addiction recovery boston Massachusetts

Addiction Recovery

Recovering from addiction can be a difficult process.  The path to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is never quite the same for any two individuals.  When looking into rehabilitation and recovery programs for yourself or for a loved one, you will recognize some common steps.

Getting Sober and Drug-Free

To begin with, a person choosing to fight their addiction to become sober and drug-free needs a strong desire and serious determination to get clean.  If you are seeking help for a friend or family member fighting an addiction, it is important to realize that your loved one must be completely on board with the concept of recovery if they are to have a true chance at beating the addiction and staying sober.  If they have not realized that they have a true problem, you may need to have an intervention.

Starting the Path to Recovery

The early stage of recovery typically involves a detox of alcohol and drugs in order for the person suffering from the addiction to remove the unwanted chemicals and substances from their body.  The next step usually involves intense addiction recovery therapy.  Often, the recovery therapy can take anywhere from 28 to 90 days.  A recovery therapy program can provide the tools that are necessary to remain substance-free.

After leaving a rehab program, it is advisable to join a support group for recovering addicts.  Another way to continue with sobriety that may be beneficial for many people is to spend some time residing in a recovery home, or sober living facility.  The former addict will learn the tools they need to stay away from drugs and alcohol through relapse prevention taught in recovery programs, as well as learning healthy coping skills to continue their path to full recovery.

The Tharros House is a sober living home in Lexington, Massachusetts.  This sober living facility is designed to help individuals who are committed to maintaining sobriety live in a safe environment for recovery.

Bride to addiction treatment Boston Massachusetts

Three Alternative Addiction Treatments

Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT, involves using your fingertips to tap on a sequences of body areas which are related to acupressure points.  It is an energy psychology technique with the purpose of balancing you “energetically” and also benefits you by freeing up areas of blocked energy.  EFT is used to help work on the underlying causes of a person’s addiction and is believed to help an addict cope more efficiently with their cravings.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies—Yoga

Mindfulness-based therapies can be useful in that they help an addict increase awareness and give them the tools to reconnect with themselves in order to have a better understanding of the way their addictions play out in their lives.  This type of therapy can help addicts better respond to stressors in their lives.  An addict can learn to practice mindfulness by learning to be more present in their own daily life.  Another way to practice mindfulness is formal meditation.

Equine Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy involves assistance by a licensed mental health professional along with an equine specialist.  It is not required for you to have the knowledge and experience of riding a horse, since the activities you will partake in are performed on the ground.  You may be encouraged to participate in activities which are directly connected to taking care of the horse, or you may focus on more structured activities which are done in order to help you address therapeutic issues.

By developing your relationship with the horse, you will better understand how you relate to yourself and to others, since this relationship with the horse will mirror your own relationships.  Throughout the process of equine therapy, your therapist will help you to identify patterns that fuel your addiction.  You will also learn to practice new ways of feeling, behaving, and thinking.

Tharros House

The Tharros House is a sober living home located in Lexington, Massachusetts.  This facility is a type of alternative addiction recovery support that can benefit addicts by giving them a live-in support group.

man in backpack thinking about addiction recovery programs

Types of Addiction Recovery Programs

There are many different types of addiction recovery programs out there.  For someone who is working to recover from an addiction, it is important to consider the pros and cons of the different programs in order to choose the best option for their individual needs.  A few of the addiction recovery programs available are explained below.

Alcohol Anonymous: This program is a 12-step program that provides support and guidance in the form of a support group for the recovering addict as well as their family and loved ones.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT):  Cognitive Behavior Therapy has been shown to be effective at using an understanding of how thoughts influence behavior and emotions to manage addiction.  It also works to change the underlying thoughts of an individual that contribute to the maintenance of the addiction.

Detoxification (Detox): A detox program involves a patient going through the withdrawal process being monitored and treated with necessary medications in order to manage the symptoms that occur during withdrawal.  A detox can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis.  This is not a complete type of treatment and should be followed up with additional treatment methods.

Family Therapy:  Family therapy involves a therapeutic approach that takes into account the recovering addict’s family’s strengths and resources in order to help the individual live their life without the use of alcohol or drugs.  This method seeks to reduce the consequences of addiction on both the substance abuser and their family.

Group Therapy: Group therapy uses a group setting to provide positive peer-to-peer support and assistance and coping techniques.  This type of therapy can be more cost-effective than others.  Group therapy is often used in inpatient and outpatient facilities in addition to individualized therapy treatments.

These are just a few of the many addiction treatment methods out there.  Each person going through the recovery process will need to weigh their options and choose the best method for their own recovery.

Various types of addiction

Different Types of Addiction

When someone thinks of addiction, they typically are thinking of alcohol or other drugs such as heroin, marijuana, or cocaine.  However, there are many other drugs that are commonly abused that may not immediately come to mind when one first thinks of addiction.  Staying up-to-date on your knowledge of side effects and long-term effects of commonly abused drugs can help you if you find yourself in a position of needing to help a loved one who may be suffering from addiction.

Stimulants                                                                  

Simulants are a drug that causes levels of nervous activity in the body to rise.  These drugs have the effect of increasing mental alertness; however, they also can cause an elevated heart rate along with elevated blood pressure.  Common withdrawal symptoms include depression and sleep disturbances.  Long-term abuse of stimulants can lead to paranoia and potentially even heart failure.

Depressants

Depressants cause the body’s central nervous system to slow down.  Depressants have the effect of making the user feel calm and relaxed.  Individuals with anxiety or with insomnia tend to be the ones who are more likely to abuse these drugs.  In addition, depressants can lower a person’s inhibitions and affect their decision-making ability.  Some of the other negative effects of depressants include drowsiness, poor coordination, and slurred speech.  Abuse over time can lead to respiratory issues and liver damage.

Opiates

Opiates are often prescribed to individuals suffering from illness or injury to treat pain.  These drugs promote positive feelings coupled with blocking pain receptors in the person’s brain.  Since a higher dosage continues to be needed in order to result in the same positive effects, overdosing is common.  A consequence of overdosing may be cardiac or respiratory arrest.  Withdrawal from opiates is difficult, with those experiencing opiate withdrawal often reporting symptoms of fever, chills, insomnia, vomiting, and diarrhea.

These three categories of drugs are some of the most commonly abused drugs.  If you or someone you know is going through drug withdrawals or dealing with addiction, it is important to seek help right away.

Green Recovery House Sign

Alternatives to Twelve-Step Programs

When many people think of addiction recovery, one of the first things that come to mind is the group Alcoholics Anonymous (or AA) and the 12-step program for recovery.  While Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups are typically thought of as treatment, they are more accurately defined as support groups.  Unfortunately, according to addiction treatment researcher Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., studies seem to indicate that only 25-35 percent of addicts who attend an AA meeting actually go on to continue with the program and attend meetings regularly.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety was created by Jean Kirkpatrick in the 1970s.  Jean Kirkpatrick held a doctorate in sociology and focused her program on the premise that women with drinking problems require a different recovery approach and plan than men do.  Women for Sobriety is an abstinence-based program which sets out to first tackle the emotional issues that may lead to addiction.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery uses a cognitive-behavior approach that encourages its members to first acknowledge the emotional and environmental factors for drug and alcohol use and then to respond to these factors in new and more productive ways.  SMART Recovery is abstinence-based; however, it does welcome individuals who are ambivalent about their recovery.  It has over 600 groups based in the United States, and it also has a youth program along with a Family & Friends program.

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery was formed over a decade ago.  It has three main principles— sobriety, secularity, and self-help.  This group focuses on human efforts instead of divine intervention.  It also holds the belief that the key to recovery is within the individual and is based on their own motivation and effort.

Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery is a nonprofit, mindfulness-based addiction recovery organization. They provide a community that uses Buddhist philosophy to help people recover from addiction. Inspired by the teachings of the Four Noble Truths, Refuge Recovery places emphasis on being more empathetic and understanding.

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery was founded by John Baker in 1991. Focusing on a Christ centered approach, Celebrate Recovery has spread to recovery houses, rescue missions, universities, and prisons around the world. To date over 35,000 Celebrate Recovery churches have been opened with over 5 million individuals having completed the Celebrate Recover’s Step Study, a program created to bring the healing power of Christ to those that are suffering, broken, and having life difficulties like as addiction.

Although Alcoholics Anonymous is not for everyone there are many other support groups available, such as the groups listed above.  These other groups may be more useful approaches if someone struggling with addiction does not find Alcoholics Anonymous to be the best approach.

Types of drug abuse in Boston Massachusetts

Treating Drug Abuse in Massachusetts

There can be a fine line between regular use of drugs and drug abuse. To find out whether or not someone that is using drugs is dependent on them or just taking them recreationally you can ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Why does the personal use drugs?
  2. What happens when they are under the influence of drugs?

What makes someone abuse drugs?

Many times people with alcohol dependence and/or drug problems use the drugs to acquire a specific effect, such as escaping emotions.  While there may be many reasons for someone to use drugs, the people that become addicted usually all desire the escape.

It is still possible to like the escape / feeling that comes with alcohol and drug use while not having a drug problem, which brings us to the second question of ‘What happens when they are under the influence of drugs?”. Behaviors such as blacking out, uncontrolled drinking, and not caring about the negative consequences that come from drinking alcohol / taking drugs can all point towards a drug abuse problem.

Ignoring the Consequences

A major sign that someone has a drug abuse issue is that the user will continue using despite all the negative consequences of their actions. Take a DUI for example – a normal users would try to ensure that they never get in this situation again and avoid it completely. People with drug abuse disorders would recognize that they definitely don’t want another DUI but would continue to get themselves in the same situations and still take the risk.

Treating Drug Abuse

Once someone has accepted that they have a drug problem the first step, depending on the severity of the problem, is to go to a drug detox facility. Going cold turkey after years of abusing drugs or alcohol can have serious life threatening consequences, so it’s important to do it the right way.

Once completely detoxed the most important thing to do is to go through primary treatment, aka rehab. Rehab is essential to drug recovery as it removes the person from all the daily stresses and triggers in everyday life that play a role in their addiction. When the person leaves rehab there are oftentimes many challenges in the day to day life.

This is where sober living comes in. Living in a sober house helps by giving you the tools you need to succeed in everyday life. At Tharros, we work with people who have already finished some form of major alcohol or drug treatment.  Our clients are sober and free from drugs.  A commitment to staying free from all mind changing drugs is a condition of living at Tharros House.  People usually stay between 4-6 months, however some reside as long as a year, or longer.

We believe that learning how to live life without having to pick up a drink or a drug is seriously important, but it’s just part of the process.  At Tharros House, we concentrate on skills to maintain sobriety, but also on helping each client to build a life that they want to live in being sober.  Our staff helps each client to recognize how to include purpose, meaning, success, and other key factors of a joyful life.  Clients direct their personal recovery with support, suggestions, and accountability provided by our team and community.  Learning the skills of life are incorporated both on an individual basis through activities like grocery shopping, meal planning, and service commitments, and on a group basis, like cooking classes.

Rehabilitation from drug abuse isn’t usually a quick process.  It requires effort, and it takes time.  Building a solid foundation will serve you for your entire life, which is the reason why we solely accept clients ready to put sobriety and recovery as their top priority.  To learn more about our approach and get answers to common questions, please visit http://tharroshouse.com/faq/.

Meth Addiction Artwork

Meth Addiction – Symptoms & Treatment

Meth is one of the most destructive and addictive substances in the world today and those who fall privy to meth addiction will usually have an extremely hard time getting clean without the proper help. In fact, meth has the highest rate of relapse compared to any other type of drug.  But don’t let these statistics haunt you if you or a loved one is trying to get clean; with the proper treatment getting sober can be achieved safely and effectively.

Why is Meth Addiction so Hard to Shake?

Much like cocaine addiction, meth addicts are faced with a ton of obstacles to overcome. Meth becomes a way of life for many meth users. Oftentimes they will alter their lives around the drug – from the friends they hang out with to the daily obligations they may have. Therefore when a person wants to get clean, they’re usually not only giving up a drug but a way of life.

Once an addict gets clean there is the added difficulty of overcoming the acute withdrawal effects that can last from six months to two years, depending on how long the person has been addicted to meth.

Other difficulties to overcome may include:

  • Depression
  • Weight Gain
  • Fatigue
  • Psychosis
  • Memory Loss

Staying clean in the early stages of sobriety can be incredibly difficult which is why it’s recommended to find treatment instead of going at it alone.

Meth Treatment

Getting clean is just the first step to meth recovery. Once people finally put down the meth amphetamines and try a sober life they may feel ‘stuck’ and start connecting to various feelings that they haven’t had in a while. Feelings of not being good enough or not measuring up can creep up. This, along with the various symptoms listed above, is a huge reason why people relapse and start doing drugs again.

The trick is to challenge those beliefs and ultimately change them. According to drugabuse.gov, the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are behavioral therapies. Although everyone will have a different path on the road to recovery the treatment option that you ultimately choose can have a massive impact on getting and staying sober from meth use.

Getting sober alone usually doesn’t work – it helps to have the support of the people around you. Recovery is best achieved with others, and that may be a scary thought for many that are getting help with their meth problem.

Tharros Sober House

At Tharros House Structured Living in Massachusetts, people have the most success battling meth addiction when exposed to various ideas and are given the power to choose their own path to recovery. It’s important to identify what’s meaningful for you in order to direct your own recovery. Visit www.tharroshouse.com to learn more about this approach.

Man with Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse – Get the Facts

Where is the line between “normal use” and substance abuse?  What qualifies someone as a “normal drinker” or “normie”?  How do you know if you are dealing with a substance use disorder or someone who is a heavy drinker?

How do I know if someone’s using has become substance abuse?

In our experience, the two most relevant considerations when deciding if someone has a substance related disorder are: 1. Why the user uses; and 2. What happens when they use.  At Tharros House, we have found that those with alcohol and/or other substance abuse problems are engaging in the behavior for a specific effect; they want to escape the way they feel.  There can be many reasons why someone wants this effect, but those who become addicted or dependent all desire this escape.  But isn’t it possible to like the temporary escape and change of feelings, yet not have a substance abuse problem?  Yes, and that’s where the second component comes in.  What happens when the user engages in their substance use?  Does the user control their drinking when they want to?  Does he black out? With those who are abusing substances, there are unintended and undesired consequences, yet the person continues to engage in their behavior.  The desire for the substance intoxication is so great that the user will still engage the drink or drug despite significant consequences.

Does the user know what will happen when they use?

In most cases, when we work with someone in early recovery, they identify that once they have the first drink, they don’t know what will happen that day or night.  For alcoholic binge drinkers, it’s possible that they will have only 1 or 2 drinks, then stop on one occasion.  Then on the next occasion, despite the intention to only have 1 or 2 again, the user finds themselves in a blackout as their substance control is lost.  Blackouts are common for alcoholics, but it’s also possible to be an alcoholic and not experience blackout drinking.  Substance dependence is also not a necessary component of a substance use disorder or substance abuse.  Many who identify as alcoholics will tell you that they were never physically addicted to alcohol, yet they were still alcoholic drinkers.

Continued use despite consequences:

One of the most common consequences that indicates an issue is when a person is arrested for a DUI or OUI (driving under the influence).  Most people, if they are normal users, will immediately ensure that they are not in this position again, avoiding circumstances where they may need to drive after drinking, or limiting their consumption to ensure that they are below the legal limit.  Those with substance abuse disorders recognize that they do not want to incur another DUI, but continue to engage in the same behaviors, many times with unsuccessful intensions of limiting their consumption.  Even once they know that they cannot drink safely, they will continue to take the risk.  Additionally, with most substance abusers, a significant tolerance for the substance is achieved.  In the case of alcohol, this can lead the user to feel that he is not under the influence while in fact he is far beyond the legal limit.

Another thing that we’ve seen is that almost invariably, if someone thinks they may have a substance abuse issue, he does.  The good news is that recovery can offer gifts that reach far beyond the losses.  While achieving sobriety will most likely be one of the hardest things you accomplish, the benefits that you will receive through an honest recovery process often present a full and enjoyable life, exceeding your expectations at every turn.  We’ve seen that to be true over and over again.

To learn more about our approach, read more on our “about” page: http://tharroshouse.com/about-2/

Writing Alcohol Detox in Boston Massachusetts

Alcohol Detox – What to Expect

The terms alcohol detox and rehab, for an individual suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism, can be overwhelming and scary.  This holds true for both the individual and the family members involved. Many times family members of those suffering from alcohol abuse or drug abuse are unsure what steps to take once someone has an alcohol or drug dependency.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol and drug addiction are very hard to define, unless you are a person abusing the substance. Many times, family members and friends see an alcoholic or addict’s consumption as a problem, yet, until the user admits that they have a problem, undertaking treatment or entering a rehab facility, poses many challenges and produces very few good results.  Sadly, there are many individuals who are not able to come to terms with their addiction.  However, there are steps that family members can take to help an individual reach a place of willingness.  Support groups like Al Anon and Learn 2 Cope help families identify ways to stop the enabling behaviors that prolong substance abuse.

Alcohol Detox and drug detox

Once a person is dependent on a substance, it is important that the individual receives proper medical help to detoxify their body.  Many recognize the need for a medical detox from narcotics such as an opioid or benzo.  However, it’s important to recognize that alcohol is a drug too.  When an individual builds a high alcohol tolerance, their body can become physically dependent on alcohol.  Alcohol withdrawal and alcohol poisoning are two very serious medical conditions that require medical attention to avoid an alcohol overdose, alcoholic seizures or even death.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal differs for each individual as it is largely dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed.  After an alcohol evaluation is completed at a medical facility, alcohol withdrawal medication may be prescribed, and the patient is closely monitored.

Treatment and Recovery

Once an individual has detoxed from the substance(s), the real work of “recovery” can begin.  In most cases, residential or inpatient treatment is recommended.  Programs can range from two weeks to many months, and some as long as a year+.  Years of addiction and escaping feelings through substances cannot usually be healed overnight.  Recovery is the process of learning to live a full life, including good and bad feelings, without an escape.  The process is significant, but so are the rewards.

Alcohol Quiz

Addiction recovery starts with willingness to make changes.  That is the catalyst required to stop alcohol use disorder or any other addictive behavior.  If you’re not sure if you have a drinking problem, try taking some of the self-assessments like those offered by SMART recovery: http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/library/Tools_and_Homework/Interactive_Tools/problem-drinking-test.htm

Remember, it’s okay to complete this kind of tool for a loved one, but it’s critical that the substance user acknowledges their issue with the substance.

There are many recovery fellowships.  The largest, and best known, is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  If you’re thinking about participating, it’s good to try at least 3 different meetings.  Each meeting is different and it’s important to try a few before making a judgement.  With regards to the program offered in AA, here is a questionnaire offered on AA.org to help you decide is it’s the right choice for you.  http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/is-aa-for-you-twelve-questions-only-you-can-answer

Alcohol detox and drug detox is the first step to building a life in recovery.  While it can be a scary concept, many detox centers make the process comfortable, while ensuring that your body is safely rid of the physical symptoms and dependency.  The rewards that come through real recovery are certainly worth any temporary withdrawal discomfort.