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Heroin Addiction 101

Posted on :  March 2nd, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

If you have ever wondered if heroin is addicting, the answer is yes. This powerful drug is highly addictive for many reasons. It affects the central nervous system, especially the brain. It does not take long for the brain to crave heroin which results in serious problems in the short and long term.

Depressant with Euphoric Qualities

The chemistry of heroin is what makes it so addictive. The drug is a depressant that comes from morphine, which is taken from specific types of poppy plants. The drug itself is usually either white or brown and in a powder form that is mixed with sugar. The white powder is snorted or smoked, due to its bitter flavor. A variety of white powder is called “black tar” and this is usually injected into the body, either into muscles or veins. Heroin that is injected affects the mind the quickest, but it also comes with risks related to injecting a needle into the body.

Affecting the Brain’s Morphine Receptors

After heroin enters the body, it affects the brain as it turns into morphine. Since the brain actually has opioid receptors, morphine quickly attaches to those which immediately affect the central nervous system. People who use heroin feel euphoria once those receptors are stimulated. Eventually, the euphoria wears off and users feel the depressant action take place. The post-euphoria sensations include having a dry mouth and flushed skin; the body also feels heavy and drowsy. Thinking is also cloudy after the euphoric state ends. Addiction begins when heroin users constantly need the drug to feel the sense of euphoria.

Dangerous Drug Used in Some Prescriptions

Interestingly, heroin is actually used in some medications. They are categorized as Schedule 1 drugs because of their addictive properties, so it is illegal in many places to sell or possess the drug without a prescription. Heroin is known as diamorphine and is used as an analgesic. When people suffer from pain that morphine cannot diminish, then diamorphine is used. Diamorphine is occasionally used in epidurals during obstetric deliveries.

Changing Brain Chemistry and Forming an Addiction

When heroin makes its way into the brain, it actually changes the way the brain is structured as well as how it functions. It alters the chemistry in the brain and the way the nervous system reacts. Users quickly develop a tolerance to heroin, so they need to take more to get the same intense high. The brain actually gets used to the drug, so that the brain experiences painful symptoms of withdrawal if the body does not get enough heroin or any heroin at all. The withdrawal symptoms can be debilitating.

Craving the Drug and Other Signs of Addiction

Heroin addiction begins when the body begins to crave the drug. People who are regular users begin to obsess over their next hit; the obsession does develop into a compulsive way of thinking, too. Another sign of addiction is loss of physical and mental control, so users consistently need to have the drug and they cannot stop talking about getting it. The body develops tolerances based on the increased dosages and many addicts take it over and over to stay in the state of euphoria. These signs of addiction are rather easy to spot, especially if you live with the user.

The Best Way to Avoid Addiction to Heroin

Addiction in North America has grown since 2007, especially with adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Unfortunately, anyone can develop an addiction to the drug. The best way to avoid developing an addiction is to never start using the drug at all. If you spend time with people who use heroin, you will probably begin to use it yourself. The addiction is quick, powerful, and very difficult to end.

If you know someone who needs addiction treatment, please contact our professional staff at Towards Recovery Clinics at 905-527-2042 to get help.


Dual Diagnosis: Treatment Choices

Posted on :  February 27th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Living with drug addiction and a mental health disorder can be debilitating. With a dual diagnosis, recovery from drug addiction becomes more challenging when a mental health disorder is also diagnoses. Recovery professionals have to work with both diagnoses, and in many cases, the dual diagnoses can vary greatly from one patient to the next. If you have been given a dual diagnosis, you might wonder what your recovery program will hold. Fortunately, there are several options that work well for co-occurring disorders and they are usually successful.

Get a Full Evaluation

The first step to treating a dual diagnosis is to fully evaluate the disorders. Your diagnoses will be tested so the treatment procedures can be properly chosen. Without tests, which could include medical tests like blood tests as well as psychological evaluations, your treatment might take longer than it should.

Your Own Individualized Treatment Plan

After the tests, the team at Towards Recovery will be able to craft a plan that will be only for you and your diagnoses. The treatment plan will be chosen to stabilize your mental health issue and your drug addiction and as you move through the steps of the plan, you will get closer to your goal of full recovery from your addiction and management of your mental health problem. This personalized treatment plan could change as you move through the progression of the plan.

Psychiatric Care to Manage Mental Health Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis usually involves some psychiatric care that is created just for you. Depending on the diagnosis, you might need to have regular therapy sessions with a licensed psychologist. You might also need to take prescription medication to manage your mental health disorder. No matter what psychiatric care is recommended, you can trust that it will be individualized just for you.

Support Groups Provide Strength in Numbers

Support groups can be suggested as a treatment option, too. If you need to spend some time in an inpatient facility, you could be required to attend group meetings. Support groups can help people with drug addictions with the success of their recovery; there is a sense of strength in numbers. At Towards Recovery Centers, we can help you with decisions about support group meetings as well as help you keep your drug addiction recovery moving in the right direction.

Medication Will Monitored and Adjusted as Needed

With a dual diagnosis, monitoring medication is vital to the success of the recovery program. It is important to keep the mental health diagnosis stable in order to be successful on the addiction treatment plan. With your individualized treatment plan, your medications might be adjusted every so often so you get exactly what your mind and body needs. It is important that you keep your healthcare team abreast of any issues you have with your medications.

Regular Check-ins Show Commitment to Success

Check-ins with your healthcare team will help your treatment plan work properly. Our case managers at Towards Recovery Clinics are dedicated to your recovery, but they need you to be involved in your recovery, too. Your check-ins are vital so that your treatment plan can continually be evaluated for success.

Get Your Family Involved in Your Treatment

While support groups will help with the social aspect of your treatment plan, your family will play a more important role: regular, daily support. Successful treatment plans integrate family support programs, like education, support groups, and counseling sessions for the people who were with your prior to the program and who will continue to be with you throughout the treatment program.

Aftercare Support Prevents Relapses

Once your treatment program is declared successful, you still might not be finished working with your healthcare team. There will be obstacles that develop after you return to a functional lifestyle and aftercare support will be necessary. It is important to accept aftercare support to prevent relapses.

The professional team at Towards Recovery Clinics can help you or your loved one with a dual diagnosis. Contact us at 905-527-2042 with any questions about drug addiction and recovery.


Cocaine Withdrawal – Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment

Posted on :  February 25th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

When heavy drug users try to cut back on drug use, drug users feel the extreme sensations relating to withdrawal. Some drugs have more painful withdrawal symptoms than others, but cocaine is one the few drugs that can causes withdrawal symptoms after the very first use. Those who use cocaine call the withdrawal symptoms a crash and for several good reasons.

How Cocaine Causes Addiction

Cocaine works similarly to heroin, by affecting the cells in the brain. While heroin works by attaching to the morphine receptors in the brain, cocaine triggers the dopamine to be released. The morphine receptors reduce the sensation of pain and the dopamine release causes a feeling of euphoria. Once the dopamine is released, cocaine blocks the brain from receiving dopamine back into the neurons. This causes the dopamine to fill the spaces between the neurons in the brain. While this is occurring, the body continues to feel euphoria – the high that causes the user to feel energetic and talkative. It also causes the heart rate to increase which also increases blood pressure. These bodily changes can be quite dangerous.

The High with Fall

Just like the laws of gravity, the high will eventually fall. Cocaine users experience a crash that is just as painful as the high is euphoric. The crash usually comes with the desire for more cocaine to get back to the energetic state of euphoria. During the fall from the high, cocaine users experience many symptoms that can interfere with daily activities. They include problems like insomnia, despite serious fatigue and sleepiness. Once users fall asleep during withdrawal, they can experience vividly troubling dreams. When they are not trying to fall asleep, users can also experience slow psychomotor actions as well as irritability and anxiety. It is common to experience depression along with paranoia and suspicion. It is also common to experience cravings and a strong appetite, but the food often does not offer the joy that users expect it to give.

Physical Symptoms Relating to Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal has several other painful symptoms that affect the body physically. The effects are different from the shaking and vomiting that come with withdrawal from alcohol and heroin. Cocaine withdrawal causes problems with mood and energy. During withdrawal, users can experience fatigue, depression, malaise, agitation, and lack of energy. While these may not sound like a horrible experience, the effects of withdrawal can create problems at work and at home. The tired and irritable feelings are also accompanied by serious cravings, because the users know they will experience bouts of energy by using again. Once users realize how fleeting the high really is, they can also become suicidal – which is a very serious withdrawal symptom.

Time Period for Withdrawal

Withdrawal from cocaine can take several weeks, or it can be as short as one week. During the period of withdrawal symptoms, the cravings will spike and fall several times, anxiety will also increase and decrease, too. It is common to see varying states of paranoia, disorientation, bradycardia (slow heart rate), as well as hunger and apathy. While heroin users can use methadone and other prescription medications to control their withdrawal symptoms, cocaine withdrawal cannot be treated with any medication. It is important for users who are working on quitting, to work closely with a physician or psychotherapist.

Dual Diagnosis

Some of the withdrawal symptoms are similar to psychiatric symptoms and users with dual diagnoses of drug abuse and psychological disorders can exacerbate the symptoms. The way that cocaine is put into the body can also affect any pre-existing psychiatric disorders, especially if cocaine is taken intravenously or by freebasing. It is wise to work closely with a team of physicians if you are working through drug abuse and with psychiatric symptoms.

If you have any questions about cocaine addiction or any other drug addiction, please contact our professional staff at Towards Recovery Clinics at 905-527-2042.


What Does a Typical Addict Look Like? Not What You Think

Posted on :  January 30th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

The image of the typical heroin addict was once a junkie with pale skin, tired eyes, and rotten teeth. If this is what you envision a heroin addict to look like, then you are mistaken. Another typical image of a heroin addict is the “heroin chic” look that was popularized by uber-thin models with gaunt faces and empty stares. If this is what you envision, then you are also wrong. The idea of a typical heroin addiction is no longer possible to define, because the typical addict could be absolutely anyone, from your neighbor down the street to the business woman you see on the elevator. While the typical heroin addict is no longer easy to identify, there is one growing group of addicts: women.

Prescription Pills as a Gateway Drug

Many experts consider that marijuana is the top gateway drug; but for many women, the gateway drug is pain pills. Women who work outside of the home and work inside of the home are developing addictions to pain pills. It is not unheard of for some women to take more than 20 pain pills on a daily basis. Those pain pills can cost hundreds of dollars each day and the women with pain pill addictions usually have the money to afford the addiction, at least for a while. When pain pills become too expensive or they no longer provide a satisfying high or their physicians stop prescribing them, these women move to on to something stronger and less expensive – heroin.

Easier to Afford Heroin

In some communities, women with heroin addictions are rather common. Those hundred dollar pain pills can be easily replaced with twenty dollar bags of heroin. It makes it much easier for women to feed their addiction and hide their addiction at home. Interestingly, police officers are making more arrests of suburban housewives because of heroin.

Women in Treatment Centers

Treatment centers are also seeing more adult women in their facilities. Some areas are reporting that one-fourth of their patients are women dealing with heroin addiction. In other communities, the numbers of women being treated for heroin addiction is closer to 15 percent. The communities that are seeing more women in their treatment centers tend to be affluent.

Easy to Find, but Harder to Quit

News reports around North America have released stories about how easy it is for women to become addicted to heroin. In many cases, the women are upper middle class women with college degrees. Once they try the drug, they often find themselves unable to quit and the addiction can build in less than one week. Some women do not look for help until they are in dire straits, usually when they are pregnant and want to make sure their unborn babies are healthy. Unfortunately, not every woman realizes that she is an addict and needs help.

Physiological Addictions Related to Estrogen

Researchers are busy looking to see if women are more likely to develop addictions, especially to a substance like heroin, than men. Researchers have found that female animals are aware of addicting properties, because of estrogen, which triggers the drug receptors so they turn those illicit drugs into pleasure. The brain enjoys the feeling it gets when those drugs hit the receptors, so it forces women and their estrogen to seek out the drugs. The hypothesis is that women feel more joy and bliss than men do, and the blame is being placed on estrogen and how estrogen triggers cravings.

Get Help from Towards Recovery Clinics

In the world of heroin addiction, it is important to get the help you need. Whether you are a wealthy housewife, a homeless man, or a young college graduate, you need to be treated. The professionals at Towards Recovery Clinics will help you get your life back in order.


What a Good Methadone Clinic Looks Like

Posted on :  January 28th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Even though methadone clinics generally do the same thing – treat patients with opioid addictions, they do not all do it the same way. There are some methadone clinics that are very good at treating patients and other that fall short. The strong, successful clinics have many of the same qualities and the weak clinics lack those qualities.

Qualities of a Successful Clinic

While patient success is one of the definitions of a strong clinic, there are several other factors that define the strong clinic. The first is communication, especially between the employees from the medical employees to the counseling and administrative employees. When communication is strong and a clinic is successful, there will be very little turnover among the staff. Employees, especially the counseling staff has low levels of stress because their ratios are low. The physicians and patients understand the standards for dosing because they are based on appropriate guidelines. Top clinics also help patients move back into their communities, too.

Communication within the Staff

When clinics have strong communication between employees, they are better prepared to treat their patients. Strong communication occurs when the physicians, counseling staff, and administrative staff talk about the patients and their recovery. Regular conversations keep the staff on the same page so they all know what is happening and what the next steps happen to be. The staff can also talk about problems they foresee so that the entire staff is ready to deal with them when they arise.

Solving Problems as a Team

The purpose of the regular staff conversations is not to gossip or complain about the patients. It is to help the patients be successful in their treatment programs. The physicians and counselors can talk about progress or lack thereof and what can be done to make changes. Physicians can discuss medical concerns and counselors can discuss psychological concerns so that meds can be adjusted based on withdrawal symptoms, signs of depression, or other issues.

Experienced and Professional Staff

The staff should have experience working with patients who are being treated with methadone. All of our counselors and professionals believe in the process of treating heroin addiction with methadone and they will keep patients feeling positively about their treatment. Weak treatment centers often hire inexperienced professionals or those think that methadone does not and will not work. Without the belief in methadone and the experience of working with patients fighting addiction, the only people who suffer are the patients, which can result in devastating setbacks.

Keep Caseloads Manageable

Caseloads are important considerations for maintaining good staff members. When counselors and physicians in methadone clinics are overburdened with too many patients, there is not anything that keeps them from leaving for greener pastures. Counselors and physicians with experience are hot commodities in any community, so when a clinic has a successful staff, it is important to keep the staff happy. By keeping the ratios of patients to physicians/counselors low, the employees are better prepared to help their patients. When the employees are suffering from too much stress, they become ineffective which causes problems with the recovering patients.

Build Relationships with Patients

There are many patients who appreciate it when their counselors and physicians have had some personal experience with addiction. Whether the employees had the actual problem or they had family members who had issues with addiction, patients feel like they can build a closer relationship with the employees. While it is not necessary for a good physician or counselor to have struggles with addiction, it is important for the employees in a methadone clinic to have a good relationship with each patient. The patient needs to be able to trust the employees, so the employees need to be professional, courteous, and real.

If you have any questions about the quality of services at Towards Recovery Clinic, please contact us at 905-527-2042.


The Change is Coming

Posted on :  January 26th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Addiction is not the end of the world. With help from Towards Recovery Clinics, you can get your life back by making a positive change. Quitting an addiction to anything – especially an opioid, but with our help and your dedication, you can recover successfully.

If you are considering making the move to end your addiction, you should be aware of the realities that come with making a major life change. Change is difficult for many people, but once you take the first step, the rest of the steps get closer. The steps might not be easy, but each one takes you closer to living a healthy life free of addiction. These are some considerations that you need to make before you take the first step towards recovery:

Do you feel the need to make a change? If your life is falling apart, you might be ready to change. Many people need to reach rock-bottom before they realize that they must change or they will die. Losing a job, a spouse, freedom, health, children, and life savings are good reasons to step into Towards Recovery Clinics and begin the road to recovery.

Can you see that you have a problem? Accepting that you have a problem is often the first step to getting help. If you know you have a problem and that problem is heroin, now is the perfect time to get help. For some people, the first time they recognize that they have a real problem is when they overdose and face death.

Are you ready to make a commitment? Recovery is not an easy journey; it will take time and energy. Making the commitment to living a better life does not involve anyone else – YOU are the only one who has to make the commitment. With a strong commitment, you will make it through the ups and downs that come with recovery.

Do you understand that the road to recovery will be unpleasant? Quitting an opioid addiction is one of the most difficult things that anyone can ever do. At Towards Recovery Clinics, we work hard to help you along the way, but you have to do most of the work. There will be times when you might feel like giving in to your addiction, but you should know that we are available to listen and help you continue down the path to recovery.

Are you willing to change? Whether you have a strong will or not, you will need to have the will to change if you want to actually change. There is no good excuse to return to opioids if you have begun the road to recovery. Your will and our help should keep you working towards success and away from your addiction.

Do you have hope? Before you can even begin to recover from an addiction, you have to have a vision of what your life will be like without addictive substances. Once you have the hope for success, you need to believe that your hope will come true. Your recovery might not be exactly the way you envisioned, but recovery is better than addiction.

Do you have a network of people who support you? While you are the one who will be working hard towards recovery, you do need people who will be your cheerleaders. A strong support system of family and friends can make a big difference in your journey to recovery. You cannot do this alone.

If you are able to answer these questions positively, then you are ready to take that step towards recovery. We encourage you to give us a call: 905-527-2042.


Are All Addictions the Same?

Posted on :  January 22nd, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Even though drug addiction has been a part of human life for millennia, researchers have finally begun to understand why addictions occur. As researchers get closer looks at the human brain, they have found that addictions actually change the way the brain works and that reversing those changes is difficult.

With the number of people with addictions, like the millions of heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine addicts, there are many brains that have been altered so much that they are difficult to repair. Fortunately, now that we know how the brain responds to addictive drugs, we have a better understanding of treatments that work.

Interestingly, people who are being treated for opioid addictions often develop a new addiction. This is more common than people think and it is not a cause for worry. The best way to avoid developing a new addiction is to develop self-awareness so you can recognize if the new behavior is really a new addiction. These are a few of the more common addictive behaviors. Most of them involve some form of compulsivity, which makes them highly recognizable. Like drug addiction, these addictions might seem harmless at first, but as the addiction develops, it can be difficult to break free.

Exercise: It might not seem like exercise could be a negative thing, but exercise addictions can be dangerous. Because exercise involves endorphin rushes, many people quickly become addicted to that natural high. The more you exercise, the harder it is to achieve that natural high – so you have to keep exercising. Instead of constantly focusing on exercising, you can schedule a certain amount of time each day and use your exercise to aid in your recovery.

Food and eating disorders: During drug recovery programs, many people will experience weight gain or loss. Food can quickly become a satisfying substitute for drugs, especially food that is full of sugar. Overeating is an addiction in the same way that bulimia is. Instead of chowing down at the all-you-can-eat buffet, work on eating only when you are hungry and eat only real, unprocessed food. You will see your weight stay healthy and you will feel fantastic, too.

Gambling: There is a big thrill when you win big while gambling. The brain is stimulated in the same way it is when taking opioids. When gambling becomes a problem, the gambler can no longer stop. The impulsivity of gambling has led many people to lose their money, their jobs, and their families. If you know you are prone to addictions, it is best to simply avoid visiting casinos and getting close to any type of betting.

Organizational commitments: When people are working on their recovery from opioids, they tend to want to try new things. This might mean visiting a new church, volunteering for a political campaign, or working at a charity organization. The thrill that can come from helping people and meeting new people can actually become addictive. While this might not sound like a big deal, there are many people who give all of their time and all of their money to these groups, only to regret the decision later.

Sex: Opioid addicts who are working on recovery should avoid working on sexual relationships. These relationships can be rather stressful and they can actually slow recovery. Since people who abuse drugs tend to be promiscuous, they can become addicted to the feelings associated with a budding relationship. This addiction can get in the way of recovery and it can lead to disappointment and depression.

Shopping: Credit cards make it easy to become a shopping addict. While you are in recovery, you should hide your credit cards or cut them up so you do not go on any unnecessary shopping binges. Like gambling, a shopping addiction can cost a significant amount of money as well as stress from disappointed family members.

At Towards Recovery Clinics, we understand the challenges that come with a methadone-based recovery therapy. We are here for you during every step of the way so you can return to a normal and healthy life. If you have any questions, contact us via phone at 905-527-2042.


Anxiety and Addiction Recovery

Posted on :  January 20th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Many people who fight their addictions often experience symptoms of anxiety. You might feel like you are the person who is feeling anxiety, it is important to know you are not the only person who experiences these emotions. Nearly 20 percent of adults experience anxiety and the related disorders and fewer than 50 percent of those adults actually seek out treatment. When you add opioid addiction into the mix, the chance of anxiety increases; anxiety and addiction go hand in hand.

We Can Help You Stay on the Path to Recovery

At Towards Recovery Clinics, we understand that your recovery is important. When you are using methadone to fight your opioid addiction, you cannot mix methadone with other medications, like the ones that used to combat anxiety and other psychological disorders. This means that other therapies might be necessary, because it can be dangerous to mix methadone with other medications. Fortunately, there are several alternative therapies to treat anxiety and many of them can be life changing in positive ways.

Learn to relax. When you feel anxious, you might feel like relaxation is impossible. Fortunately, relaxation is a skill that can be learned. Some people will relax by engaging and relaxing their muscles. Others will use guided breathing. If you want to be able to relax when you are feeling anxious, you have to learn to recognize your triggers and what to do when those triggers come to fruition.

Guide yourself out of anxiety. Another way that many people relax is by using guided imagery. This is when you choose an image, symbol, word, or phrase that brings you out of the feelings of stress into feelings of comfort. With guided imagery, you can help yourself recover and stay healthy at the same time.

Look to meditation. Like guided imagery and relaxation, meditation takes practice. You will need a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lay down. Many people begin practicing meditation with audio instructions. Fortunately, meditations can be found online for free and some written for people who are recovering from addictive substances.

Become a mindful person. Anxiety arises when you experience stress about future events. Depression happens when you are looking back to negative events from the past. When you are mindful, you are in the present moment and not allowing things that have or have not happened to affect you. One of the best ways to learn about being mindful is to listen to a mindfulness meditation; many of them work on guiding listeners through a meditation through the parts of the body as a relaxation technique. Just listening to the voice of the meditation and ignoring all other thoughts will help you stay in the present moment and stop feeling anxious about the future.

Give hypnosis a try. Hypnosis will not make you bark like a dog or screech like a monkey. It will make you relax and feel less anxiety. This deep form of relaxation is achieved through repetition of words and images so your mind can stay calm. There are many therapists who have experience with hypnosis, but you will not be able to fully relax and appreciate the experience until you trust the therapist.

Learn about your behaviors. One of the best ways to avoid feeling anxious is to understand how to recognize the triggers and find a positive solution. Some people will journal about their feelings of anxiety and use the reflection to adjust their reactions. This type of therapy is called cognitive behavior therapy because it involves thinking about your experiences and making a conscious effort to improve your reactions and behaviors.

At Towards Recovery Clinics we are dedicated to helping individuals, like you, get control of their addictions and help them rebuild their lives and careers. Give us a call at 905-527-2042 for more information.


Project Lazarus: It Takes a Community

Posted on :  January 14th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

In 2008, a community in Wilkes County, North Carolina came up with a unique goal: that communities need to take care of their own, especially in regards to drug abuse. The result of the goal was Project Lazarus, a non-profit organization that empowered their community to help prevent drug overdoses and manage chronic pain. When Project Lazarus was created, Wilkes County had the third highest rate of death by overdose in the United States. When the project began, the county had an overdose death rate of nearly 29 people per every 100,000. Now, the county has a rate of half that at 13 deaths by overdose per 100,000 people. This project is now being replicated in other places around the United States and it could be a replicated in Canada, too.

Bringing Three Values Together to Reduce Deaths by Overdosing

The Project Lazarus model includes working with compassion, data, and experience to get the job done. It uses these three components to help to reduce overdoses by creating and maintaining community groups so they can create prevention programs that will work in the communities. Project Lazarus also provides technical assistance to help the groups continue to get the data they need to support their populations. Since the project was so successful, it has spread to help the entire state of North Carolina. There is also a chapter successfully working in New Orleans, Louisiana as well as in at least 12 other states.

Focusing on the Reducing Chronic Pain

The State of North Carolina has a statewide non-profit healthcare network called Community Care of North Carolina. Project Lazarus partnered with this group’s Chronic Pain Initiative so that residents who need pain relief can get it while reducing their risks for overdosing. The Chronic Pain Initiative is working with hospitals, emergency rooms, community health departments, primary care physicians, and law enforcement officials to continue to reduce the rate of deaths by overdosing. The Community Care of North Carolina network is providing funding for many of the initiatives that Project Lazarus is solving.

Changing the Community One Prescription at a Time

One of the ways that Project Lazarus has changed the community is in the way that doctors prescribe pain meds. When fatalities from overdoses occurred, the medications were usually prescribed by county doctors. Just a few years after Project Lazarus began, none of the overdoses came from local doctors. Each doctor’s office now uses the Controlled Substances Reporting System and each office has to have a designated person who updates the record. There are stiff penalties for medical offices that misuse or share private information from the report. These penalties were established by North Carolina legislators.

The Project Lazarus changed more than just who wrote prescriptions and who reported them. They group also changed how prescriptions were written. In the past, people could go to the emergency room and get a prescription for 30-days worth of pain medications. Now, emergency room doctors will write a script for enough medication for three days. Patients have to then see their own doctors for follow-up appointments.

Preparing At-Risk Users with Naloxone Kits

Another smart move by the Project Lazarus was to equip at-risk heroin users with a naloxone rescue kit. Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of opioids on the body. It works immediately, much like epinephrine works to stop food allergy effects. People who are overdosing on opioids can actually stop breathing because of respiratory depression, but naloxone will immediately wake them – almost like bringing them back from the dead (which is where Project Lazarus got its name). The naloxone kits include a nasal aspirator, a syringe filled with naloxone, a refrigerator magnet, written instructions, and video instructions.

At this time, Project Lazarus is only active in the United States, but at Towards Recovery, we appreciate the work that the group has done to help fight overdosing. Community involvement is important to reduce the horrible effects of overdosing on opioids.


Natural Insomnia Treatments

Posted on :  January 12th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Patients who are recovering from addiction, even those who are in treatment with methadone, often have trouble with sleep. If you have difficulty falling asleep, you could have insomnia which is a real sleep disorder that can become chronic. Getting regular sleep is important to maintain a good quality of life, especially when you are dealing with the stresses of recovery.

Recovering from opioids can lead to insomnia for several reasons. Because the brain is changing to life without heroin, the brain could have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Some people recovering from addiction could have other health issues that make it difficult to sleep. Even the chemicals in addictive substances can alter the cycles of sleeping and waking. Since many people who are recovering from addiction are used to passing out instead of falling asleep, they have to relearn how to go to sleep at night.

Instead of using chemicals to fall asleep, there are other options that work just as well. These methods can actually help with recovery because people learn how to use their bodies instead of medications to help themselves:

Build Sleep Habits

One of the best ways to defeat insomnia is to develop sleep habits. The best way to do this is to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each night and day. Sleeping in on the weekends can make a mess of sleep habits, especially if you are trying to get your body on a regular cycle. Eventually, your body will start to feel better after developing a pattern of being awake and being asleep. Sleep hygiene (in the form of sleep habits) can even help with headaches that can accompany recovery.

Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day

It is also a good idea to stay away from caffeine, especially in the afternoons and evenings. Caffeine can affect people for more than six hours after ingestion. Energy drinks, as well as coffee, tea, and sodas can affect sleep cycles, which can cause setbacks along the road to recovery. If you have questions about caffeine and how to fit it into your schedule, you should talk to your Towards Recovery therapist.

Build a Haven of Relaxation

Your bedroom should be a haven of comfort. It is best to remove distractions like televisions, computers, pets, and unnecessary lights. The room temperature should be comfortable – not too warm or cold. When you are in recovery, it is a good idea to sleep on your own, until you have developed a sleep pattern that helps you. Blue light inhibits sleeps, so turning on the television will not help you develop a sleep habit.

Do Not Hit the Snooze Button

Many people think that setting their alarm clocks early will help them get up earlier. Unfortunately, most people just hit the snooze button, which does not help people wake up any earlier than they planned. When you hit the snooze button, you actually end the best part of sleep – REM. It is best to set the alarm clock for when you really need to wake up.

No More Naps

Another way to mess with the wake-sleep cycle is to take naps because they will prevent you from falling asleep at night. Even though naps are an enjoyable way to relax in the afternoon, they do keep people awake at night.

Add Exercise to Your Day

It is also helpful to exercise every day. Even if you can take a short walk each day, try to do it. When you do exercise, you should avoid exercising close to your bedtime because your body could be too energized to fall asleep.

Create a Soothing Set of Rituals

Lastly, you can benefit from creating a ritual before bed. It is best to develop a series of rituals before bed. Some people enjoy reading or soaking in a warm bath along with taking care of the teeth and brushing their hair. Some will also pray or meditate as a way to relax the mind before resting for the night.

Contact Towards Recovery for more information. But if you need help or treatment, we encourage you to contact us on 519-579-0589.




Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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