Addiction is deadly
That being said, an initial assessment is required to rule out immediate life threats. If one of these conditions is discovered, the patient is brought right back and treated according to their individual circumstances. If the stars are aligned and this person survives their ordeal, many times they are brought to intensive care to begin the recovery process.
The process of getting into recovery form the fastest growing killer, addiction, is practically the same. However, there is one small difference, someone entering into treatment is in a life threatening condition versus a rather benign condition such as a bunion or the common cold.
My focus is to address what happens when a facility is located and the sick person first walks in. Based on the assessment performed by facility staff as to what substances the patient is using and their own unique needs, placement takes place. It is generally assumed that the person is in a life or death condition and the shoe could drop at any moment.
They are brought in just as one who is having a heart attack or stroke with the understanding that the end result without stabilization is death or disability. Notice I said the word stabilization, not cure. Curing any life threat isn’t en overnight process with most any disease process, but especially with addiction. As it was once posed to me, if you walk 8 miles into the deep forest, there are no shortcuts out.
That is, unless there are other underlying conditions. Alcohol and Benzodiazepine withdrawal can definitely kill a person if not done under medical supervision. Some examples of a “Benzo” would be Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, or Ativan. These drugs are prescribed many times for anxiety but also can treat certain seizure disorders making them have dangerous effects if stopping abruptly.
The initial assessment performed would help to make the safest and necessary detox care decisions. Once a bed is assigned and the patient is brought into the facility, the detox begins. Addressing the issues or reasons one has chosen to use drugs or alcohol cannot begin to happen until stabilization in detox. That onion has many layers and in most cases will take the rest of a persons life to peel.
For most people entering detox, a hot meal may the first they have had in days or even weeks. Again, speaking from my experience, my money and thought process was on getting one more bag or pill. The thought of food was non existent most times.
A bed with pillows and blanket are provided, another simple luxury that is ignored when one is “running the streets.” Hygiene products are provided such as toothpaste and even a shower. When one is “caught in the grip” of their self destruction, they are reduced to an animal level of behaving and I don’t know many monkeys or coyotes who bathe or brush their teeth.
Another major thing is the wide range of emotion, mood swings, and desire to go back to the thing that brought one into detox. These things can be addressed with 24/7 staff who are trained to deescalate a newly recovering person. All the things I have stated above are not from books or web streaming documentaries, they are from my hardly earned experience from multiple detox stays on my recovery journey.
This is no different from when a person leaving the hospital form having major heart surgery. They are out of immediate threat, but not ready to return just yet. They are also placed in a “rehab” to get stronger and healthier. In the addiction treatment world, rehab is where the real hard work begins.
I would not have been able to begin facing the multifaceted issues that brought me to my knees without first going to intensive care. If you or your loved one is doing the same substances I was doing, detox is paramount.
I did everything I could get my hands on and the signs and symptoms of an active drug or alcohol user are the same and thus the recovery process requires the journey from the starting point. Reach out to me.
These kind acts began to chip away at the tough exterior I had built around me during my addiction. I started to see the good in the world again.
I will never forget the generous offer to sleep on a couch for a couple of nights. Melanie had requested that I do not use meth and that I must leave before her 13 yr old daughter returned from visiting her father. I followed the rules and did not use. The ability to sleep for 20 hours a day definitely helped the detoxification process I was experiencing.
It was now day 3, the day her daughter is coming home. I dreaded the thought of having to go back out. My stay was beginning to feel comfortable and my head was becoming less foggy. As I was lying on the couch, her daughter walked through the apartment door. Quickly, I shut my eyes and pretended to be asleep. I recall thinking to myself, do I just go back to sleep and see how this plays out or do I get up and leave.
With no desire to leave the comfort of my “new digs”, I chose to go back to sleep. I contacted Melanie a few hours later. She said her daughter was fine with me staying. This was truly a blessing. I stayed at her apartment for two weeks. The maximum time allowed by management.
How would I accomplish this? Where would I go? Who would help me? I had burned almost all of my bridges, at this point. For the first time, I really started to believe it was the end of the road for me. I needed to make a change.
The two week stay seemed like five minutes. I did not want to leave. I think Melanie and her daughter wanted me to stay longer, as well. We kind of developed a sense of family during the short visit. Looking back, that seems very odd to me. Perhaps we were all looking for missing pieces in the puzzle of life.
My future looked very bleak, during this time. I could not see a way out. Was I going to survive living like this? Where the hell am I going to stay now?
The wild and crazy adventures continued every time I would try to score some meth. One adventure landed me in a small, run down one bedroom apartment. A lady in her 50’s lived there alone. She was definitely crazy, but she would buy meth every single day. She would also share, so she quickly became my new best friend.
I was in the same routine on a daily basis. The free meth was a very nice perk. However, I quickly grew tired of this lady’s schizophrenia and paranoia. I had to get out of there.
I started spending more and more time at the local library with air conditioning. Also, they had computers with internet access. I would freshen up in the oversized restroom and even catch some snores upstairs in the reading room that no one seemed to use.
One day I sat down to a computer and started to look for…
To be continued…
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Nestled at base of the rolling foothills of the Central Tennessee countryside, our recovery estate boasts 15 private client rooms amongst our 7,000 square-foot residential mansion. The plantation-style grounds span over 106-acres of meticulously maintained land, custom designed to evoke space, serenity and soothing healing in comfortable seclusion. Although grand in size, the cottage-like main house hosts our therapeutic staff, residences, offices, kitchen and amenities so that every necessity is at your service.
Our on-site stables are home to 17 majestic horses, all of which participate in our therapeutic healing track, who provide our clients an opportunity to share their emotive core while they help to care for the animals
Our small client-to therapist ratio means each resident is given undivided attention by their clinical team. At Magnolia Ranch, we improved on traditional therapy models by adding 4-6 additional hours of additional equine therapy on the weekends, so that despite a full schedule, each resident can take full advantage of our especially notable equine track.
Spend your time re-learning who you are, connecting with the world around you and setting achievable goals that your team of clinicians will help you reach both during and after your stay. Magnolia Ranch is not a respite – it is a habitat of remarkable rehabilitation.
Residential substance abuse treatment center is looking for a qualified Clinical Director.
Ideal candidate should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, be passionate about recovery, and have a deep understanding of the unique circumstances and requirements of the role. Candidates must possess a license to practice as a Masters’ Level clinician or above and be qualified and recognized by a professional credentialing body to practice alcoholism and substance abuse counseling, and be trained and competent in making differential diagnoses. Master’s Degree in clinically related field required along with a minimum of five years of supervision of others and clinical experience in addiction and related disorders.
Responsibilities include ensuring that all clinical staff are qualified, oriented and otherwise capable to carry out their assigned duties and that the clients, families and referents are provided with treatment that is consistent with company’s philosophies.
The Clinical Director will maintain the quality of the program dynamics. The Clinical Director will need to have at least 2 years of verifiable experience in substance abuse treatment center management and will hold necessary licensing as a Clinical Director required by regulatory bodies and insurance carriers. It will be the full responsibility of the Clinical Director for the maintenance of the clinical client chart within the guidelines and requirements of the rules including, but not limited to: monitoring weekly group progress notes, creating/monitoring treatment plan objectives, discharge summaries, monthly reviews obtaining client signatures where required.
Will supervise all therapists and will coordinate all treatment, prevention or case management services as needed. The Clinical Director will participate and facilitate clinical staffing. The Clinical Director maybe required to facilitate individual, group or family counseling sessions and complete timely and accurate documentation. Provides direct supervision of treatment staff, and acts as liaison between treatment services staff and the Facility Administration departments.
The Clinical Director organizes weekly interdisciplinary team meetings and call schedules and oversees on-boarding, orientation, ongoing trainings, performance evaluations, and mentorship of clinical team members. Most importantly, the Clinical Director will set the cultural tone, establishing a highly professional, dedicated team of therapists.
Clinical: 5 years
I hope this will cover that. I went to Colorado to fight an insidious disease that had ravaged not only myself, but also left devastation in the lives of all my friends and family. What I found was an entire community of people just like me.. from every age, race, and class our society knows. All of us had lost something, many of us lost everything in our addiction. Regardless of our reasons for beginning or continuing on the reckless paths that took us from our lives, homes, loved ones and comfort zones, we all hold a common goal.
What is amazing about coming into the life of recovery, whether at Core Vision or elsewhere, is that it has given us many of those things we had thought unobtainable to us after the ruins we had left behind us….And that is our story. That we have found (or are finding) love, acceptance, tolerance, self-worth and respect..
All my people in recovery are my brothers and sisters for life, and the addict still suffering is our lost sibling in need. This is what gives hope to a hopeless junkie like me. Much love to the Core Vision crew and all my recovering loved ones.
Peace and #ProudofYou Megan, Amber, Tyler, David, Andrew, Cole, Dominic, Josh, Joey, Andy, Nick, Jesse, Angela, Ryan, Lizzie, Amber, Erika, Amanda, Ryan, Joshua, Holly, Nick, Larry, Ben, Eric, Kevin, Sousha, Mikhail, Joseph, Gianna, Matt, Garrett, Jimmy, Mary, Jen, Mary Jayne, Andrea…. Hoping that’s most of you, lol..Love you all
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Lately I have seen headlines and stories about the increased opioid addiction rates amongst veterans. The VA is the healthcare provider that is charged to help returning veterans with their injuries and pain from their service in the military. But obviously from the headlines and stories, data shows that there is an exponential increase in the prescriptions for opioids being given out throughout the VA system.
In scouring the internet for veterans’ stories about their addictions, I came across an article in The Center For Investigative Reporting by Aaron Glantz, “VA’s Opiate Overload Feeds Veteran’s Addictions and Overdose Deaths”.
Dr. Stephen Xenakis a doctor and retired brigadier general who served as Commanding General of the Army’s Southeast Regional Medical Command stated that doctors by default are doing what they are trained to do as far as writing a prescription to treat health or physical conditions. The problem is that the opiates end up hurting the veterans more than they help.
There have been strides to put in place an integrative approach and more regulations to control the amount of prescriptions given out. But it is not known how well those regulations are followed and if they are consistently followed across the VA healthcare system, the administrative and medical staff.
The issues affecting the veteran are complex and with a behemoth system overwhelmed with the volume of trauma and pain of the veterans, an integrative approach requires a lot of thought and time to seek out each individuals root issue.
My focus here is not to judge or make a conclusion or determination about whether the VA is over prescribing pain killers and relaxants, but to get to the root of the issue, the Veteran. What is going on with or inside the returning veteran that doctors are overwhelmingly increasing the number of pain meds to “get rid” or “numb” their pain.
One veteran’s story, Jeffery Waggoner, a paratrooper, was going to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in southern Oregon with a 2 page contract to detox and get clean from his addiction to painkillers. While being treated in the hospital records showed he was doped up to the point he couldn’t stay awake, basically only awaking to take his meds.
Waggoner’s was involved in a rocket-propelled grenade blast in Afganistan. It sent the VA released him for the weekend with a cocktail of 19 prescription medications, including 12 tablets of highly addictive oxycodone. After a rocket-propelled grenade blast in Afghanistan sent shockwaves through his 6-foot frame, though, he got hooked on government-issued painkillers; mentally, he never recovered.
Waggoner told a nurse at the Roseburg VA hospital that he suffered from severe flashbacks that made him cry out in the middle of the night, strangling his pillow, hitting the wall. He sleepwalked,
He was released for unknown reasons by the hospital for a weekend along with 19 prescription medications of which 12 tablets were oxycodone. At a motel near the hospital he drank 2 beers and swallowed 8 of the oxycodone along with several muscle relaxants and tranquilizers. At a nearby restaurant he then had nachos and another beer and after falling asleep at the counter was assisted back to his motel by the restaurant manager. He was found slumped at his room door but by the time the paramedics arrived it was too late.
During his duty in Afghanistan, Waggoner was involved in a rocket-propelled grenade blast that sent shock waves through his body. He was treated with government issued painkillers and he never recovered mentally.
When Waggoner was at Roseburg VA hospital he told a nurse that “he suffered from severe flashbacks that made him cry out in the middle of the night” and would try to strangle his pillow and beat the wall. He would sometimes sleep walk awaking inside his closet. He also reported he was “still battling the Taliban in the Korengal Valley of his mind”.
In my work with addiction, whatever the addiction, the client is trying to run, hide from, and bury some deep emotional pain. They will do whatever they have to avoid the pain. They want to feel good so in the case of the drug addict, the drug makes them feel better…Temporarily.
My expertise is being able to step into my client’s life and pinpoint the issues and events that are causing the emotional pain. Waggoner was still reliving the events of Afghanistan. Those events of war and trauma put his body into adrenal overload and he was still locked into the event.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is the designation for someone who has been submersed in a traumatic event escalating the physical and mental response of “survival”.
Even though he was back home in the US and was safe, his body was still being flooded with the chemicals telling him that he was still inside this life or death situation. The brain is not mechanicals, but chemicals. The traumatic event happened, survival hormones flood the body, the unconscious mind files away the encoded chemicals with the message, when you have this stressor, “ALERT!!! It’s not safe, you better start FIGHTING!”
A veteran last week shared with me his PTSD experiences. He said someone recently confronted him and for some unknown reason he lapsed back into his experiences back in Vietnam. I explained to him, back in Vietnam he encountered a Survival response that kicked in his adrenal overload. That hormone was encoded in his unconscious memory from Vietnam as a “flight” response, thus taking him back. His unconscious mind learned this survival pattern in Vietnam, kicked back in bringing back all the memories and response.
The thing is the trauma is over. Yes, it happened once, but it’s not still happening. He survived. All that’s real is right now. In order to stop the response you have to break the cycle of replaying the trauma. That involves going in and releasing the painful past experiences and reimprinting what is desired.
My approach in working with PTSD is to remove the drivers. The past is not real, only the present. Letting go of the past, releasing the pain, allows the individual to live in the present moment. Yes the past happened, but we learn from it and then let it go. Keep the “lesson” use that to propel us into the future. We can shut off the adrenal response and reset the “fight, flight or freeze” response.
So my hope is that Jeffery Waggoner’s life be honored and be a testimony for others to break that cycle of trauma and reset their mind to bring peace and joy. Once that cycle is shut down, the addiction can be released as the unconscious mind has found a way to let go of this faulty coping skill.
The saying about someone who hides from the truth that is known as one who buries their head in the sand may also just appear that way at times. However, sometimes it is blatant and intentional. This thought leads me to a topic that recently has ignited a fire within me that cannot be quenched.
Turn on the news in any town or hamlet in our country today and we see stories of the drug epidemic that is not going away and only getting worse. Namely, the deaths from Heroin laced with Fentanyl, Elephant tranquilizer, and other “designer” drugs. What infuriates me more than the fact that these synthetic substances are being made with the sole purpose to kill and have no healing or redeeming quality is the Ostrich mentality of many school districts. I live 15 minutes from one of the largest open air drug markets in the world and the schools where our children are learning how to pass standardized tests are shirking their enormous responsibility.
While passing a test that is seemingly meaningless in the grand scheme of life brings in federal dollars and fancy technology, the cost of silence is becoming higher than any debt a society could ever accrue. Just in a few local upper middles class municipalities local to me we have lost over fifteen teenagers in the last month to overdose. The highly paid administrators that are given the charge to educate and keep our future leaders safe choose to keep the loudspeakers silent and the assembly room stages empty. Image, budget, and test scores are the focus, not the welfare of those that they are entrusted to protect.
I was a student who had a D.A.R.E. program in grade school and while it was informative, it didn’t stop me from experimenting to becoming an expert in self destruction. However, at least it was something. Two days ago I learned that a local district with much notoriety, money, and a great sports program ended the D.A.R.E. program because they had too many drug busts. Excuse me? Where do I begin with the criticism of this insanity? So, the police come in and sniff out the poison and they kick them out for doing so? The school district leaders think that if we keep the programs, town halls, and speakers out of the building then the problem isn’t there.
I remain unapologetic in exposing the painfully obvious truth that the problem is larger with every morning school bell and dismissal. The only way to address a problem is to admit there is one and I am sick to my core with the silence and ignorance. We lost a few kids in my school years from car accidents and maybe one overdose that I recall, but todays numbers make my knees tremble. One student lost to this is tragic, now many and they bow their heads and dig a hole to hide. Sure, they have a memorial service and bring in extra counselors when these things happen, but what about trying to be proactive. These displays are tired and barely even reactive but more of window dressing on a crack house. People exercise and eat right to avoid illness and be healthy, so why no preventive measures?
I learned of a recent overdose death at high school nearby and was contacted by a friend who asked me to call the principal and see if I can come in and talk to the student body about my experience of being a paramedic who wound up dead on my mothers living room floor from the same thing that killed this young person. I left three messages and am still waiting on a call back. I bet if Kanye offered to come in and put on a concert, the budget would be stretched to accommodate in the name of entertaining the kids and getting on the local news
We live in a world where entertainment is abounding and truth is blurred and covered by memes and tweets. Our kids are in critical condition and it seems to me that the only ones who want to address it are those who have been to the dark places yet don’t have a hit record or a “reality” show on TMZ. The others are the ones who have lost their children that are given a flower arrangement and perhaps a phone call. What is it going to take for someone to listen and open the door? The cold, hard truth needs to be spoken in it’s rawest form. The danger and ugliness of this is reality, not the Real Housewives of whatever city, USA. It’s time to stop burying the heads or we’ll keep burying our kids.
Some qualities such as egotism and arrogance do a great job at drawing attention, however negative they may be. Just look at those of certain celebrities and politicians that soak up the spotlight with their antics and frivolous displays of entitlement and wasteful spending of their wealth. Our cable channels are loaded with “reality” shows that star some folks who are actually famous for being famous. Many of these have glitz and glamour and not an ounce of character or substance.
The fact that some of this programming is called “reality TV” baffles since these scripted antics are anything but. I even recently saw a certain celebrity state in an interview that she is very humble, the exact dichotomy of the definition of the word. Stating you are humbles is a sure way to translate the fact that the meaning has gone well over your over inflated head.
Now, let’s not get humility and humiliated confused. One is where the embarrassing words or behaviors displayed make one appear foolish. The other is the act of recognizing that no one is better than another and nothing is beneath a person. I have known many men and women who seemingly had everything, money and status, yet battled with the same demons that plague us all. The difference is some rise to great perceived heights, whether in wealth or fame, and somehow confuse these things as making them super human.
These people believe that the things that plague those “beneath” do not them due to their worldly position. Wake up call time, none of us are getting out of this alive and you cannot take it with you when your number rolls up. Steve Jobs had billions of pieces of green paper, yet died of the same cancer that kills the homeless person on Skid Row. I have had money, marriage, a house, two cars, and the picket fence, yet was miserable and thought more stuff would calm my internal storm. It was only through losing everything that I learned humility, but tread carefully at calling myself humble for the same reasons aforementioned.
I can recall many nights working a job where I would stop at the local convenience store for a coffee and think, “Man, at least I am not this cashier, making a third of the money I make and in a dead end job.” It scared me to think that I thought that on many nights. Until I got to wear the apron, name tag, and hairnet for minimum wage that I got it. Any one of us can fall of our self constructed pedestals at any time for any reason, external or internal. I have realized that the same cashier I felt pity for always smiled and had a sense of peace and contentment, while I was the banged up jalopy careening into every brick wall I came across in my travels.
Whether we are black, white, fat, skinny, rich or poor, the human condition affects us all. It is only until I walked a mile in another person tat I once looked upon that I learned that humility comes from recognition of this similarity and not the differences that I trained my focus on. Announcing to the world you good works or donating to charity only makes someone arrogant, not humble. Humility is a silent pillar of strength, layered with the self identification of who one really is, not how seemingly better they are.
Many other families had different annual November traditions that would include food, football and family. I grew up in one where we would always go to my dads side, with cousins who were my age. These events began before I was born and to this day continue, however, one major change. I am not invited to the event. Ever since my long battle with substance abuse and dereliction, the shunning came in short order.
Mind you, these people were those relative that you see once or twice a year but never became close. Mind you, the booze was always flowing for some of the attendees, but cousin Steve the addict was too much for a welcome.
Does anyone else relate? I believe it is true that people always fear what they don’t understand. Fear causes people to close the door and lock the deadbolt to their homes and hearts. Regardless of the active changes one takes in their lives, some just don’t accept or care. Blood unfortunately just equals shared DNA, not family. Honestly, some of my closest “family” members have been complete strangers.
While I do not believe that recovery has one formula for success, the universal support of 12 step fellowships always has an open door and empty chair for everyone. These are the most welcoming places on this big rock that revolves suspended around that big bright ball of heat.
They do not care where you have been or what you have done. For the most part, removing the human element, the door is always open. My maladaptive ways of coping or not coping with life causes me to go from being the center of attention at the party to the isolated child in the corner. When our blood related “families” learn of our struggles and sometimes seemingly successful recovery journeys, the hurdle to believe or accept springs up and locks us out.
We are left, at times, to look into the window at the holiday dinner table from the street. We who have been there have let what others did and thought control our lives for so long making the temptation to allow this to motivate our behavior presently.
A dirty look or sarcastic comment that once led us to the street corner for a bag or pill now can lead us within to the place that nothing external can hurt us. Nothing external could never really hurt us anyway. If you find yourself alone, remember that you have your best friend and supporter with you regardless of the circumstance, you. We are the lucky ones that get to go deep within and ask questions of ourselves that everyone should ask but don’t.
They don’t even know that these things will free them too because they don’t know they are slaves. Slaves to control, food, sex, work, money, or whatever their chains are made of. We all forge chains, just some are more subtle. We get to break free of them and not be concerned about loneliness on Thanksgiving anymore. If you find yourself at a table for one, invite someone else, most importantly your wonderful self.
The most heroic moment in my life? The day I quit using drugs. Yes, I was a hero to myself. Changing my course abruptly, presented many simultaneous challenges. My mind was flooded with questions of how, when, where, who and back to how. The why was blatantly obvious. I would not survive another winter on the streets.
Alone, driven by the instinct of survival, I was able to create a network. This network, much like those I built in my addiction to get what I needed, is what would help me save my life. In the moment, I did not realize that my Higher Power was my first connection. Looking back, it is so obvious.
As I took steps to reclaim my life, I was always met half way. A new person or opportunity would always show up to help me along my journey through what I now call recovery.
Addiction is so sick and twisted. For years, all of my issues were not my fault. The “blank” made me do it. I quit the use of drugs and alcohol. I was responsible for everything that happened around me. This insidious son-of-a-bitch gets to walk away and sink its teeth into another victim. While I try to pick myself up and put back together the broken pieces of my life. As I pick up the pieces I realize it is not reconstruction, it is resurrection. After years of self sabotage, destruction and active addiction, could I actually become a better person? Even better than I was because of these experiences?
What was the purpose of my journey through addiction? Perhaps, I am meant to walk this path so that I can help others find their way out, too? I struggled with addiction for well over 35 years. I was always able to maintain my way of life, even if only by the threads. Then, unexpectedly, my new friends were all meth and heroin addicts. They would come over to my place and I would let them crash for days and weeks.
I did not belong in this world. I was a working professional with a career. Why did my journey in life take me down this road? What did this journey teach me? I felt so out of place no matter where I went.
During my days of using and living on the streets, I put myself in many risky situations. There was someone or something protecting me along the way, I know there was. I walked away virtually unscathed except for my estranged family, divorce and financial issues. I did not have any trouble with the law nor did I suffer any acute bodily harm. There were definitely many opportunities for trouble and injury.
Today, I am a recovery advocate or coach, I suppose. I am not a certified coach. However, I provide support to many suffering addicts. Is this my destiny, my purpose? Is this work really for me, or is it just a false sense of security? Perhaps my external focus on recovery has blinded me to the risk I am putting myself in every day.
Do I have enough “fuel” in my tank to go help others on a daily basis? How do I know if my tank is running low? Even more importantly, how do I refill my tank?
I am not sure if any of this is heroic…
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