaky ground if you show any of these behaviors:

  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Continuing to use buprenorphine even when there are negative consequences
  • Lying about how much you use
  • Attempting to get prescriptions from more than one doctor

Is There a Better Way?

Addiction is a complex brain disease. In addition to the chemical changes that take place, there are strong psychological associations with drug use.

The best treatment programs are comprehensive. They are tailor-made to address individual needs and allow for flexibility. They tackle coexisting problems like depression and anxiety. They explore the underlying reasons, such as stress, loneliness or sexual abuse, for drug-seeking behavior.

Well-rounded treatment provides individual therapy, group counseling and self-help methods in an emotionally supportive environment. People who choose to stay in recovery long term have a much greater chance of staying clean for life.

Reach Out Now

Buprenorphine may help certain people, but no drug covers all the bases like a quality rehab program. If you fear that you may be spiraling into addiction, don’t wait another day to seek help. Call Ocean Hills Recovery to speak to a caring counselor and start your journey to recovery.