Author Archives: Summit Estate

Do You Ever Stop Being an Addict?

One of the difficult things to approach is the way people think about people who need a drug addiction treatment center. It is often seen as a weakness and not as a genetic trait. It is believed that those who have the genes associated with addiction have a much higher chance to fall in substance abuse. Whatever the case is, treatment and awareness are important to improve patient’s life quality.

As with many other psychological issues, there is a great deal of misinformation and often common ‘’public’’ concepts perpetuate stereotypes that need to be defeated. Summit Rehab Center has the mission not only to support those going through addictions but also, provide useful information on this matter.

A Metaphor works best sometimes

When you fight cancer and win, the term used is remission instead of ‘’cured’’. The reason for this is that the underlying causes of cancer (often genetic) are still present, it is just that cancer has been defeated this time. The exact same concept applies to addiction and rehab programs. You are never 100% cured of the addiction, you just fight the urges of substance abuse instead.

substance abuse

A point to strengthen this argument

For recovering addicts, the only way to avoid a relapse is to cut the addictive substance off entirely. Many people enjoy alcohol in a social setting and can drink moderate amounts without major problems. However, someone who abused alcohol will be unable to drink just a moderate amount. Their addiction will kick in and a downward spiral of abuse will re-emerge.

Each Journey is Different

For some, regular meetings of support groups and a sponsor might be necessary for life. For others, the process of rehab is easier and eventually, they will slip back into regular life. The important path that each person will have to take to fix their lives is personal. Whether you call it cured or remission or something else, as long as you’re not abusing substances anymore then that’s what matters the most.

Finding a path and a method that works for the recovering addict is vital to ensuring a long-term recovery. At Summit Estate, we provide high-quality rehabilitation programs for many different types of substance abuse. If you or a beloved one is going through such terrible situation, don’t hesitate anymore. Please give us a call at (866) 569-9391 and let us know what your situation is.

How to Avoid Relapsing in Rehab Programs

The journey from being an addict to becoming a healthy person again is difficult and filled with trials that will be unique to each person. The process of recovery once rehabilitation has begun can only be achieved by each individual. Therapy, rehab programs and support networks are all there to help. But it is up to the willpower and determination of recovering addicts to change their lives for good.

Will Power

It is an interesting word with so much meaning, but willpower is the fundamental way one breaks with addiction. For whatever reason, many addicts have incredibly low self-esteem, which in turn weakens or destroys their willpower, reinforcing the addiction.

Therapy and Rehab programs are designed to restore that self-confidence and enable a person willpower to take over; No one wants to be an addict, showing people that they have the power to end their dependence is the only way to ensure a viable long-term recovery.

How to Avoid Relapsing in Rehab Programs

Avoid/Deal with Trigger

Triggers are situations or actions that can lead a recovering addict to crave there for dependence. These triggers are often related to people in the person’s life or in situations they may find themselves in.

Lowering the number of potential triggers and dealing with the few that will inevitably surface is a key factor in avoiding a relapse.

Support Networks

No one person is an island and having people that either care for you (friends/family) or those who recognize your struggles (a support group) is a vital factor for avoiding a relapse.

At this point a potential sore topic; cutting out ‘’toxic’’ relationships; For many recovering addicts, some friends or family will be a trigger for them, in these circumstances, often the only way to avoid relapsing is to remove these people from one’s life.

This will often be an extremely painful process, these co-dependent relationships could be between lovers, or siblings, or parent/child and the severing of them will not be easy, but it may be necessary. In such circumstances, consulting with a therapist or other support networks may be key in facilitating this course of action.

Keep active

Physical health and Mental health are linked, both affect each other in a feedback loop. If one increases, so does the other, the same for decreases.

This means that exercising regularly is key for all forms of health. Finding a form of a workout that suits each individual is key; for some, it may be running, for others cycling.

Sex is also a great workout, whether it is with a partner or not, make sure to be safe!

The Big Boogeyman

Many recovering addicts view relapse as a sign of failure but it is not. Addiction is a disease that cannot be cured, it is managed. Once you’re an addict, you remain one for the rest of your life. These are hard words to hard but honesty is key to staying healthy.

Many recovering addicts will relapse over the course of a lifetime; some will be lucky enough not to but they are in a minority. If a relapse does occur the key is to pick yourself up again and learn from ones’ mistakes.

If you or a beloved one is in need of rehab programs, please call Summit Estate at (866) 569-9391.

Choose Among the Many Options for Rehab

Substance abuse can happen to anyone. Nobody can say “it won’t happen to me”. For numerous reasons, an individual can fall in alcohol, illegal or prescribed drugs addiction. If this is your case or a beloved one’s, you need to know there is a way out of this problem. You can choose among the many options for rehab available. And Summit Estate Recovery Center has a wide variety of therapies for this matter.

Summit Estate Recovery Center provides two different facilities. A 23-acres luxury property for a residential patients, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. And an outpatient facility located in a beautiful historic converted barn in downtown Saratoga, California. In both places, many patients get several different types of treatments for their disease.

Making the right choices

The first and most difficult step is to admit you have a problem. No matter what other people say, it’s no shame to go through this and nobody is a position to judge you. Summit Estate Recovery Center accepts people from all over the world looking to overcome their drug or alcohol addictions. Their expert team can treat several types of drug addictions, like:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids (Hydrocodone)
  • Marijuana (cannabis)
  • Methamphetamine
  • LSD

Choose Among the Many Options for Rehab

In addition, Summit Estate Recovery Center can treat other different problems. For example, prescription drugs and painkillers abuse, which is a much common disease than many people think. This dependence usually starts when individuals are prescribed a certain drug by a doctor. It’s a much more difficult addiction than one may think because of the easy access to the substances. And it caused thousands of deaths over the last decade.

Among the many options for rehab, Summit Estate Recovery Center also provides alcohol addiction treatment and dual diagnosis treatment. Although alcohol is socially accepted and of legal access, its constant use can lead to serious problems. A successful counseling on these issues craft an individualized plan for each client. The main focus is to modify behaviors and show there’re better possibilities in life. Most of the time, addictions go hand to hand with psychological issues. That’s when a dual diagnosis treatment is needed.

A better quality of life is possible

Summit Estate Recovery Center professionals know how much addictions can take from people’s lives. If you’re going through such experience, choose among the many options for rehab the institution has for you. Give yourself and our beloved ones a better life. Call 866-569-9391 and get the help you need and deserve.

 

What to Expect from Alcohol Recovery Centers Today

Alcohol addiction is a far-reaching disease and does not discriminate. It does not matter if you are rich or poor, what race or religion you are, or where you live; once alcohol addiction takes hold of you, it can completely disrupt your life in every way and lead you spiraling down. Overcoming an addiction like this is far from an easy thing to do and takes work and dedication on your part. Luckily, there are quality facilities available today that can provide you with the level of help you need. The alcohol recovery centers available offer the system you need to be part of to recover successfully.

Centers are There for Support

Going through addiction alone and fighting it can be a difficult uphill battle that few can win. That is why rehab facilities and recovery centers are so important today. Centers can provide the support system that clients need at this most difficult time in life. A good center gives you the medical care you need to detox and overcome the physical addiction your body is dealing with while also providing you with the emotional and psychological support that you need most right now to better understand what you are going through and how you can gain the strength and courage you need to fight and move forward.

recovery centers in Northern California

Centers with the Best Approaches

Many of the alcohol recovery centers of the past all took the same approach to helping people with alcohol addiction, focusing on the basic programs and assuming they would work well for everyone. Methodologies, techniques, and tools have grown and changed over the years and provide us with better, more patient-focused programs that meet the needs of the individual. This approach gives centers the flexibility to try different therapies and approaches to touch clients in the areas of their lives that they need help the most.

One of the Top Centers Available

If you are looking at alcohol recovery centers in Northern California for yourself or for a loved one so that you can get the help you need, please consider contacting us here at Summit Estate Recovery Center. Our facility is among the finest you will find in the country and offers the facility, professionals, and treatment methods that encourage and facilitate recovery. You can learn more about us by reading our website, and you can contact us at 866-569-9391 if you have questions or need advice about getting help for addiction.

Choosing a Bay Area Rehabilitation Center

For those that are struggling with addiction or have a loved one caught up in drug abuse or alcohol abuse, finding a rehab center to turn to for help can be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Selecting the right rehab center can be the difference for you between a long and successful recovery or falling back and deeper into addiction and abuse. It is worth the time and effort to consider facilities that provide the best care possible, and when you are choosing a Bay Area rehabilitation center, there are important factors to consider that can help you make the best choice.

Look at the Staff at the Center

An important factor in selecting a center for treatment is to know something about the staff available at the center. Many centers today find themselves understaffed, with a very high client to staff ratio. You want a location that offers a lower ratio so that you know you or your loved one is going to get the attention and support that is needed. Look to see what the staff is like, the type of professionals that are available to provide medical care, therapy and the like so you can determine if they can offer you the level of care needed.

Choosing a Bay Area Rehabilitation Center

Look at the Treatment Plans of the Center

When choosing any Bay area rehabilitation center, you want to take a close look to see what type of treatment plans are available to clients. You want to select a location that offers varied and personalized treatment plans so you can be sure you or your loved one get the best help possible. Different facilities offer different treatments, with some only offering outpatient or inpatient programs, while others offer a selection.

The Bay Area Center to Consider

If you are seeking a Bay Area rehabilitation center to help with addiction, consider contacting us here at Summit Estate Recovery Center. We offer one of the finest facilities in Northern California and have the experienced, caring staff and the treatment programs that can provide the specialized care that clients need. You can find out more about us by reading about our facilities and programs here on our website, or you can give us a call at 866-569-9391 and speak with a team member who can answer your questions and provide you with the assistance you need to get you started.

 

What Makes for Effective Rehab in California

Before agreeing to take part in any rehabilitation program or treatment center for alcohol or drug addiction, it is important that you know what you should expect from the chosen program or facility. Not every program is identical and offers the same level of care, experienced staff, therapy styles, or amenities. There are some programs that you find may be very basic in their approach, and perhaps they will not offer you the effective treatment you need most. It is good to know what makes for effective rehab in California today, so you know what to look for and expect.

Comfort with Rehab Programs

Looking at the programs offered by a facility is critical to see if this facility will be ideal for you and your needs. Different facilities take different approaches to treatment and provide different programs, so understanding what is offered is important. You want to select a place that offers programs that you will be comfortable attending. If the only program offered involves group therapy sessions, and you are not comfortable with that approach, treatment will not be effective for you. Look closely to see that they offer treatment options best suited to your needs.

effective rehab in California

Consider the Methods of Rehab

Effective rehab in California will offer different methods for rehabilitation. You want a place that can help you from start to finish and beyond, provide you with the medical care for detox, the inpatient or outpatient treatment sessions for addiction or dual diagnosis treatment, and give you the aftercare needed to help you sustain your recovery and succeed. Programs that offer specialized and personalized care may offer you greater options and methods so you can get the care that is best for you.

Effective Rehab for You is Here

When you are seeking a rehab facility in California to help yourself or a loved one, look at what we have to offer here at Summit Estate Recovery Center. We are one of the top programs in Northern California and can offer you and are committed to helping you overcome your alcohol or substance addiction so that you can turn your life around and have a bright future. You can find out more about us and our services when you look at the pages here on our website, but you may also phone us at 866-569-9391 at any time so you can speak with us and make arrangements to get on the path to recovery.

The Help Available at the Summit Rehab Center

Drug or alcohol addiction destroys lives and families each day. The longer you or a loved one suffer from an addiction, the harder it may become to overcome the problem and reclaim what has been lost in life. If you or someone you care about it is struggling with an addiction, you know the devastation it can cause, and you want to do whatever you can to get the person you love the help they need. It is important for you to know that help is available here at our Summit Rehab Center, where we work with individuals dealing with addiction in a highly effective manner.

Providing Personalized Care at Our Center

Here at Summit Rehab Center, we are the best drug and alcohol treatment center available in Northern California. We understand that each person deals with addiction differently and that there is no “cookie cutter” approach to treatment that works for everyone. We craft a personalized treatment plan for each individual and have a high staff to client ratio so that you are sure to get the attention you need and deserve for your treatment. This approach for much greater success in treatment and recovery.

The Help Available at the Summit Rehab Center

Care That Goes Beyond the Standards

The care we provide for each client at Summit Estate Recovery Center goes beyond the norm that you may find at other treatment facilities. We start working with our clients from the time that an intervention may be necessary. From that time forward, through admission, detox treatments, and therapy sessions, right through the necessary aftercare, we will be there for you to help you so that you can have the best chance at a successful recovery. We offer several program options, including outpatient treatment and a residential rehab facility, so that you have the options before you that work best for your situation.

Talk to Us about Our Rehab Center

If you would like to learn more about us at Summit Estate Recovery Center and see how our Summit Rehab Center can help you or a loved one, please take the time to review our website and take a visual tour of our facility. If you have any questions or need any help, we have staff available to speak with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week so you can get the help you need. You can phone us at 866-569-9391 to begin the process and learn what we can do to help you.

Inpatient and Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Programs in the Bay Area

Alcohol is something socially accepted and available everywhere. Maybe for this reason, it’s one of the most abused substances in the U.S. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s even glamorized or encouraged through media. For this reason, many people don’t fully understand the danger that comes along with alcohol abuse.

Summit Estate Recovery Center offers inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area. Their highly trained experts use tried and true methods in the treatment of alcoholism. The institution offers luxurious locations in order to provide their patients a comfortable, private environment. Such beautiful locations, along with the proper treatment, gives them enough encouragement and stimulation to finally beat the bottle.

inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area

Different kind of alcohol abuse treatments

People looking for inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area can find the proper aid at Summit Estate Recovery Center. After admission, the residential alcoholism treatment program starts with a full evaluation. In this evaluation, doctors try to find any co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression. In those cases, a dual diagnosis treatment is recommended.

After this evaluation, patients receive a medically supervised detoxification. The comfort and safety of Summit Estate Recovery Center’s facilities are very helpful on this matter. Afterwards, patient meet with the clinical staff to create an individualized plan that best suits them. They can also assist to additional, helpful activities like yoga, massage, acupuncture, among others. Inpatient programs might last up to 90 days.

Summit Estate Recovery Center also offers outpatient treatments to fit your schedule. This facility is located in Saratoga, California. In this place, patients can participate in discussion dinners specially coked by an onsite chef. Saratoga’s location also offers one-on-one, family and couples therapy sessions or groups.

Some patients that already went through the inpatient treatment are encouraged to follow outpatient treatment after their 30 or 60 days of therapy. In these cases, it’s necessary the authorization of Summit Estate Recovery Center’s medical staff and substance abuse counselors.

The help you need is a phone call away

Either if you or a beloved one is going through an alcohol addiction, you can receive the help you need at Summit Estate Recovery Center. Its luxurious facilities and expert staff provide the right environment and inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment programs in the Bay Area. Call at 866-569-9391 to receive more information and talk more about what you’re going through.

Defining Recovery: Reconciling Mental Illness and Positive Mental Health

mental health
A curious and dynamic dance revolves around the definition of recovery from mental health disorders in the 21st century. On the one hand, consumers of mental health services tend to define recovery as the presence of positive behaviors and mental states – known as the salutogenic model – while members of the scientific and medical communities tend to define recovery as the absence of disease and negative mental states – known as the pathogenic model. In order to reconcile and synthesize these two disparate points of view into a workable, useful, and inclusive definition, a group of researchers, spearheaded by Helene Provencher of Laval University (Quebec City, Quebec, Canada) and Corey L.M. Keyes of Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia, USA) propose a comprehensive definition of recovery under the label complete mental health.

First explored in the 2005 article “Mental illness and/or mental health? Investigating Axioms of the Complete State Model of Health” and expanded over the course of the past decade in close to a dozen related, follow-up studies, the idea of complete mental health – and its relationship to recovery from mental health disorders – is novel in that it recognizes the following:

  1. The absence of the symptoms mental illness does not automatically mean positive mental health.
  2. Positive mental health does not require the total absence of the symptoms of mental illness.

Instead of viewing positive mental health and mental illness as mutually exclusive states of being, Provencher and Keyes consider them as “two separate continua rather than the opposite ends of a separate continuum.” It’s important to note that while these initial studies focus on mental health disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, and mood disorders, the value of the complete mental health model applies with equal validity to recovery from addiction and substance abuse disorders. Professor James Jackson (University of Michigan) elucidates the transfer of this Provencher/Keyes model to include recovery from addiction and substance abuse disorders in the 2016 publication Measuring Recovery from Substance Use or Mental Disorders:

“…one commonality between substance abuse and mental disorders…is that people with substance abuse problems often have cravings that could be described as conceptually similar to symptoms. In both cases, such a craving may be fine as long as the person is not acting on it.”

Both professional substance abuse counselors and individuals in active recovery from substance abuse disorders know cravings are not the only persistent symptom-like phenomenon challenging successful recovery. Counter-productive psychological coping mechanisms such as denial, anger, and rationalizing not only contribute to continued substance abuse prior to recovery, but also follow the recovering addict throughout life and often lead to relapse. Recovery does not mean the total absence of these life-interrupting coping mechanisms; rather, recovery means having the awareness, self-efficacy, and practical tools to identify and counter these mechanisms as they recur over time.

Substance Abuse Recovery: Process and Outcome

Recovery from addiction and substance abuse disorders is complex. It’s tempting to measure recovery with a single, yes/no criterion wherein abstinence signifies recovery and indulgence in intoxicants signifies non-recovery or abuse. However, substance abuse counselors and individuals in recovery alike identify this black-and-white approach as a reductive oversimplification that ignores the subtleties and nuanced challenges involved in creating a life free of substance abuse.

Relapse is a reality, yet relapse does not always mean a total collapse of the recovery effort. Nor does it mean a return to square one. The functional truth is that recovery is a non-linear process filled with advances, setbacks, successes, and failures. It includes in-between periods that are neither highs nor lows. The lifelong process of recovery happens on a dynamic continuum, and the precise location of an individual in recovery on that continuum rarely remains fixed. A recovering individual responds to the stresses and gifts of daily life with relative degrees of efficiency. Hard days are as much a part of recovery of good days. Navigating the extremes while maintaining a commitment to the process is the hallmark of a sustainable approach, as opposed to a static mindset that relegates an individual to a restrictive binary with sobriety on one side and substance abuse on the other.

An Multi-Faceted, Inclusive Model of Recovery

The complete mental health model advocated by Provencher and Keyes allows for the non-linear nature of recovery from addiction and substance abuse, and accommodates the formation of an analog for the two features of complete mental health previously described:

  1. Abstinence alone does not automatically mean complete recovery.
  2. Recovery does not require the absence of addiction-related symptoms.

Abstinence is, of course, the ultimate measure of sobriety, yet for individuals struggling with addiction, recovery means more than abstinence. It means the restoration – or in some instances, the discovery – of a way of life that supports happiness, health, and well-being. The model designed by Provencher and Keyes integrates a pre-existing model of mental illness described by Liberman and Koplewicz with their own model of positive mental health. The combination of these two models results in a multi-dimensional rubric containing six states of relative and interconnected positive mental health and disruptive mental illness, ranging from an initial state of being non-recovered from mental illness and languishing to a final state of being recovered from mental illness and flourishing:

  1. Non-recovered and languishing. This phase is characterized by severe impairments in mental health and extreme symptoms of mental illness.
  2. Non-recovered and moderately mentally healthy. This phase is characterized by fewer symptoms of mental illness combined with moderate levels of positive mental health.
  3. Non-recovered from mental illness and flourishing. This phase is characterized by the significantly reduced presence of the symptoms of mental illness, combined with concrete and identifiable attributes associated with positive mental health and flourishing.
  4. Recovered from mental illness and languishing. This phase is characterized by the absence of the symptoms of mental illness, combined with an absence of the attributes of positive mental health.
  5. Recovered from mental illness and moderately mentally healthy. This phase is characterized by the absence of the symptoms of mental illness, combined with moderate levels of positive mental health.
  6. Recovered from mental illness and flourishing. This phase is characterized by the absence of the symptoms of mental illness, combined with high levels of positive mental health.

[For the purposes of this article, the states are described here in sequence, whereas the rubric created by Provencher and Keyes situates them on an x/y axis, with the x axis representing the mental health continuum, and the y axis representing the mental illness continuum]

Substance abuse therapists and individuals struggling with substance abuse will immediately recognize the value of this expanded view of recovery. It asks both to understand that the process of recovery – the goal of which is complete mental health – is neither wholly salutogenic nor wholly pathogenic, but a combination of the two. It also asks those therapists and individuals to understand that recovery is neither solely a process nor solely an outcome, but again, a combination of the two. It gives therapists the tools to identify a client who’s abstinent, yet displaying mental health behaviors that may lead to relapse, and provides the vocabulary to discuss what they see with their client. It gives individuals in recovery the means to understand that it’s possible to be sober, abstinent, and diligently following a recovery program, yet still experience negative emotions and signs of poor mental health.

The Intersection of Theory and Practice

The Provencher/Keyes model gives treatment professionals the groundwork for situating traditional and complementary therapeutic modes side-by-side in pursuit of a greater whole: complete mental health. Awareness and application of the model particularly benefits individuals with co-occurring disorders, in that an array of therapies can be deployed – with the six states of recovery as a guide – to address both addiction and mental health disorders simultaneously. For many therapists and individuals in recovery, the Provencher/Keyes model verifies what they know already: recovery can be a messy process, filled with peaks and valleys. What works for one individual might not work for another, and what works one day for one individual might not work the next day for the same individual. The ability to bolster a recovery plan in one area, ease off in another, and stay steady in still another is something experienced practitioners and those in recovery have cultivated for decades. Until recently, however, these types of tweaks, and the insights that instigate them, have been a matter of instinct and the result of experiential knowledge – not the result of standard prescriptive practice. The introduction and adoption of a model that integrates the salutogenic and pathogenic theories of recovery into an adaptive, holistic, inclusive, and seamless whole unites theory and practice in a way that gives individuals in recovery a greater chance of therapeutic success, and ultimately, more options on the path to personal well-being and total mental health.

Why is it so Easy to Get Addicted to Pain Pills?

Pain Pill Addiction
Let’s get two things on the table right away.

First, anyone can get addicted to pain pills.

Anyone.

Me, you, your doctor, your neighbor, and anybody in your family or circle of friends.

Remember Brett Favre, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, Super Bowl winner, star and starter for the Green Bay Packers? He got addicted to pain pills while recovering from a shoulder injury. How about music legend Prince? Yes, the Purple One, famous not only for his music, but for avoiding – and criticizing – the use of drugs by his peers during his thirty-five years in the celebrity limelight. He got addicted to pain pills while trying to manage problems with his hips. Then he died from an accidental overdose in his own home. How about Rush Limbaugh? Yes, the fiery, often-controversial conservative talk radio host. He got addicted to pain pills while trying to manage pain after back surgery. He battled the addiction for years, checking in and out of rehab, and even got tangled up in a criminal investigation related to obtaining prescriptions illegally.

That’s the first thing, worthy of repeating: no one is immune to opioid addiction.

Second, getting addicted to pain pills has absolutely nothing to do with your character. Getting addicted to pain pills doesn’t make you a bad person. Not getting addicted to pain pills doesn’t make you a good person. Addiction does not care about your good deeds or your bad deeds. It doesn’t care if you’re a good parent or a deadbeat dad. You could be as good as Mother Theresa, or as bad as Jack the Ripper. It doesn’t matter. It simply happens.

That’s the second thing, worthy of repeating as well: getting addicted has nothing to do with your value as a human being.

Getting Addicted is Easy: The Biological Reasons

Let’s get another thing out of the way: when we talk about addictive pain pills, we’re talking about opioids. Here’s a short list of pain medications being prescribed today whose pain-relieving properties rely on our endogenous opioid system:

  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxycontin
  • Fentanyl
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Lortab
  • Lorcet
  • Dilaudid

These familiar drugs are the opioids that have been in the news so much lately. They’re the pain pills that are currently ravaging our nation, sparing no population. Rural, urban, suburban. White, black, Latino. Young people. Old people. Rich people. Poor people. The opioids that caused the new President of the United States to sign an Executive Order forming a Special Commission to handle the crisis – a commission which, in its first public report, recommended that the President declare national emergency because of the crisis. It’s that serious, and it’s happening to everyone, everywhere.

Why?

Because it’s natural.

That’s right. Getting addicted to opioids is almost as easy as getting addicted to food, sex, exercise, or anything that feels good. Synthetic opioids contain the most powerful pain-relieving molecules known to medical science because of a quirk of human physiology: the endogenous opioid system present in the human nervous system. Synthetic opioids relieve pain by leveraging this naturally occurring pain-relief system, and they’re so easy to abuse because they hijack this naturally occurring system. Opioids are problematic because this internal pain-relief network is linked, at the cellular level, to how humans experience feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and reward. When we do something that makes us feel good, our brain guides us back to that behavior. That’s how our neurobiological reward system works. Our brain remembers what feels good, and when the opportunity to experience that good feeling presents itself again, our brain tells us to go for it – even if another part of our brain knows we shouldn’t.

This is an oversimplification, but it’s true: we get addicted to opioids because we’re hard-wired for them.

The Problem(s) With Opioids:

Long-Term Effectiveness

Opioid pain medications have a significant set of limitations and complications that are neither widely known nor publicized. While they’re incredibly effective at relieving acute pain and there are many situations for which opioids are the logical and appropriate choice for pain management, the effectiveness of long term use of opioids for chronic pain management is not supported by medical research.

That may come as a surprise to most people, but it’s true. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, a comprehensive and systematic review of existing scientific evidence “to identify the effectiveness, benefits, and harms of long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain.” The study defines long-term as use of opioids for over three months. The conclusion as to the effectiveness and benefits of opioid therapy for chronic pain management is concise and unequivocal:

“…no study of opioid therapy versus placebo…evaluated long-term (≥ 1 year) outcomes related to pain, function, or quality of life. Most placebo-controlled randomized studies were ≤ 6 weeks in duration. The body of evidence…is rated as insufficient.”

Risks and Harms

The absence of clinical support for long-term opioid therapy in chronic pain management may come as a shock, but the complications of long-term opioid use are well-known and broadly publicized in online, print, and television media. The statistics reveal a pattern which, taken at face value, should cause a complete re-evaluation of the long-term use of opioids for chronic pain:

Getting Addicted is Easy: The Problem with Prescriptions

Prescription opioids are big business. Experts estimate the value of the North American opioid market at $12.4 billion for 2015, a figure which quadrupled between 1999 – 2014, and is projected to grow to over $17 billion by the year 2024. This enormous increase occurred even though the amount of pain reported by Americans during the same period did not change.

When correlated with CDC data indicating a dramatic surge in opioid prescribing between 2007 – 2012, and the steady increase in abuse, overdose, and opioid-related fatalities since 1999, a clear picture of the past decade and a half emerges. Profit, expediency, and our cultural tendency to trust physicians and the prescriptions they write combined to create a perfect storm in which medication developed to alleviate suffering has arguably done more harm than good, and likely caused more pain than it has relieved.

If you’re addicted to pain pills, it’s likely your addiction happened something like this: you had a surgery, an injury, or a condition that caused you so much pain your day-to-day life became difficult. Your doctor prescribed you an opioid pain medication, and you took it as ordered. You didn’t realize it, but by taking the pills every day, you built up a tolerance, meaning you had to take more pills, or a higher dose of the same medication, to achieve the same analgesic effect. You didn’t think much of it. You simply took an extra pill, or asked your doctor to prescribe something stronger. Then, after a few weeks, you started getting cranky between doses.

You didn’t know it, but that crankiness has a medical term: anhedonia.

Anhedonia is the opposite of euphoria, the pleasurable sensation that accompanies opioid pain relief. You probably didn’t know that anhedonia is an early symptom of opioid withdrawal. You didn’t make the connection because addiction probably wasn’t on your radar. Why should it have been? You trust your doctor, and you were following orders. Besides, your crankiness disappeared when you took your medication – as ordered by the doctor. After a couple of months, you crossed an invisible line: you started to need the pills just to feel normal.

You tried to quit, but couldn’t.

And now there you are: addicted to pain pills, and all you did was follow doctor’s orders.

It’s an awful situation, and you’re not alone. It’s playing out every day across our country. The media attention and the new CDC guidelines for prescribing opioids have caused many doctors to scale back their prescription writing practices, which is a double-edge sword: of course, it’s a good thing that they’re not prescribing as many opioids as in the past decade, but they’re also leaving many people in the lurch. Their patients are addicted, and they’re cutting off their supply of drugs. People are quite literally left out in the cold. Sick, in withdrawal, with no idea what to do next.

Desperate, they turn to street drugs like heroin or black-market knock-offs of the prescription medications they began with. The problems with street drugs and illegally produced pills are numerous, but can be distilled down to three basic issues:

  1. There’s no way to guarantee what you’re getting.
  2. There’s no way to be sure of your dosage.
  3. They’re illegal. If you buy them, you can get arrested and thrown in jail.

But that doesn’t have to be you. You don’t have to go down that road. There’s another option. A much, much better option.

You Can Get Help

At Summit Estate, we understand opioid addiction. We’ve spent years on the front lines, helping people detox, helping people rebuild themselves from the ground up, and helping people take control of their lives. We don’t want you to become a statistic. We want to offer you a way out. We want you to explore our Medical Drug and Alcohol Detox Center, our Residential Programs, our  Day Programs, and our Outpatient Programs. We want to work with you to create a custom treatment program that meets your needs. We’ll help you find your way back to a healthy, sustainable life, free from the cycle of addiction you find yourself trapped in – through no real fault of your own.