Success: The Best Answer To Criticism

18 12 2009

Making the Transition From Recovery to Career

By Jane St. Clair

You’ve completed your stay in drug rehab and now it’s time to go back to work. If you’re like most people in early recovery, you’re probably worried about how the transition will go. Will everyone at the office gossip about you? Will your boss constantly be looking over your shoulder? Will you get demoted – or worse yet, fired?

Addiction Treatment Saves Careers

Research shows that the majority of people who were employed before entering drug treatment remain employed afterward. In fact, having a job is a good predictor of success in substance abuse treatment. The majority actually perform better at their jobs and are less likely to be fired than before they entered drug treatment. The “stigma” of drug rehab is often bigger in the person’s mind than it is in reality.

Studies also show that former drug abusers and alcoholics actually miss fewer days of work, have fewer discipline problems and are happier with their jobs after completing treatment. As for employers who know about treatment, one study found that if employers referred an employee for addiction treatment, that person was more likely to complete the program and successfully remain abstinent one year later than those who had referred themselves or had been referred by police.

Other Important Changes After Rehab

While the majority of people who complete substance abuse treatment successfully return to work, it is not the same as saying nothing has changed. Addiction treatment is not just about changing one habit – it is more often about changing your entire life.

People in residential substance abuse treatment programs often begin to take care of their own health for the first time in years. They learn to relax and cope with life without chemicals. They have experienced intense psychotherapy, often undergoing both group and individual counseling sessions several times a week.

Their families also got involved in the process of change. Counselors help spouses and family members release their anger and frustration about the negative impact their loved one’s drug abuse or alcoholism has had on their lives. Meanwhile, the person in treatment allows their regrets and self-blame to surface. Many times the addict has to go through a period of mourning for the time lost to substance abuse. People look back on the wreckage of their lives and truly start over. Families become more loving toward one another and begin to trust each other again.

Some studies show that about three years after undergoing substance abuse treatment, many people end up rearranging their entire lifestyle. People often end up making less money and working at lower levels than they did before treatment, but they are happier with themselves and their families. For example, former alcoholics who were also “workaholics” stop putting in long hours of overtime at their jobs. After they give up drinking, they stop working so hard in order to spend more time with their families or doing things they enjoy.

Others change their entire career paths. A high-powered businesswoman, for example, decides to stay home with her children. A lawyer quits his firm to open up a bookstore. Someone else takes a vacation for the first time in decades.

Making a Smooth Transition

Recovering addicts and alcoholics often wonder how others will react to them once they get back to their places of employment. How will these transitions take place? The good news is that their counselors will work with them while they’re in residential treatment and during months of follow-up care. These professionals help people in drug rehab find the right way to handle any difficult situations as they arise.

As people become free of addictions, they feel less depressed and more self-confident. They are more likely to take a good look at how they are leading their lives, including what’s going on at work. They ask themselves questions like: Is my boss an extremely difficult person? Am I in dysfunctional relationships with my coworkers? Is this job what I really want?

Once the addictions are gone, everything is different. The job you worried about keeping before you entered treatment can become the job you wonder if you really want. Once you regain your full power as a self-confident individual, you may decide you that you deserve a new, more fulfilling career path in life. Freedom from addiction is likely to open up new options in your future that you do not even know exist today.

Visit prescriptiondrugabuse.org for more information.

Click here for a guide to creating a Relapse Prevention Plan.





Finding the Right Facility

17 12 2009

Finding the right treatment facility can be a daunting task. Shown below are a few options that the state of Utah and Utah County have to offer. There are many more nation-wide facilities that are not listed here, but can be found through an internet search or a conversation with a professional placement counselor. Call 1-877-503-6901 to speak to a counselor who can help you find a treatment center that will fit your needs and be most appropriate for you.

Wasatch Mental Health was founded in 1967 to provide quality mental health care for all individuals within Utah county. It is a comprehensive community mental health center. It offers an array of programs and services for children, teens and adults.

In order to meet the requirements of a comprehensive mental health center, the following services are provided: inpatient, residential, day treatment, case management, outpatient, 24-hour crisis line, outreach, follow-up, referral screening, consultation, education and prevention.

Wasatch Mental Health may also provide, coordinate or support additional services for patients such as housing, transportation to needed mental health services, clubhouses, consumer drop-in centers, employment and rehabilitation, and more.

Click here to get started with Wasatch Mental Health

The Haven

A Residential Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center Located In Salt Lake City, Utah

The Haven is a residential treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction. It was established in 1969 as an alternative to costly hospital based treatment programs. It houses men and women who are over the age of 18 and want to do something about their addiction problem. Our total population is between 16-18 clients.

The program has a minimum stay of 60 days and a maximum stay of 100 days. Average completion is 85 days. The Haven is Twelve Step oriented and clients are expected to attend six AA meetings per week. Average days include life skill classes, groups on the causes addressing the need to numb the pain, individual therapy, chores, and helping others who suffer from addiction by relating to their problems because they are the same as yours. The Haven also stresses a wide variety of recreational programs to show clients life can be fun without the use of drugs and alcohol.

Our alumni association joins in many of these events helping to form a support group that further aids in the long term success of each client. Upon completing The Haven, aftercare groups and twelve step meetings also aid in making The Haven treatment program one of the most successful treatment facilities in the nation.

Visit havenhelps.com for more details

Ascend Recovery

Ascend Recovery is a cutting edge residential drug and alcohol treatment center that synthesizes the best medical expertise offered by several different modalities. Ascend Recovery is a dual diagnosis center specializing in treating the disease of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as any underlying mental health issues. Ascend employs therapeutic techniques that utilize group and individual therapy, experiential therapies, western physical assessment, and medical intervention. In addition, Ascend Recovery uses holistic healing techniques, such as a specialized nutrition program and a core family program that helps families understand the disease of drug addiction. Ascend Recovery is an intimate residential treatment center with only 8 beds. Because of our small size, clinicians are able to develop individual treatment plans that benefit each client according to their needs. Additionally, Ascend Recovery strives to make the gift of recovery affordable by establishing a groundbreaking program that costs 30% less than industry standards.

Being located at the base of Utah’s beautiful Wasatch Front provides patients with opportunities to hike, swim, water ski, and wake board. At Ascend Recovery, we believe that exercise and outdoor recreation is an important component of drug and alcohol recovery. As such, Utah is an excellent location for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Because it’s important to feel comfortable with the program that you choose, we recommend that you tour our facility. To schedule a tour and get more information on our program and facilities, please call us at (866) 563-4280 or visit us at http://www.ascendrecovery.com/

With the backdrop of the majestic Wasatch Mountain Front, Turning Point welcomes its clients with secluded lush grounds, a tranquil facility, attention to detail and impeccable service during the healing process from addiction. It is our sincere belief that the healing of addictions is a sacred journey that is to be given the deepest of reverence and respect…thus it is our honor to assist on this journey back to wholeness.

Our caring, professional staff of Doctors, Licensed Professional Therapists and Educators are committed to providing the highest quality of care in a safe and nurturing environment, using the most revolutionary approaches known today. All individuals who enter our program receive treatment that is specifically designed to fit their unique needs in a way that best serves their recovery.

More personalized one-on-one care, smaller therapy and education groups combined with an uncompromising dedication to healing are precisely what make Turning Point the choice for experiencing the change of a lifetime.

Click here for more information about Turning Point.

An exclusive and private drug rehab program can be found at Cirque Lodge, located in the majestic mountain setting of Sundance, Utah. Cirque Lodge is considered one of the nation’s finest drug treatment centers providing services for alcohol and substance abuse. Our professional staff is here to help you find addiction recovery. We will provide the most effective alcohol and drug rehab program available for families and individuals suffering from the disease of addiction or alcoholism.

High in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains is a majestic glacier-carved Cascade Cirque; which is where Cirque Lodge derives its name. Addiction and alcohol treatment at Cirque Lodge is provided in a private world-class residential facility. Our drug addiction center is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.

There are two main Facilities providing alcohol rehab and drug rehab at Cirque Lodge; they are the Lodge and the Studio. The “Lodge” is a private mountain retreat with stunning views of both the Sundance Ski Resort and the cirque on beautiful 12,000 foot Mount Timpanogos. It is a limited enrollment facility focused on a private experience.

The “Studio” is located near the base of Mount Timpanogos and the mouth of Provo Canyon, a world-renowned fly-fishing and ice climbing area. The Studio is a larger enrollment facility focused on the best addiction treatment programs. Both facilities combine to provide the very best in therapy in a healing environment. These two facilities combine to provide a complete alcohol treatment and drug rehab program.

Visit Cirque Lodge now!





Confronting Addiction

17 12 2009

Confronting Someone With an Addiction

By Elouise

Addictions cause people to behave in ways that they normally wouldn’t. Whether it is drug addiction, alcoholism, sex addiction or any other addictive behavior, it eventually causes harm and distress to family friends. Watching someone you love in the throes of an addiction is devastating. When thinking about confronting someone with an addiction there are some very important points to keep in mind.

1. Think about why you want to confront this person now. What outcome would you like to achieve. You probably want the person to stop their behavior but you cannot make them do that. That is up to them.

2. What part of their addiction is causing you the most distress? Be specific. Is it violence, theft, illness, money, sexual behavior, verbal abuse or other problems? You may be worried they will harm themselves. You may be worried about the effect on children.

3.Write down how their addiction has affected you. It might include: worry, illness, loss of income, legal problems, loss of friends and family, depression, fear, loss of trust and others.

4. Think carefully about what you will and won’t accept in the future in this relationship. If you can’t carry through with what you ask for then there is no point in stating your requests. Some ideas might be “if you continue to do …. I will (leave you, move out, divorce you, have separate bank accounts, not spend time with you when you are drunk/stoned etc”

5. Think through how the person is likely to react to your confrontation based on their past behavior. Most people do not like to be reminded of their problems. Chances are they know deep down they are out of control but are not ready to admit it. Will they get angry or break down? Is there a risk of self-harm if they are distressed? They may blame you for their problem.

6. The goal of confronting someone in denial about their addiction is for you to express your concern, your feelings and state what you will and will not accept in the relationship in the future. You cannot make someone stop being addicted so don’t make the situation worse by thinking you can. Addiction is a serious medical and psychological problem that this person needs professional help with.

7. Choose a time when they are most coherent and least under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Don’t confront someone in a group setting, it is more likely to result in them denying the problem even more. Don’t confront them if there is any risk of violence.

8. Use “I” statements not “you” statements. Don’t criticize or name call, verbal abuse won’t help. State how you feel, how their addiction affects you and what you want to change. Here are some examples of how to get started:

“I hate seeing you like this and I hate living like this. I want you to get help for your problem. I know you think you can beat if on your own and you have tried really hard to stop. You need help.”

“I care about you and I want to see you happy and healthy again.”

Then just listen, don’t interrupt. It is up to them now to arrange help, not you. Do not get caught up in their blame or remorse.

Groups like al-anon, or nar-anon are really helpful for family and friends of addicts. Living with an addict often results in co-dependent behavior. You need to look after yourself now and stop trying to fix the addict.





U Booze U Lose

15 12 2009

The Risks Associated With Binge Drinking: Learn the Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

By Allison Kanaley Trudell

Lifescript: Healthy Living for Women, Feb 13, 2008

Despite an increase in public awareness and many campaigns aimed at curbing excessive consumption of alcohol, one group of drinkers continues to grow. Binge drinking is on the rise and has been for the last decade. Learn about the dangers of binge drinking and find out where to get help if you or someone you know is struggling with this problem.

While it is no surprise that college students make up a large percentage of the population who partake in excessive alcohol consumption, the adult population is closing the gap. Although the number of drinkers who binge is highest in the 18- to 20-year-old range, adults over the age of 25 make up 70 percent of binge-drinking episodes. In addition, men are three times more likely to binge drink than women, and binge drinkers have a 14 percent higher chance of reporting driving while under the influence of alcohol as compared to those who don’t binge. Another telling statistic: About 75 percent of the alcohol consumed by American adults is by those who are binge drinking.

Are You a Binge Drinker?

The answer may surprise a lot of people. The NIAAA describes binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that causes blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be .08 gram percent or above. For males, that would equate to about five or more drinks in a two-hour period, and about four or more drinks for females during that time frame. A “drink” refers to a 12-ounce beer, five-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits.

The Effects of Binge Drinking on the Body

The notion that just “having a few” drinks is safe can be dangerous in itself. Drinking and driving can have obvious consequences. Consider this sobering statistic: Alcohol abuse kills more than 100,000 Americans each year, mostly in traffic accidents. It’s also the third largest preventable cause of death in this country.

Binge drinking can lead to the following health issues: injuries – both intentional and unintentional, alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, children born with fetal alcohol exposure syndrome. But the effects of alcohol that can’t immediately be seen could be the most harmful. Alcohol can contribute to high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, neurological damage, sexual dysfunction, and can limit the control of diabetes.

Consuming too much alcohol during a short time period can have serious and irreversible effects on the brain. Alcohol kills brain cells, specifically in the front part of the brain, which processes information for decision-making. Excessive drinking during early or middle adolescence can affect the body by limiting its control over cravings for alcohol, as well as lay the framework for poor decision-making.

Binge drinking can be a sign of bigger problems. Alcoholism, once considered an environmental or situational problem, is now tagged as largely genetic. And those who find themselves binge drinking on a regular basis may be dealing with undiagnosed depression or other physiological conditions. If you notice a pattern of binge drinking behavior, consult your physician to discuss a plan of action.

Women should be especially wary of their alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy – even a little – can contribute to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), infant low birth weight, and developmental delays in children.

“Women are more vulnerable to binge drinking,” said Dr. Marcia Russell, who co-authored two recent studies on the issue. Russell said heavy drinking in adolescence and early adulthood could work against women who engage in binge drinking as adults. She explained that the effects of the intensity of drinking on the cardiovascular system is higher in women than in men, and that women generally weigh less than men, have more body fat, and metabolize alcohol differently. “All of these issues are really important,” Russell said. She said taking a look at lifelong drinking patterns is critical to understanding how health is affected by alcohol.

In addition, the consumption of alcohol has been linked by numerous studies regarding the risk of breast cancer in women. Alcohol, especially when consumed at a rate of three or more drinks a day, increased a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 30 percent.

While moderate alcohol consumption – about one drink per day for women – is considered a heart-healthy habit, the health risks associated with alcohol, including cancer, increase with more drinks. Something as basic as weight gain can be a dangerous precursor for more health problems down the road. Alcohol stimulates the appetite, and alcohol consumed in large amounts can result in weight gain. Further, alcohol is a depressant and can exacerbate feelings of depression in women. A group of Canadian researchers found that binge drinking may affect women who suffer from depression more than other people.

The research linked depression with a pattern of binge drinking. Alcohol lowers serotonin and norepinephrine levels, and can affect behavior of stress hormones.

Perhaps one of the  most serious side effects of binge drinking is the effect it has on both the mother and her unborn child. Menstrual disorders have also been associated with chronic heavy drinking, which can lead to fertility problems and the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“This concerns me,” said Russell, who favors a so-called harm-reduction approach to the issue of drinking during pregnancy. She said an appreciation of the use of contraceptives if there is a risk of an unwanted pregnancy. “When you think of it, 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned; these are women who are going around thinking moderate drinking is okay. They may not think of it as particularly harmful. There’s just a lot of societal acceptance of this.”

Recognizing a problem with alcohol in yourself or in someone you know is the crucial first step to getting help. There are support groups for those who suffer from alcohol addiction and their families. Teens are encouraged to talk to a trusted adult, and as always, the best advice in dealing with medical issues comes from your doctor. Self-help programs that specifically target binge drinking are available (ask your doctor for more information), and those with alcohol abuse problems can contact the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at 1-800-662-HELP.

Do You Drink Too Much?

The one or two glasses of wine you drink at the occasional meal when you dine out are no big deal, but what about the standard two glasses of wine you have with every dinner? Could this love of Chardonnay mean that you drink too much? Many people wonder the same thing – whether or not their drinking habits are over the top. To find out if your drinking habits are out of control, answer these questions honestly in this drinking quiz.

Click here for the full article.





What you don’t know WILL hurt you…

13 12 2009

Get the Facts about Prescription Drugs!

Most of us are aware that prescription narcotic misuse and abuse are problems that occur throughout the nation, but do we really know what is happening in our own homes and neighborhoods? Over the past year, SMART Utah County has conducted several focus groups and county wide surveys; the following facts were taken from their collection of significant data. What is happening here and now in Utah County will shock you!

Prescription narcotic misuse/abuse findings in Utah County:

  • Twenty-Five (25%) of doctors and 12.5% of dentists interviewed received training on how to recognize prescription drug abuse. Doctors and dentists averaged one training session or course over their entire medical profession.
  • About 9.3% (about 28,000 residents) of Utah County residents over 18 years of age have used prescription pain medication to manage pain in a way that was not originally intended by their doctor.
  • 47% of respondents said they knew someone personally in Utah County that had a problem with prescription pain medication.
  • Thirty percent (30%) of treatment clients said they obtained prescription pain relievers fraudulently.
  • In the countywide survey we learned for what purposes residents keep leftover prescriptions: (1) Kept pills in case of an emergency, 31% (2) In case they needed the medication in the future, 22% (3) Did not have the time to dispose of the prescription drugs, 16% (4) Not sure how to properly dispose of the leftover drugs, 8% (5) Save money, 1%.
  • There are 4 drop-off boxes for unused prescriptions in our community. There are not enough in Utah County to make a significant impact on availability. They are mostly located in South County and are not accessible 24 hours a day; most boxes are located inside buildings.
  • Physicians reported that they or their peers often prescribed more pills than necessary. The most common reason for over-prescribing was the hassle of getting calls from patients for continuous refills. Physicians also said the number of pills to prescribe is often arbitrary so they tend to round up. The chart below shows that being prescribed more pain medication than needed is significantly associated with age (26-35), marital status (married) and income ($45,000 to $75,000).

  • Prescription pain pills were more commonly shared among youth for recreational drug use. Youth often obtained the drugs from friends or raiding the medicine cabinet. Youth thought they might not get in as much trouble if caught with a pain reliever vs. an illicit drug.
  • In our adult focus groups 80% had either been given or shared a prescription drug.
  • Physicians report they are confronted by “shoppers” multiple times each week or even on a daily basis. Sixty percent (60%) of adult focus groups said it would be “unlikely” that they would be caught doctor shopping. They ranked doctor shopping laws as one of the least enforced of the prescriptions laws.
  • Sixty-three (63%) percent believe it is ‘somewhat’ or ‘very hard’ to get in trouble with the law for illegally using prescription pain medication. If the public does not think they will get in trouble, they are more likely to engage in criminal behavior.
  • Doctors cited the following reasons for the lack of adequate information (patient education): (1) LimitedTime (2) Doctors assume they are not the only one involved in the patient’s care. (3)  Counseling varies by the type of patient. Types include first time vs. established patient, patient dealing with chronic vs. acute pain. Not all patients obtain the same counseling. (4) No financial incentive (insurance companies do not pay for it) (5) Many addicted patients do not listen or are not receptive.
  • Thirty-one (31%) percent of survey respondents felt there was a slight or moderate risk of harming themselves if they increased the dosage of pain medication without doctor approval.
  • 12.6% of Utah college students at public universities used pain relievers for non-medical purposes (majority age 18 to 30)
  • The countywide survey revealed that 215,358 residents 18 and older had been previously prescribed prescription pain medication with over 17,000 of these individuals having previously shared prescription pain medication with others.
  • North County has higher lifetime prescription non- medical use rates. Specifically, North 12%; Central 9%; and South 6%.
  • Court filings: There were only 124 fraudulent prescription filings. Twenty-seven (22%) of these court filings were dismissed and fourty-five (36%) were found guilty.

Click here for more facts and information regarding prescription drug misuse/abuse in Utah County





Faith to Overcome Addiction

2 12 2009

Jesus Christ: A Ray of Hope in the Darkest of Nights

The gospel teaches that grace comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Ether 12:27 of the Book of Mormon). Grace is an enabling power that makes recovery possible. It is “divine means of help or strength” that helps us do good works we wouldn’t be able to do or maintain by ourselves.

Standards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, such as the Word of Wisdom, keeps members safe from many addictive behaviors, but in a world where harmful influences are increasingly pervasive, addiction is a growing problem, even among Latter-day Saints. Addictions are not limited to substance abuse. They can include gambling, pornography, eating disorders, inappropriate sexual behavior, and overdependence on another person.

“If we will turn to the Lord and believe on His name, we can change. He will give us the power to change our lives, the power to put away bad thoughts and feelings from our hearts. We can be taken from ‘the darkest abyss’ to ‘behold the marvelous light of God’ (Mosiah 27:29). We can be forgiven. We can find peace.”

President James E. Faust (1920–2007), Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “The Power to Change,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2007, 123.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has set in place 12 steps to aid in addiction recovery. In this program, those who suffer from addiction learn through the atonement of Jesus Christ how to experience the miracle of living in recovery. The workbook guides readers toward recovery using 12 steps, each of which addresses an essential principle of recovery such as honesty, hope, or trust in God. Each step has a scripture study section with questions to ponder and space for writing.

The 12 Steps of the Addiction Recovery Program

1. Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.

2. Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.

3. Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

4. Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.

5. Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.

6. Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.

7. Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.

8. Make a written list of persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.

9. Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.

10. Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong, promptly admit it.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power to carry it out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all that you do.

Grace, a power that comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, makes recovery possible. Through grace, participants in the recovery program regain the hope they have lost. Those who struggle with addiction aren’t the only ones who can experience a mighty change: loved ones find that as they apply the 12 steps to their own lives and attend recovery meetings, they can experience the blessings of the Atonement in regard to their own grief. In some areas the addiction recovery program provides support groups for family and friends, who discover that the Savior can heal them of the pain, anger, and guilt that loved ones sometimes feel.

Click here to access the entire PDF format of the LDS Family Services 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program Workbook: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing.

Information for this post was obtained from the following link







You’re Not Alone…

30 11 2009

The Hidden Addiction: Prescription Drugs

by Darla Isackson

Meridian Magazine, November 30, 2001

Prescription drug addiction can happen to anyone, but it happens to women much more frequently than to men. Women are twice as likely to receive prescriptions as men, and there is a direct correlation between number of prescriptions written and incidence of abuse. The majority of women drug addicts are white, do not use illegal drugs, and receive their drugs through a doctor’s prescription.

LDS (Latter-Day Saint) women seem to be particularly vulnerable. Utah leads the nation in per capita use of some prescription drugs. Most LDS women would never consider using alcohol or illicit drugs. Prescription drugs, however, are legitimate, sanctioned, even encouraged for many problems, yet can easily lead to a dependence not intended or invited. Once a woman is innocently ensnared, the guilt and feared stigma of judgment or disapproval can create barriers to treatment and increased reason for denial.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jan Jones [names have been changed to protect privacy]

For Jan Jones, it was through seeking help for nervous problems and depression. Jan was a dutiful LDS woman carrying a heavy load. Within a few years she experienced the death of two husbands, a child, her mother and two grandmothers. She then married a third time, but was struggling to adjust to a new location and heavy church responsibilities. A desire to be super mom and super wife caused great pressure to “do it all.”

She reached a breaking point, was hospitalized for depression, and was given several prescribed medications. She was released after three months, but was not cured. She was in and out of the hospital every two or three months, given more and more medication, yet getting worse. Looking back now, she can see how she came to the point of caring about nothing but more medication. At home, the big accomplishment of the day would be to make it from the bed to the couch with a blanket. Personal hygiene was completely forgotten. She was a total recluse, leaving the house only to get medication.

Jan said, “I could get 60-100 pills at a time as a refill without talking to the doctors. When I needed more, the pharmacist would call the doctor and he would okay it. The doctor only slightly monitored my dosage and gave me no cautions. I was told all along that most of my medications were not addictive, but now I know I was addicted to a nerve pill, a sedative, and a pain medication by the time I got home from the hospital the first time. The combination of medications turned me into a zombie, but I didn’t care at the time. I just wanted more and more. I learned later that addiction occurs when the body’s tolerance for a chemical increases and the body becomes dependent. As the tolerance increases, dosage must be increased to get anywhere near the same effect.

“My problems got worse when I added over-the-counter medications. I didn’t realize at the time the dangers of drug combinations. Soon I was using a bottle a day of cold medicines like Nyquil. They have stimulants in them similar to ingredients in my nerve pills, and satisfied that craving when I knew I shouldn’t be taking more pills. But they also contain alcohol. Soon I was close to being alcoholic as well. I began hiding my medication, hiding Nyquil, hiding bourbon and coke, and staying in a fog all the time. My family had no idea how many different things I was taking, but my health rapidly deteriorated. I became asthmatic and epileptic and put my family through hell.

Mary Smith [names have been changed to protect privacy]

Women are unknowingly drawn into prescription drug addiction in several different ways. For Mary it was through seeking relief from the intense headaches she had suffered since her youth.

“I was heavy into denial, but down deep in my heart I knew I was taking more than I should,” said Mary Smith. Mary had always been active in the Church and her husband of more than thirty years had served in bishoprics. “Both times I was addicted to pain medications I watched the clock, anxious for the hour I could have more. My husband monitored my medication, and as time went on, I would get angry and cry when he would not give me more than the prescribed amount. I needed more–my body needed more. My husband was wise enough to see what was happening. He did something about it because I couldn’t help myself.”

Mary Smith had two very different experiences relating to drug withdrawal. She was first addicted to Demerol. Her husband recognized the addiction and called the doctor and they agreed she must get off it. They simply quit giving it to her, and it was nearly a year before she was able to function somewhat normally. But she still had the headaches. The underlying problem was not solved. Another doctor suggested a new medication, which he assured her was not addictive. It really helped, and did not result in nonfunctional days as Demerol had. She felt it was her answer, but she began wanting more, watching the clock, wanting the medication even when she wasn’t in pain.

Finally her husband sadly recognized all the symptoms of addiction again and scheduled her for a physical. The doctor said she was taking too much and he was concerned that she hadn’t been able to sleep for months without medication.

Jan

“One day I saw how useless my life was and how helpless I felt to change it. But honestly, I didn’t see that drugs were the problem. I wrote a suicide note and overdosed. Then, panicked at what I had done, called the hospital and got help.

“This time I knew my body was about to give out. I was near death, and finally took a good look at my life. After four years on drugs, I considered the possibility that I had a serious addiction and that I might need treatment. Denial had been my worst enemy. I made on appointment with an excellent psychiatrist. During my first appointment she listened to my history and said, “You’re a drug addict.” I broke down and sobbed. Having a definite diagnosis and admitting to it was the turning point in my life.

Mary

“I feel better than I have in years. The most significant thing the [rehabilitation] classes taught me was how to get emotions out in a healthy way rather than building up pressures. There was a definite correlation between my headaches and my inability to admit negative feelings or handle the inner pressures I created with unrealistic expectations. With a large family and all I expected of myself as an active LDS woman, there was always more to do than I could handle. I’ve learned now to say no, to take care of me and talk openly about what makes me angry. Consequently, I rarely get headaches anymore. Headaches and medicine are not controlling me now. With God’s help I am controlling them!”

Jan

“ I spent five weeks in a rehabilitative hospital and their counseling and treatment gave me the building blocks for a new life. They got me off drugs and helped me solve the problems that had cause my depression in the first place. Instead of covering up the symptoms they helped me deal with the cause.”

Mary

“Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I need help!’ It’s an erroneous notion that if we are living the gospel we won’t have problems and won’t need help. It takes courage and wisdom to go after the help we need, whether mental, physical, or with our families. But the help is there, and we need to be smart enough to take advantage of it. My motto now is, ‘take one day at a time and take care of me.’ If I do that, then I have the energy to reach out to others.”

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Prescription drug addiction is on the increase. One researcher postulates that there are more than a million Americans addicted to Valium-type drugs alone. As LDS women, we need to be educated, we need to practice prevention, and we need to have the humility and faith to reach out for help if we need it. Life is too short to put off really living.

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