vaping epidemic

The Vaping Crisis: A Look at the Latest Epidemic

Crisis Situation

An alarming 2.5 percent of high school students are using electronic cigarettes today.  That is a 135% increase over the past two years. At the same time, more than 1,600 people have suffered from a vaping related lung injury, and several dozens have died. The United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams has issued an advisory regarding the dangers of e-cigarette use stating, “I am officially declaring e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic in the United States.”

Nicotine is a dangerously addictive substance that harms adolescent brain development.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the brain develops until age 25, and nicotine exposure harms the part of the brain that controls attention, learning, mood and impulse control.  It also increases the likelihood of future addiction to other drugs.

Even Congress has been investigating the youth vaping epidemic and how it happened.  They found that more than 81% of people 12 to 17 who start smoking a tobacco product start with a flavor.  While we now know that the flavors of the e-cigs hooks kids, it is the nicotine that reels them in. 

In the midst of the CDC investigation into the vaping-related health crisis which has claimed 23 lives as of October 11, and 1,100 cases of vaping-related illness have been reported nationwide.  Patients in more than two dozen states have been presenting at hospitals throughout the country with symptoms such as:

  •         Coughing
  •         Chest pain
  •         Shortness of breath
  •         Nausea and vomiting
  •         Fever 

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said that the epidemic shows few signs of slowing down and is “continuing at a brisk pace.”

It is difficult for state health departments to collect and test all of the relevant samples, or even collect them due to misdiagnosis when the patient first presented.  But the larger issue is that this is a complex and multi-pronged public issue.

“Safer” or “Safe”

While there is evidence to suggest that using e-cigarettes is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, there is a difference between “safer” and “safe.”  E-cigarettes arrived in the U.S. market in 2007 and have been investigated by addiction researchers as a method to help adults quit smoking regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes and were presented as a safer alternative. However, Yale health researchers who study the health effects of vaping have found that vape devices have not been proven to help adult smokers quit smoking.

A study of 70,000 users found that vaping nicotine still doubles the risk of a heart attack.  Most people who vape are not even trying to stop smoking at all. They are vaping in places where smoking of regular cigarettes is not permitted and continuing to smoke traditional cigarettes where allowed. Those who both vape and smoke multiply their chance of a heart attack by five.

The American Lung Association has issued a definitive statement. “E-cigarettes are not safe and can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease.  No one should use e-cigarettes or any other tobacco product.”

Because of this information, the FDA issued a statement strongly urging people to stop using all vaping products containing THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana),  particularly those purchased off the black market. However, the CDC has pointed out that not all of the cases reported have involved THC. Lung injuries have been reported in patients that used nicotine vaping products exclusively.  This led to the CDC recommends that you not use any vaping products, particularly pregnant women and teens.

Key Facts about Use of E-cigarettes

  •   Electronic cigarettes—or e-cigarettes are also called vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, and electronic delivery systems (ENDS) among others.
  •  Using an e-cigarette product is commonly called vaping.
  •   E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.
  •   The liquid can contain nicotine, THC, and cannabinoid  (CBD) oils, and other substances and additives.

What Is Causing the Crisis?

With respect to the recent reports of acute vaping-related lung injuries—there are a few theories.  Lung ailments are being caused by the ingredients present in cartridges containing THC. Most of these were purchased off the black market.

The CDC reported that 78% of the 514 cases it has analyzed so far involved patients using products containing THC. A separate study reported that 66% of patients had specifically used “Dank Vapes,” a black-market manufacturer of uncertain origin that claims to contain 90% THC.

A lot of focus is centered on vitamin E acetate, a compound that has traditionally been used in skin creams and supplements but is increasingly being used by black-market producers as a thickening agent.  Vitamin E acetate is harmless if ingested or used topically but can be toxic if inhaled.

 According to Dr. Melodi Pirzada, chief of pediatric pulmonology at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Long Island, the inhalation of vitamin E acetate in oil can cause lipoid pneumonitis.  Lipid pneumonitis is a rare condition that results from fat particles being inhaled into the lungs. Symptoms are similar to those presented by the vaping lung injury patients, including chest pain and shortness of breath.

Many of the vaping ingredients are not listed on the products.  Some “e-juice,” a common name for the vaping liquid used in the e-cigarettes, contains diacetyl.  Diacetyl is a food additive that was used to make popcorn taste buttery without butter. A condition is known as “popcorn lung” was diagnosed first in the workers of a popcorn factory that used diacetyl.  It is used in vape cigarettes to enhance the flavors. 

Most high-end vape producers don’t use diacetyl, but in 2015, more than half the mass-marketed e-cigarettes were found to contain the chemical.  Since it is found primarily in flavored liquids, it is more appealing to teenagers. The more appealing it is, the more they use and the more exposure to the chemicals and a growing addiction.

Mayo Clinic researchers conducted a biopsy review of 17 subjects with vaping related lung injury.  They found that though the majority of samples (71%) came from patients who had used THC cartridges, the damage appeared to have not been caused by oil inhalation, but by “direct toxicity or tissue damage from noxious chemical fumes.”

Recently, a Juul employee sued the vaping company, claiming it fired him in retaliation for blowing the whistle on the marketing of at least a million contaminated mint-flavored e-cigarette cartridges.  Juul is the most popular among high schoolers due to a marketing strategy that targets teens with sleek vaping pens and different flavors.

However, the CDC has pointed out that not all of the cases reported have involved THC.  Lung injuries have been reported in patients that used nicotine vaping products exclusively.  This led to the CDC recommends that you not use any vaping products, particularly pregnant women and teens.

Long-term effects

Ultimately, there’s very little known about what happens to the chemicals in e-cigarettes when you heat and inhale them.  In a briefing, Anne Schuchat said that the CDC is conducting studies to try to analyze both the product and potentially the vapor or aerosol released by the heating of such chemicals. Due to this being a relatively new crisis it’s still a question as to what the long-term health effects may be.

We all know nicotine is not good for you.  Many e-cig products contain higher levels of nicotine than advertised.  We also know that e-cigarettes contain chemicals like propylene glycol and glycerine which can release volatile organic compounds that may be harmful when inhaled.

 A mouse study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that the inhalation of such chemicals, even without nicotine or THC, led to the mice’s lungs developing lipid-laden immune cells, an effect mimicking that of lipoid pneumonitis. With smoking-related diseases, you don’t know the effects until 20 years or more. So it’s possible we won’t know the long-term effects of e-cigarettes for 20 years or more. 

The vaping industry is moving so quickly that by the time studies come out, they might not be applicable to what’s popular now which makes long-term effects really difficult to judge.

Short-term Effects

Short-term risks of vaping—particularly vaping related illness—are very real.  John Carl, MD, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic said, “We know a lot of the short-term effects [on the lungs],” explaining that vaping increases inflammation in the lungs.  It paralyzes the cilia, the hair-like projections in the airways that remove microbes and debris. 

When those cilia become paralyzed, they are unable to do their job protecting the lungs, which increases your risk of infection, like pneumonia.  Both lipoid pneumonia, a lung infection caused by lipids or fats in the lungs; and chemical pneumonia, a lung infection caused by inhalation of chemicals, have been linked to vaping.

The cardiovascular effects of smoking are well known.  Nicotine causes high blood pressure and cholesterol abnormalities. Research published in 2017 in Nature Reviews Cardiology explains that “to date, most of the cardiovascular effects of [electronic cigarettes] demonstrated in humans are consistent with the known effects of nicotine.”

The Youth Vaping Crisis

Before the first cases of lung injuries were reported, kids vaping was a big health concern across the country.  Last year’s data showed a spike in youth vaping with 3.6 million young people have used e-cigarettes. Preliminary numbers show a similar rise in the 2019 data.  And the dangers are heightened by unsafe black market vaping devices and THC cartridges.

Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among American youth.  In fact, more high school students use “vapes” than adults. Use among middle and high school students increased by 900% from 2011-2015.

 So why are 1 in 3 high schoolers vaping?

  •         They are unaware or don’t care about the dangers.
  •         Manufacturers are targeting youth with clever marketing campaigns and sweet flavors.
  •         It is more acceptable in public places.
  •         It can be used as a coping mechanism to deal with uncomfortable feelings like depression or loneliness.

 The Surgeon General specifically mentioned Juul e-cigarette products. The Juul e-cigarettes contain a high level of nicotine. One cartridge contains the same nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes. Juul uses nicotine salts in its products, which gives a more pleasant feeling than freebase nicotine and helps account for its popularity.

 Young people who tried products with high concentrations of nicotine were more likely to keep smoking and vaping later. A 2015 study showed that for 2000 adults who stopped smoking by using e-cigarettes, over 160,000 teens and young adults made the transition in the opposite direction.

Physicians across the country are treating patients with mysterious life-threatening illnesses.  Otherwise healthy patients in their late teens and 20s are showing up with severe shortness of breath.  Some wind up in intensive care or on a ventilator for weeks.

The latest data from the CDC says that among 1,364 patients, the median age is 24 years old.  Forty percent of the patients were 18 to 24 years old.

What Can Be Done?

The delay in implementing comprehensive regulations for e-cigarettes has contributed to a growing crisis of vaping related illnesses and deaths across the U.S. and is a particular risk to young adults.

Bans on Vaping

Americans strongly support making vaping companies list all ingredients and health risks on product labels and barring teens from buying them.  But 59% surveyed agree a ban on vaping will drive more consumers to the unregulated black market.

Vaping is being regulated across the U.S.  Some state and regional governments have extended their indoor smoking bans to include e-cigarettes.

The federal administration announced that only tobacco flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed on the market.  The FDA specifically plans to crack down on the sale of vaping products in flavors like fruit, candy, and mint.

When the state of Massachusetts announced a 4-month ban on vaping products, vapers across the state reported a jittery alarm and anger at being cut off from their preferred source of nicotine, while tobacco cigarettes remained legal.  Vaping stores saw a last-minute rush of buying from panicky vapers. Others planned quick trips to vape shops in more lenient neighboring states.

Officials at K-12 schools where e-cigarette and vaping have soared are struggling with how to balance discipline for using tobacco products on school property with treatment and counseling. In Fort Myers, Florida, the Lee County School District saw tobacco and drug offenses increase almost five-fold while drug offenses more than doubled. Much of that was due to kids being caught vaping at school. 

In August, the district opened a new center where students suspended for such offenses are set for 20 days. At the center, the students complete their studies online, under the supervision of staff, for the four weeks, but they also receive mentoring and drug-treatment counseling. Very similar to an outpatient program.

 What if My Child is Vaping? 

Whether it’s nicotine, THC oil, or both, teens need to quit.  But that is easier said than done. Deepa Camenga, MD, a pediatrician board certified in addiction medicine says it’s never too early to begin talking about e-cigarettes in age-appropriate language.

But what do you do when your teenager or any loved one is already addicted to e-cigarettes? You could cross your fingers and hope it stops. Or you could talk in a non-confrontational manner about the dangers of vaping.  Ask about why he/she feels the need to use it. Often, young people use vaping and other drugs as a method to cope with an underlying problem. Parents need to remain calm and supportive and avoid punishing what has oftentimes become an addictive behavior. Nicotine replacement therapy or prescription drugs, counseling, and other support is what is needed.

Sana Lake Recovery Center has treatment programs for addictions of varying degrees. We have addiction specialists ready to guide you and your loved one on a path to recovery.  Call us now at (855) 413-8252. Our specialists are available around the clock to answer any of your questions.


intensive outpatient treatment

Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) in Missouri

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient Program. IOPs and IOTs (Intensive Outpatient Treatment program) are the same thing and offer the same course of care. The only difference is the name. There are many IOPs around the country but one of the top ones is Sana Lake Recovery Center in Dittmer, Missouri. IOPs allow patients to live at home while receiving top-notch care and therapy for their substance abuse problems. 

What Do I Expect in an IOP?

You learn many critical skills in an IOP. While IOPs are not 24 hour/7 days a week programs they do offer intensive therapy and critical information. Some things you will learn in your IOP is:

  • How to socialize without drugs or alcohol
  • Drug education 
  • Coping strategies when confronted with psychological problems or being offered drugs and/or alcohol
  • Relapse prevention techniques
  • Stress management strategies
  • Assertiveness training

What Activities do IOPs Offer?

Many of the same activities used in residential therapy and a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) are used in an IOP. These activities are: 

  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Drug education
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Why do People go to IOPs Instead of Residential Treatment Programs?

While residential treatment programs and PHPs are very important steps for some people if someone has only abused drugs and/or alcohol for a short period of time and has only abused certain drugs they might only need an IOP. IOPs allow you to live at home in your own community. This is very beneficial to people who:

  • Have young children at home
  • Work in certain businesses
  • Are the sole caretaker of elderly parents or other family members
  • They have other responsibilities in their community or family that other people are not able to or available to take on

Who is Not a Good Candidate for an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Sometimes people cannot go through an IOP alone and be successful. Most people do have responsibilities but if you have an addiction you probably already have a hard time dealing with your responsibilities or you might be failing to keep up with them. Some people need residential treatment and the 24 hour/7 days week care that comes with it if:

  • They have been abusing certain substances
  • The substance abuse has gone on for a long period of time 
  • They have certain co-occurring disorders 
  • They have gone through clinical addiction recovery programs before and relapsed
  • The person does not have a stable and/or safe environment to go to between treatments 
  • They lack a support network in their community

Co-occurring disorders are a combination of an addiction disorder and another mental disorder that occur together in the same person. You cannot be successful on your road to recovery if all of your mental disorders are not being treated properly. 

Dual Diagnosis and IOP

Mental disorders like depression can cause severe suffering. When an individual is suffering from a mental disorder and addiction simultaneously, this is called dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. People with mental health issues tend to mask their symptoms by drinking or taking drugs, while research shows that oftentimes people with substance abuse issues have an underlying mental health disorder in conjunction. Some common mental health disorders that trigger and reinforce an addiction disorder are:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Trauma including psychological and physical trauma

Can Trauma Cause Addiction?

Trauma, including abuse, can be a major trigger for the start and continuation of addiction. We at Sana Lake Recovery Center offer intensive trauma recovery treatments. We realize that it can be hard to talk about your experiences and you will never be forced to start talking about them. We prove to you that you can trust us and we gently help you talk about what happened to you. 

What are Some Trauma Recovery Treatments?

We use Reprocessing Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR) to help you start recovering. We also help place you with a therapist in your area who specializes in trauma and addiction and with whom you feel comfortable with. We understand that therapy is different from other medical processes. You might not like your heart doctor but that won’t affect your level of treatment. If you do not like or feel comfortable around your therapist it will be harder for you to make progress. 

How Long do IOPs Last?

The standard length of an IOP is 90 days with at least 9 hours of therapy three to five times a week. An IOP is not as time-consuming as a residential treatment program or the PHP that comes after it, but addiction is a very serious disorder. 

Can You Ever Recover From Addiction?

There is no way to just suddenly stop being addicted. Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey, but once you complete a drug rehab program you have the chance to start a new chapter in your life and return to health and normalcy. 

What do I need to do to Complete an IOP?

Many IOPs require that their patients stay sober for at least 30 days before discharging them to an aftercare program. 30 days may seem like a lot to ask in such a short period of time, but your IOP can be lengthened if you need it. You will not be asked to leave just because you have a slip. 

Who is a part of the IOP Recovery Team?

There are many people who help you during your IOP and beyond into the aftercare program. Some of the people who will take the responsibility of helping you are:

  • Therapists
  • Caseworkers/social workers
  • Nurses
  • Outside agencies that work with social workers and case managers to provide additional support to you after your discharge

What do Case Managers do?

In an IOP case, managers are the professionals who deal with the non-medical treatment of the patient’s clinical recovery process. Routinely case managers provide drug and alcohol testing.  Drug and alcohol testing is very important during the first phase of your recovery journey. It helps hold you accountable and it provides information to the medical personnel in case you relapse, which is, unfortunately, a very common occurrence. In addition, case managers do the following: 

  • Help you find recreational facilities and meeting places

Finding places where you can go to participate in healthy activities like taking up a new hobby or playing a sport with other people can be very beneficial to your health. These activities can help calm your mind and help you to continue to develop as a person.

  • Give you an additional person to confide in and someone who will provide you with knowledgeable advice if you want a second opinion on day to day activities like how to eat healthier.

Sometimes people feel like some problems are not important enough to bring up in therapy. Please remember that all your problems are valid and worthy of attention. 

  • Provide you with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and other STI testing and information 

Often your recovery clinic will provide you with these tests but sometimes it can feel intimidating to ask. A case manager is an additional person who is also very easy to approach.

How Do I Get the Stuff I Need After Drug Rehab?

Some more life intensive services that a case manager can help with are:

  • Finding a food bank
  • Obtaining clothes that are suitable for a job interview
  • Job and/or vocational training
  • Helping you find cost-effective transportation services  
  • Providing you with the information needed to find someone to give you legal advice or other legal help if you need it

What are the End Goals of an IOP?

One of the main goals of an IOP is to put you in a mental and physical condition where you do not take drugs or drink alcohol for at least 30 days. Staying sober is a requirement throughout the aftercare program as well. If someone slips or relapses during their IOP they will receive continued counseling in the IOP and they often have to continue the program until they meet the 30-day criteria

  • Complete program goals

You will have your own personalized goals when you enter your IOP program. Your goals are often a combination of professional requirements and things that you want to achieve before leaving the program. 

  • Being competent in your assertive skills to get out of situations that might cause you to relapse because of peer and/or family pressure

Some people have to trigger people or situations that make them want to abuse substances. During your IOP you will learn you have the strength to leave these situations and/or break off the connection with people who trigger your addiction. 

It might sound easy but if one of your triggers people is a long-time friend or even a family member it can be very difficult. Trigger places might be places that make you want to abuse substances while you are at them. 

Trauma is a big stressor that often causes people to turn to drugs and/or alcohol for comfort. Being in a place that reminds someone of their trauma might cause them to slip or relapse. 

  • 12 step-program

Your caseworker will help you find a local 12 step program like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). 12 step programs like these can help you stay sober and continue your treatment in combination with a therapist if you have a dual diagnosis or you feel the need for one. 

Do I Need Therapy after Drug Rehab?

Your aftercare program might offer continued therapy, but once it is over you will begin therapy outside your clinic’s network. A case manager can help you find a local therapist that suits your needs. 

How Do I Find an IOP?

Sana Lake Recovery Center is located in Missouri. Our dedicated team of professionals offers everything you need to start your new life on your road to recovery. When you have made the decision to start your new life please contact us (855)745-3336. 




Is a Loved One Struggling with Alcoholism? Five Reasons They Should Consider Treatment

When faced with confronting our loved ones with their alcoholism, many more times than not it is a lot harder than we anticipate. They may deny their addiction has even happened or refuse to accept help from anyone because they believe they can conquer it alone. No matter how strong their fight is against getting help and receiving treatment, your main reason to continue on until they agree should be to help them live a longer, happier life. Not only will they be grateful you stepped in to help them realize the potential of gaining their sobriety back, but you will help save their life and be able to have them around a lot longer to celebrate.  

Why Addiction Happens

Life can sometimes get us down. The weight of stress and anxiety from day to day can become overwhelming, and with this comes the risk of turning to substances like alcohol in order to escape from the everyday struggles we all face. Not everyone will turn to 

Drinking once in a blue moon to numb the pain of a certain situation going wrong in life is not something that should be worried about. Everyone should be allowed to have a drink or two after a breakup, loss of a job, being stressed out, etc. to relax and relieve some anxiety. The problem of alcoholism occurs when someone decides to drink every once in a while isn’t enough, and they begin to use alcohol to cope with everyday life.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

No matter what kind of alcohol is being consumed, various signs will hallmark an addiction. For example, consider the following:

Seclusion from Others: People struggling with alcoholism may want to be alone the majority of the time and hide in their homes instead of agreeing to outside plans. In addition, they also lose interest in hobbies they previously enjoyed.

Possible Depression or Anxiety: In some cases, addiction can bring about a co-existing mental health condition. For example, some people suffer from accompanying depression and anxiety when they face alcoholism.

Physical Changes: Physical changes are common and can include many things. Some people may not be interested in bathing, brushing their hair, or handling other self-care tasks. Other signs may include red eyes and dark circles from lack of sleep, as well.

Extreme Mood Swings: Someone addicted to alcohol will oftentimes act completely normal when under the influence. As the amount of consumed alcohol goes up or once the individual experiences the “coming down” from a drunk, their mood will change. They can become angry or extremely sad one minute and experience a completely different mood the next.

The First Step to Helping Someone With an Addiction

Family and friends who have been faced with alcoholism will oftentimes refuse help or hide from their addiction. In order for them to know that they will not have to go through the process of recovery alone, it is important to stage an intervention. An intervention is when loved ones who care about the affected individual’s well-being schedule a gathering where they show their support and worries about the individual’s addiction. The people in attendance will share personal stories about their experience with the person’s addiction and how it has affected their relationship. 

The goal of the intervention should be to express concerns in a helpful way and to give the addict their options. They will hopefully decide to receive treatment instead of continuing to travel down the path they’re on. Our specialists here at Sana Lake Recovery Center are able to provide more information on intervention preparation and shed light on what professional help for the individual will look like once at our treatment center.

Five Reasons to Encourage Getting Treatment

Because addiction treatment has such a negative connotation, it is important to come up with a variety of reasons to show the person you know struggling with alcoholism of what they could achieve by going to a rehabilitation center. There are many reasons to include, but we believe five of the main reasons are:

  • Gaining Financial Stability. Although treatment costs are high, spending a large amount on an addict’s future health versus being a prisoner to substance abuse is a worthwhile investment. After the treatment is finished and sobriety is achieved, it will be a lot easier for the affected individual to go back to work and financially support themselves than when they were addicted to alcohol.


  • Repairing Relationships. When going through addiction, many individuals lose sight of what is important. They place their substance over everything, including their relationship with their loved ones. By beating their addiction, they will be able to focus on rebuilding their relationships they once lost.


  • Building a Support System. Addicts oftentimes believe they are facing their struggles and worries alone, which is why they turn to alcohol in the first place. By participating in group therapy and family therapy programs at Sana Lake, they will be able to turn to others instead of turning to a substance for support.


  • Developing Passions. Alcohol becomes the only thing someone cares about during his or her addiction. Once sobriety has been achieved, they are able to see the many other options for happiness that life has to offer. 


  • Saving Their Life. If alcoholic individuals carry down the same path for too long, their bodies and minds will eventually start to give out to their addictions. By attending our programs at Sana Lake, they will have a better chance of living a longer, healthier life than they would have when facing their addiction by themselves.


Alcoholism Treatment Services Provided at Sana Lake Recovery

Medically Monitored Inpatient Detoxification: Detoxification refers to the process of weaning an individual’s body off the substance they were abusing. It’s been proven the safest to slowly clear the body of the unwanted substance as opposed to going cold turkey 

Adult Substance Use Disorder Residential and Outpatient Psychosocial Services: Inpatient services are provided around the clock at treatment facilities for those who require more care for their addiction. Outpatient treatments allow patients to maintain somewhat of a normal lifestyle, so they can continue to go to school or work to provide for their families.

Naturopathic and Holistic Treatment: Both of these treatments require a desire to not only help one’s body but also one’s mind and spirit. Naturopathic treatments focus on using natural remedies to cure the body like acupuncture and massaging to relieve excess stress. Holistic treatments are centered on finding the “bigger picture,” and they encourage patients to believe in something larger than this life has to offer. 

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment (Individual and Group Therapy): When someone is diagnosed with a substance disorder, it is often accompanied by a mental disorder. This treatment is to help someone struggling with multiple disorders and focuses on how to treat both at the same time.

Trauma Therapy (Individual and Group Therapy, including EMDR): Individual and group trauma treatment focuses on pinpointing the time in a person’s life that inflicted so much mental or even physical pain on them that it caused them to want to turn to a substance to help cope with the memory. Included in this are the EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy that uses an individual’s eye movements to decrease the power of emotionally charged memories.

Medication-Assisted Treatment: This is the common term for prescribing patients medication in order to cope with certain disorders, whether it is substance abuse or a mental disorder.

Family Programming: These programs aim to help all individuals affected by substance abuse, not just the patient. They encourage family members to attend these sessions to help them understand why their loved one has developed an addiction.

Wellness Programming: These programs intend to show former addicts how to live a healthy lifestyle. Patients are taught how to eat healthily, exercise and even develop their spirituality. All of these encourage them to find another, healthier outlet to avoid the substance they abused for so long.

Clinical Staff

Our Sana Lake staff works around the clock to ensure that patients are receiving the full amount of assistance they need to overcome their disorder. Our psychiatrists and clinicians assess the severity of the condition a patient is in. They then work to create a plan that best suits what the patient requires, whether it is inpatient or outpatient services. Once admitted into the program, our medical professionals begin the detoxification process that will ultimately lead the patient to other treatment programs. 

Our nursing staff is trained to manage all medications prescribed to patients while in the facility. We have EMDR trained therapists that use eye movement techniques to reduce the severity of emotionally charged memories. Also present at the facility are individual and family therapists that focus directly on the patient and their families in order to help all parties involved understand why the disorder occurred. All of these professionals strive to meet the needs and goals of each patient that is admitted into our facility here at Sana Lake.

About Sana Lake Recovery Center

Our Dittmer team strives to service and educate individuals needing assistance with helping their loved ones receive the treatment they need. We are able to help not only the Missouri community but also individuals across the nation. If you believe you or a loved one needs more information on alcohol abuse recovery, please contact us today at 855-745-3336.

Opioid plant

Understanding Medically-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Detox

Back in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies were working with medical communities and telling them that their patients would not become addicted to prescription painkillers, otherwise known today as opiates or opioids. Therefore, since their extremely addictive tendencies were not as prevalent during this time, the rate at which physicians were prescribing opioids to their patients began to skyrocket, subsequently starting a big trend and continuous cycle of narcotic sales and consumption, leading to the misuse of these prescription and non-prescription drugs. 

Fast forward to the present day, the information spread around back then about opioids would be considered slanderous, as extensive evidence and research have proved that these painkillers are addictive. For adults under the age of 50, opioids account for more than half of all drug overdose deaths, the leading cause of death within the United States. To put this into perspective, the misuse of prescription narcotics affects two million Americans around the world, and on average, 130 people die from opioid-related overdoses every single day. 

Causing major health, social, and economic problems, opioid addiction has been this ongoing widespread epidemic, one that has continued to rapidly increase, and not slow down anytime soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that due to the misuse of prescription opioids alone, the United States has been in an economic burden, causing a loss of 78.5 billion dollars annually!

Therefore, to combat the severity of this type of addiction, treatment, here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we believe in opioid detox, but through Medically-Assisted Therapy (MAT). This treatment method aims to help save people’s lives, make opioid detoxification safer and more manageable, and most importantly, lower the rate of death due to overdose, and end this destructive cyclical epidemic. 

What are Prescription Opioids? 

Known as narcotics or pain killers, opiates are medications often prescribed by physicians, specifically to help treat individuals who are suffering from severe chronic pain, such as headaches and migraines, back pain, and arthritis. As mentioned before, in recent years, prescription opioids have been more widely accepted than in the past. This often is a result of recovering from a big surgery or becoming injured from sports, falls, auto accidents, or other incidents. The most common types of opioids include: 

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin) 
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin) 
  • Heroin (Street drug) 
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine
  • Morphine 

Despite the serious risks and side effects associated with these potent drugs, people take them, because they are so desperate to get rid of the severe pain they are in. As you might have guessed, this is dangerous, because opioids have a high success rate in numbing pain. The more the drug is effective in doing its job, the more dependent our body becomes on them. 

How Do Opioids Work?

Opioid receptors are located and found in our nervous system, where they attach themselves within the nerve cells or neurons within our brain. These receptors trigger a chemical reaction, which leads to the body feeling the sensations of pleasure and pain relief. In other words, these opioid receptors interact with certain nerve cells located within the brain and body. 

When taking opioids of any kind, this changes the chemistry of the brain which leads to drug tolerance, which means the dosage that someone is taking regardless if correct or not, ends up increasing every time, so when absorbed into the bloodstream, the body thinks and mimics the same pain-relieving effect every time, because the body is so used to it. When this dependence and inability to cease use interferes with the quality of a person’s life, it is considered to have developed into Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). 

Opioid pain relievers can be safe when prescribed and monitored carefully by a licensed physician. However, since these drugs specifically produce symptoms of euphoria in addition to relieving pain, it is often assumed that it is okay to take more than the actual recommended dosage. But, even when opioids were taken as directed, and then no longer required medically, they still have a high potential for causing addiction in some people. 

What Causes Tolerance, Dependance, and Addiction to Opioids? 

What we do know from research, is that this condition is a result of a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors, some of which are unknown at this time. 

Identifying the reasons or causes as to why people become addicted to opioids is complicated. This epidemic has been ongoing, and as the death toll continues to rise, the cause of why and how it can be stopped is constantly being figured out. 

As mentioned above, much of what is believed to play a role in opioid addiction is the body’s internal system for regulating pain, reward, and addictive behavior. This is called the endogenous opioid system. It consists of receptors. When a person craves an opioid, the genetic makeup in these receptors, provide the brain with instructions on how the body is influenced. This means how our body should react and respond when a person takes their opioid of choice.

It is important to note, that there is a difference between tolerance, dependence, and addiction when it comes to opioids. Tolerance means when a person is using opioids, they start to experience a reduced response to medication. Therefore the person will require more amounts of opioids to experience the same pain-relieving effect.

The meaning of dependence is similar to tolerance. It means that an individual’s body adjusts to its normal functioning when opioids are taken. Unpleasant symptoms similar to withdrawal occur when no opioids are in one’s system. Lastly, addiction is the most powerful of them all. Also known as opioid use disorder (OUD), addiction occurs when a person develops an overpowering urge or craving for these drugs. An addicted mind is also attributed to a loss of control, making it more difficult to refuse the drug. It can also be hard to function without it, even though using can be extremely harmful. 

It is important to note, that dependence is not the same as addiction, but can, and most likely will lead to it if not careful. Dependence, as mentioned, is when the body becomes used to the medication over time. Addiction means abusing a substance or drug. In this instance, when someone in pain takes a pain pill, or even when they are not in pain, one’s body has unfortunately become so dependent on the opiate, they have a compulsive need to take these narcotics to properly function. In other words, opioids make your brain and body believe the drug is necessary for survival. 

Addiction is the final step after someone has first become dependent and tolerant. This makes it very challenging and difficult to stop taking opioids, and withdrawal symptoms, both physical and psychological begin, such as diarrhea, sweats, muscle cramping, anxiety, etc. 

Not only can addiction cause life-threatening health problems, but a person who is addicted is at major risk of overdosing. Taking opioids causes the following symptoms: 

  • Shallow breathing
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sleepiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

Complications due to opioid use and abuse can lead to unconsciousness and overdose, but unfortunately, as the statistics show, the stories of tragedy happen all too often where it is too late to help some people, and they die due to overdosing, complications from use, often both, especially if mixed with other medications. 

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Some of these methods include: 

  • Medications (methadone, buprenorphine, or naloxone)
  • Behavioral therapies: (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-CBT)
  • Inpatient and outpatient rehab
  • Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)

Before it is too late, it is important to identify the many warning signs that someone needs treatment. These include withdrawals, dependency, inability to function without the drug, denial, etc. Heavy or prolonged use of opioids causes the body to become physically dependent on the drugs, which in turn causes symptoms of withdrawal that are so stressful that it becomes challenging to stop taking them. 

Like other substance use disorders, Opioid Use Disorder is treatable. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we tailor treatment to each of our patient’s needs both safely and effectively, as we understand that everyone’s situation is unique. Those in treatment, have to learn to control their condition or disease, through a variety of treatment methods and programs to make behavioral changes to be on a journey to a successful recovery. 

The detox process from any drug is awful and difficult, to say the least. Detoxification is the process of removing all of the substance or drug of choice from the entire body. Except during this process, the body is so dependent on these opioids, that the goal is to wean someone off of them completely. However, the reaction to this process is extremely intense. 

When a drug hasn’t been taken for some time, the body craves it, and therefore, starts going through withdrawals as a result. These symptoms include: shaking, nausea/vomiting, sweats/chills, fatigue, etc. When opioids are completely clear from one’s body and bloodstream, treatment can begin. 

Medically-Assisted Therapy is the Most Effective Treatment for Opioid Detox

Treatment for opioid abuse and addiction can help you; change your attitudes and behaviors related to drug use, learn important life skills and coping skills, and stick with a regimen and other forms of treatment, such as medicines. 

Medically supervised opioid withdrawal and detoxification involve the administration of medication to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms that occur when an opioid-dependent patient stops using opioids. The main purpose of the supervised withdrawal is to safely and successfully transition a patient to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder.

What is Medically-Assisted Treatment? (MAT)

During MAT, specialists in opioid treatment use anti-craving medications, most commonly, naltrexone (Vivitrol), buprenorphine (Suboxone), or methadone. Comprehensive therapy and support are crucial in this process. It’s important to help address the situation as a whole, meaning all factors related to opioid dependence, including withdrawal, cravings, and relapse prevention. 

People dealing with this physical dependence on opioids, unfortunately, are known to experience multiple relapses throughout treatment. During this treatment, addiction specialists are aiming to help a patient abstain from opioid use so that their tolerance over time decreases. 

Benefits of Medically-Assisted Treatment

When compared to recovery treatment without medication research has proven MAT does the following: 

  • Increases abstinence from opioids 
  • Reduces the risk of relapse 
  • Increases treatment retention 
  • Improves social functioning

If a person practices abstinence but ends up relapsing after some time has passed, they are also at high risk of overdosing, because their body is not used to absorbing the same dosage or amount of drug. Therefore, by using medically-assisted treatment methods as a means of opioid detox, during one’s recovery, this will reduce one’s risk of overdose, relapse, and most importantly, death. 

There is always a high risk of relapse during treatment for those suffering from addiction. However, during medication-assisted treatment, this is more unlikely, than those receiving no help from specific detox medications. 

To clear up misconceptions, people who are seeking treatment for addiction through a 12-step program may have been told that medically-assisted treatment is just substituting one addictive drug for another. This is extremely false, as the medications used during MAT for opioid addiction are just the opposite. Individuals are given medication to detox, and most importantly, to help stop the cravings, in hopes to end the control factor and dependency on these drugs, and enter into recovery. This evidence-based treatment approach has often been successful at helping people overcome opioid addiction and maintain long-term recovery. 

Sana Lake Will Help You Recover

At Sana Lake Recovery Center located in Dittmer, MO, we believe in medically-assisted treatment is best suited for our patients needing treatment for opioid addiction. Our mission is to help our patients end this dependence and control these pain killers has over their lives, leading them into a healthy lifestyle, consisting of recovery and long-term sobriety.  

Our team is committed to making sure you succeed as you pursue freedom from opioids. Know you are not alone, and help is available! If you are ready to take back control over your life and become sober, contact us today at (636) 707-2097. Click here to learn more about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. 



Dual Diagnosis: Is Your Alcoholism Caused By a Mental Illness? Key Indications it Could Be

The truth of the matter is, drinking alcohol is considered a social norm, but can easily become the beginning of the road to alcohol abuse. While people do not have the intention of abusing alcohol when they first start to drink, alcoholism often occurs as a result of continual binge drinking. As a depressant, people turn to alcohol for various reasons, and either become dependent very quickly or for others, it takes longer. In whatever case, it is important to know, that alcohol dependence can lead down a very dark path, leading to serious life-changing complications. 

Nearly 17 million American adults in the United States have an alcohol-related problem, meaning having a dependency or addiction to alcohol, otherwise known as an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism. Research conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), states that approximately 88,000 people die annually from alcoholism-related causes that could have been prevented. 

In fact, alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable deaths throughout the United States. Let these statistics sink in. This means, that those people suffering could have received help for their addiction, but couldn’t or it was too late.

How Do I Know if I’m an Alcoholic? 

If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms outlined by the DSM-V, they more than likely qualify as being an alcoholic. These include:

  • Drinking excessively for a longer period of time than intended.
  • Incapable of cutting back on the amount consumed.
  • Becoming or making yourself sick due to drinking too much.
  • Inability to function or concentrate without craving alcohol. 
  • Inability to carry out important tasks, such as caring for family, holding down a job, or going to school. 
  • Continuing to drink despite strained relationships with friends or family.
  • Convincing others to also drink. 
  • Pushing away from activities or people that were once important. 
  • Finding yourself in dangerous or harmful situations because of drinking. 
  • Continuously drinking and blacking out despite it causing depression, anxiety, and other health problems. 
  •  Drinking more because you are dependent and tolerant of it. 
  •  You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these statements above, it is best to start seeking help from a professional alcohol treatment center, the earlier the better. Sana Lake Recovery Center in Dittmer, Missouri can help you recover so that you can live a long-term healthy and sober lifestyle. 

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis also referred to as co-occurring disorders are when substance abuse and a mental health disorder occur simultaneously. It is extremely important to note, that mental health can be caused by excessive drinking, or those with an already existing mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression, oftentimes turn to alcohol as their substance of choice, to suppress and numb what they are feeling. 

When there is a dual diagnosis present, a person who has substance abuse can have multiple conditions, and vice versa. For example, a functioning alcoholic can suffer from bipolar disorder, heroin or crack addict can have clinical depression, the combinations are endless. According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.9 million people in the United States experience co-disorders, most commonly men, 4.1 million of them to be exact. The symptoms of dual diagnosis include: 

  • Isolation from loved ones, family and friends
  • Denial to get help
  • Extreme changes in mood, becoming increasingly irritable, angry, or anxious
  • Changes in appetite, such as eating more or less than usual
  • Losing motivation and energy
  • Noticeable loss in focus or completing everyday tasks 
  • Neglecting personal or professional responsibilities
  • Trying to justify drinking excessively 

An individual with co-occurring disorders, for example, depression, are more likely to be the one to drink alcohol, as a means of self-medicating to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings of helplessness. Specific research has shown that while excessive drinking does not produce behavioral conditions, alcohol consumption exacerbates the symptoms of mental illness, making it increasingly more difficult to treat. 

Alcoholism and Mental Illness are Linked 

Alcoholism and mental illness are linked but in various ways. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that about one-third of individuals who are struggling with alcohol abuse problems, also suffer from a mental illness. This is called a dual diagnosis. While this is very true, it is not always the case, as everyone and their level of addiction are different. 

Mental illness is defined as a condition that affects a person’s mood, thinking, emotions, and behavior. These conditions often affect someone’s ability to function properly and maintain normal relationships with others. There are various types and levels of mental illness, which affect each person with one, differently. The most common mental health conditions that occur when abusing alcohol and other substances include:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Dementia
  • Attention Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity (ADD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

As mental illness affects a person’s ability to function, in addition to thinking and feeling properly, so does drinking alcohol, excessively. Addiction is a mind-altering disease, so when that addiction is alcohol, as a depressant, it impairs and slows down one’s central nervous system (CNS), where the vital parts of the brain — mainly its physical and psychological activity become significantly reduced. 

It is evident that alcohol especially worsens the symptoms of mental illnesses, and therefore treatment by professionals who specialize in mental disorders and addiction is of utmost importance. While help is needed for addicts suffering from alcoholism and a mental disorder, oftentimes, dual diagnosis goes undiagnosed and untreated for long periods of time, which is greatly responsible for the increase in the rate of relapses.

Truth is, dual diagnosis is the key to a patient’s successful recovery. While addiction relates to trauma, anxiety, depression, and biochemical imbalances in the brain, addicts usually attempt to regulate or relieve their pain by using and abusing substances of their choice. Dual diagnosis combines both the factors or symptoms of addiction so that a patient can be treated properly and be on the road to recovery, to ultimately live a healthy and sober lifestyle

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

There is no doubt that there is an ongoing stigma surrounding mental health, one that medical professionals or those suffering have been trying to put to rest. It is important to realize that while some individuals may be open about struggling with substance abuse and addiction, others deny having a problem at all, which is a common reaction for various reasons. People struggling with both alcohol abuse and a mental disorder view their predicament as a failure and an embarrassment.

As a result, people are afraid to admit they have a problem, which is detrimental on all levels, but it happens all the time, and unfortunately, sometimes too late. Alcoholism and mental health is a sensitive subject. In cases such as these, it may be beneficial to discuss the matter with an alcohol counselor or treatment specialist. Denial and ignoring this severe problem will only cause further complications and take complete control over a person’s life. 

How is Dual Diagnosis Treated?

Getting help is the first step, and the sooner the better. Early diagnosis equals successful outcomes in the medical world. In other words, the sooner that symptoms of dual diagnosis are recognized and treated properly, the greater the chance for long-term recovery. 

The idea that both a substance abuse problem, such as alcoholism, and having a mental disorder need to be treated separately is outdated. Today, co-occurring disorders are often treated together. The goal during treatment for dual diagnosis is to understand the ways each condition; alcoholism and depression, for example, affect one another, and how treatment can be most effective. 

During treatment for dual diagnosis, you and your treatment provider will sit down and go through what is called the intake or medically-assisted detox. This comprehensive process allows the treatment center to get to know the patient as a whole, by doing a psychological assessment and gathering medical history. This allows specialists to be able to administer the right form of treatment, tailoring it to each patient’s needs, as everyone and their situations are different. Here are the most common methods used to treat co-occurring disorders: 

  • Inpatient Rehab: A person experiencing both this dangerous combination of substance abuse and mental illness may benefit from entering into an inpatient rehabilitation center. Inpatient rehab is also known as residential treatment, where individuals will live at the facility and receive treatment from medical and mental health professionals around the clock. Inpatient rehab provides support, therapy, and health services to best treat the alcohol use disorder (AUD, mental disorder, and its underlying cause. 


  • Outpatient Rehab: A person with a dual diagnosis often benefits from entering an outpatient rehab after living in inpatient rehab for an extended period of time. However, everyone’s treatment journey is different. Outpatient programs allow patients to recover from their co-occurring disorders while living a more independent life at home. People will not live at the facility like in inpatient, but will still attend hours of treatment several times each week, participating in various programs and support groups. With the help of treatment specialists, aside from attending groups and programs, they will also learn the necessary coping skills to learn how to best deal with their mental health in everyday situations. Most addiction treatment centers also offer intensive outpatient programs (IOP) for those who need extreme treatment.


  • Detoxification: The first part of the comprehensive treatment plan before being admitted into a rehabilitation center is called detox. Trained medical staff will monitor a person and start to wean them off their substance of choice, in this case, alcohol until it is removed entirely from the bloodstream. Withdrawals will occur, but the goal is to lessen symptoms and the effect it has on the body. Once detox is complete, the person will be admitted into an inpatient or outpatient program to continue their journey to recovery.

Sana Lake Can Help You Recover

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, our specialists know how to treat both substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. We will examine both the addiction side and mental health side, and as a result, administer the right treatment plan to treat both in hopes of having an optimal outcome of sobriety.  

We are a world-class facility, where our approach is individually based, as we recognize everyone’s situations and needs are different. Our specialists pride ourselves in providing the most effective personalized treatment plan for our patient’s suffering from both substance abuse issues, such as alcoholism, and co-occurring mental health issues. We will evaluate each person’s needs to determine what program would benefit the most, in addition to providing them with the basic lifestyle and coping skills, and other tools they need to live a high-quality of life. 

If are suffering from alcohol abuse and a mental disorder, here at Sana Lake, we specialize in dual diagnosis and understand the challenges and fears that you are facing while overcoming alcohol abuse. While it is not easy to stop using a substance that you have been dependent on, our compassionate team is dedicated to helping save and change our patient’s lives for the better. You are not alone! To get help today, contact us in Dittmer, MO by calling (636) 707-2097 today. 


new hobby ideas

Cave Paintings: 9 New Hobby Ideas to Support Your Recovery

Recovering is all about you, and what better way to celebrate a new start than with a new hobby?

But let’s face it: no one person is alike, and we all have different interests. So which hobbies are best? If you’re painting skills are akin to a neanderthal’s, should you even bother?

The truth is, there are hobbies that can impact your recovery’s success. The trick is finding the right one for you.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 9 new hobby ideas that will help keep you focused, encouraged and positive. Sober living can bring lots of new experiences in your life. Which is your favorite?

9 New Hobby Ideas

Hobbies keep you active and help you avoid addiction triggers. Plus, they are great for enhancing self-esteem and communication.

Finding the right activity might mean trying out several and see how you feel about each. The secret is not to worry about how “good” you are; instead, it’s all about how much you enjoy the hobby.

1. Journal Writing

Are you an introvert? Do you feel better after discussing your thoughts and feelings?

Try journal writing.

Writing in a journal can be an entirely solo experience or a tool for interaction with a friend, loved one or a trusted therapist. It’s up to you which path you choose.

Either way, expressive writing evokes mindfulness. Because writers engage with their thoughts and language, they not only increase thoughtfulness but even their communication skills.

Further, studies suggest journal writing helps in achieving goals. When writing about ambitions, it signals your intentions to the brain. When opportunities occur that could help your goal, the brain flags them.

For those in recovery, these changes are paramount. They can help individuals consider their actions deeply, communicate their thoughts and emotions with others and work towards aspirations.

2. Painting

Recovery is a time of healing, but it can also be a difficult period full of intense emotions. Painting and other arts are helpful hobbies if you experience these extreme feelings.

Painting, drawing and other art forms allow the artist to express him or herself without words. This is constructive for recovering people who may struggle with feelings of guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety.

The act of being creative allows individuals to lose themselves to the art process, which enhances concentration skills.

Similar to writing, there is also research that shows art fosters growth in other areas. Those who participate in artistic activities and search for employment, for instance, find jobs faster than those who do not participate in artistic activities.

3. Meditation

Yoga is a healthy outlet that strengthens the body, but the meditation practices associated with it also strengthen the mind. In fact, meditation reduces stress and improves heart health.

Many people falsely assume meditation is only achieved through the standard method of closing your eyes, crossing your legs and being silent.

However, meditating can occur while running, rock climbing or painting. It is defined as slowing down the mind to focus on bigger notions, such as the self or the world.

In recovery, it is essential individuals contemplate themselves, their actions and the world in a way that is comfortable for them.

4. Hiking

A multitude of evidence points to the advantages nature brings to the mind, body, and spirit. Hiking adds to these benefits with exercise and is an option for anyone of any age who has access to trails or green space.

Hiking itself is excellent for the cardiovascular system but being outside is also helpful for your mood and mind. Several studies indicate green space calms the mind because the brain is not overcompensating for the many noises, visual cues and multitasking daily life requires.

Research also demonstrates green space reduces anxiety and depression, which makes it a fantastic hobby for those in recovery.

5. Volunteer

When you don’t feel good about yourself or the world, helping others is a great way to change your perspective.

Volunteering provides individuals with a sense of purpose, providing meaning during a time that may sometimes seem overwhelming. Volunteers also feel healthier; one poll indicated almost 80% of volunteers reported feeling healthier than normal.

Finally, volunteering encourages social interactions beyond the scope of recovery. The focus isn’t on the recovering individual but on assisting someone else.

Not a people person? Volunteering can still be a new hobby; consider helping a local humane society.

6. Cooking

Want some spice in your life? Try out cooking.

Many people don’t consider cooking as a form of art, but chefs literally make masterpieces from scraps—just like a painter weaves an image from paint.

The great thing about cooking is that recovering individuals can determine what environment is best suited for them. They can cook at home, with friends or in a classroom setting.

7. Sports

Sports is a mixture of exercise and social interaction, making it one of the best hobbies to pick up for recovering individuals.

First, the exercise reduces stress, enhances memory and encourages imagination. But that’s not all.

Other studies show sports provide meaning for players. They also help transform identities for some individuals, providing a social and engaging routine that aids in the recovery process.

8. Gardening

Remember how we said green space reduces stress, anxiety, and depression? Why not immerse yourself in the outside world as a hobby?

Gardening is one of the simple hobbies that most people can enjoy. Even an in-house herb garden for those in a city is beneficial.

Gardens instill responsibility in the owners while they also reap the benefits of the outside world.

9. Horseback Riding

Equine therapy creates a relationship between horse and human. It also teaches responsibility to those learning to care for another being.

More than that, it provides a sense of acceptance.

Studies demonstrate horse-assisted therapy even increases the likelihood of recovery retention.

Choose Your Outlet

Horseback riding, volunteering, gardening… the options are endless for those trying to identify themselves during the recovery stage.

Considering new hobby ideas is a great way to stay motivated and to remind ourselves of recovery’s importance. Which hobby is right for you?

But don’t forget your hobbies may be only one tip for staying sober during or after recovery. Learn a few more suggestions and start on your hobby today.

Don’t worry; even if your paintings look like primeval cave drawings, remember that you are participating in something that is for you. The point is to immerse yourself in the new experience and to find enjoyment in a new, healthy activity.



ho do you forgive

How Do You Forgive the Addict in Your Life? 8 Tips for Accepting Amends

Addiction hurts everyone involved; not just the addict. Even so, it’s difficult to forgive and forget.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.7 million adults battled substance abuse in 2017. That’s a lot of forgiveness to work through.

If your loved one recently battled their own addiction, it’s understandable that you’re hurt. If your loved one recently attended an addiction treatment program, it may be time to consider forgiveness.

How do you forgive that hurt?

With these eight tips, you can forge a path toward forgiveness. Then, you can mend the broken bridges of your relationship and get back on track.

1. Understanding Addiction

Before you can forgive your loved one, it’s important to understand what they experienced.

Understanding their choices and actions doesn’t mean accepting them, though. Rather, this will give you their perspective of what happened.

Often enough, the addict never set out to hurt you in the first place.

Addiction causes people to lose sight of anything beyond their substance abuse.

They’re concerned about getting their next fix, or not getting caught. This causes them to neglect their relationships in favor of drugs or alcohol.

Your loved one might have felt imprisoned by their addiction. They might also have felt so guilty that they couldn’t admit or discuss the addiction.

This can cause them to draw up walls and isolate themselves.

Think about the emotions your loved one experienced during their addiction. Empathy does not minimize the pain you feel. However, it can make it easier for you to forgive them.

2. Make an Effort

If you really want to answer the question “how do I forgive my loved one for their addiction”, you need to make an effort.

Remind yourself why you want to find a way to forgive them. Does strengthening your relationship after their addiction matter to you? Do you want to support your loved one on the path to recovery?

Determine that reason. Then, focus on letting go of your negative emotions.

You’re in control here. It’s in your power to choose a healthier path for you both.

Forgiveness isn’t instantaneous. It requires effort and commitment. If you want to forgive your loved one, focus on making that effort every day.

In a way, you’re experiencing your own road to recovery, too.

3. Recap Lessons Learned

An experience like this can teach you a lot in life. It can even prepare you for difficult situations down the road.

As you work towards forgiveness, ask yourself what the overall situation taught you.

If something similar happened in the future, would you react differently?

You might even decide to learn the signs of addiction during your research. That way, you can recognize the signs in the future. You might even be able to save a life by recognizing those signs.

Step back and review everything you’ve learned.

This can help you appreciate the growth you’ve experienced. That way, you can move beyond this situation with more wisdom than you had going in.

4. Don’t Wait

Choosing to forgive your loved one is your choice. That means you don’t have to wait for the addict to make amends first.

Instead, remember you’re doing this for your own emotional health. In fact, forgiveness can improve our physical wellness, too. Forgiveness can also:

  • Lower anxiety
  • Improve mental health
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce depression symptoms
  • Improve heart health
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Reduce stress

Why wait for all of those health benefits?

Instead, set a positive example for your loved one. They might not feel capable of apologizing or making healthy choices right now. If you step forward first, you can help them through their struggles.

That way, you’re making a healthy decision for you both.

5. Ask for Help

It’s okay if you need a little help. With 19.7 million Americans struggling with substance abuse, there are plenty of other family members and friends asking the same question you are.

“How do you forgive the addict in your life?”

Asking for help can help you gain a fresh perspective. Whether you go to a therapist, support group, or friend, you also gain a sounding board.

That way, you have help navigating this situation.

You can also contact one of our representatives to learn more about the road to recovery.

6. Don’t Keep Score

According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce.

Keeping our emotions bottled up or building a list of negatives isn’t healthy. In fact, that list of negatives can cause resentment. As a result, the statistic above will increase every year.

Try not to keep score or remind the addict of their past mistakes. This can increase their guilt, making it more difficult for them to recover.

Instead, focus on the future. Looking ahead can help you let go of your grip on the past.

7. Assess Your Emotions

It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. However, bottling up your emotions isn’t healthy.

Instead, assess what you’re feeling, then try to release these negative emotions.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to achieve true forgiveness.

It’s up to you whether to say the words “I forgive you” aloud. When you truly forgive your loved one, it will show.

It’s important to forgive yourself, too. Not everyone makes the right choices or reacts the right way.

You may have given your loved one money you didn’t know supported their drug abuse. You may have also reacted in anger when discovering the truth.

Instead of harboring your own guilt, learn from these mistakes. That way, you know how to handle these situations in a healthier way.

8. Give Yourself Time

Remember, forgiveness isn’t immediate. Don’t rush yourself.

Instead, use these tips to the best of your ability and give your emotional wounds time to heal.

How Do You Forgive Drug Abuse: 8 Tips for Mending Relationships

How do you forgive drug abuse? There’s isn’t one easy answer. This forgiveness takes time, effort, and the desire to forgive.

With these eight tips, you can take the first steps toward forgiveness.

Remember, you’re not alone—and neither is your loved one. Get your loved one the help they need today by exploring our treatment options.



Moderate, Heavy, Binge: The Levels of Problem Drinking

Do you know the different levels of drinking and when consumption is considered problem drinking?

Read this guide to learn the differences between each level.

Problem drinking is described as the tendency of using alcohol in such a way that it affects you negatively. The difference between problem drinking and alcoholism is that, unlike an alcoholic, a problem drinker is not physically dependent on alcohol. The physical dependence on alcohol by alcoholics results in health problems. You may need to seek treatment for this physical dependence.


Several tendencies may classify you as a problem drinker. Here are a few examples:

  • If drinking puts you in a position to miss important activities such as school or job
  • Makes you feel socially isolated even with friends and close family members
  • Makes you an individual who is quick to anger, reacts violently to situations or forces you into depression
  • If it makes you spend unnecessarily on alcohol at the expense of beneficial activities like grocery resulting in financial problems
  • When alcohol puts you in a position where you don’t get along with family and close friends
  • When alcohol results to you making an unsound decision such as sexual offenses
  • When you experience blackouts

The physical dependency created by alcohol may turn a problem drinker into an alcoholic. But how does one understand at what level of drinking they are at? Here is how to learn and understand your drinking tendencies.

The CDC considers binge drinking a serious threat to public health. However, it is preventable. It has been named one of the most expensive and deadly drinking patterns in the United States.

It is characterized by excessive use of alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describes binge drinking as:

“NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men—in about 2 hours.”


There are severe risks related to binge drinking, such as:

  • Resorting to violence such as sexual offenses
  • The occurrence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Sexual misconducts resulting in sexually transmitted diseases
  • Development of chronic diseases such as liver and heart diseases
  • For pregnant women, it may lead to miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome, and stillbirth
  • Binge drinking may result in alcohol dependency
  • It might further lead to memory and learning problems


Binge drinking can be prevented. Here are recommendable approaches:

  • Increasing taxes on alcohol is a strategic way of reducing usage
  • Reducing the number of alcohol outlets will result in less exposure hence lowered frequency of consumption
  • Alcohol retailers must be held accountable for any minor who is found in possession of alcohol
  • Restricting days and hours of purchase will reduce overindulgence
  • Before any significant selection, individuals should be screened and counseled for any possibility of misuse


Consumption of alcohol takes a while for effects to manifest. Here are the stages of alcohol binge:

  1. Stage 1: subclinical intoxication- the intoxication may not appear at 0.01-0.05 BAC although impairment may be detected in certain tests. This stage depends on the individual, their level of judgment, and how they react.
  2. Stage 2: Euphoria- it occurs between 0.03 and 0.12 BAC. It is characterized by individuals becoming more talkative and confident.
  3. Stage 3: excitement- occurs between 0.09 and 0.25 BAC. It is characterized by emotional unpredictability and poor judgment.
  4. Stage 4: confusion- occurs between 0.18 and 0.30 BAC. It is characterized by emotional stupefaction and disruption.
  5. Stage 5: stupor- occur between 0.25 and 0.40 BAC. It is characterized by extreme intoxication and may result in poisoning or death.
  6. Stage 6: coma- occurs between 0.35 and 0.45 BAC. This is a hazardous stage characterized by numerous health failures such as depressed motor functions.
  7. Stage 7: occurs estimably at 0.45 BAC. The body cells are failing at keeping up with the alcohol content and are beginning to lose a life.

The Levels of Problem Drinking

There are 3 levels of problem drinking.

1. Moderate Drinking

Moderate drinking has been described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one drink or less for women and two drinks or lower for men.

Compared to heavy drinking, moderate drinking encompasses four or fewer drinks on one occasion or eight or fewer occasions throughout the week. Fourteen grams of alcohol is the standardized amount of one drink rationed in 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 15 ounces of liquor.

2. Binge Drinking

Alcohol binge shouldn’t be confused for drinking too much. Unlike drinking too much, alcohol binging can be done when people have an occasion, and alcohol isn’t necessarily a problem. A drinking tendency is considered binging once the alcohol level gets to 0.08 percent or more.

Drinking too much is referred to as heavy drinking. Individuals who take several drinks throughout the day are also classified as heavy drinkers.

That is, within each 24hours, three to four drinks are consumed. This is considered as heavy drinking even when the person never gets drunk.

3. Heavy Drinking

Most heavy drinkers have been associated with alcohol addiction. In this case, they are usually in constant yearning for alcohol and are unable to limit their drinking. Heavy drinkers continue to consume alcohol despite evident psychological and physical harmful effects.

In cases where one decides to stop drinking, withdrawal symptoms may emerge, such as hallucination or fever. Similar to binge drinking, heavy drinkers may develop fatal health problems such as liver cirrhosis, inflammation of the pancreas, heart failure, and high blood pressure.

In severe cases, however, they might even die. Heavy drinkers and alcohol binging may indirectly put themselves at a position where they become victims of unintended dangerous activities. For instance, sexual offenses, death by driving while drunk, etc.

Problem Drinking

Drinking alcohol may be beneficial to your health. Moderate drinking means understanding whether your drinking stage is safe or whether it has become dangerous for your health and social life. Alcohol-related issues such as alcoholism, problem drinking, and alcohol binging differ in men and women.

Contact us if you’d like to talk to someone about your alcohol issue.


employement gap explanation

The Employment Gap Explanation: How to Frame Rehab in Job Interviews

Spending time in rehab and recovery inevitably leads to gaps in your resume. Sharp-eyed employers will want to know why you’ve had periods of unemployment. Do you know what you’re going to tell them?

The time you’ve taken to heal yourself is essential – but how do you frame that for potential employers without risking your employment opportunities?

This guide will help you decide how best to hone your approach to answering tricky interview questions about your recovery period. Once you’ve considered the points below, you’ll be ready to provide a confident employment gap explanation that any employer will accept.

The Big Question: How Do You Give an Employment Gap Explanation After Rehab?

Before we look at ways to gain confidence for your post-recovery job interviews, let’s tackle the elephant in the room first. Employment gaps on your resume will be obvious to any potential employer: they’re guaranteed to ask about them.

How do you navigate such a tricky subject without damaging your employment opportunities?

Option One: Tell the Truth (But Not the Whole Truth)

You don’t have to go into detail if you’re not comfortable or think it may harm your chances of getting the job.

The most important thing about explaining any employment gap is to put a positive spin on it. This will show employers that you are an optimist and likely to be a solution finder instead of a problem-creator.

You can tell your interviewers that you spent a period facing ill health and that you’re now fully recovered. Alternatively, explain your absence from work as a family crisis that needed handling but is now over.

Both of these options are the truth – but they still cover your privacy. Addiction is a legitimate illness, and it causes family crises, too. You’re not lying by keeping the detail as minimal as possible, yet offering some explanation will put employers’ minds at ease about your employment gap.

Option Two: Be Totally Honest

If you feel comfortable, be totally open and honest about your employment gap. This may depend on the type of employer you’re trying to land a job with, too. With a little research, you’ll get a feel on their approach to employee addiction recovery.

Some jobs may even benefit from a completely frank approach. For example, if you want to use your recovery experience to help others by working for an addiction center or community program, your real-life experience is essential to understanding clients.

If your addiction has affected your criminal record, make sure you’re up-front about this. If you don’t admit to a record and you’re hired, but your employer later finds out, they can fire you for misconduct.

How to Get Through Your Post-Recovery Job Interviews

When you’ve decided how much you’re going to say in your interview, it’s time to think about how to use your experience to bolster your application. Keep these things in mind to give you confidence in your interview.

Think About Other Activities Completed During Recovery

Consider the activities you did as part of your recovery program. Did you take up meditation? Perhaps this helped you learn how to keep a level head. Perhaps you joined a team sport to improve your fitness and social skills. This’ll look good to employers seeking team-oriented workers.

If you’ve taken a cookery class to learn more about healthy eating in recovery, this is a new skill that demonstrates multi-tasking and time management. If you’ve taken up an art class, it shows creativity.

Think about the hobbies you’ve taken up during your recovery process: you are guaranteed to have developed new skills valuable to any employer.

Don’t Flat-Out Lie

It’s tempting to simply extend your employment dates on your resume to make it seem as if there are no gaps at all.

You might even want to make up a job to put on your application to cover up the gap.

Don’t do this! Your employer could check out your background and, if they find out you’ve lied, won’t consider your application further. Employers won’t take on dishonest employees – but they will consider those who own their mistakes openly and honestly.

If, however, a potential employer pushes you to answer in-depth questions about your recovery, you don’t have to share with them. If you’re not sure how to respond, try this answer: “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to go into such personal detail at this stage of the interview process”.

This makes it clear that you feel the interviewer has overstepped boundaries, but if you were to reach a second or third interview stage could be something you discuss in more detail. This gives you more time to consider how you’d like to approach these questions before the next interview.

Remember the Law is Your Friend

While proving discrimination at the interview stage is tricky, it’s not impossible. If you feel – or have had direct feedback confirming – that you didn’t get the job because of your addiction, act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against anyone with a previous substance abuse problem who is no longer using drugs. If you’re passed over for the role specifically because of your previous addiction, you have grounds for legal pursuit.

While you may not wish to start legal proceedings against a company, it’s worth knowing that the law is on your side.

Weigh Up the Benefits of Sharing Your Experience

Disclosing your addiction and recovery journey with a potential employer opens up help from them further down the line.

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives you an entitlement to access help from your employer with ongoing recovery activities. This may include therapy, counseling, or further rehab.

How to Stay Sober When You’re Working

Once you’ve given a satisfactory employment gap explanation, the next step is to accept a job role. This is a fantastic step forward in your lifelong recovery.

However, going into employment again can risk a relapse. New working hours, added stress, and juggling family responsibilities can make you feel like you need to use again to cope.

That’s what intensive outpatient programs are for. They’re designed for working professionals who need the support of a rehab program but who can’t give up their job to become an inpatient.

Read about intensive outpatient programs to find out how to stay sober and succeed in your new job.


sponser in recovery

They Have What You Want: How to Find a Sponsor in Recovery

Relapse is more common than you might think.

According to many reports, 40 to 60 percent of people relapse within a year of starting their sobriety. That’s even with professional treatment.

With the right resources and support system, however, you can avoid relapsing. Why ruin all of your progress when you could put a plan in place instead?

With the right person at your side, you can avoid a relapse.

Set yourself up for sobriety success!

Here are seven qualities to look for in a sponsor. Now you can start your search and find a sponsor who can support you in your recovery.

1. Attend 12-Step Meetings

When trying to find a sponsor, the best place to start is at a 12-step meeting.

Finding the right sponsor can feel a little daunting, but that’s natural. After all, this is important. Thankfully, 12-step meetings can help narrow down your options.

These forums allow you to learn a little about the prospective sponsors in your area.

During some meetings, the proctor will ask if anyone is looking for a sponsor. Let the group know you’re looking. If you already have someone in mind, ask them.

If you’re shy about the situation, that’s okay too. Ask the person leading the meeting if they can help. They might even have a list of sponsors already prepared.

That way, you’re using the resources at your disposal to find a sponsor.

2. Ask About Experience

Ask the prospective sponsor who long they’ve been sober and in the 12-step program.

Between one to two years of abstinence is preferable.

You can also ask if they’ve sponsored someone before. Knowing how they’ve responded to certain situations can help you determine if they’re the right fit.

For example, ask how they would respond if you relapsed.

They should already have an understanding of how to respond to this and similar situations. Discover what to do if you relapse, yourself. That way, you and your sponsor are both prepared.

A good sponsor will have worked through the 12 steps themselves, too. That way, they can guide you with their own experiences as a reference.

3. Avoid Romantic Interests

Choosing a person of the opposite sex as your sponsor can seem harmless at first. However, it’s usually not advisable. Instead, choosing a sponsor of the same sex can help you avoid romantic entanglements.

Selecting a love interest as your sponsor could actually complicate and impede your recovery.

Remember, this time is about making choices that are best for your mental and physical health. A same-sex sponsor can help you prevent potential issues.

That way, you can stay focused on your recovery.

Gays or lesbians trying to find a sponsor should choose someone of the opposite gender for the same reasons.

4. Pay Attention

Consider your 12-step meetings an opportunity for a little research.

During these meetings, pay attention to what people say. If you already have someone in mind as a potential sponsor, listen up! How you react to their stories could tell you a lot about their potential as your sponsor.

Do they inspire you more than other people at the meetings?

Do you both share similar worldviews or stories?

Listen when they share and take mental notes. You might see something in them that you hope for your own recovery. If you think you connect with this person, ask them to become your sponsor.

5. Make Sure They’re Available

According to an eight-year study of nearly 1,200 addicts:

  • Only about a third of people abstinent for less than a year remain abstinent
  • After a year of sobriety, less than half will relapse
  • After five years of sobriety, your chance of relapse is less than 15 percent

Sticking to your sobriety now makes it easier in the future.

As you look for a sponsor, make sure they’re available to commit. Regular contact is important. That way, the two of you can develop a bond.

Sponsorship is an individualized process. That means your relationship can vary depending on what you need. The time involved—how frequently you meet and connect—could vary, too.

If you’re new to recovery, focus on someone who is available for constant support.

Right now, your cravings and the temptation to break your sobriety might feel at an all-time high. You might even still experience withdrawal symptoms.

While 24/7 support might not work for you both, a sponsor with open availability is important. That way, you can ask questions or get help if you’re feeling those cravings.

You should also ask your potential sponsor if they’re sponsoring other people.

If they are, they might not have the time to commit to a newcomer.

Make a Plan

Once you find a sponsor, make a plan for maintaining contact. This can include regular check-ins or one-on-one meetings.

This can also include attending regular 12-step meetings together.

As you’re establishing your plan, discuss expectations for your partnership.

That way, you’re both on the same page.

This plan can set you up for success and ensure you have the exact amount of contact you need.

6. Choose a Trustworthy Person

When trying to find a sponsor, look for someone you can trust.

After all, you’ll share a lot of fears, insecurities, and secrets with this person. Look for someone who can provide the confidentiality you need.

That way, you’ll feel safe and capable of speaking freely.

7. Avoid Downers

A pessimistic sponsor won’t have much to contribute to your recovery. In fact, they might actually do you more harm than good.

Positive thinking can benefit your mental and physical health. Try to choose a sponsor with a supportive, upbeat attitude.

That way, you can maintain a positive attitude throughout your recovery as well.

This will help you embrace the positive changes in your life, too!

Sobriety Success: 7 Tips for How to Find a Sponsor

With these seven tips, you can find a sponsor who’s ready to aid your recovery. Remember to search for a sponsor you can trust. Their experience will lead you towards your own success.

That way, you can avoid a relapse and keep your recovery—and life—on track.

Contact us today for additional help and support with your recovery.