LOSING TREY: A STORY OF ADDICTION – Flakka, Bath Salts, and Opioid pills

As they used to say on the TV police drama Dragnet, the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed. In this case, however, the pseudonyms are used to protect the survivors…and the memory of “Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.

“Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.
“Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.

We heard Trey’s story from his friend “Jonah,” who came to The Hope Center from his mid-western home state for help in recovering from a heroin addiction—the same addiction that had led to Trey’s death. It was the abrupt and unexpected end to Trey’s life that scared Jonah into seeking help.

Like Trey, Jonah was is in his mid-twenties. The two went to high school together. Their paths separated during their college years, but after graduation, they both returned to their hometown and their friendship with each other.

They also both started experimenting with drugs. Jonah says they dabbled in Flakka, Bath Salts, and Opioid pills before being introduced to, and seduced by, Heroin. The first taste of Heroin for both of them came at a party.

Trey had played football in high school and college, though he didn’t go on to the pros. Some of his old high school teammates invited him to a barbeque one Sunday afternoon, and he brought Jonah along. As the afternoon progressed, a pick-up football game got started: shirts vs skins. It was casual, just for fun, and even Jonah played, though he hadn’t been on the high school team. As dusk approached, and the game came to an end, three of the guys went on a beer run, and the party moved indoors.

Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.

Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.
Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.

Some of the guys indulged. Some didn’t. Neither Trey nor Jonah was a stranger to drugs, though neither had ever tried Heroin before. “There’s a first time for everything,” observed the party’s host as he passed the syringe over to Trey.

Both Trey and Jonah were immediately impressed with the effects of the drug. “Hey, where can I get more of this stuff?” Trey asked. And thus began a habit.

At first Trey and Jonah shot up only on weekends. Jonah had a sales job, while Trey was in management in an office, and both wanted to stay clean and straight during working hours, but heroin is seductive and addictive, and soon they both were using seven days a week.

Jonah didn’t like the effect heroin had on his abilities at work, but he was in the grips of something stronger than his willpower, and he gave in.

It was at another party that Trey met his end, and Jonah found the resolve to quit. Another of Trey’s old high school football teammates was hosting this one, and he also supplied the drugs. There was a smorgasbord of drugs to choose from, and Jonah decided to go for some Opioid pills, but Trey opted for Heroin.

The effects were quick—and deadly. At first, when Trey passed out, the host of the party recommended letting him “sleep it off.” But Jonah noticed that Trey’s breathing was shallow and at times seemed to stop altogether. He wanted to call the paramedics. The host, fearful of legal repercussions, leaned on Jonah to not make the call. By the time Jonah defied him and dialed 911, and the ambulance arrived, it was too late. Trey was gone. Dead from an overdose.

It had been an unusually strong batch of heroin…and Trey, who wanted nothing more than to feel good and enjoy his partying with his friends, lost his chance to ever feel good again…to ever feel anything again…to live.

As for Jonah, he was “scared straight” and, after checking out a number of treatment facilities intentionally far from home, decided on The Hope Center.

Hopefully he will never use again. But there are still plenty of people out there who are hooked on heroin. If you are, or someone you care about is, one of those people, get help now, before it’s too late…before you meet the same fate as Trey.

There is hope. That is why we are called The Hope Center. Reach out to us today. The time is always now.

Our Top 10 Tips for Parents (or Loved Ones) of Someone Battling Addiction

10 Tips Image 13Embrace Early Screening & Early Intervention

As a parent or family member, you may recognize early signals of addiction in your loved one. It’s never too early to discuss the dangers of addiction with them or to have them pre-screened for early detection. This may help identify risk factors that will help prevent further and future damage to both to their health and livelihood. An early screening and intervention will help clarify if their use and profile is suitable for treatment. Treatment is a significant financial and physical commitment so you want to be sure they really meet the clinical standards for treatment. Much can be done in the early stages of addiction with the help of therapy, intensive and outpatient care. Visit a local outpatient treatment center to have them evaluated if they’re willing.

Don’t Worry About Timing

You may never know exactly when the right time is to help your loved one get help. Studies show that even if the addict hasn’t “hit rock bottom”, they may still reach long-term recovery if their addiction treatment enables them to understand a new, safe and successful way of living. And as we all know, so many families have experienced that waiting too long to intervene can cause them their loved one’s life.10 Tips Image 2

The Importance of a Professional Intervention

In the grips of addiction, it is often difficult for the addict to accept they have a problem and agree to long-term treatment, let alone see the damage they are doing to themselves and their family. Staging and intervention may be the best opportunity to allow them to understand the depth of their problem and agree to get help. Unfortunately, the least effective members of an intervention tend to be close family. So choosing a professional interventionist, or escorting a loved one to an outpatient center for an evaluation is often the best opportunity to see them into a treatment setting. Help from an outside interventionist, someone who understands their pain and their journey, who also has an objective viewpoint, is the best voice of reason for an addict. The interventionist will also help you stage the intervention, develop a strategy and lead the conversation for the most successful opportunity at getting your loved one the treatment they need.

10 Tips Image 4Recognize That Self-Detoxing Can Be Deadly

If your loved one has decided to begin the process of quitting their drug of choice, even if they’re not ready for treatment, it’s critical that they detox in a medically supervised detoxification center. Most people don’t realize that detoxing can lead to death. For those who abuse alcohol and drugs like opioids (painkillers) or benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety medication), a tolerance has been built that causes the body severe, adverse reactions when withheld from the system.  Alcohol is notoriously linked to life-threatening withdrawal reactions, such as seizures, which may cause fatal head trauma, heart attack, stroke, lethal dehydration, or asphyxiation. A medically supervised detox will help your loved one detox in comfort and with dignity, and helps prevent the propensity for relapse during this critical phase. Withdrawal symptoms may begin hours or days after the last use, and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on the type of drug and level of use. During this withdrawal phase, they are at the highest risk of relapse AND life-threatening symptoms that require 24/7 monitoring.

10 Tips Image 6Invest In Recovery, Not Relapse

The cost of treatment can seem steep, but when compared with long-term use, the cost of treatment is just a fraction of the price of continued drug use. However, choosing an “inexpensive” institution, or cutting down the time a loved one stays at a facility due to the cost, may lead to an early relapse. Staying 90+ days in a treatment facility will offer them the greatest opportunity to reach long-term recovery. Enlist them in an aftercare program following treatment, like a transitional living facility or three-quarter home. This is an excellent way to help them reach the long-term goal, while being supported and encouraged by a close-knit community of other recovering individuals. It will be an investment, but is far less costly than continued relapse or ongoing drug and alcohol use.

Start with 30-Days

You may not be able to convince your loved one to stay in treatment for 3 or more months, but you will likely be able to convince them to commit to 30-days. Most facilities find that the desire to continue treatment will manifest within those first 30-days, and you want your loved one to be able to continue with their treatment plan where they’re at if they do choose to stay, so make sure the facility can accommodate up to 90 days of treatment.

Addiction treatmentChoose A Specialization

Choose a treatment facility that offers specialize programming that caters to your loved ones needs, such as their drug of choice, a co-occurring disorder like PTSD, an eating disorder, social anxiety or a mental disorder, to name a few. This will help them beat their addiction along with the other psychological ailments that have contributed to their substance abuse. Since most people who suffer from addiction also suffer from another co-occurring disorder, choosing treatment at a facility that specializes in their particular ailment(s) will springboard their growth versus being left untreated.

Embrace A Geographical Change

Map of USA with state borders, 3d render

It is important to understand what can and what cannot be achieved with a geographical change for your loved one who is suffering with addiction. May people benefit greatly from a geographic change if they commit to receiving long-term, monitored care at a reputable treatment facility that’s located in a thriving recovery community. There are several located throughout the country, like Florida, Texas and Southern California.  They may also benefit greatly from being separated from family members and friends that have become “triggers” for their use. However, if your loved makes a geographic change simply to leave the environment which has “made them use” without seeking help, it is highly unlikely that their addiction will cease, and they will find themselves in the same addictive pattern wherever they move to. Geographic changes are encouraged when it comes to receiving treatment and/or working a fully committed program of recovery.

Honor New Boundaries

While therapy will be helpful to rebuild the family as a result of your loved one’s addiction, depending on their progress, it may not occur during treatment. If your loved one welcomes family sessions during their stay, take advantage of the clinical services offered at their institution. If this is an important factor, make sure the treatment center offers family programming and therapy. But don’t be discouraged if your loved one opts out. The first few months, and sometimes the first few years is often a time for them to fully understand their journey, and they will likely grow to a point in their recovery where they will be able to initiate therapeutic healing for all.

AddictionEliminate Enabling

Many loved ones feel responsible for helping the addict, especially as it relates to emotional and financial support. It can be impossible to cut them off as a supportive role. While this all comes from a place of love and concern, it’s critical to understand that as long as you are in some way enabling them to continue “running the show”, they are unlikely to feel the pressure to change in the long-term. Shutting off any access to support of their habits will force them to change their ways. The addict must recognize the breadth of their choices and arrive at a place where they have no choice but to initiate positive, responsible changes. As a loved one, you are a critical piece in enabling this change to happen. Also, don’t mistake your generosity for help. Enabling them to continue using is hurting them and may even lead to death. Follow this rule before, during and after treatment to offer the greatest opportunity for your loved one’s long-term success.

Addiction treatment

Someone Else’s Addiction Is Not Your Fault

It’s natural to feel hurt or even responsible for a loved one’s addiction, but it’s important to recognize these are naturally occurring emotions that stem from love. In most cases, for those who have “done all the right things,” they’re addiction has nothing to do with how you have treated them. Holding onto fear and anger for too long can make rebuilding family trust difficult. Support groups like Al-Anon help family and friends accept these feelings while learning how to support an addicted loved one — and themselves — during and following the rehabilitation process. Visit http://www.al-anon.org/ to find a local gathering near you.

Design Your Future with Vocational Rehabilitation

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation Infuses “Design Thinking” Into Their Vocational Rehabilitation Program To Help Clients Discover Their Passion, Purpose and Professional Potential.

The Hope Center has a staff dedicated to helping clients successfully maneuver back into the real world while maintaining a balanced life of recovery; by assisting each client in building a foundation and future through the delivery of a comprehensive Vocational Rehabilitation curriculum.

SuitVocational Rehabilitation is the practice of offering patients a guided curriculum to uncover what their unique interests, skill sets and experience levels are in order to design a path toward personal and professional success, while balancing a life in recovery. Vocational Rehabilitation also focuses on offering healing therapies to counter threatening, fearful or traumatic past events that may have contributed to addictive behavior, stemming from one’s past educational or employment history.

Inspired by the “Design Thinking” movement, the staff at The Hope Center for Rehabilitation took notes from thought leaders, like Stanford Universities Bill Burnett. Burnett developed the “Designing Your Life” course at the ivy-league university for his graduating seniors, and within a few years, the course had become so popular it is now being used throughout the country to help anyone reach their full, desired potential.

While originally developed for emerging workforce students, the process of finding your “flow”: identifying those moments, actions, and behaviors that elicit pure joy, positive challenges and heightened energy, help people from all walks of life discover their true vocation, or calling. The staff at The Hope Center took these principles and infused them into their vocational curriculum to help clients format their personal and professional journey in life while uncovering their true passion and purpose.

Vocational Rehabilitation“With the incorporation of ‘Design Thinking’ into our Vocational Program, we are helping our clients not only pursue a successful life in recovery, we help them tap into deep-seeded aspirations that they might never have gotten the opportunity to uncover,” says Vocational Program Director Ed Sergison. “Using these concepts to design their future, in addition to offering therapeutic healing, emotional building and soul searching techniques, our clients are leaving our program with a renewed sense of self and purpose, with a path to achieve their potential.”

After an initial meeting to pinpoint each client’s background, education and employment history, the vocational counselors assist them with developing a plan to incorporate education and/or career goals into their transition from a residential environment to an independent atmosphere.

For those looking to begin a new career, the counselors work with each client on an individual basis to assist them with the creation of a proper résumé. A selection of potential referrals are determined, followed by an overview of interview questions and techniques. The counselors pinpoint unique skill sets and interests of the client, and finally reinforce the importance of presentation, including choice of vocabulary, appearance, attitude and preparedness.

Vocational RehabilitationFor those who wish to pursue a furthered education, like acquiring a GED, associate or bachelors degree, or technical certification, the counselors create a specifically tailored roadmap for the client that offers a realistic timeline and financial plan to achieve their educational goals. The client is presented with Federal financial aid forms, scholarship opportunities and grant applications as part of the process, completed together with the counselor to ensure accuracy and thoroughness.

For clients who already have a seasoned work history, The Hope Center for Rehabilitation has a strong local network of professionals who can help clients receive job placement so they can begin working while developing into their long-term recovery process. It is recommended that a client stay 6-9 months under the care of a rehabilitation facility, or in a transitional-living sober environment for the best chance at achieving long-term recovery. With the help of local job placement services, we can, even temporarily, help our clients build a strong foundation for when they are ready to return home full-time.

The goal of this program is to empower clients to pursue a thoughtful, comprehensive growth plan for sustained employment, offering not just financial but emotional stability as well. This can be a daunting, insurmountable goal on one’s own following treatment, so the relationship between client and counselor weeks and months after treatment is critical as it offers the support needed to sustain the effort. They meet in person or via electronic communication to reflect on progress and discuss challenges that arise so the client can stay motivated and encouraged until they have achieved long-term success on their own.

For more information on Vocational Rehabilitation at The Hope Center, contact Program Director Ed Sergison at 631-793-9415 or via email ad Ed@hopecenterrehab.org.

Tinder for Sober Singles?

Sobriety is totally trending right now. With the recent devastating influx of heroin abuse and addiction among youth throughout the United States, the amount of young people in recovery has all but skyrocketed in recent years. More and more people are opting to trade in the drink and the drug for an opportunity to not only reclaim their lives, but to gain a personal and spiritual insight that many men and women strive to obtain for years when battling addiction.

Sober communities are popping up around the country in states like Florida, California and Texas.
Sober communities are popping up around the country in states like Florida, California and Texas.

Without question, young adults in recovery can relate to one another on a unique and experienced level. Attending meetings and fellow-shipping afterwards is a fundamental part of the lives of modern day youth across the country who are living in recovery. “Recovery communities” have popped up in major cities across the nation as of late, including South Florida, Texas, Southern California and Virginia, making it easier for young men and women to relocate and begin living their recovered lives among individuals who have undergone the same struggles and can assist one another in staying on track.

But what happens when you, like all people, want to find a compatible mate? Dating sober can be quite a different experience than before. And it can be difficult to “date” within the rooms. For those who are single (yes, that’s most of us) we still want to “hook up” and “go out” – and court in the traditional ways. But unlike college or in the bar scene, the ratio of men to women tends to be somewhat uneven within the rooms of various 12-step fellowships. In addition, 12-step meetings can be a risky place to pick up potential partners.

In fact, regardless of whether you’re sober or not, scoping out the scene at a meeting or at a bar are equally as unlikely to produce a genuine match for a long-term, healthy relationship. Which explains why dating apps and online dating sites have been so abundant and successful in recent years. The best dating sites help to link people together who are ultimately compatible based on personality and lifestyle. And we’re stoked that there is a free dating site for single people in sobriety now.

Sober Singles
The Sober app will do for the recovery community what Tinder has done for “regular” singles.

“Sober”, a dating app for those in recovery for drug and alcohol dependency, allows individuals to meet and communicate based on location – but this singles app, unlike its older brother ‘Tinder’, is not merely for hook-ups and uncomfortable blind dates. Sober incorporates various elements of social media, allowing users to ‘friend’ others in their area and list whether or not they are available to sponsor others who are actively looking for a nearby individual to take them through the steps. The founder and CEO of this newly launched dating community, 22-year-old Antoine Nauleau, is sober himself – thus he is creating and perfecting his application based on personal experience and the trials and tribulations of similarly –circumstanced friends, who are looking for other sober singles like themselves.

“It’s a great place to go to connect with like-minded people from around the country,” said Kelly Fitzgerald, a 29-year old Sober user from Florida. “I’m glad someone has taken advantage of the mobile dating app scene and put a sober twist on it. It feels good to be able to chat with other sober people in other settings besides meetings.”

While Sober was initially launched in San Francisco, there are plans to expand this dating app nationwide, making it widely available like Tinder is currently. The app is free for users, but is currently only accessible on the iPhone. Android users are able to sign up on a waiting list, and will be notified as soon as the app becomes available to them.

Sober on singles!

Download the ppp for iPhone here:  http://sober.ly/app/ or get on the waiting list for your Android here: http://sober.ly/waiting-list/

Recovery Songs: Vol. 2

Last year, we shared a blog on our favorite recovery songs – whether the message of the song helps you get through the hard times, or reminds you of where you never want to be again – they all “strike a chord” and therapeutically support our recovery goals. Music has that way of hitting deeply to the inner feelers we keep so protected. Continue reading Recovery Songs: Vol. 2

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation receives the gold standard

With upwards of 15,000 substance abuse treatment facilities in the U.S., it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you or a loved one. One of the best ways to choose the right treatment program is to consider the facilities certifications. A seal of approval from the Joint Commission (JCAHO) is considered the highest award available Continue reading The Hope Center for Rehabilitation receives the gold standard

This is my #drugofchoice

As addicts, drugs and alcohol take over our actions, as well as our thoughts. The “great obsession” of using liquefies any desire to pursue interests that we either used to love or might find enriching to our lives. Refreshed and renewed, many of us feel the overwhelming need to replenish our desires with healthy actions. And this is where the concept of a new #drugofchoice is formulated. Continue reading This is my #drugofchoice

How To Tell Others You’re In Recovery

We’ve all been in this situation. Having to explain to someone else that you’re sober and working a program of recovery. Typically, it becomes easier to do the longer we are in the program, as naturally with time we not only become stronger in our sobriety, and more grounded in our recovery, but the stigma of our old behaviors begin to drift away, opening up space to show others our fresh, refined selves. Continue reading How To Tell Others You’re In Recovery

Holiday Recovery Gifts

The Best Gifts to Give for Recovery. Whether it’s for a holiday, birthday or especially an anniversary, gift-giving for someone in recovery is often a very special, and personal choice. There are so many great options as most recovery gifts are laced with spiritual teachings, personal sentiment and support. So with all possibilities out there, and as the holidays quickly approach, we wanted to put together some of our favorite gifts for the next time you’re celebrating an anniversary, or looking for the perfect gift to give your friend, sponsor, sponsee or family member. Continue reading Holiday Recovery Gifts

Going Home For The Holidays

Home for the holidays

Going home for the holidays can be stressful enough without the pressure of also being in recovery. You are re-introduced to people you have known for years, or your whole life, who likely have the ability to get under your skin even without the subject of addiction in the equation.

There are a lot of situations that may elicit a spiral of emotions, especially if you are from a family of drinkers, or if you expect to be confronted with those who maybe don’t understand your journey, or maybe even people who harbor resentments against you from your drinking or using days. Even just the environment of being home with your family and friends can trigger emotions of your past.

So this year, if you’re headed home for your first sober holiday, or have spent years in recovery, cultivate new traditions and a feeling of serenity by remembering some of these helpful tips.

Create New Traditions

The sensations of being home – the smells, the décor, the people – can activate a flood of emotions, both good and bad, for anyone. It’s normal to feel stressed. If you experience this, or expect to, try and start a new holiday tradition that will empower your life change. Invite other members of your recovery circle to a special pre-holiday gathering, or do the same with a group of friends who you can reminisce around without drinking or using. Beginning new traditions that make you feel comfortable and happy will help to create new memories to look forward to for future holidays.

Be of Love & Service

Nothing will take away your spiritual growth quicker than acting out on your expectations of other’s or their negativity. If you’ve lived away for some time, they may not know what to expect. Prove them all wrong and leave the holiday feeling empowered and with a great sense of gratitude by being of love and service. Offer to help when help is needed. Answer questions they may have or share in the joys of your sobriety. Time and open communication has the remarkable power of helping to change relationships and perceptions. If you’re working an honest program and living in the principles of the 12 steps, your loved ones will gradually let go of negative perceptions and see the authentic, and improved you.

Empathize With Your Family

Relatives can be more difficult than anything to deal with when you’re in recovery, as long-term familial relationships often have naturally born tensions, plus your family members are more likely to have known your behaviors, or have felt the consequences of your actions when you were using. Remember it will take your family longer to recognize and accept your growth. It’s important to empathize with how they’re feeling too, and give them the time and space necessary to see your growth.

Addressing Your Recovery

Many of us have experienced stinging memories of holidays gone by, when we were less than cheerful to be around, or perhaps missed the holidays altogether because of our lifestyle. So deciding to get sober may not be something you readily want to talk about, especially with family and close friends who have known you only during your addiction. Remember that you don’t have to be on the defensive, shut down, or explain your whole story either. Simply saying that you don’t drink any longer is enough to relieve yourself from the built up tension that may have accumulated. Often it is better to be upfront, and authentic about where you are at than to try and talk around the issue.

Don’t feel obligated to explain your journey. Compassionate friends and family members will accept your explanation, whatever it may be as long as it comes from a place of sincerity. Those who do not understand your journey are not entitled to an explanation – you are not required to deliver that. Remember, in this circumstance, now being sober and working a program of recovery, you have your own set of choices. If certain people, situations or conversations are making you feel anxious, then it’s an indicator to find a little quiet space. Go for a walk, maybe with a family member you can talk to. This will help to dissolve the stress of the situation.

Making Amends

This may also be a time you see those who were on your 4th step. If you never made a proper amends, there is no greater feeling than to take a moment and simply say, “If there is anything I have done in the past to hurt you, or to make you feel uncomfortable, I want to take this moment to apologize.” Believe it or not, this simple statement has the power to absolve you of the guilt or resentment both you and the other harbor for one another. They will see, if you are working a solid program of recovery, that your change in character and growth is real.

Dealing with Drinkers

It’s more than likely that there will be drinking at holiday gatherings. Even if the great obsession of drinking has lifted, these occasions may still rattle you. If you recognize that you’re feeling anxious around drinking, reel your emotions back in by leaving the conversation, taking a walk or hanging out with others who are not drinking.

 Remember Your Tools

It’s easy when we are around family members and those we have known most of our lives to be easily coerced into arguing or acting out. These are temperaments you have more than likely worked on suppressing in your sobriety. Don’t let old behaviors, and personalities drag you to a point of acting in a way that does not coexist with your program. Instead, utilize the tools you’ve embraced in recovery to help get you back to a comfortable place.

Plan to visit at least 1 meeting while you’re away. If you’re feeling anxious about visiting a meeting too close to home, perhaps consider one a few towns away. Finding local support is an incredible confidence booster for the occasion, and will help for future holidays. Also, always keep your sponsor in close proximity with a quick phone call once a day. Even leaving a message is empowering enough to start the day confidently. Plan your stay with a few occasions, like visiting friends for coffee or going on a shopping or to a movie. These non-threatening activities are the perfect kinds of gatherings and offer time to catch up.. Also, if you’re active, take the time to exercise: go on a run, visit the gym or take a yoga class. This is not just a time to increase your endorphins, it will help give you head space to meditate and also fill your schedule so you eliminate idle time while away.

Think of your homecoming for the holidays as an opportunity, not an obligation. Letting the fear take over your serenity will limit the growth potential of this moment. Envision leaving the holiday weekend with a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that you used your program to squash the stress of the occasion. This is one of the joys of recovery, when we can arrive to the occasion being our best selves, and affect the outcome. You cannot control the actions, thoughts or emotions of others, but you can direct their perceptions in order to build a new bridge connecting your loved ones to your new self.