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Humans Are Social Animals

Here’s a big bite of truth. Humans are social animals. Even the lone wolves among us, the introverts, and the rebels with and without causes are, at the core, social animals. The reason is simple - human beings, while carrying around one of the biggest mammalian brains, are not the strongest, fastest, or (stripped of weaponry) even close to the most dangerous, and this is especially true of human infants and toddlers. Our babies are some of the weakest in the animal world; they cannot survive on their own. Our survival as a species required social bonds. 

Just because we’re not living in the same world our original ancestors lived in doesn’t mean that this core truth, the importance of social connection, has changed.

Isolation is not a safe state of being for humans. The COVID-19 Pandemic - lockdowns, quarantines, shelter-at-home and stay-at-home orders, and social distancing shed lots of light on the dangers of isolation. Reports of increased anxiety, depression, substance abuse, overdose, and suicide were woven into concerns about the virus itself throughout 2020 and 2021, and the impact on mental health continues to be a hot news and research topic.

Humans are simply not meant to be all by themselves for any prolonged period of time.

In our years of practice in the field of mental and behavioral health, we’ve met lots of people who’ve argued against this fact. Many of our clients have told us they are better off alone, that they don’t get along well with people, or that they don’t trust others. Resistance to suggestions for group work, building social networks, and engaging in social activities is not at all uncommon. 

We get it. Social connection is SO important that especially if our early history has been filled with damaged and damaging bonds, building walls against connection seems like the only way to go. It can be very scary to think about making social connections, let alone stepping into social waters when our memories of connection are colored by suffering. It can be a huge leap of faith.

It is a leap worth taking, and we want to give you some ideas for moving toward the connections that can help improve your mental health, assist you in maintaining abstinence from substances, and increase your resilience. Here are some suggestions for moving gently from a total lone wolf toward more connection.

  • Social media isn’t all bad. Use it to connect to people and groups who share your interests and goals. Social media can also provide a support network that motivates you toward therapeutic goals like treatment engagement, substance abstinence, and healthy lifestyle choices. Social media has benefits but approach it mindfully with a focus on your health and welfare.
  • Say hello to your neighbors and chat with your workmates. Research suggests that while these connections may not be deep bonds, they can help support your overall mental health.
  • Create or join a knitting circle, writing group, book club, choir, or other hobby-related groups. Collective bonding, even if it’s light and activity focused is good for mental health and resilience.
  • Spread your social wings to include. Try adding one new social contact this week.  It doesn’t have to be a deep connection. Consider saying hello to the cashier at your local grocery store. Having what’s called social-network diversity is good for your mental health.  You don’t have to start big though, you can start with one person.
  • Build and strengthen healthy relationships with people who see you as a whole person - someone with talents and strengths, struggles and weaknesses.5 Whether these relationships are with friends and family members that have been in your life for a long time or peer-support people like 12-step sponsors and self-help group peers, it’s important to connect with people who see you for who you are, not who they wish you would be, and you need to be able to share who you are, not who you think you are supposed to be.  Honestly, this is one of the powerful things about AA and groups like it. Shared experiences and shared understanding can open the door to authentic connection.
  • If you are interested in engaging in therapy, look for someone that you connect and feel comfortable with. This relationship may be professional; that doesn’t make the connection less important. 

We understand that everybody’s different. Some people get lots of energy from being around people, while others find more energy on their own. We’re not debating that. We’re also aware of and empathetic about the suffering that is caused by painful, unhealthy, and abusive relationships and how scary it can be to move toward social connection when memories of those things are strong. 

Still, let us assert once more - humans are social animals.  We need a connection to be healthy.  We encourage you to do whatever you can to build your social network, and if this is a painful stumbling block for you, reach out for help. Connecting with a therapist can be an important first step.

1Naslund, J.A., Bondre, A., Torous, J. et al. Social Media and Mental Health: Benefits, Risks, and Opportunities for Research and Practice. J. technol. behav. sci. 5, 245–257 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-020-00134-x

2McGaffin, B. J., Deane, F. P., Kelly, P. J., & Blackman, R. J. (2018). Social support and mental health during recovery from drug and alcohol problems. Addiction Research & Theory, 26(5), 386–395. https://doi.org/10.1080/16066359.2017.1421178

3Pearce, E., Launay, J., MacCarron, P., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2017). Tuning in to others: Exploring relational and collective bonding in singing and non-singing groups over time. Psychology of Music, 45(4), 496–512. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735616667543

4Windsor, T. D., Rioseco, P., Fiori, K. L., Curtis, R. G., & Booth, H. (2016). Structural and functional social network attributes moderate the association of self-rated health with mental health in midlife and older adults. International Psychogeriatrics, 28(1), 49-61.

5,6Pettersen, H., Landheim, A., Skeie, I., Biong, S., Brodahl, M., Oute, J., & Davidson, L. (2019). How Social Relationships Influence Substance Use Disorder Recovery: A Collaborative Narrative Study. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178221819833379

Types of InterventionsMost people who have heard of intervention might not know that there are quite a few types of it, with each designed to address a specific type of problem. As there are different types of addiction, one of the things we learned here at LUNA Recovery Services is that a more relevant form of intervention could prove to be far more effective than just using one type to address every kind of addiction, most commonly drugs and alcohol.

It is not uncommon for those with addiction issues to completely deny that they have a problem. This is where intervention plays a significant role, as it helps them deal with the issue of addiction, mostly through the help of people who they trust and love. The treatment would typically involve family members, loved ones, or even trusted friends. As this kind of treatment is never easy for those seeking it, having people whom they trust to be around to help is an essential element of the process.

What Is An Intervention?

An intervention is a conversation between a family member, a loved one, or a trusted friend and someone who is struggling with an addiction. This conversation, however, is not just any ordinary back-and-forth conversation. It is an exchange with the intent to convince the person struggling with addiction to seek help and kick the habit.

Who Are Interventions Best Suited For?

As the nature of addiction is quite sensitive, it is always best to consult with professionals who are trained to identify, assess, and deal with such situations, before a person is assumed to be suffering from addiction.

Nevertheless, there are several telltale signs that could point to a person needing an intervention quite soon. This is particularly true if these signs are particularly uncharacteristic of the person.

It is normal for people to want a little privacy in their lives, although there are instances wherein this need becomes extreme and in an obvious manner.

People with a substance abuse issue could become quite volatile, to the point of becoming belligerent at a moment’s notice, and often, even when unprovoked.

A person suffering from addiction could appear to be devoid of life at some point, preferring to do nothing, speak to no one, and avoid any kind of social activity or interaction.

Repeated substance abuse causes significant damage to the body. This is not only internally but also manifested in a marked loss of appetite, visible sickliness, and dramatic weight loss or gain.

There will be noticeable changes in how a person behaves at some point, as they try to hide their addiction, and also ensure that they can feed their bad habit as well. This could come in the form of doing anything to make sure they could acquire whatever it is they are addicted to, prompting them to borrow money for it or even steal.

Who is Involved in An Intervention?

The good thing about intervention is that it does have a high rate of success when it comes to getting the patient to agree to the treatment, with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) citing the success rate at nearly 90% of the total mediations of interventions done. This high rate is attributed to the professional handling of the treatment center coupled with the presence of loved ones or people whom the patient trusts.

Addiction treatment of any sort is quite difficult for anyone who undergoes it mainly because the patient is being made to give up their dependency on whatever it is that they are addicted to. While most do have remorse and feelings of disgust for their dependency, kicking it and getting it out of their system is an extremely jarring and traumatic experience for them.

This is why types of interventions require the presence of someone who could help ease any resistance on the part of the patient. Trust plays a huge role in the treatment, so having someone whom the patient trusts completely is vital, not only in getting them to agree to it but also get through the entire program.

What Happens During An Intervention?

The first step to intervention is for the family member loved one, or trusted friend to seek out a treatment center that could help the person with the addiction problem. It is always a good idea to talk to representatives of the treatment center to hear what they do in such cases, as anything short of the most sensitive and mindful treatment professionals could very hurt the chances of the patient seeking out addiction treatment.

Professionals from the treatment center should prepare the loved ones, family members, or trusted friends as to what might happen during the initial treatment and recovery process. It’s not uncommon for the patient to feel threatened, betrayed, or even victimized at any point during the treatment, as this is due to the extremely fragile emotional and mental state that they are in, brought on by their continued substance abuse.

What Are the Types of Interventions?

As people react differently to circumstances, the treatment involved in types of interventions is also quite varied. Each one is tailored to address a particular type of person based on their need, reaction to treatment, or severity of the addiction. There are typically four types of interventions as generally practiced:

Some confide and trust only a single person in their lives, and in instances like this, the Simple Intervention works best. This involves a single person, which could be a family member, a loved one, or even that one trusted friend they have always relied on, to get them to agree to the treatment, and consequently help them complete it.

This type of intervention could be done on a one-on-one basis, wherein the trusted one helps the patient in acknowledging that they have a dependency problem. It could also be done with the aid of a professional interventionist, as the patient could prove to be quite resistant to the process, even with the presence of that single person they trust the most.

The intimate nature of having to deal with just one person to accept that addiction treatment is necessary is particularly effective for those who have a great desire to keep the entire matter private. Once the patient feels secure that the entire arrangement is discreet, they could feel more inclined to agree to the treatment.

Most families or friends do care enough to go out of their way to help someone in their circle who needs an intervention to help with addiction. In this case, a Classical Intervention is often employed. This type requires that everyone involved in the intervention be coached and guided accordingly as to how they should approach, talk to, and treat the patient. This coaching needs to happen BEFORE the actual intervention itself, as there is a certain element of timing and coordination that plays into it all.

It is important to note that all participants in this type of intervention have a role to fulfill, with each one being important. All participants are guided and informed of how things could turn out before and during the intervention itself. In the case of families who have a particularly protective relationship with the patient, it is important to realize that everything that needs to be done before, during, and after the intervention is necessary for the treatment to work. This is because the determination of the participants might be undermined by how the patient reacts when confronted about the addiction.

The Family System Intervention type takes into account the family bonds that exist between the patient and the participating family members in the intervention. In many cases, family members could either be dismissive of the condition of the patient or believe that since the patient got into the problem on their own, they should also learn to get out of it by themself.

Conversely, there are members of the family who might take pity on the patient, knowing full well how difficult it could become once the intervention takes place, and this affects their resolve to see the patient through the entire process.

This type seeks to prepare the entire family and guide them to a more balanced and supportive role for the patient, and how to deal with the situation better, to ensure success. The entire family is required to pitch in with the appropriate amount of support and guidance as needed, as the patient is also needed to help themselves through the recovery process on their own at some point, to remove their need for extreme dependency on anything and anyone.

In some instances, a helping hand and care do not get the job done. In instances where stern and more rigid stance needs to be taken, the Crisis Intervention Type comes into play. This is when the one needing the intervention has proven to be quite resistant to any attempt to help them, and could even become a danger to themselves or to anyone seeking to help them.

This type of intervention is more specialized than the other types, requiring the participation of professionals who are well versed in this intervention type. This is often done to those with addiction issues who are viewed to be a danger to themselves not only from the addiction itself but to any attempt to get them to stop. The primary objective of this type of intervention is to ensure the situation regarding the patient is stabilized and that no one is in immediate danger. The actual recovery itself could be done soon after.

It is important to note that the best a loved one, family member, or friend could do in such a case is to ensure that a professional who knows how to handle the situation is contacted, rather than take matters into their own hands. This is to prevent the patient from doing any further damage to themselves or to anyone else who might try to help.

Benefits of Types of Interventions for Substance Abuse Treatment

The general goal of an intervention is to get a person suffering from substance abuse to actively seek help so that they could kick the habit. This is important to understand because it is quite rare for such a person to simply go and seek out help on their own.

There are, however, also other benefits that an intervention could have if properly and promptly started.

Break the Cycle of Addiction

More often than not, those who do receive treatment after a lengthy bout of addiction could stay clean for a while, and then fall off the wagon once exposed to an opportunity to engage in the habit again.

The nature of an intervention is such that it is structured to create a foundation within the patient that solidifies their need to be clean and stay clean. Substance abuse is commonly seen as a cycle, with patients going back to the habit after some time, then going back for rehabilitation. An intervention, fueled by the presence of a loved one, a family member, or a close friend, creates a stronger impression on the patient.

Improve and Repair Social Bonds

It is no secret that those suffering from substance abuse tend to stay away from friends, family, and loved ones when they engage in the habit. They become very secretive about it, and so they detach themselves completely from anyone they have bonds with.

An intervention fixes this because of the involvement of people who might make a difference in the treatment. The support given to the patient shows that although they made a mistake, there is still forgiveness for them and a place to return to once they decide to clean up.

Prevent Irreparable Damage

As much as possible, professionals urge that certain types of interventions need to be done as early as possible so that the patient does not get to the point where pulling them away from the habit becomes near impossible. There is also the matter of physical damage and deterioration brought on by the toxic nature of substance abuse.

Early intervention could save the life of a person suffering from substance abuse, allowing them to get back to living a healthy and normal life after successful treatment.

Want to Know More About How Types of Interventions Can Help?

We here at LUNA Recovery understand the need to address not just the physical needs of patients who need help with addiction recovery, but also their mental and emotional needs as well. This can be done effectively through types of interventions. We understand how difficult the process is, and we seek to employ all avenues of recovery and aid to ensure that patients get started on their journey to getting better.

We know it’s a difficult journey, and that’s why we are there every step of the way. We know the way, let us help you find it and get you through it. Talk to one of our professionals now to see what kind of support we could give you or your loved one today.

Dr. Alok Madan

Dr. Alok Madan is a clinical health psychologist working in Houston, Texas. He holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he also earned a Master’s degree in Public Health and a Master’s of Arts degree in Psychology. Dr. Madan completed 2 fellowships at the Medical University of South Carolina, one in Behavioral Medicine and another in Quality Management. He currently holds the position of Vice-Chairman in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Houston Methodist.

Recently, we got the opportunity to briefly chat with Dr. Madan, and we thought you might enjoy getting to know a little about him and his work. During our conversation, we talked about treating co-occurring disorders, his work and research on the gut-brain connection, and his passionate commitment to improving the mental healthcare system from the inside.

Co-Occurring Disorders and the Quest for Better Outcomes

One of the first things Dr. Madan told me was that he is not an addictions specialist and that he doesn’t claim that his programs are addiction-focused. Dr. Madan and his team work with folks struggling with primary mental health disorders (e.g. Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc). That does not mean that he doesn’t meet people with addiction issues. What it means is that Dr. Madan and his team know their clinical focus and their limits, and they understand the importance of collaboration with professionals who do specialize in substance use disorders. 

Diagnosing and treating BOTH the substance use disorder AND any underlying mental health issues is critical for lasting recovery. Dr. Madan strongly asserted the need for focused, specialized care and emphasized that believing we, as clinicians and treatment providers, must be all things to all people is a dangerous and unnecessary error. 

The Mind-Body Connection

Dr. Madan has spent most of his career researching the mind-body connection and more specifically, the gut-brain connection. He said, 

The Cartesian Folly (separation of mind and body in medicine) continues to plague us on April 5th, 2022…so day to day, what I try to do clinically is to help understand the interface between mind and body.” 

Dr. Madan had the unique opportunity to start his career working, not in a psychiatric ward, but in a functional gastrointestinal (GI) clinic. He worked on a multidisciplinary team helping patients with severe IIrritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It was during that time that he began to see the connection between the gut and the brain. He went on to build a program that integrated psychotherapy and medication management for people with GI issues and comorbid psychiatric concerns, to research integrated care for patients with chronic pancreatitis, and finally to research the connection between the severity of specific mental health issues (depression and anxiety) and reduced biodiversity of the gut microbiome. 

If you’ve never heard of Psychiatric Microbiology, keep your ear out for a new discipline. Dr. Madan’s making it happen!

The Passion Behind His Work

During our interview, Dr. Madan’s desire to help people lead the lives they want to live was palpable. We wanted to know how he would describe his deep passion for his work, so we asked him what drove him to keep going. Here’s what he had to say:

I feel like we can do so much better as a society, as a globe, as human beings. This (mental health/mental illness) is part and parcel of the human condition. It’s so stigmatized, shame-laden, and poorly treated, and I think we as a society have done wrong by ourselves. We’ve criminalized illness, and there’s a wrongness to that that I can’t swallow. And then our healthcare infrastructure - they’ve done no right by us. There’s not good care. Depression is the leading cause of disability across the planet. We don’t spend anything on it. It’s not fair. The injustice. Where we’ve prioritized what’s important to us. Health insurance will pay for Stage 4 cancer surgery with a 90-day survival expectancy yet a young kid, 20 years old with first break psychosis – ‘good luck, go to jail’. That’s wrong. That doesn’t sit well with me, so I’m trying to do something about it.

We love it! Thank you, Dr. Madan, for your passion and the work that you do. 

PHP vs IOP Treatment

There is a range of treatment programs available to treat substance use disorder (SUD). Depending on your needs, you might want a residential treatment facility or one of the outpatient treatments–PHP, IOP, or OP. These abbreviations probably mean nothing to you right now. So let’s take a look at what they mean and what they could mean to you and for your life.

What Are The Differences Between Them?

First of all, an OP (standard outpatient program) is primarily used as a continuation of treatment after completing one of the higher levels of care. Unless you have a mild SUD, this probably isn’t the best program for you to begin with. And, the highest level of care, residential, is just not practical for everyone for various reasons.

Key Differences

Duration

The key difference between a PHP and an IOP is the duration of time you would spend in the program. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recommends that PHPs provide at least 20 hours of programming each week while IOPs provide 9 hours per week. 

Medical Services

Medical and psychiatric services are also offered by PHPs but IOPs may be less inclined to offer these services.

What is a PHP Program?

PHP stands for “partial hospitalization program.” PHPs are also sometimes referred to as day programs. These programs deliver a high level of care while allowing you to return home each evening after treatment. They offer a comparable level of treatment intensity and daily structure to that of a  residential/inpatient program. This includes access to mental health care services. 

Usually,  PHP tthe treatment offers at least 5 days of treatment each week but may go up to 7 days per week in some cases. The length of a program is based on individual needs. Once someone completes a PHP, they may transition to a standard outpatient program that meets 1 to 2 times per week, to maintain sobriety and stability.

Individuals may also either “step down” or transfer into a PHP from a residential program or “step up” from a less intensive, outpatient program. In still other cases, you may enter a PHP as your initial level of treatment. In addition, different partial hospitalization programs may be customized to meet the needs of adolescents, women, or professionals.

Typical Treatment Services in a PHP

Some of the services included in PHPs are

  • Individual therapy: During individual therapy sessions, you meet with the therapist or drug counselor one-on-one to work on your unhealthy behaviors. You may discover an underlying reason for your substance use.
  • Group therapy: In group counseling sessions you and the other group members focus on one specific topic or skill and are assisted by a mental health professional. Topics might include:
  • Educational groups
  • Stress management
  • Coping skills
  • Relapse prevention
  • Life skills
  • Recreational activities
  • Team building

The group approach will be discussed in more detail in IOPs.

  • Family meetings or family therapy: Family members may be willing to join in therapy sessions to help mend relationships and become educated about addiction.
  • Medical services: Doctors and nurses are on staff to dispense medication and treat any complications that may arise from SUD or other health conditions.
  • Treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders–Many PHPs are equipped to treat people with co-occurring disorders, which is common. If you or someone you care about has a psychiatric disorder and a substance disorder, a PHP may be helpful if it meets the level of care that’s required.
  • Medication management–When recovering from certain types of addiction, some people may be helped through the use of medications. Medication can decrease cravings, block the rewarding effects of certain drugs, and help relieve uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
  • Drug screening–Since you go home in the evenings, many PHPs will offer regular drug testing.

What is an IOP?

An intensive outpatient program is a direct service for 

  • individuals with SUDs or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders who don’t need medical detoxification or 24-hour monitoring,
  • people who don’t meet the diagnostic standards for residential or inpatient addiction treatment, or 
  • for people who have been discharged from 24-hour care in a residential facility and need to continue recovery care at a lower level.

As an alternative to residential or PHP, they are meant to build social, mental, and emotional supports and promote coping strategies and relapse management.

Typical Treatment Services in IOP

A set of core services is necessary for all IOPs and should be part of the treatment package for every patient. Many of them have been described previously in the treatment services in a PHP.

Group counseling and therapy

Groups are the essence of most IOPs. Group counseling allows programs to balance the cost of more expensive individual services. The group approach supports the group members by

  • Provides the opportunity to develop communication skills and take part in socialization experiences. 
  • It builds an environment where individuals support and confront each other when necessary.
  • The group introduces structure and discipline into the members’ lives. 
  • It provides models that reinforce healthy ways of interacting and a safe and supportive environment that is essential for recovery.
  • Group therapy helps advance individual recovery because members who are further along in recovery can help other members.
  • It provides a place for group leaders to impart new information, teach new skills, and guide members while they practice new behaviors.

Psychoeducational groups

These groups help individuals learn about substance addiction and its consequences. They include

  • A less intense environment
  • Rational problem-solving tools to help change faulty beliefs and thinking patterns
  • Various types of relapse prevention skills training

Skills development groups

Skill development groups give the members the chance to practice specific behaviors in the safety of treatment. Common skills include:

  • Alcohol or drug refusal training: Group members act out scenes in which they are invited to use substances and practice their responses.
  • Relapse prevention strategies: Members analyze one's triggers and determine ways to manage or avoid them.
  • Assertiveness training: Participants learn the differences between aggressive, assertive, and passive behaviors and practice being assertive. 
  • Stress management. Members identify situations that cause stress and learn a variety of methods to respond to stress.

Interpersonal process groups

  • Single-interest groups: The issues may include gender issues, sexual orientation, criminal offense, and sexual and physical abuse histories.
  • Family or couples groups 

Who is the Best Candidate for a PHP Program?

PHP treatment may be appropriate for you if you:

  • Need a high level of care but can stay clean outside of the treatment facility.
  • Have already completed a hospital or residential treatment program but feel at risk for relapse.
  • Have a hard time getting motivated to continue treatment.
  • Have a co-occurring disorder like anxiety or depression in addition to your SUD.
  • Live in an environment where you have little support and are at higher risk to use again.
  • Haven’t been making good recovery progress in an IOP. This is common when a person has a relapse while enrolled in a less intense form of an outpatient program or is at risk of relapse due to a major life change or mental health issues.

Who is an IOP Best For?

In general, elements that make you a good fit for an IOP are if you:

  • Have a strong support system at home, at work, and in your community
  • Have a stable home life
  • Have not previously been in an IOP
  • Will have a lower risk of relapse when returning home
  • Are comfortable working in group situations
  • Don’t have a risk of severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Have a job or home obligations that require flexibility in their schedules

Personalized IOP and PHP Treatment at Luna Recovery Services

If you are thinking about an IOP or a PHP for a substance use disorder, it’s important to keep in mind that individualized treatment is essential, no matter which program you choose. At Luna Recovery Services, we understand that. And we understand how to design a program uniquely for you. 

We are a comprehensive treatment center located in Texas with levels of care including residential, PHP, and IOP. We have the resources necessary to make sure that your every need is met in guiding you along the recovery process. Contact us today and see what we can do for you.

Happy couple walking and talking about inpatient vs. outpatient rehab

When you decide to seek help for a substance use problem, you are making an essential first step toward recovery. However, recovery is a process, and drug and alcohol rehab programs can help you through it. There are a number of substance use treatments including:

  • Detox,
  • Therapy
  • Medications

And these treatments can fit into two groups:

  1. Inpatient
  2. Outpatient

Your needs and the severity of your substance use disorder (SUD) will help decide which type is best for you. Both programs will help you stop using drugs or alcohol and reduce your risk of using them again. One is not necessarily better than the other. The difference is the setting and what works best for you.

What Is Inpatient Treatment?

At times, the best way to treat addiction is by spending time away from your family, friends, work, and anything that triggers your addiction. The goal is to have a space where you can concentrate on getting better without the distractions of your everyday life.

Inpatient treatment is also called residential treatment because you reside at the treatment facility. It can be effective for people with severe problems with drugs or alcohol. This can be especially important for people who are dealing with other mental health conditions. Because inpatient rehab requires you to separate from your daily life, you may need to find care for children or other family members.

Licensed residential facilities offer 24-hour medical support and intensive care. They include three phases of recovery in their treatment plan:

  1. Detox
  2. Reflection, and
  3. Growth.

Intensive Treatment

Residential treatment programs are highly structured and can be challenging for many people. Your schedule will be decided by the staff and some people find it difficult to adjust to the strict schedule and the intensity of treatment that make residential care so effective. These programs  are also focused on helping people learn to adjust to drug- or alcohol-free lifestyles after rehab. Often, these programs involve a step-down approach to help people progress from inpatient care to outpatient programs and counseling outside the facility.

There are short-term and long-term residential programs. Generally, people stay at long-term residential facilities from 6 months to a year. Short-term facilities require stays of about three to six weeks.

Unfortunately, SUD and mental health problems like depression or bipolar disorder often co-occur with addiction issues. So you want to be sure to find a facility that can treat both disorders at the same time or you run the risk of relapse after leaving the facility. Unfortunately, costs are often higher for residential programs compared to outpatient care. However, it’s important to remember that the cost of treatment is always less than the cost of addiction.

How Does it Work?

Residential programs provide supervised 24-hour care and are typically run by licensed alcohol and drug counselors and mental health professionals. Inpatient programs usually include:

  • Medically monitored detox
  • Individual counseling
  • Support groups
  • Skill-building training
  • Medication management
  • Follow-up treatment
  • Aftercare planning

What Are The Benefits?

The benefits offered by inpatient rehabs make them the best choice for some people:

  • Short-term and long-term inpatient rehab programs are both designed to help you with detox and prepare you for a substance-free life after treatment.
  • They provide care and supervision 24 hours a day, typically in a nonhospital setting. You are never alone while working on your recovery.
  • Treatment programs are highly structured and aim attention at all elements of addiction. This may include social factors (relationships and lifestyle) and psychological factors related to your personal history and situation.
  • Medical attention and safe housing are available around the clock. This is particularly important for people with severe problems that may be made more complicated by other mental health conditions.

Who Is The Best Candidate for Inpatient Treatment?

In general, inpatient rehab treatment is especially appropriate for people who have a severe SUD and/or have had it for a long period of time. It is particularly needed for people who are dealing with other mental health conditions.  Another group of people who need inpatient care are those who have completed outpatient treatment and have subsequently relapsed.

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab involves daily treatment such as counseling, therapy, or group sessions at a treatment facility. If you choose outpatient treatment, you can go on living at home as you recover. This allows you to:

  • take care of children or other family members,
  • keep up with work obligations, or
  • stay on track at school.

While the level of care is lower in outpatient treatment, the expense is typically lower and more likely to be covered by insurance.

Most outpatient programs involve a step-down approach. There are several levels of outpatient treatment and you may step down to a less intensive program after completing one of the higher levels. This means that sessions become less intensive and frequent as you go through treatment. These programs help people overcome their substance use disorder and then maintain their abstinence over the long term.

Levels of Outpatient Care

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)--

A PHP is the highest level of outpatient treatment. In a PHP you will attend treatment and counseling sessions at the facility every day of the week. Your days are structured and organized just like in a residential program. But you will go home at the end of the day.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)--

IOP is the second level of outpatient rehab. This type of program requires fewer days per week at the treatment facility for fewer hours per day.

Outpatient Program (OP)--

This level of care requires less attendance at the facility and is frequently used as a step-down from a higher level of care and can be viewed as a maintenance program.

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment

There are many benefits to outpatient treatment that make it the best option for some people:

  • You can still live in your home while getting treatment. This works if your family and friends are a stable support system.
  • The cost of treatment is usually much lower for outpatient care compared to inpatient.
  • Because there are many different types of counseling and therapy available in the outpatient setting, you can choose the intensity level that works best for you.
  • You may be able to attend treatment sessions in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate you schedules at work or school.
  • There are some outpatient programs that can treat people with co-occurring disorders including:
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder

How Does it Work?

Outpatient treatment may include therapy, group counseling, or a 12-step program. The sessions usually target:

  • substance abuse education,
  • stress management,
  • communication skills,
  • goal-setting, and
  • relapse prevention.

In addition, some people also transition to outpatient care after completing inpatient treatment. Step-down care like this balances independence with support and accountability.

Who Is The Best Candidate for Outpatient Treatment?

If a medical professional decides that you have:

  • a less-severe SUD,
  • a social support system,
  • a stable living situation, and
  • good physical health they might recommend an outpatient rehab program

Although the programs vary in length and intensity, they allow you to keep up with your normal routine.

When is Outpatient Not the Best Choice?

Outpatient care might not be your best choice if:

  • you have constant urges to use. Outpatient facilities don’t offer round-the-clock support.
  • you have difficulty showing up to sessions on your own. The success of outpatient treatment relies on your ability to attend and participate in sessions regularly. If you know that you need more structured and supervised treatment, inpatient may be best for you.
  • you need treatment for multiple disorders and you require medical attention. Some OPs may not be able to dispense medications or provide multifaceted recovery programs for complicated addictions and dual diagnoses ( a SUD and a mental health disorder).

How To Know Which Program is Best

It doesn’t matter what type of addiction you have, every day can feel like a battle. So it’s important to find the right treatment program. You might feel like there is no way out of it, but recovery is possible if you find the right program for you.

Likewise, it doesn’t matter what type of rehab you choose, it will serve to get you started on a path to lifelong recovery. Inpatient and outpatient options both will help you detox and redefine your perceptions and attitudes about the substances you use. Also, these options will provide you with the skills you need to continue your recovery after treatment.

The first, and most important step, is realizing that you have a problem and that you want things to be different. If you are able to admit that, you are on your way to recovery before you ever enter a treatment center or therapist’s office. But bear in mind that when it comes to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, everyone has different needs. What worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you.

Generally, you want to avoid treatment centers, counselors, and facilities that guarantee success. Guarantees are just not possible when it comes to dealing with a person’s addiction. Controlling and guaranteeing another person’s actions is not realistic.

Personalized Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment at Luna Recovery

Whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, you can find the treatment you need, designed especially for you, at Luna Recovery. We have options you can choose from to help keep you motivated and committed to your recovery. Luna has a team of recovery experts including master-level therapists, addiction counselors, and other recovery professionals.

If you’re concerned about a loved one struggling with addiction, Luna also has trained, professional interventionists who can help your attempts to get them into treatment. The first step in treating addiction is the hardest and the most important. Contact us today and we’ll talk about your needs and requirements, your goals, and what you expect from treatment.

tips for the healing journey

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’ve probably heard that quote before. It’s an oldie but goodie. It’s also true. This is true too - healing is a journey, not a destination, and the sooner we accept that truth the more able we are to step fully into the experience. As long as we maintain the idea that we’re supposed to arrive somewhere specific, we set ourselves up for suffering. We spend our time seeing the ways that we haven’t yet arrived at our imagined stop, resisting aspects of the healing process because they don’t fit our idea of what’s supposed to be happening, and missing out on the beautiful sights and bits of growth along the way. Embracing the journey idea can bring a greater sense of ease into the process. Here are some insights and tips from long-term travelers.

  • Getting started can be hard. Perhaps there are some vacations you’ve been excited about. You’ve jumped out of your bed at 4 in the morning, grabbed a cup of coffee, and flowed into your car and onto the road blasting your favorite mix-tape. The healing journey may not feel that easy. More than likely, you’ve been caught up in some patterns that have prevented you from getting on this road for a while, and the idea that you’ll be rip-roaring to go right from the jump might seem ridiculous. And that’s okay. Getting started CAN be hard, but you CAN do hard things. Rather than thinking you should feel a different way or experience a different thing, give yourself a break by accepting that getting started on a healing journey can be hard. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. 

Make the phone call, buy the book, write the letter. The momentum of that first step will help carry you onward.

  • Travel buddies, guides, and even strangers along the road are awesome. Lone travel is a wonderful thing, but even on a lone journey, it’s nice to have folks to talk to and smart people along the way who can help you find a good place to eat or help you fix a flat tire. The same is true of the healing journey. So much of healing work is internal, and it can get lonely because you’re the only one who can get inside your mind, heart, and spirit. Still, finding folks to walk with for a while, asking help from experts, and sharing your travel stories with people you meet along the way can make the tough spots feel smoother, navigating roadblocks less hazardous, and seeing beauty in some of the strangest places possible. 

Reach out to your trusted friends and family, make an appointment with a therapist or other professional, or join a support group. Humans are social animals; support and company are basic needs.

  • Sometimes the road gets bumpier before it smoothes out. We’ve found that the healing journey can be a bit like rural roads in New Mexico. Here’s what it looks like: the map (your therapist, the treatment center, your heart) indicates that you are on the right road, so you drive forward. It starts bumpy and gets even bumpier. The bottom of the car rattles and shakes. At just the moment you think you can’t possibly keep going forward, the road smoothes out or a smooth new route presents itself. It can be tempting to turn back when things get hard, but there’s a difference between driving your car and stepping into a healing journey. In a car, you might be able to turn around if there’s enough room on the shoulder. You might be able to drive back to where you started. The healing journey is a little different. Once you’ve stepped in, while you can turn around, you will probably never find your way back to precisely where you started, so it’s better to keep going.  

When things get hard, reach out for help, and keep going. The road will often get more challenging before it gets easier, but the only way to get to the easy part is to continue forward motion.

  • Roadblocks can feel like full stops, but if you look closely, you might find just what you need for the ongoing journey. Every once in a while, a tree falls over the road. This is true of cross-country trips, and it’s true of healing journeys too. External events like a death in the family, an illness, the breakup of a relationship, or internal experiences like difficult mood episodes, traumatic memories, or relapses can feel alarmingly final. Sometimes these challenges can feel insurmountable, and it’s not uncommon to question the worth of the journey or your ability to carry on. As in the case of the bumpy road though, turning back isn’t the best option.  

When you hit a roadblock in healing, practice accepting that it’s hard, reach out for help, and engage your sense of curiosity about what’s happening. This approach can help you not only move past the block but can arm you with more tools and tricks for the journey ahead.

  • Pullover to rest, and gas up often. If you’ve driven along the interstate in the United States you’ve seen at least 1 of those giant truck stops. They have a bunch of fuel stations, a convenience store, a restaurant, and sometimes even a motel. The smaller ones often have nice restrooms, some kind of hot food, and gas. These spots, along with the rest areas that dot the interstates and highways are there, not for beauty or enjoyment necessarily, but for safety. Tired, hungry people without fuel in their cars are not safe drivers. The healing journey is long, and healing work is hard sometimes. Finding ways to rest and discover the things that give you fuel for the journey are critical. Being well-rested and well-fed prevents bumps, smoothes out those that are not preventable, and lends the necessary strength for moving through or around roadblocks that present themselves.  

Rather than waiting for exhaustion and hunger to strike, make finding healthy ways to rest and gas up a part of your healing toolkit. Check out our posts on Moment to Moment Self Care and Fun in Recovery for ideas.

  • Enjoy the beauty along the way. Even the best road trips that start in one place and have a defined final destination are made better when you take the time to notice the sites and sounds along the way. When it comes to the healing journey, one of the best things you can offer yourself is the opportunity to enjoy the big and small wonders, successes, opportunities, and new ideas that you experience. Sometimes it’s easy to see the hard stuff: attending to the perceived failures, slights, and missteps is a habit. Part of staying gassed upon the healing journey is learning to practice seeing the beauty too.  

Make a habit of listing all the good things you can think of at the end of the day.  List things you’re grateful for, and also list things that you did well, times you stuck to your values, moments when you felt good in your skin, and things that you saw, heard, tasted, smelled, or touched that delighted you.  Send yourself an imaginary postcard from these beautiful spots.

Healing is a journey, not a final destination. There are bumps, blocks, and beautiful things all along the way, and all of those experiences are important. In this post, we’ve offered you some insight and some tips for making the most of the journey. If we can help you get started on your healing journey toward recovery from substance use issues, or if you’ve hit bumps or blocks along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re available to talk via phone at 1-888-448-LUNA, or you can direct message us from any page on this website.

fun in recovery

Today, we’re talking about fun. Specifically, we’re getting clear on why it’s important in recovery. In a nutshell, it’s a basic human need, it helps us get our necessary hit of dopamine, and having fun helps us learn new things. While reading about fun is fun, we also know that you might want more ideas. We’re not going to let you down. There’s a shortlist of things to try at the end of the post. 

Did you know that fun is a basic human need? It is, according to William Glasser, MD, the creator of Choice Theory. According to Glasser, all of our behaviors are put into play to meet some very basic human needs - survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. That includes the use and abuse of chemicals like alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs. 

If that’s true, then it’s easy to imagine how important it is, in recovery, to learn new and different ways to meet these basic needs - all of them. If you’re not convinced that fun is a basic human need, imagine a life that includes nothing but drudgery. Read on for more insight into why fun (and pleasure) are important.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of neuroscience. There’s no way for a neuroscientist to point to a spot in the brain and say, “this is the part of the brain that is associated with fun,” but what they talk about is pleasure, a direct byproduct of fun. According to David J. Linden, who published a book called, The Compass of Pleasure2 in 2011, here’s the gist: when humans experience pleasure, neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain light up, and the long tails of those neurons reach out into other areas of the brain - sort of like plant roots. When those neurons fire, they release dopamine to neurons in other parts of the brain. 

Dopamine is sometimes called the pleasure chemical, and the pleasure pathway has evolved with us and plays an important role in our individual and species survival. If we didn’t have this pathway, we wouldn’t care much about food or sex, and the species would ultimately die out. Humans have learned ways, both healthy and unhealthy, to activate that pathway. 

Drugs and alcohol do it, so do gambling, sex, and food. When we step into recovery, if we’re going to stay on the path and (1) avoid relapse or (2) avoid living an unfulfilling and dopamine-deprived life (of drudgery), we have to find ways to activate our pleasure pathway that are healthy. We’ve got to discover the fun in recovery.

At the start of this post, we said that fun plays a positive role in learning new things. That’s partially due to the pleasure pathway we talked about above. Having fun increases dopamine and other delightful chemicals like oxygen that make learning easier. 

Discovering new fun things to do, on our own and in groups often sets us up to learn new things too, and some of those things are important. We learn about ourselves by discovering what equates to fun, developing skills that help us grow our self-esteem, and if we’re having fun in groups, we often learn important social skills like social cue identification, communication, and boundaries.

For many people in recovery from substance use, important facets of learning that might have happened during adolescence or even earlier were stalled or bypassed due to family issues, trauma, emotional issues, addiction, or other challenges. Discovering fun in recovery can open huge windows for growth and development while also encouraging an ongoing sense of curiosity and fighting boredom. 

It’s important to understand that fun is subjective, so what one person finds fun might not be fun to another. It’s also imperative to remember that fun, while it seems like it should just happen, may not come naturally to some of us when we first step onto a recovery path. We may have developed the habit of only associating fun with being drunk or high, or we may have given up on fun entirely.

We might be (1) full of judgment and/or (2) out of practice. What’s important is accepting the fact that fun is critical to recovery (AND survival) and committing to finding your healthy pathways to the fun. We can invoke the principles of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to help us in our quest for fun. Here’s how that works:

  • Honesty: Take an honest look at how you had fun in the past. Go as far back as you need to. Make a list of all of those things, and then cross off the ones you know are unhealthy and don’t support your recovery. Commit to finding a way to either try one of those healthy, younger-you fun things or find a way to take the essence of that past thing and discover something new.
  • Open-Mindedness: When someone invites you to engage in an activity or tells you about something they consider fun, suspend judgment. Take your open mind and body for a spin in this activity. 
  • Willingness: Sometimes willingness trumps want-to even when it comes to fun. Boredom and resistance are old habits, and they are often stronger than the new fun-seeking habit that we’re trying to develop. Sometimes, you might have to combine a small spoon of open-mindedness with a big dose of willingness just to get out the door and try something that could be fun. 
  • Back to Honesty: At the end of the day, go back and take another honest look at the activities you tried. Not all activities are going to light up your dopamine circuits, and that’s okay. Conversely, you might find things that feel fun to you that nobody else really understands, and that’s perfectly alright too.

Fun is a big deal. It’s important for the care and nurturing of healthy humans, and that means it’s a very important piece of a full recovery puzzle. Before we go, here’s a shortlist of things to try on your own and/or in good company that may help you meet that basic human need, light up those neurons, and helps you learn a few things about yourself and the social world:

  • Take advantage of the outdoors: Hiking, tubing, swimming, water-skiing, jet-skiing, surfing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, snow skiing, golfing, gardening, playing disc-golf, walking, landscaping, bird-watching, and urban foraging are all ideas that cross the seasons, and while some activities might not be accessible for various reasons, Mother Nature always has something to offer. Even walking around your neighborhood and using an app on your phone to identify different bugs can be fun.
  • Learn a new skill: There are so many useful and just-for-fun skills out there to learn, and for some of us learning a new thing lights us up as much as skydiving does someone else. Learn to change a tire, patch a hole in the wall, fix a computer, darn a sock, work with ceramics, paint with watercolors, crochet or knit, whittle a stick, draw a cat, bake a cake, or shape a Bonsai Tree. It might be something you always dreamed of learning, or it could be some random skill that someone mentions off the cuff.
  • Group up: Playing with others is a great way to learn social cues and to practice communication skills and boundary setting. Start or join a book club, drawing club, comics club, or running club. Join sewing, knitting, or another craft circle. Play fantasy football with friends, go to a Comic-Con in cosplay costumes, or team up to create a film, a comic strip, or a song. Make your time with Mother Nature or learn a new skill at a group event.
  • Go down the rabbit hole: If something lights you up, follow its trail. Learn about UFOs, clowning, the history of women in medicine, Trickster mythology, the South American rainforest, famous dog breeds, or rainbows. Let your mind lead you in interesting directions, but always remember to come up for air and move your body around a little bit.

And with that, we’ll close. There are still hours left on this lovely day. We’re going out to have some fun. You should too.

1 Glasser, William, (1999). Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom. New York: Harper Perennial. 

2 Linden, David J., (2011). The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasms, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good. New York: Viking.

Alcoholism Recovery

What Does the Alcoholism Recovery Timeline Look Like?

The alcoholism recovery timeline is categorized into three different stages based on severity. These stages can be utilized to access a person’s symptoms. If a person doesn’t receive alcohol use disorder treatment, an individual can progress rapidly from stage 1 withdrawal to stage 3 withdrawal from a drinking period to the next. 

Stage 1 (mild): Mild withdrawal contains less serious symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and irritability. 

Stage 2 (moderate): Moderate withdrawal includes the above-mentioned stage 1 symptoms along with sweating, slight confusion, low fever, and rapid heart rate. 

Stage 3 (severe): Stage 3 withdrawals are considered to be most severe and the following symptoms are included are hallucinations, seizures, and disorientation. The stage 3 withdrawals have the most potential to be fatal. 

Alcohol Dependence and Tolerance

Alcohol is a legally obtained and intoxicating substance, that when consumed in abundant amounts over a prolonged period, can lead to the development of physical dependence and tolerance. Tolerance develops as a person’s body requires an increasing amount of alcohol to achieve desired effects. As alcohol abuse continues, an individual’s tolerance will continue increasing. 

When tolerance to alcohol continues to progress and build, physical dependence will likely begin to develop as well. If a person is alcohol dependent, they will experience potentially fatal and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. An individual must never attempt to detox from alcohol alone and there are a variety of detox services that are available to help.

Alcohol withdrawal can be exceedingly unsettling and scary if the process is done alone. The overall process of detoxification is the body’s natural approach to removing toxins from the body. When alcohol is involved in the detox process, it can turn deadly. In a medical setting, however, trained professionals can monitor an individual’s symptoms and be prepared to administer medications if needed in a comfortable and safe detox experience. 

How Long After You Stop Drinking Do You Feel the Effects?

It isn’t long after a person stops drinking alcohol that they begin to feel the effects. When individuals suddenly stop drinking and develop various alcohol withdrawal symptoms, there are often two questions repeatedly asked. They are, “Are these withdrawal symptoms normal” and “How long do the withdrawal symptoms last”.

It’s vital to note that withdrawal is certainly different for everyone. There isn’t a normal experience. Therefore, it can be difficult to foresee a person’s individual experience. It is typical for the withdrawal symptoms to start within hours to even a day or two after the person has had their last beverage. 

The person will generally begin to feel better between five to seven days after they stop drinking. However, some of the symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, and sleeping patterns can last for weeks or even months.

How Long Does It Take to Show Withdrawal Symptoms?

The accurate duration of withdrawal is thoroughly influenced by the substance that an individual uses as well as the magnitude of the overall dependence on the substance. It might take days, weeks, and in a few cases, months to outstretch an absolute resolution of a variety of withdrawal symptoms. It’s depending on several individual differences and many factors. 

It is a typical overview of specific drugs and the characteristic withdrawal timeline is as follows:

Alcohol: Some of the first signs of alcohol withdrawal might appear within numerous hours after a person’s last drink and the peak is over 24-72 hours. The delirium tremens normally develop 48-72 hours after the individual engages in heavy drinking. This typically lasts for 3-4 days but can last up to 8 days. 

What Happens in Your Body When You Stop Drinking? 

Individuals experience a withdrawal in their bodies when they stop drinking. It’s important to note that individuals with significant alcohol dependence might be more at risk of experiencing severe withdrawal and should therefore never attempt to quit alcohol “cold turkey” due to the increased likelihood of seizure development or other complications that are withdrawal associated. For many people, alcohol withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable. 

In some instances, it can also prove to be deadly if it’s not managed appropriately through medical detox efforts. It’s important to remember that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, also known as a CNS depressant, and suddenly quitting or slowing down use after developing dependence can result in potentially threatening nervous system stimulation as the person’s body restores equilibrium. 

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms might transpire within a couple of hours of the last drink. The more serious risks will remain to be a huge factor for many days. 

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal 

People who are alcohol dependent might experience some of the following upsetting alcohol withdrawal symptoms upon trying to quit:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Racing pulse 
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Agitation 
  • Sweating 
  • Insomnia 
  • Tremors 
  • Anxiety 

It’s not always extremely straightforward for a person to predict who would be considered at the highest risk for severe withdrawal complications. However, the overall likelihood of experiencing the most remarkable withdrawal tends to increase with the frequency of drinking and the average quantity of drinking. Individuals' specific concurrent history of polysubstance use, medical issues, and those who have undergone previous episodes of alcohol withdrawal might be at additional risk. 

Alcohol withdrawal can begin within the first couple of hours after the individual’s last drink, delirium tremens might not begin until a couple of days later and appear instantly, making the alcohol withdrawal the safest when monitored around the clock with medical professionals. 

What Happens the First Few Days You Stop Drinking?

There is an alcoholism recovery timeline to what occurs the first few days after a person stops drinking. 

1 Hour After a Person Quits

During this initial first stage, an individual’s body will kick into high gear to clear alcohol from a person’s bloodstream and prevent alcohol poisoning. After an hour when a person drinks their last drink, their liver begins working overtime. Alcohol has also been proven to trigger carb cravings and intense hunger that can lead to overeating.

12-24 Hours Afer a Person Quits

One of the most beneficial instances that can occur here is your blood sugar might finally normalize. Due to the diuretic effect that alcohol has on an individual’s body, it’s natural to feel dehydrated. So the best rule of thumb is to reach out for a water bottle asap.

48 Hours After a Person Quits

At this stage in the alcoholism recovery timeline, a person’s body generally finishes the biggest detox hurdle. Depending on how much a person has drunk, grogginess, tiredness, and headaches might be lingering still. The most inspiring part is the worse is over.

72 Hours After a Person Quits

The hangover side effects are most likely out of a person’s system at this stage. The person’s carb cravings may have most likely subsided. You should finally feel back to yourself both mentally and physically. 

1 Week After a Person Quits

By this stage, you should be experiencing deeper sleep, which should cause mental and physical energy to increase. Your skin might begin to look more youthful and soft as the hydration restores. If there are any skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, or dandruff, those might improve. 

1 Month After You Quit

After an entire month, a person might realize that their liver fat has reduced, therefore increasing the ability to filter toxins out of a person’s body. You might also notice a weight reduction. Additionally, the most remarkable improvement in a person’s skin should be noticed at this four-week mark period. 

1 Year After You Quit

An entire year after a person’s last drink, a significant amount of body fat might be lost. The overall risk of liver, breast, and throat cancers also begins to reduce. Another huge benefit of a year mark with alcohol sobriety is the amount of money that will be saved. 

What Happens When You Stop Drinking for a Week?

After a person stops drinking for a week, the alcoholism recovery timeline shows that the following symptoms can still be occurring in an individual’s life. 

  • Nervousness or anxiety 
  • Shakiness or jumpiness
  • Not thinking clearly
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability 
  • Fatigue

Other symptoms might include the following:

  • Tremors of a person’s hands or various other body parts
  • Insomnia (sleeping difficulties)
  • Clammy, sweating skin 
  • Enlarged dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache 
  • Pallor

A severe form of alcohol withdrawal which is called delirium tremens can cause the following:

  • Feeling or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Severe confusion 
  • Agitation 
  • Seizures
  • Fever

Treatment Options

As an individual enters detox, they will experience a professional medical evaluation. During this process, a medical professional will access the overall severity of withdrawal symptoms which will include physical and mental health. The professionals will make sure to work closely with the patients to develop an individualized plan to address all of the needs effectively. 

The trained medical health professionals will carve out time to accommodate every patient's needs during the detox process. They will be able to support each client and close monitoring to identify if there are any possible difficulties to intervene if necessary. The main goal is to keep the clients comfortable and safe as the first step towards sobriety is reached. 

Alcoholism Recovery Timeline Is Explained at Luna Recovery 

The first step towards long-term sobriety is alcohol detox. Relapse is extremely common for individuals who don’t participate in an alcohol recovery program. These programs are essential to prepare individuals with the tools needed to stay sober and healthy. 

Once an individual is medically stable and has completed the medical detox program, our staff will assist you in transitioning out of the detox program as an aftercare program is developed. They will be there with you every step of the way. The relapse prevention plan has the tools that are needed to fully maintain sobriety. Contact us to get started. 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/05-12.pdf

https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma15-4131.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-illicit.htm

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/61-66.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3908707/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25666543/

big and small t trauma

Trauma can be a tricky thing to talk about. It’s a confusing topic and one that has received lots of attention in the mental health field. The definitions of what kinds of events are traumatic and the ways that we talk about trauma reactions, both acute and post-acute, have changed several times over the years. One of the best things to come out of these many discussions is the understanding that individuals are unique and that honoring and treating their distress is more important than debating whether the event that led to their distress is big enough to qualify as traumatic. The concepts of big “t” and small “t” trauma are part of this evolution.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is a distressful event that falls outside the normal everyday experiences of an individual. These events can be human-made or the result of natural causes. When people talk about trauma, they tend to talk about big events. Things like combat, physical and sexual assault, catastrophic accidents, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks often make the list.

Oftentimes, these kinds of events include a perceived or real threat to life as well as a sense of powerlessness and helplessness. These can be classified as big “t”  traumatic events. If we were all in the room together hearing the story of one of these events, we would probably agree, “Oh, yes. That was traumatic.”  

Small “t” traumatic events tend to be more personal and subjective, and while they may invoke a sense of helplessness and powerlessness at the moment, they are not generally life-threatening. Some folks might not describe them as traumatic at all.

These include things like divorce, legal trouble, the death of a pet, employment issues, financial problems, interpersonal conflicts, or social issues. One small “t” event might cause very little distress. It’s the accumulation of these events that can be problematic. 

Not everyone who experiences a big “t” or the accumulation of several small “t” events will develop significant problems either in the immediate or further down the road. The mind-body response to a traumatic event or the accumulation of events depends on lots of factors. These include the individual’s beliefs, values, morals, past history, general resilience and levels of distress tolerance, level of social support, perceptions, and expectations.

Another important factor that determines how an individual move through and past a traumatic event is their ability and willingness to process the thoughts and feelings that arise as a result of the event. Avoidance plays a key role in the development of trauma reaction issues (Barbash, E., 2017). 

When it comes to big “t” events, avoidance behaviors can be quite obvious. One big “t” event is enough to cause serious distress, and the aftermath of big “t”s can be complicated by uncomfortable reminders like paperwork, reports, and cleanup. Individuals may use extensive energy to avoid any reminders of the big “t” event. Actions like refusing to report the assault, avoiding crowds or driving, or throwing away combat-related metals are examples of the kinds of avoidance behaviors big “t” victims might engage in.

Alcohol and drug use can also be used in attempts to avoid trauma-related distress. The trouble with distress-avoidance is that it doesn’t  actually make the discomfort go away. Avoidance is a bandage, not a cure. In fact, the energy used to avoid reminders of the event ultimately prolongs distress and can result in trauma reactions that last for months or years and significantly impact the individual’s level of life-functioning. Avoidance behaviors can also circumvent treatment resulting in continued suffering.

Avoidance might look different for those who’ve experienced small “t” trauma events. Individuals who’ve experienced these types of events might rationalize that the event is “something everyone goes through” and downplay the distress they feel. They might shame themselves for “being so upset” and work hard to push past or ignore their discomfort.

Outside messages from others can also be a factor. Statements like, “aren’t you over that yet?” or “you know, when that happened to me, it was no big deal” and others like them can cause a person to avoid dealing with their distress. As with big “t” trauma avoidance, individuals struggling with small “t” distress may turn to alcohol, drugs or other addictive behaviors.

Once again, a bandage is placed over the wound. When it comes to small “t” trauma, one bandaged wound might not set off a significant trauma reaction later on, but the accumulation of these bandaged wounds can cause significant impairment for some people in the long run. As with big “t” avoidance, small “t” avoidance can also prevent treatment-seeking. 

It’s important to understand that trauma related distress is not a sign of weakness. First, it is absolutely normal to have a mind-body reaction to an extraordinary life event that brings up feelings of powerlessness and helplessness. All animals have some sort of response to these kinds of events, and humans do too.

We often call the initial reaction “fight, flight, freeze’ (Roddick, 2015) . It is also normal to want to avoid distress, especially when it can feel as chaotic and out of control as the initial event, when it disrupts normal waking life, or when we receive messages that we shouldn’t be feeling distressed at all. 

Of equal importance is to see that Robert Frost’s quote, “the only way out is through” holds true here. The emotional and mental distress needs to be processed and experienced in order for it to move through the body and find a resolution.

Whether big or small “t” trauma is at the root of distress, admitting to the struggle and seeking help from loved ones, friends, and professionals can help prevent long-term dysfunction and begin the healing process.

The white powder that we know as Cocaine goes by many slang names, and its highly addictive offspring, Crack has many more. Call it blow, or rail, grit or hard candy. These potent drugs stem from the coca plant, a powerful stimulant that has been in use by humans for thousands of years. Let’s have a short look into that long history.

 

Humans have been using substances to change how they feel for a very long time. They’ve used them to relax, and they’ve used them to increase energy, like coca, for example. Coca is a potent natural stimulant grown in South America, and its use can be traced back at least 3,000 years in the archaeological record. Three thousand years! It might be even older, but the delicate nature of the plant remains makes it difficult to find and date. What we do know is that the coca plant was used by the Incan people in the Andes, possibly to help mitigate the impact of high altitude living. Later, native Peruvians used coca in religious ceremonies. According to reports, it was taboo to do otherwise. That changed when the Spaniards found their way to South America in the early 16th century. Coca was given to Peruvian slaves to increase their productivity.

 

Cocaine was isolated from the coca plant by the German chemist, Albert Niemann in 1859, and in the 1880s, its use as an anesthesia and nerve blocker was discovered. One of the most famous proponents of the drug was the psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. He had a “deep interest” in the drug’s medical and psychological uses, and he experimented on himself, noting his own sensations and reactions among his findings. He also shared it with his friends and gave it to patients as a cure for depression and sexual impotence. Freud described the drug as “magical” and downplayed observed negative effects like paranoid hallucinations and death by overdose. 

 

Like alcohol and heroin, cocaine was initially seen as a positive, life-enhancing medicine. The euphoria and energy that it offered couldn’t be beat. In 1886, John Pemberton added coca-leaves to his new soft drink, and the fizzy drink, Coca-Cola rocketed into popularity.  Between the 1850s and early 1900s, cocaine-laced elixirs were all the rage. Inventor, Thomas Edison, and the silent film actress, Sarah Bernhardt sang its praises. As general use increased so did the visibility of negative effects. Public pressure led to Coca-Cola removing cocaine from its ingredient list in 1903, but people had found other ways of ingesting the drug. By 1905, snorting the powdered version became popular, by 1910, medical professionals were reporting nasal damages in their cocaine-using patients, and in 1912, the government reported 5,000 cocaine-related deaths. In 1922, cocaine was officially banned.

 

Cocaine reemerged in the 1970s and 1980s, and the white powder became synonymous with the rich, the famous, and the beautiful. It was a glamorous party drug that fit in with late nights, loud music, and flashy fashion. Large amounts of the drug were moving into the country from South America; it was cheap, and dealers took advantage by buying large quantities and mixing it with ammonia and baking soda to create an even cheaper, solid version called crack. While the white powder was winding its way through rich parties, crack - solid, smokable, faster, and much more addictive - found its way into low income, often non-white neighborhoods. The Crack Epidemic was born.*

 

Sadly, despite the crack-down on drug-related offenses that arose from the Crack Epidemic in the 1980s, cocaine, in both powdered and rock form, continues to be a significant problem in the United States. According to research published in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the number of cocaine users in the US continues to rise. Unfortunately, cocaine deaths are rising too. Between 2014 and 2016, the year of the most recent published survey, cocaine overdose deaths increased from 5,892 to 11,316. Cocaine remains a popular and very dangerous drug in the United States, but treatment is available. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out. We’re here to help.

 

*You can read more about the Crack Epidemic in our blog post titled: Racism and Addiction Part I: The Crack Epidemic.

 

**You can read more about the Opioid Epidemic in our blog post titled: Racism and Addiction Part II: The Opioid Epidemic