Loving your Spouse through Recovery
One of the lowest points in a marriage may come when a spouse is battling an addiction of any kind. Challenges arise throughout the process of addiction recovery, from the feelings of hopelessness of a spouse while their partner is actively involved in their addiction, to the optimism (as well as anger) that can arise when a spouse begins recovery. With the persistent threat of relapse lingering, the emotional roller coaster in marriage during recovery can continue for many years.
Recovery is never easy for an addict or their spouse but getting support and giving love and support are two ways to overcome difficulties and keep your marriage intact.
An important key to loving your spouse through recovery is to first take care of yourself. Self-care, or meeting your own needs and wants, is key to being supportive to your spouse. Your spouse’s addiction most likely has had a devastating impact on you personally. Through self-care as well as educational workshops, family therapy sessions and family visits, spouses learn new skills right alongside their loved one and can practice those skills to strengthen themselves and the marriage. Recovery programs often recommend resources in the local community as well, including therapy and Al-Anon, S-Anon, or other meetings.
When you’re living with a spouse who is addicted to something harmful, you’ve likely grown accustomed to dysfunction in your marriage. You may have alternated between being the spouse who tries to fix all of the addict’s mistakes to the disengaged spouse who just wants some peace. Without intending to, you may have assumed some unhealthy roles, such as an enabler or codependency. Through therapy and counseling, you can identify unhealthy patterns and learn more positive ways to get your needs met that will ultimately help your spouse as well.
Loving and supporting your spouse during the first months – during early recovery – can prove to be the most challenging and difficult. Many significant life changes happen in the first year of sobriety. During that time, addicts in recovery need to be somewhat “selfish,” focusing on themselves in order to maintain sobriety and rebuild their lives. This can leave some spouses feeling neglected and resentful.
What a recovering spouse needs more than anything is the support and love from their partner.
You can be there for your spouse – and help preserve your marriage – by doing the following: educating yourself, taking care of yourself, keeping communication lines between you open, being patient, avoiding blame, working toward forgiveness, and preparing for setbacks. It’s also important to understand that your relationship may change; in fact, it may end all together. Your spouse’s progress may be slow, or it may be surprisingly quick. They may meet new friends, excel at work and perhaps even outshine you. Allowing your spouse some freedom to explore who they are without their addiction, can bring a positive shift in responsibilities and dynamics to your home.
For most couples with a spouse in addiction recovery, life won’t miraculously fall into place without a lot of hard work by both partners. Recovery can deepen and strengthen the bonds of marriage, but taking care of yourself and each other is key. Loving your spouse through recovery is difficult and draining, but the rewards and benefits are often worth the effort.
Drug abuse in the military
How serious is the problem of drug abuse in the military? For a couple of decades, drug use in the military seemed to be on the decline. But, recently, new research shows that the problem is climbing again. In fact, some research shows that while some individuals are entering the military to “shape up” and turn their lives around and “get clean”, many of these young people are bringing their drug habits with them into military service.
Recent reports cite statistics such as:
- over 17,000 people have been discharged from the U.S. military due to drug abuse since 1999
- The Navy has discharged more individuals (3,400) because of drug use during the time since 1999 than any of the other branches of the armed services
- Since 1999, failed drug tests in the U.S. Air Force have increased by 82%, and in the U.S. Army by 37% as well
Drug abuse in the U.S. military can threaten our national security simply because being under the influence of drugs will lower the readiness of our troops. Drugs undermine military authority and the strict order that prevails in military society. And, most importantly, drugs damage human lives – in this case, the lives of the brave military men and women who risk their lives to fight for our freedoms.
As far as identifying which drugs are used most prevalently in the U.S. military, there are some drugs to which soldiers seem to drift toward more than others: marijuana, cocaine, and opiates. Marijuana is undoubtedly the most used drug in the military mostly because it is relatively easy for soldiers to obtain. Marijuana is often used to escape the stressors provided by the wartime environment temporarily. Cocaine and other stimulants are used by soldiers to stay alert throughout the course of long stretches of duty. However, the subsequent “crash” after using cocaine or other stimulants can be very dangerous since it leaves soldiers in a weakened state during what could be times of emergency. Further, opiates, such as Vicodin and OxyContin are becoming more widespread in the military because of the euphoric effects they have on individuals. Many soldiers will, in fact, have opiates shipped in from home, or brought over with incoming military personnel. Opiates can provide escape and self-medication against the horrors of war that soldiers regularly encounter.
The reasons for the increase use of drugs in the military are many. Because soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are constantly under fire from the enemy insurgents, coping with this strain on a day-to-day basis in the military field has forced many to turn to drugs as a means of self-medication and a coping mechanism. Also, although the “zero tolerance” policy has been in place in the military for several years, soldiers have greater access to drugs than ever before. Sadly, family members and friends sometimes ship the drugs overseas via courier, or soldiers returning to duty may bring them back from the U.S. as well. Another reason for drug abuse is the long periods of inactivity, which occur after the intense action. Long stretches of time where there is little to do can allow for experimentation with and or escape from the boredom by using drugs. Lastly, many soldier use the drugs to become more alert or aware during patrols or late night/nighttime duties.
Drug abuse in the military has several negative effects. Soldiers are risking their own personal safety with slowed reaction times and confusion, they are putting the lives of other soldiers in jeopardy by impairing their own judgment, and they are creating an environment which is not stable and controlled – completely opposite from the structured regimented atmosphere the military thrives on.
Tough Love and Recovery
Usually when people love each other it means that they show affection and are really nice to each other – but there are times when this is not the case. Sometimes loving someone can mean treating that person in a harsh or stern manner to help that person change in a positive way. This version of love is often referred to as “tough love.”
When it comes to recovery from drug or alcohol addictions, tough love may be necessary to help those loved ones out of cycles of abuse and addiction. This tough love may be might be perceived as somewhat cruel – especially initially — but people may actually feel the need to act this way toward an addicted loved one in order to be kind.
Tough love is simply love or affection that is shown in a stern or unsentimental manner. Usually, motivation to engage in tough love comes to promote favorable behavior in another. For instance, parents use tough love when they enforce rules or withhold things from their children in order to teach them life lessons. When it comes to tough love, one individual is treating the other harshly because they love the individual enough to help them change. They are not acting out of anger or hatred toward the other individual.
With tough love and addiction, there are definite times when tough love needs to be employed. When one feels helpless to stop the downfall of their loved one through addiction, they may turn to measures of tough love to help their loved one see clearly how much love is truly felt for them. After watching a loved one destroy their life with addiction, most will have tried to be patient and reasonable. But, the time may come when the addict continues to be in denial about the scope of their problem and people realize that kindly and gently helping the addict is actually enabling addictive behaviors. In this case, and many others, tough love can be very useful. Many addicts learn to be manipulative in order to get their way and so once they learn they can no longer manipulate and that tough love will be enforced, they may begin the steps back to sobriety through recovery.
Tough love in recovery can include: withdrawing or withholding money from individuals, telling them to move out of one’s home, strictly enforced curfews, and other things that occur when addicts violate trust or go back on their word as far as their recovery plan. Tough love is tough. Especially when one is dealing with those they love dearly. However, it is often through tough love, that addicts turn around and begin anew on the road to recovery.
Loving someone enough to get them into rehab
Many people feel like they are doing everything they can for a loved one by supporting them and helping them outside of rehab. However, when their loved one turns violent, or suicidal, or depressed, or even asks for help, how do you help that individual take the next step and enter rehab? Sometimes, treatment is the only option to save a loved one, even if they adamantly refuse to go. People often worry about the consequences to a relationship if they help force a loved one into treatment. However, the consequences of waiting for the individual to go to treatment on their own may be dangerous, and may include hurting others or themselves in the process.
A common misconception about addiction rehab is that a person must willingly enter treatment for it to be effective. However, many addicts choose the path to recovery because loving family and friends recognized the problem they were having and took the necessary steps to get them into rehab.
However, it can be very challenging to convince someone you love that they need addiction treatment. Remember though, this is about your loved one’s life. Helping them get the treatment they deserve may be the only chance they have to overcome their addiction and will show more love from you than waiting until they are “ready” to do it for themselves.
So good ideas about how to get your loved one into addiction rehab and helping the “talk”, the transition, and the enrollment go easier, include:
Educating yourself. This means that you need to learn more about addiction, specifically the addiction your loved one is facing. Some ways to do this are: attending meetings for local addiction support groups, like Al-Anon (for loved ones of alcoholics). Members of these support groups may be able to provide guidance for finding nearby addiction resources. Also, people from these groups will be able to share experiences they’ve had with you and you can establish connections with those who have dealt with similar issues.
Get ready to do an intervention. An intervention is a meeting in which family members and/or friends of the loved one show the addict how the problem has affected his or her life-and the lives of those around them. It isn’t meant to be negative or condemning, but can help your loved one realize the toll their addiction is taking on those around them, let alone themselves. An intervention won’t physically force them into rehab, but it does give the addict a real-world view of what happens to those they love each time they abuse drugs.
Have a plan. A plan can include discovering which rehab facility you feel will be best for your loved one, inviting concerned family and friends to participate in providing transportation directly to the rehab facility, and being prepared if your loved one refuses help. If your loved one refuses to get help for their addiction, you may have to be firm and hold strong to consequences such as: moving out, not receiving any more money from you, etc. Holding the intervention when everything is ready and the plan is in place will give you a much better chance of getting your loved one into rehab treatment. If your loved one chooses recovery, have transportation ready to take them directly to treatment. No “one last drink/hit” stops allowed. The most important thing is to get the addict to the facility as soon as possible.
Be loving, not judgmental. In the process of getting your loved one into rehab, find ways to allow them to realize they need alcohol or drug rehab treatment-not beat them up over every bad decision they’ve ever made. Remain focused on how the addiction hurts the addict and everyone they love and avoid condemning statements like “You should never have started abusing prescription drugs…” or “You’d be fine if you hadn’t hooked up with that guy…”
Be supportive of your loved one’s treatment. Help them by following the advice of the treatment center’s addiction specialists. If the recovery center has a “no contact with family” rule for a specified time period, don’t try to contact your loved one. Also refuse to pick them up or give them travel money if they decide to leave the program early. As a friend or family member, your role is to provide the healthy encouragement and support your loved one needs so he or she can focus on overcoming and recovering from their addiction.
Getting your loved one to go to rehab treatment may not be easy-but their life is definitely worth the effort. Begin to make plans now to help guide your loved one onto the road to recovery.
Officers in Utah seize possible Krokodil “Zombie” drug
A recent Utah Weber/Morgan Narcotic strike force drug bust found almost 20 pounds of methamphetamine and the “zombie drug” also known as “krokodil” in a man’s home in West Valley City. Although the substance believed to be krokodil has not officially been proven as such, if it is in fact the “zombie drug,” it will be of “great concern that such a large supply is available right here in Utah” according to Utah agencies.
Officials first started seeing the flesh-eating “zombie drug” in Utah back in 2013. Health officials in the state indicate that there have been two cases in Utah they believe are tied to the drug. CNN reports that “this extremely addictive injectable opioid is called krokodil (pronounced like crocodile) or desomorphine.” Doctors around the country are seeing more effects from the zombie drug; including Dr. Abhin Singla. Recently, Singla reported that he treated a woman who was suffering from krokodil addiction. The woman lost a significant portion of her legs due to the drug he said. “It’s a zombie drug — it literally kills you from the inside out,” Singla said. “If you want way to die, this is a way to die.”
Krokodil causes serious damage to the veins and soft tissue infections, rapidly followed by gangrene and necrosis. The soft tissue damage mostly happens around the injection site. The drug also seems to clump in the veins as it fails to dissolve completely in the blood. The clumps make their way to distant places in the body and begin to damage tissue.
Although it’s not clear how widely used the drug is in the US, reports show that the use is rising, and the fact that it could be hitting closer to home in Utah is especially of concern. The fact that krokodil is cheaper than heroin and can be easily cooked up in someone’s home much like meth makes it easier to create than some other drugs. Also, people making krokodil sometimes combine the painkiller codeine with easily available chemicals. They can use iodine; strong alkalies such as Mr. Muscle, a kitchen and bathroom cleaner; hydrochloric acid; red phosphorous from matches; and/or organic solvents such as gasoline or paint thinner, according to recent studies. Further, mortality rates are high among users. Medical help is often only sought after users are in the late stages of their addiction and end up with severe mutilations, rotting gums, bone infections, decayed structure of the jaw and facial bones, sores and ulcers on the forehead and skull as well as rotting ears, noses and lips and liver and kidney problems.
Often the “zombie” drug is believed to be heroin; individuals don’t know how dangerous what they are purchasing really is. “I think it’s the tip of the iceberg; I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” said Dr. Singla, the addiction specialist. “I think if it (krokodil) stays on the market long enough, you’re going to have people who are desperate addicts that can’t support their heroin habit but can utilize this drug, not really caring about the consequences, and get the same high for a third of the price.”
Sources: Fox News Utah, CNN
The short half-life of the drug means a user’s attention is narrowed to the “process of acquiring and preparing and administering the drug, leaving little time for matters other than avoiding withdrawal and chasing (the) high,” according to one medical study, hence its reputation for creating “zombies.”
Binges on the drug reportedly last over several days. During the binge, a user can show irrational behavior and experience sleep deprivation and exhaustion, memory loss and speech problems.
According to the Joliet hospital, the five people brought in who may have used krokodil said they thought they were buying heroin.
Meow Meow, a new synthetic drug, has emerged, and individuals need to be warned about the potential dangers of using it. Meow Meow, the common name for mephedrone, is a synthetic psychoactive drug, a type of designer amphetamine that produces effects similar to those of both MDMA and cocaine.
Rolling Stone Magazine recently reported, “The popular dance magazine Mixmag published a reader survey in 2009 identifying Meow Meow as the fourth most popular drug (after weed, molly and cocaine), and in 2010, another survey from the publication reported that 75 percent of its readers had used the drug since the ban in the UK in 2010.”
Individuals take this drug to feel a sense of euphoria. Created to make users fully sense everything around them and increase their mood, Meow Meow is extremely addictive and carries with it serious side effects. The drug causes poor concentration, erratic behavior, and hallucinations. Further, it has been found to cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can be very dangerous.
However, the largest and most prominent side effect of Meow Meow is a loss of memory. Researchers who have studied Meow Meow have found that the drug has a massive impact on the brain. Through experimentation on mice, they have found that regular use of the drug can cause both large amounts of memory loss and overall poor concentration. Frighteningly, users can forget things that have happened to them in the past or while using the drug.
While it first grew in popularity in the UK and Australia, the drug is slowly making its way into the United States. Authorities are aware of this drug and are doing what they can to keep Meow Meow from entering the country and off the streets.
The Cost of Drugs vs. Rehab
Many individuals that fight drug addictions who sincerely desire to break the addictive cycles they are entangled in feel that they cannot afford any type of rehab- inpatient or outpatient. However, when the cost of continuing drug abuse is examined, it is often found that rehab would actually be less expensive – especially in the long run.
Not only is the cost of drug a financial burden, but it also carries with it a serious risk: what lengths would individuals go to in order to obtain money to buy drugs?
Many people have questions about the cost of drugs in comparison to the cost of drug treatment. Often, when choosing between a continuing drug habit and financing rehab, people don’t consider the sheer cost of feeding their drug dependences. Many individuals will end up spending thousands—or more—on drugs and alcohol throughout their lifetimes
And yet, research shows that some people put off getting treatment because of the fear they have regarding the financial aspect of rehab. Interestingly, it turns out that treatment is much cheaper than drug addiction in the end.
Most importantly, treatment is an investment, one that will bring better health, more meaningful relationships, increased self-esteem, and much more disposable income (instead of spending any disposable income on drug addiction). Individuals will most certainly have a brighter future when investing in rehab over addiction.
Individuals with alcohol or drug addictions should seek treatment – whether inpatient or outpatient. All kinds of treatments are available at all different costs. Putting one’s health first will prove to be a better financial decision with a more positive outcome. There is so much good help available in so many forms. Research shows that most addicts are unable to achieve successful recovery on their own or with family members alone, so finding help is vital. Deciding between costs, inpatient and outpatient forms of treatment and finding the right treatment center for the addiction an individuals is battling are all important decisions to be made in regards to achieving a successful recovery.
New Study: Even Occasional Exercise Helps Reduce Meth Use
Many studies related to both addiction and recovery have shown a correlation between exercise and improved recovery. However, past results of studies of this nature indicated that exercise must be regular and consistent to obtain significant recovery. A new study (11/2014) by the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) found that even brief workouts can reduce the risk of relapse in rats withdrawing from methamphetamine. The researchers concluded that even short-term exercise produces positive treatment results.
An Associate Professor at TSRI, Chitra Mandyam, also senior author of the new study, published in the journal Brain Structure and Function indicates that, “There was no correlation between length of workout and risk of relapse—it’s the mere involvement in the activity of physical fitness, rather than how much time you can put in.” She further indicates, “that’s really important if we are going to translate this to humans.”
In San Diego County alone, the rise in the number of methamphetamine users has recently had dire consequences, with the county reporting a 55-percent increase in meth-related deaths since 2008. Many other parts of the US have been similarly affected. The Scripps study was aimed at finding recovery solutions for the rising meth problem the United States is facing.
In the Scripps study, researchers used a lab experiment with rats to determine the beneficial effects of just brief or sporadic exercise on methamphetamine-using behavior. Previously, these researchers had determined that regular access to exercise over a six-week period of time substantially reduced the rate of cocaine intake in another group of rats. However, in the current study, the researchers trained a group of rats to self-administer doses of methamphetamine, and gave them access to the drug afterwards. This time, instead of allowing the rats to exercise for weeks prior to receiving drug access, they only let them exercise for a set number of hours. The researchers concluded that, when the rats involved in the experiment only had the opportunity to exercise briefly prior to receiving access to methamphetamine, their use of the drug still decreased substantially in comparison to times when no opportunity to exercise was made available. This was different from previous studies, where the rats were exercising regularly and also had results.
Interestingly, Mandyam indicated that, “Right now, there is no FDA-approved medicine for methamphetamine addiction. Discovering novel pathways in the brain that could be associated specifically with the withdrawal and relapse stage may lead to new avenues for therapeutics.”
The findings of this new study may indicate that methamphetamine users who occasionally exercise during recovery may still experience significant recovery from meth. In addition, they believe that the benefits of exercise may manifest quickly as opposed to appearing only after extended periods of time. Hopefully, these findings will hold true and occasional exercise can be an effective tool for helping recovering meth addicts achieve their goals
Rise in Heroin overdoses in the US
Recently, much attention has been focused on the rise in heroin related deaths in the United States. A US Federal Health report published this past fall indicates that heroin overdoses doubled from 2010 to 2012. This reports contained data collected from 28 states, accounting for 56% of the US population. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the large increase in heroin-related deaths is directly tied to the epidemic of narcotic painkiller abuse.
Dr. Len Paulozzi, the study’s co-author, said that, “There is a growing population of people who are using narcotics, whether the prescription variety or heroin.” He further indicates that the overprescribing for the past 20 years of painkillers such as Oxycotin and Vcodin is responsible for the increase in heroin use and overdoses.
Steven Reinberg wrote in cbsnews.com Healthy Day that, “Previous research showed that from 2009 to 2012, there was a 74 percent increase in the number of people aged 12 and older.”
This and other frightening facts about the increase of heroin use are showing up in communities and cities all over the US. The CDC report indicates that the worst affected areas are in the Northwest and the Southern parts of the US, but that the entire country is affected.
For instance, just last week, AL.com’s Carol Robinson reported that, “Heroin deaths in Jefferson County jumped about 140 percent in 2014 in what authorities say is a steadily-growing epidemic not likely to end anytime soon. There were 123 confirmed heroin deaths countywide as of Dec. 29, according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. There are at least 18 more suspected heroin deaths, including several this week. Investigators are awaiting toxicology test results to confirm the cause in those cases but all evidence points to heroin.”
Robinson further reported that, “The issue isn’t unique to Jefferson County. Both Shelby and Tuscaloosa counties have seen spikes as well, as have communities nationwide. “
“When Birmingham police go out into these areas where there is high violent crime, they’re falling all over heroin,” U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said earlier this year… It is also in Gardendale, Fultondale, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Hoover and at the University of Alabama.” The report further indicates deaths in many other areas of Alabama as well.
Further, AL.com reports that, “Over the past three years, the average age of heroin-related deaths in Jefferson County was 36. Of the victims, 88 percent were white.”
Another interesting point to come out of the research by Paulozzi and his colleagues is that deaths from heroin overdose also vary by age. He indicates that the research shows that deaths from heroin overdose have climbed 120 percent among those 45 to 54 and about 109 percent among those 25 to 34.
Solving this rising epidemic of heroin overdose begins with stopping the addiction to narcotic painkillers through the reducing the prescriptions to such drugs. For those already struggling with addiction, Paulozzi said that increased availability to heroin addiction treatment is key. If those struggling with addiction to heroin don’t receive help, their risks of ending up in a fatal overdose climb significantly.
Most often, a heroin abuser previously abused some type of prescription drugs. At some point prescription drugs become harder to get, are more expensive and provide less of a high. Heroin becomes an easy alternative because it is cheaper, easy to obtain and provides an acceptable or better high. Because the demand for heroin has increased, the price has been driven down by the competition.
Availability, purity and the pursuit of a higher high are also to blame for the increase in the numbers of overdoses.
Heroin is entering into rural and non-urban areas. Many of these areas are where the huge increases of heroin overdoses are occurring. It is vital that there is treatment and recovery help in every area for those addicted to heroin to stop the rise in fatality associated with this deadly drug.
Jefferson County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Randy Christian said, “Heroin is extremely addictive and addicts struggle with rehab efforts, relapsing frequently. Abusers don’t know the chemical make-up or purity of what they’re injecting or snorting and sadly the increasing outcome of their addiction is overdose, and more frequently than ever, death.”
Further, prevention is key in stopping the spread of heroin addiction. In order to prevent the increase in addiction, the medical community must prescribe much more carefully and cautiously. Sadly, most believe that the problems associated with heroin will only rise as it becomes more available and turf wars begin over the demand for the drug.