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Why Addiction Counseling Increases the Chance of Recovery

Addiction is a treatable disorder that individuals can recover from with the right plan. Without counseling and medication assisted treatment (MAT), there is a 10% chance you or a loved one will recover from addiction. With counseling and MAT? 50%. So how does addiction counseling almost double your chance of recovery? 

Researching the science of addiction and how various treatments work led to the development of research-based methods to increase a user’s chance of recovery. Treatments are now designed to counteract the substance’s disrupted effects so the user can focus on living a productive and healthy life. 

In fact, research shows that when treating addictions, especially opioid addictions, medication should be the first line of treatment, usually combined with some form of behavioral therapy or counseling to increase the chance of recovery. 

There is no treatment with a 100% success rate and relapse is common. However, a relapse does not mean the person is a failure. Addiction is extremely tough to beat and is designed to trick your brain and body into believing you need it. Thankfully, modern day treatments are focused on preventing relapse through various means, such as addiction counseling and MAT. 

How Addiction Counseling Helps

Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply rooted behaviors. Think of good addiction counseling like therapy — it is designed to rework your habits, thoughts, motivations, and mentality to slowly shift those deep rooted behaviors into healthier ones. 

It’s not necessarily only going to an AA meeting and expecting to get better through a support group. While attending these meetings and having a strong support group can help keep you accountable. However, addiction counseling is meeting with an educated professional who has experience in guiding those with substance use away from their addiction. 

This type of addiction counseling is usually based in behavioral therapies. As the counselor is working with the patient, they’re creating strategies to help the patient modify their attitude and behaviors related to substance use. The goal is to help patients better handle stressful situations and triggers that may cause them to relapse. This way, if a patient is in one of those situations, it’s easier for them to say no to drugs and instead turn to a health outlet. 

Behavioral therapies can also enhance the effectiveness of medications and help people remain in treatment longer.

Specific treatments include the following: 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy to help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they’re most likely to use drugs.

Using positive reinforcement through contingency management therapy that provides rewards or privileges for remaining drug free. This healthy habit is meant to stimulate your brain’s natural “reward circuit” so you can re-associate feeling good with healthy habits instead of drug use. It’s essentially training your brain to respond positively to being drug free.

Motivational enhancement therapy uses strategies to make the most of people’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment.

Family therapy helps the patient and their family address influences on drug use patterns and improve overall family functioning.

Addiction Affects More Than the Patient

Addiction affects more than just the addict — it’s a family-wide issue. 

There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with substance abuse in your family. Being involved in the therapy process will help your family develop a way to support you through your recovery and how to handle a relapse, if one does occur. The goal is to educate the family and to create healthier and closer ties within the family unit, so no one feels alone or helpless during the recovery period. 

Clinical research demonstrated that resistance to engaging family members into addiction counseling may reflect the family’s influence on the substance use problem. In other words, it is likely that stress caused by family can influence drug use. This is why bringing the family into the equation is so important — it can help the family understand what behaviors may have triggered the substance use, or it can help educate them on how to help their loved one. 

It can also help if the patient’s substance use developed from watching their parents, relatives, or sibling using drugs too. 

Finding Affordable Addiction Treatment with Counseling

Finding an affordable addiction treatment clinic can be difficult, especially if you’re looking for one that offers both MAT and counseling. The ideal clinic is one who advocates for you and treats you with kindness and respect. 

Look for clinics like Direct2Recovery, who are passionate about helping patients succeed. They’re model integrates everything you need into telemedicine and on-site visits, including drug tests, counseling, and MAT using suboxone. All of their treatment plans are made by Dr. Flatley, who meets with and assesses every patient to ensure the treatment plan is right for them. 

If you’re still on the fence or want to jump into Direct2Recovery’s MAT and addiction counseling model, contact them today

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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding What Is Addiction

In 2018, there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States and almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction. But what is addiction?

Addiction is not as straightforward as knowing the dictionary definition to it and it’s not always dangerous. It is a highly complex condition where your brain manifests an extreme need for the substance. You can get addicted to a wide variety of things, including: 

  • Caffeine 
  • Tobacco/nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Painkillers/opioids
  • Illicit substances 
  • Stimulants
  • Inhalants 

In most cases, addiction is much more than a want — your brain is tricked into needing the substance to function, which is why withdrawal symptoms can be so unpleasant, no matter what you’re addicted to. 

Addiction causes the user to have an intense focus on their specific substance of choice. In some cases, that just means you can’t start your day without a cup of coffee. In other cases, it means someone might need morphine to get out of bed, or Adderall to help them through a stressful day.

When it gets to be severe, addictions can take over lives. This is because people with substance use disorder often have distorted thinking, behaviors, and body functions due to how the drug is changing their brain. It affects their judgement, decision making abilities, learning ability, memory, and behavior control. Yes, even caffeine! 

Addiction can also lead to many negative things, including incarceration and death (no, not usually caffeine). 

With all of these negative side effects, it raises the question why do people choose to take drugs in the first place? To truly understand addiction, you have to understand the answer to that question first. 

Why Do People Start Taking Drugs?

First off, not every addiction is considered dangerous! Your daily cup (or three) of coffee probably isn’t going to hurt you. You might get jittery or get a stomach ache, but that’s about it. However, even if you’re only addicted to caffeine, you are technically still addicted to a drug. Yes, caffeine is considered a stimulant drug

There are a variety of reasons why people start taking drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To feel good 
  • To feel better 
  • To do better
  • Curiosity and peer pressure

Keep in mind that not all addictions start because people are looking for drugs. In the case of caffeine, people are just looking to get energized. And in some cases, people can get addicted to painkillers such as morphine or vicodin (both are opiates) after being prescribed them from a doctor. 

The important thing to remember is that trying a drug one time can be enough for a person to become addicted to it. It may start harmless — the person may take it to reduce stress before a final exam, or to just try it once at a party, but they may want to take the drug again and again to replicate the effects in the future. 

Understanding the ‘Reward Circuit’

The “reward circuit” is what keeps most users from breaking free of their addiction. It works like this: when your brain gets what it wants, it rewards itself by surging itself with dopamine. The system was designed to help motivate you to continue good behaviors and avoid bad. 

Drugs simulate this reward circuit. Taking your substance of choice, whether it’s caffeine or heroin, can flood the brain with euphoria as well as flooding it with dopamine — your brain’s natural feel good chemical. It makes you feel good, which motivates you to feel good again, thus trapping you in a reward circuit. 

However, as you start to build tolerance to the substance, the reward circuit activates less and less.

It’s like this: have you ever had a really good slice of cake to celebrate a friend’s birthday? You remember that your birthday is coming up too and you decide to get the same cake for your party. Soon enough, that’s the only cake you’re getting for any celebration so you can experience the delicious pleasure more than once. 

Over time people with addiction also build up a tolerance, meaning they need larger amounts to feel the effects too. So if you want to enjoy the cake to its fullest, you may eventually need two slices, instead of one. And then three, and four, and so on. 

While more innocent, drugs can have the same effect as that birthday cake. 

Why Do Some People Get Addiction and Others Don’t?

There is no scientific answer as to why someone is more prone to addiction than others. A combination of factors normally influence the risk for addiction, but those factors do not guarantee addiction. 

For example, biology, environment, and development can increase or decrease your risk of being introduced to drugs or addicted in the first place. Biology refers to genes, gender, ethnicity, and any mental disorders that may influence the risk of drug use or addiction; environment refers to anything from family and friends, economic status, peer pressure, stress, etc. — any outside influences; and development refers to the age you could potentially be exposed to drugs. 

Can Addiction Be Cured Or Prevented?

Yes: addiction can be cured and prevented. Prevention is difficult, but the key is to just say no or to avoid temptations or to find natural and healthy ways to produce the same effect. For example, vitamin B-12 is believed to help fight fatigue naturally, so try taking that instead of drinking caffeine. 

Curing an addiction is less straightforward. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. And this is okay! Addiction recovery is a multi-phase process that is taken at your own pace. 

If you or a loved one are looking for affordable addiction treatment with a high success rate, consider a clinic that offers counseling, easy access to those counselors, and medication assisted treatment. 

For example, Direct2Recovery passionately helps as many patients as they can overcome substance use disorder through a treatment schedule that is curated to match your needs. They use the medication assisted option of Buprenorphine/Naltrexone (Suboxone) to treat opioid addiction and addiction counseling therapy to give patients the best chance at recovery. 

If you have any questions on how to start affordable addiction treatments, contact Direct2Recovery today

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How to Talk with a Loved One About Addiction

One of the hardest parts of the addiction cycle is talking about addiction, especially to a loved one. It’s never easy to tell someone they need to get help, that’s why we at Direct2Recovery wanted to outline the process for you in some easy to follow tips. 

When Should You Talk About Addiction

Timing does matter. There is no sweet spot for when you should talk to your friend or loved one — it could be one week into their addictive habits, or many years. We advocate for the sooner, the better, but we do understand that this is not always possible. 

When you’re ready to talk with them, plan it out. You should choose a time when they’re not going to be intoxicated or high, as you will want everything to be calm, understood, and clear. 

One approach is to reach out when your friend is hungover or remorseful following a drinking or drug-related incident. While it may seem like you’re kicking them when they’re down, it’s actually the opposite. You would be talking with them when the negative incident is still fresh in their mind and their brain isn’t rewarding them for their behavior. This makes them more likely to be receptive to talking to you about it. 

It may be hard, but you’ll also want to bring up a whole pattern of events that you’ve noticed rather than an isolated incident.

Planning The Discussion

You will always want a plan for this kind of discussion. We recommend consulting with family members and mutual friends to determine how to frame the conversation. They will be able to help you anticipate certain reactions and can help you write a script. It would be a good idea to include them in the conversation as well, especially if the affected loved one trusts them and feels safe with them. 

If you are able, you can enlist the help of a mental health professional or someone who has had this conversation in the past as well. 

Plan The Entire Conversation

Plan everything — right down to where the talk will happen. You will want to talk with them in a safe space. Pick their home, or someplace where it’s quiet, familiar, and offers a chance for them to walk away if they need to. Avoid public places. 

This is not a time to wing it or be spontaneous. Practice what you’re going to say and remember a list of points you want to talk about. And remember that things may not follow your plan directly, but you do have the power to get the conversation back on track if you need to.

Setting the Right Tone

The initial approach is so important as it can set the mood for the rest of the conversation. It’s a good idea to make a distinction between your feelings for them and their addiction. Use phrases like, “I love you and support you. What I don’t support is your drinking/drug use.” 

Always use “I.” Do not try to speak for others and do not say phrases like “you make me feel,” as it adds an accusation that is unnecessary for this conversation. Your tone should always be soft, caring, and non-accusatory, even if the conversation escalates. Your goal is to have an open discussion, not an argument. 

Instead, use phrases like: 

  • I feel like…
  • My experience of your drinking/drug use makes me feel…
  • I worry that…

Be supportive. Addiction is a disease and your friend may not be able to control their worst impulses because of it. Don’t blame them and don’t criticize them. You’re talking to them because you care, not because you want to lock them up. Treat the conversation the same way. 

How To Open The Conversation

Using the tips from above, opening the conversation is the hardest part. Take a deep breath and know you’re in a safe space. To make it easier, you can choose from the following openers: 

  • I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
  • I’ve noticed you’ve been acting differently lately, and I’m wondering how you’re doing.
  • I’ve been worried about you lately.
  • I’ve noticed you’ve been drinking a lot lately, and I’m wondering how you’re doing.
  • I’ve noticed you’ve been using <drug name>, and I’m worried about you.

You can also use specific examples or stories to start the conversation, like how cancelling plans or how they acted during an event caused you to worry. 

Open the Conversation to Them

Talking about addiction should never be a one-way street. There should be open communication and dialogue between the person, though you should be the one to instigate it. Once you’ve opened the conversation, give them a chance to respond. You can ask if they’re willing to talk with someone about their addiction, if they’re willing to get help, or how all of this is making them feel. 

Don’t make accusations when you’re trying to open the conversation to them, especially if they’re not comfortable talking. We know it’s frustrating, but avoid saying anything hurtful, like: 

  • Do you know how much this is affecting your/our family?
  • Don’t you have anything to say for yourself?
  • Your addiction affects us too. Please say something. 

Remember that you can’t force them to talk to you. Helping someone get on the right track to recovery can take time. Be patient and encouraging. Sometimes that’s all they need to get motivated enough to take the steps toward recovery. 

How to Help a Loved One with Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction and is ready to seek help, there are a few reputable affordable addiction treatment centers, such as Direct2Recovery. They’re an outpatient clinic that is different from a typical rehab center. 

At Direct2Recovery, their mission is to passionately help as many people as they can. Their doctor takes the time to get to know you or your loved one to create a treatment plan that works best for them. After hearing your treatment plan, every one of their staff members will work with you as much as you need, because the Direct2Recovery team is truly committed to your success. 

Their outpatient treatments are a mix of carefully planned counseling — the family can be involved too! — and medicine assisted treatment. Direct2Recovery is a suboxone clinic. Learn more about why they use this approach in their recent blog, Why Use Suboxone Treatment for Opiate Addiction.

If you can’t go into the clinic, they also offer telemedicine for select individuals. These virtual visits include supervised drug testing and counseling with a board-certified physician. 

If you are struggling with opiate addiction, Direct2Recovery wants to help you regain control of your life, we’re ready to help. Contact them to learn more.

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What Are The Benefits of Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is a relatively new concept that allows anyone to receive counseling and see a doctor without leaving their home. There are a few types of telemedicine: it can be done over the phone, over a video call, through a website portal, or in a hybrid model. However it is done, it was created to make healthcare accessible. Because of this, there are many benefits of telemedicine. However, telemedicine is not for emergency services. If you have a serious health problem, such as a heart attack, call 911 immediately. 

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What Is The Difference Between Buprenorphine And Naloxone?

Welcome back to another entry here on the Direct2Recovery blog! Last time we talked a bit about what patients may experience when it comes to fighting Suboxone withdrawal. This month, we’d like to break down two other types of medications that are used to assist in dependency and overdoses. Buprenorphine and Naloxone are two very different kinds of medication that are used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Combined, the two form  Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction. 

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