Macklemore Joins President Obama to Discuss the Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

President Obama and MacklemoreWith so many high-profile deaths as a result of prescription drug abuse in the news recently, it is no surprise that President Obama has become invested in the problem— after all, prescription drugs, particularly prescription painkillers, are accessible to people of all ages in the United States.  Drugs like codeine and Vicodin, both derived from similar compounds as heroin and morphine, are commonly prescribed to people who are experiencing significant levels of pain.  They are extremely effective as short-term painkillers, but they also pose significant risks: one of the most important risks is, of course, addiction.

President Obama and Hip Hop Recording Artist, Macklemore, addressed the nation during the President’s weekly address in an attempt to shed some light on the problem of prescription painkiller addiction in the United States as a whole.  The problem of addiction to prescription painkillers, Macklemore told President Obama, is that they are widely accessible to nearly anyone, young or old, who is interested or curious about using them.  Opioids have long been a problem for the rapper, who has admitted that addiction has plagued him since his early teen years.  His successful fight against addiction and his story regarding his meteoric rise to fame is something that he seems to hope will invigorate other young people to resist using prescription drugs and avoid the dangers of prescription painkiller addiction.

Prescription painkiller addiction is one of the fastest-growing problems in the United States, and although steps have been taken to offset this problem, more and more young people are falling prey to these powerful medications. President Obama has recently supported legislation designed to address the problem of opioid addiction in the United States, but he claims that the version of the bill that has passed through the House and the Senate does not do enough to provide treatment options for people who have fallen victim to this silent addiction.  Greater support infrastructure is fundamentally important to address this growing issue, and further conversations like the one between the President, Macklemore, and the country as a whole can only improve the current situation. As Macklemore told the nation, “Addiction is like any other disease— it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what color you are, whether you’re a guy or a girl, rich or poor, whether you live in the inner city, a suburb, or rural America. This doesn’t just happen to other people’s kids or in some other neighborhood. It can happen to any of us.”  This fight is one that affects everyone, and expanding treatment options can only help those who are struggling with the issue.

Hearing an icon like Macklemore speak out against recreational prescription painkiller use might not stop the epidemic that is sweeping the United States, but the singer’s investment in the cause could potentially begin the conversation for many families.  Because drug education programs targeted at children and young teens focus so heavily on illicit drugs, the problem of easy-accessible prescription painkillers is sometimes ignored.  By opening up to the country and the world as a whole, Macklemore has allowed many families around the country to begin talking about the problem of opioid addiction.  Indeed, in families where opioid addiction is not a problem, parents might even be able to take action to remove these dangerous substances from the medicine cabinet that could be accessible to an adolescent.  Removing access and maintaining a watchful eye for signs of addiction are the first steps to reducing rates of prescription painkiller addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with prescription painkiller addiction, please contact our Admissions team at (866) 905-4550.

A Parent’s Perspective: Finding Help, Hope, and Health

Hope_HealthMy world was spinning out of control and I had no idea how to fix it. Of my four sons, one was dead of a drug overdose, and another was a severe alcoholic, although I didn’t really understand or believe that at the time. Relationships among family members were fraught with tension and unexpressed feelings, and my marriage had deteriorated severely.

Figuratively speaking, I clung to each of my living sons fiercely, leaving my talon marks in their flesh. I demanded that my oldest son, who lives out of town, call me weekly; and I spent most of my time overseeing the activities of my other two adult sons, who lived at home. I allowed my alcoholic son to live at home and continue using, because I rationalized that at least I knew what he was doing, and I feared what might happen if I told him he had to move out.

Our family was near the top of the scale of dysfunctional families, and I was at a loss as to what to do. The weight of my life was crushing me. I believed that I was a victim of the actions of the people around me and the adverse affect their actions had on me, such as the drug overdose that killed my son. If only they would stop doing these awful things, my life would improve!

I was afraid to ask for help, because I didn’t believe I could do anything on my own. I thought I needed permission and agreement for any action I took. Finally, as I sank deeper into despair two years after my son’s death, and with our family falling apart, I summoned the courage to find a therapist who specialized in grief, addiction, and family issues. After more than a decade of worsening family conditions, I had pretty much given up hope that anything would change. But for my own sanity, I had to try the only thing I could think of.

Finding a good therapist was one of the best things I ever did—for myself and for my family. What I hadn’t realized was that our family system operated they way it did because we each played our chosen role. If someone in the family begins to change what his or her role looks like, the rest of the family must also change, because the interactions among members change.

For me, change came slowly. Over a period of 18 months of therapy, reading several self-help books, and entering a recovery program, I slowly began to understand that it’s okay for me to make a decision and take action on something without needing to obtain anyone’s approval. It’s okay for me to have opinions about various topics without first taking a poll to see what other people think. It’s okay for me to let go of my adult children and stop trying to control their actions; it’s time for them to become independent of me.

My goal as a parent was to raise my sons to be independent thinkers, able to take action, make decisions, and find their own way in the world. But ironically, when they actually began to do just that, I freaked out and quickly tried to snatch the reins back. Of course, they resented my controlling tendencies. What I finally began to understand through therapy and recovery was that my attempts to control their lives were driven by fear. I feared what might happen if they made poor choices, and I did my best to see that they made good choices so they would never suffer the consequences of a bad decision. But in doing so, I stymied their growth and maturing process.

At last, I learned they needed to have their own experiences and learn from them in order to mature and become truly self-sufficient. If they made a mistake or a bad judgment call, letting them suffer the consequences would help them learn from it so they wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

As I continued my therapy and recovery process and increased my own independence, my family slowly began to change. I gradually peeled my talons off my sons’ arms; I stopped spending most of my walking moments at home monitoring their activities. As I began to respond to my family differently, they began to change—I was seeing firsthand how a family system must change if one member changes. And the differences were for the good.

Changing the way I thought and responded to people was very difficult, but it had good results. I learned that I didn’t need to fear confrontation; I didn’t need to fear the anger of other people. I learned about the damage caused by people who enable addicts. I came to understand that the best thing I could do for my alcoholic son was to set a boundary for myself; if he continued using, I would no longer allow him to live in our home.

From that point on, change cascaded rapidly through my life and the lives of my family members. The alcoholic continued using and therefore had to move out. He spiraled downward rapidly, which was terrible and frightening to watch. Finally, we were planning an intervention when he called one night and asked for help. He went to detox and then to BRC Recovery, and he is now in recovery, for which I am thankful.

My relationship with my other two sons changed dramatically too. I no longer monitored the every move of my son who remained at home. And I stopped expecting my out-of-town son to call weekly; instead, I let him set the pace for calls. Slowly, our relationships improved because they appreciated me letting them live their own lives.

My marriage improved steadily too. Eventually, my husband and I went to therapy together, and then he found his own therapist. We are now in a much better place than we were just a few years ago, and we are continuing to work on improving our relationship.

Best of all, I now have a life of my own. All my adult life, I have taken care of others to the exclusion of myself. Everyone else’s needs always came first, so I had no time to pursue my own interests. Now I have time to learn about myself and to explore my likes, dislikes, dreams, hopes, and plans for the future.

Now I understand that my life’s journey has brought me to the place I’m in today. And I’m grateful I found a good therapist who helped me find hope and develop healthy family relationships. Like my alcoholic son, I have entered into my own recovery program, and my life is so much richer for it. I believe the one, small step I took a few years ago of finding a good therapist was the catalyst for tremendous positive change in our entire family, and through that step, I’ve found help, hope, and health.

Finding Help, Hope, and Health

Diana Urban

 

Resources

Bradshaw On: The Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem by John Bradshaw

Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Al-Anon Family Groups

Tears of God and Joy

Beyonce_Marsha_Caitlin“Y’all I wanna tell you that God lives inside each and everyone of us! You have His power within you. And, you are responsible for your own happiness! You and you alone have the Power you need!” –Beyonce 🐝💙

I am a Beyonce fan. Like, a big Beyonce fan. As in, knowing I would be out of town the dates she was touring in Texas I flew to Atlanta to make sure I didn’t miss her Formation tour! Not going was not an option.

I have always liked her music, admired her “girl power”, her rise to super stardom from relatively humble roots in Texas, her honesty about her real life struggles. I knew all this before I made the decision to go see her live. But somehow I felt there was more to this story and I wanted to go see first hand what that was…

So last night I, along with three friends, went to the Georgia Dome, battled the crowds and took our seats right on the floor, wristbands and all. Queen B was twenty feet max in front of me. The music started, the crowd roared. She sang, she danced, her dancers danced, it was simply amazing. Mind blowing!

But then she stopped singing and started talking. She talked about gratitude, she talked about love, she talked about God, peace and happiness coming from within. And as she talked my spirit connected  and engaged and the tears began to fall down my face. I didn’t even wipe them away. I just basked in the honor and glory of recovery!

Eight years ago at this time I was in the very worst of the throes of my addiction. And last night I stood in front of one of the greatest performers of our time, completely sober, safe and protected, and the God within me connected with the God within her. I just stood in awe of the Power of a Living God that snatched me from the jaws of death, revolutionized my life and transplanted everything about me, from the inside out.

I mean c’mon- the show was amazing. But the connection, the connection is what I will never forget. Just like in life, the action is great, but the connections are what we live for. And I’ll be back for more…TYG

Tears of God and Joy_Marsha StoneMarsha Stone, CEO
BRC Recovery

 

 

The Death of Prince and America’s Problem with Pills

Prince

PRINCE pictured April 26, 2008 – Indio, California

The recent death of the pop idol Prince has thrown the problem of prescription drug abuse into sharp relief.  Illicit substance abuse is a problem that many people are familiar with, and the use of illicit drugs has immediate and obvious consequences; however, there are many psychoactive and psychotropic medications that have legitimate medicinal uses that can also be used and abused for recreational purposes.  Prescription drugs, particularly painkillers, are an interesting and difficult issue because of these legitimate uses— many people who abuse and misuse prescription painkillers had a legitimate reason to use these substances in the past, often prescribed these drugs by a legitimate medical professional.  National and international news syndicates have been reporting that the county sheriff responsible for the inquiry and investigation into the death of Prince has asked for the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, a federal law enforcement body tasked with fighting the War on Drugs.  News outlets like NBC and Vanity Fair have also reported that in the weeks prior to his death, Prince was hospitalized once as a result of an overdose of the prescription painkiller Percocet.  Most sources have also reported that Prince was a known user of prescription pain medication, including opioids like Percocet.

It is sometimes assumed that fame goes hand-in-hand with drug addiction and abuse, but even for the rich and famous, the abuse of prescription medication like opioids can be immensely destructive.  The evidence seems to suggest that pop icon Prince’s death had something to do with his addiction to and use of prescription painkillers— many news outlets are reporting that those close to the artist knew of his problem with prescription painkillers, noting that he was prescribed the strong medication for the pain he experienced as a result of damage to his hips from decades of performing on stage.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) suggests that 52 million people over the age of 12 in the United States have used prescription medication of all types non-medically in their lifetime, and 6.1 million people have used these types of medications for non-medical purposes in the past month alone.  In 2010 alone, a PBS study reports, enough prescription painkillers with powerful opioid compounds like Percocet, Vicodin, and oxycodone were prescribed to medicate every American adult every four hours for one month.  The sheer magnitude of painkillers and other prescription drugs with psychotropic and psychoactive compounds available to adults and children alike is staggering, and most people who use these drugs non-medically receive them for free from a friend or relative.

Prescription painkillers and other medications like stimulants and tranquilizers can be incredibly useful, powerful medications, but they also have massive potential for overuse and abuse.  Unfortunately, as investigators suspect in Prince’s case, the abuse of prescription painkillers can also be quite deadly.  Percocet and other prescription painkillers are also immensely addictive, and can be quite destructive to the overall functionality of an individual.  Because many of the active compounds in these painkillers are pharmacologically related to opiates like heroin, opium, and morphine, these drugs can be massively addictive even for people who have a legitimate, prescribed use.

Prince’s death sheds light on one of the most common drug misuse and abuse problems in the United States, and it underscores one of the most common misconceptions regarding drug use: just because a drug does have a legitimate medicinal use does not mean that a drug is completely harmless. While many of these drugs do indeed have legitimate medical purposes, taking them recreationally or for non-medical purposes can be just as dangerous and just as potentially destructive as taking illicit street drugs.  Prescription painkiller withdrawal is quite unpleasant, but treatment for the addiction is fundamentally important for addicts, because of the relatively high likelihood of eventual overdose and even death as a result of opiate abuse.

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, please contact our Admissions team at (866) 905-4550. There is help, recovery is possible.

The Night That Changed My Life

Gavin_David_ChrisI vividly remember what my life looked like four years ago. My family and I were in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for New Year’s Eve of 2012. The hotel we were staying in had a fancy dinner buffet and free drinks to go around. People of the hotel were laughing, celebrating, and creating meaningful memories with each other. Not that I didn’t create a meaningful memory for my family and myself, but it was not a memory to be proud of. I was in full blown addiction by this time in my life. I was waiting for 12:00AM to come around so that we could all toast and celebrate the beginning of a new year. This was the case for my parents, brother and both of our girlfriends, but not for me. Something happened that night. You may call it a divine intervention. I was in the midst of so many happy people, and all I could do was cry. I was so unhappy with myself, but wasn’t sure why of all the reasons. The rest of the night was filled with unwanted drama and an urge to put more substances in my body. This was the night that changed my life.

My name is Gavin Valdez. I am a 24 year old Peer Recovery Support Specialist for the company that helped me begin a new life. Not all of my recovery has been filled with passion and excitement, but I can say that the majority has. Before I was finally able to get sober, I was not proud of the person I had become. Coming from a family that gave me everything I ever needed or wanted, I was spoiled, selfish, angry, immature, and confused. Living a life of spiritual recovery through the 12 Steps has taught me how to deal with life no matter what card is dealt to me. I have friends who I can call real friends, as opposed to the old friends that did not put my well-being first. I am a respected member of my family and am reminded of that by my grandfather every time I see him. I have held a job for the same company for a longer period of time than I ever did in my addiction. This is what my recovery has done for me.

Recovery is not just given, it also has to be passed along. I really enjoy watching the men who come through our program undergo similar transformations as the one I had in 2012. It is important for me to practice what is being taught so that I can be useful to the residents and family members who are reliant upon our help. Without service, I could not have found a happier way of life. Not only do I enjoy being of service to my clients, but actively participating in carrying the message of recovery to broken men is the most gratifying feeling. I hope that everyone man and woman who is struggling with addiction finds the willingness to believe in something greater. My struggles are not to be forgotten because they made me who I am today.

Gavin V_Blog PicGavin Valdez
Segue by BRC Recovery

The Power of Step 12

12-step“We tried to carry this message to other alcoholics.” It still amazes me how this line from Step 12 carries so much power! We learn on pg. 89 of the Big Book, “that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.” With long term sobriety being the goal for myself, I follow these instructions only to find that the real freedom is when I get to carry the message of hope to another alcoholic or drug addict.

The key to my freedom today is being able to carry the message of recovery into hospitals and institutions. The first 12 Step meeting I attended, with the intent of doing something different, was when I was incarcerated in a Texas prison. The only way we were able to have a meeting is if and when a volunteer was willing to bring a meeting to us. There was always a part of me that knew I needed to take a meeting into a jail or prison simply because that is where I found the solution. However, I had no idea the joy and happiness I could receive from carrying out this simple task.

August 2nd, 2009 I walked into a 12 Step meeting while at the Holliday Unit in Huntsville, TX with the intent of trying anything and everything that had ever worked for anyone to get sober. I had a deeply rooted fear that now being a felon, I would not have the opportunity to be as successful as I once could have been. To my surprise, four men showed up to carry the message of recovery and were living proof that there was life after alcoholism and prison. I was given hope! These men each had multiple felonies as well as trips to the penitentiary. However, they all followed a simple set of directions at this point in time and were all happy and successful in life.

Since that day, I have not looked back. My favorite line in the Big Book on pg. 124 states, “In God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others.” The understanding of this statement allows me to know why those men were so happy that day. It allows me to understand what my purpose in life is today. I don’t have to be ashamed of the fact that I am a felon or spent years in prison. I know that God gave me this experience so I can help men and women when they can connect with what I have been through.

Today I gladly accept any opportunity to be able to take a meeting into any facility that will allow me. I have not been given the opportunity to take a meeting into a jail, simply because I am still on parole, but I know how important it is for my recovery that I continue to share my experience with others. The freedom that I received from working the 12 Steps while incarcerated is proof that there is a solution to the state of hopelessness that we once experienced. As much as I would like to admit that I take these meetings out of pure selflessness, I definitely have an ulterior motive. I am able to remain sane and sober for another day. However, it also grounds me and helps me realize my purpose in life.

In early recovery, it is made clear that H&I commitments are essential to staying connected to the solution and being able to share what has been so freely given. I love the responses of others in recovery after fulfilling these commitments. Carrying the message into hospitals and institutions always allows a person in recovery to be reminded where they came from. For myself, it grants me humility in knowing that I am only doing what another did for me, let me know there is a solution! And for that I am forever grateful.

Jesse_The Power of Step 12Jesse McCraw
BRC Recovery

 

Why Choose a Residential Rehab?

BRC-Men's-FacilityOne of our specialties at BRC Recovery is dealing with chronic relapsers, people who have attempted sobriety numerous times with several stints in rehab, but have been unsuccessful long-term. One of the major concerns and questions that anyone has after going through so many treatment centers, especially the loved ones and friends of the addict, is whether long-term residential rehabs are really worth it.

Long-term residential rehab centers are usually seen as the last hope for people who want, hope, desire, and need sobriety. They are an intensive option which is well tailored to those who have significant drug or alcohol issues, and/or those who have previously not had success with other options.

At the same time, residential recovery centers are not only beneficial for patients who have serious addictions or co-concurrent mental health issues (i.e. dual diagnosis). They can help anyone who has a substance use disorder – long-term residential treatment can be so effective that it makes a good choice for anyone who desires recovery from addiction. Furthermore, residential programs have proven to solve some of the environmental issues that play a role in previous unsuccessful attempts at sobriety.

Residential rehab centers may look similar to an inpatient treatment facility, but they are often very different. Residential programs can apply treatments which are not available in medical facilities, with the aim of treating not just the body but also the emotions, mind, and spirit. Most residential programs have medical staff available around the clock to address any needs that arise, but their primary focus is on treating the entire individual through a more holistic approach.

BRC-Women's-FacilitySo why are residential program outcomes so much better than other options?

Residential programs provide “distance” from the patient’s previous lifestyle. Patients who enroll in residential programs are away from the lifestyle, people, and places where they were using drugs or drinking prior to treatment, which provides them with a safer environment to recover in.

Residential programs provide in depth patient monitoring. Even the world’s best counselors have trouble helping patients if they are only able to meet weekly. The greater the degree of contact between staff and patients, the better recovery tends to go. Residential treatment maximizes contact between patients and staff.

Residential programs create a close, intimate peer-recovery support system. Residential facilities encourage residents to establish close relationships with their peer recovery community. This is one of the major factors behind the outstanding results which residential facilities produce.

Residential programs utilize a different approach. A residential program gives the staff the freedom and opportunity to take a different approach than is possible in outpatient treatment. Patients and counselors can speak at any time of day or night, whenever it’s necessary, and the patient’s attention is uninterrupted and completely focused on treatment.

 

 

A Parent’s Perspective: It’s Your Choice—You Can Get Off the Rollercoaster!

We can’t control what happens to us or around us, but we can choose how we respond.

A friend who learned this lesson told me she had finally figured out she needed to get off her daughter’s addiction roller coaster. Instead of riding the coaster with her daughter, she now stands on the platform and waves as her daughter goes through the ups and downs of addiction. Of course, she still loves her daughter, but that is a great illustration of her choosing how she wants to respond. She is always there for her daughter, but is not enabling her or letting her daughter’s issues disrupt her own life.

alcohol-treatment-austinWhen we have a loved one who is an addict or alcoholic, we often ride the roller coaster of addiction as each new crisis unfolds in our loved one’s life. Going to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or a similar group is one way we can take care of ourselves. Many of our fellow group members have stood in our shoes, or have had similar experiences, and their hope, strength, and sharing helps us hack through the tangled jungle of fear, anger, depression, and sadness that can feel overwhelming when we are surrounded with the disease of addiction and immersed in the codependency that often rides shotgun with addiction.

Before I started my own recovery program, I had crises in my life weekly, if not daily. I cancelled dinner dates and other engagements in the evenings so I could hurry home and prevent my loved one from using. But you know what? He figured out a way to use anyway. And I was so entangled with his life that I didn’t have time to have a life of my own. I felt exhausted all the time, and I stayed up too late many nights waiting for him to come home, to hear his car parking and the door opening. I stopped going to the gym because I couldn’t sleep; I was too tired to work out. I could barely stay awake at work and had a hard time concentrating on tasks. At night, I tossed and turned, worrying about what might happen. Would he get a DWI? Be in an accident? Injure himself or someone else? I lived in fear and worry, always afraid of getting a call saying I had lost another son (one of my sons died of a drug overdose in 2011; see A Parent’s Perspective: The Dreaded Telephone Call).

One day I had an epiphany. As I walked up the steps of my building at work, obsessing about my alcoholic’s latest binge the night before, someone said, “How are you?” I automatically replied, “Fine,” even though I was as far from fine as I could be. And then it dawned on me—I was fine; my life was going well; it was my loved one who was not fine. And in that moment I began to understand the value of detaching with love and choosing how to respond. I can care about someone deeply and have great sympathy for that person. But when that person’s problems become mine; when I can’t sleep because of what someone else is experiencing; when my life is affected by someone else’s actions and I allow myself to be sucked into their problems; then I have crossed the line into codependence and enmeshment, which is defined as not knowing where I end and the other person begins. And if they gave prizes for codependence and enmeshment, I would have won Grand Champion.

I’d been in recovery for about eight months when it dawned on me one day that I felt different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I pondered it, and realized that I wasn’t afraid and worried all the time anymore. I still had twinges of anxiety, but it was definitely much less than it had been just a few months earlier. I was learning to choose how to respond.

At first, as crazy as it sounds, I actually missed living in crisis mode. What would I talk about with my friends? My children and their issues had often been my conversation opener. And when I was introduced to people and they asked about me, rather than talking about myself and my life, I talked about my children. Anything they did trumped everything I did; I focused almost exclusively on them and their lives. I had a very difficult time putting myself first, learning to take care of myself, and talking about myself.

But I’m learning to do these things. And in return, I’m gaining calm and peace, and I’m backing away from responding to the ups and downs in my family’s lives by jumping in to rescue at every opportunity. I’m learning that I don’t need to have a crisis daily and that they need to have their own experiences without my constant “help.” One of the things that has helped me the most is to picture myself standing on the roller coaster’s platform as my family members live their own lives. I no longer try to leap from the platform, lunging frantically to grip the roller coaster car as it flashes past so I can fling myself into their lives and help them make the “right” decisions. Instead, I am learning to respond with love, which means I let them have their own experiences. And I’m finding that I now have more time to live and to explore my own life and interests. I can’t control what happens to me or around me, but I can control how I respond, and for that I am thankful.

It’s Your Choice—You Can Get Off the Rollercoaster!

Diana Urban

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources

No More Codependence by Melody Beattie

Bradshaw On: The Family by John Bradshaw

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You by David Hawkins

The Control Freak by Les Parrott, III, Ph.D.

Al-Anon Family Groups