Stay Cool and Safe this Summer

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Today marks the first day of summer, finally bringing an end to a long and harsh Chicago winter and spring. While summer brings warm weather and longer days, it also brings some dangers.

Adolescents & Substance Use

For many adolescents, summer means an end to school. Long days are filled with free time without any classwork or after-school activities. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, first time use of most substances peaks during June and July. The exact cause is unknown; however, many point to the sudden swell of free time students have during the summer. If you have teenagers, be sure to talk to them about the harms of substance use, maintain a regular work or chore schedule and encourage them to participate in summer activities, like camps.

Accidents

Rates of car accidents are the highest during summer months, with June, July and August seeing the highest rates, particularly on weekends.

People  also partake in more outdoor and water activities with friends. Participants in outdoor water activities are at an increased risk of fatal injuries such as drowning, especially when alcohol is involved. According to a variety of studies, nearly a majority of people who drown while participating in outdoor water activities consumed alcohol. Studies also show the risk of death associated with recreational boating increases 10-fold compared to people who have not been drinking, with even minor amounts of alcohol increasing the risk of death or injury.

Health Risks

It’s patio and rooftop season and people will spend longer periods of time outside in the warmer weather. With this heat wave comes a tide of festivals and events. All of which tends to be accompanied by drinking. Like heat, alcohol draws water from your body, so be sure to stay extra hydrated and prepare for extended time in the sun.

Fake Weed-Related Injuries and Deaths Break Out in Illinois

K2An outbreak of synthetic marijuana, starting in Chicago and fanning out in Illinois, has caused more than 50 cases of serious bleeding–including two deaths–and those numbers are rising.

“This is the first time we’ve seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area,” Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, announces.

Its effects can be up to 10 times more intense than marijuana; as a result, it’s more dangerous. And its longterm effects on the brain and body are still unknown.

“Synthetic cannabinoids have been touted as ‘safe, legal’ alternatives to marijuana and other illicit substances, but they are neither,” says Gateway Lake Villa Executive Director Karen Wolownik-Albert. “Patients in treatment who are withdrawing from these unknown chemicals experience extreme agitation, language and perceptual disturbances, paranoia, hallucinations, and significant physical discomfort.”

What is synthetic marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana, often referred to as K2, consists of human-made chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material and smoked, or liquids that are vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices.

What are the signs?

  • Feeling lightheaded and having trouble walking
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation, confusion, paranoia, and panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heart rate and over-stimulation of the central nervous system

What should you do?

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Gateway Carbondale’s Executive Director Shares Concern Regarding Suicide Rates in Southern Illinois

Suicide is a Growing Concern

In the wake of recent suicides in Southern Illinois, especially Franklin and Williamson counties we realize our communities are not alone.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of suicide in the U.S. is the highest it has been in 25 years. It is among the top ten causes of death in the U.S., and the only cause within the top ten that has increased.[1]

Some researchers believe an important contributing factor to this rise is the surge in the abuse of prescription painkillers. Others point to our improved ability to manage health conditions, yet still inferior inability to manage mental health.[2]

Suicide and Substance Abuse Are Often Related

Many people are unaware of the high correlation between suicide and substance abuse. According to Psychologytoday.com, 45 percent of patients with untreated substance abuse disorders commit suicide. It is suicide and substance abuse, drug abusealso telling that 24 percent of suicide victims in the United States are legally drunk when they commit suicide.[3] At the Gateway center in Carbondale these statistics seem on target – we work with individuals whose use of drugs and alcohol have contributed to negative life factors that may become so severe as to lead to suicide.

Did you know it’s not uncommon for people to have a mental health issue that exists in tandem with their drug use? At Gateway, we see a high level of depression alongside of addictions, particularly with alcohol. Such situations can become cyclical where, as the depression or anxiety becomes increasingly severe, the person tries to manage it with more alcohol, opiates or other substances.

When treating individuals who manifest signs of having mental health and substance abuse issues (known as having co-occurring disorders), a multi-pronged, individualized approach to intervention is recommended. Otherwise, the risk of either or both disorders reoccurring is much higher.

Taking Action

The topic of suicide is not one that is generally talked about and most people don’t understand it or its connection to mental illness and substance abuse. Fortunately, progress is being made in the realm of scientific research towards potential interventions, medications and psychotherapies targeted specifically at reducing suicide.[4] Efforts such as these, combined with national awareness-raising efforts and those throughout southern Illinois, provide hope that members of our community may find the ability to address suicide in more meaningful ways.

We are saddened by the tragedy of the suicides that have occurred over the past several months, and would like to remind our community that Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Center in Carbondale is available to provide information and support. We encourage you to take advantage of our no-cost resources such as free consultations, online resources and a family guide.

If you or someone you love are experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety or other issues that may become overwhelming, know that help is available via suicide hotlines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If drugs or alcohol are also involved, please don’t hesitate to call Gateway’s 24-hour hotline 877-505 HOPE (4673).

Lori Dammermann
Executive Director
Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Carbondale

[1] http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/articles/2014/10/08/us-suicides-hit-highest-rate-in-25-years

[2] Ibid.

[3] DrugFree.org

[4] http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2015/03/suicide-insel

National Safety Month a Good Time to Talk to Teens about Drinking Alcohol and Drug Use

talking to teens, drinking alcohol, drug useJune is National Safety Month, which also coincides with the end of the school year. It’s a time of year when many young people have extra time on their hands and for some, temptation can be right around the corner.

In keeping with National Safety Month, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to remind parents to talk with their kids about drinking alcohol and drug use.

Start the Conversation

The power of conversation should not be underestimated – adolescents really do listen to what their parents say about smoking, drinking alcohol and drug use. It can be a challenge to find the time to have a sit-down, face-to-face conversation with your children, but it’s well worth the effort. Once a conversation has been initiated, it should become an ongoing dialogue that you will revisit and reinforce over the years.

Communicating Effectively

Parents may be unsure how to begin talking to their children about alcohol and drugs. The following tips can help:

  • Listen to your child and respect what he or she has to say. A child who feels judged is less likely to share their concerns with you.
  • Be clear about your expectations of no drinking alcohol or drug use and let your child know these expectations will be enforced.
  • Talk about the dangers of drinking alcohol and drug use, including laws, potential repercussions and health-related outcomes.

Know the Dangers

The brain of an adolescent is not yet fully developed. Drinking alcohol damages the development of the executive function of the brain, which is how we make decisions, defer gratification, and plan now for a reward that’s down the road.

Marijuana also affects the development of the adolescent brain, causing changes that may result in learning issues, memory problems and IQ loss.

“If parents want their children to grow up to realize their full potential, they should not condone drinking alcohol or smoking pot,” explained Dr. John Larson, Gateway’s Corporate Medical Director.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), following marijuana and alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs have become the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. Once a person becomes dependent on opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycontin they may eventually switch to heroin because it is easier to access and much less expensive.

Many parents like to believe their child is not vulnerable to alcohol or drug abuse, but sadly, this isn’t so. There is a wide variety of alcohol and drugs available to young people, who are often just looking to have some fun. Establishing open communication is one of the most powerful tools parents have to positively influence their kids’ decisions, during National Safety Month, and throughout the year.

For a Parent’s Checklist for Talking to Teens about Drugs & Alcohol visit RecoverGateway.org/ParentChecklist

What are Designer Drugs or “Street Drugs?”

designer drugsDesigner drugs, also referred to as synthetic drugs or street drugs, are produced by altering the chemistry of existing illegal substances. Made by street chemists, designer drugs can vary greatly in terms of strength and purity. Often times, these drugs may contain agents that are highly poisonous such as liquid laundry bleach.

Because of the great variation of ingredients, the street names can vary from batch to batch. Due to unlicensed and untrained amateurs creating these drugs, they can be extremely dangerous. In many cases, these altered drugs are far more dangerous and powerful than the original illegal substance.

WHAT’S SO “DESIGNER” ABOUT THESE DRUGS?

These drugs are “designed” to sidestep laws against controlled substances. Before designer drugs came along, drug laws were specific. Drugs like Heroin, amphetamines, Valium and other drugs were put on a list in The Controlled Substances Act, created by the Federal Government. Substances on this list were explicitly banned by law.

Street chemists who originated designer drugs knew that, by switching base ingredients or otherwise tinkering with the chemical structure of drugs in the lab, they could create entirely new chemicals – or drugs, different enough from controlled substances that they wouldn’t violate the law, yet close enough to produce many of the same effects as the original drug.

Common physical symptoms among users of designer drugs include:

 – Increased heart rate  – Total paralysis
 – Clenched teeth – Chills and sweating
 – Blurred vision – Dehydration and heat exhaustion
 – Uncontrolled tremors  – Seizures
 – Anorexia  – Nausea and vomiting
 – Respiratory depression – Death
 – Permanent brain damage

To learn more about synthetic drugs, visit RecoverGateway.org/Synthetic-Drugs

If you or a loved one is struggling with designer drug use, Gateway can help. Visit RecoverGateway.org to learn more.

Can Low Self-Esteem Lead to Substance Abuse?

low self esteem, substance abuseLow self-esteem, a perception that one is inadequate, unlovable, unworthy and/or incompetent, often stems from exposure to dysfunctional behavior as a child. If children bear the brunt of anger, abandonment, abuse, neglect or continual negative criticism, it can lead to feelings of low self-worth.

With little to live up to, people with chronic self-esteem issues may take on behaviors that reinforce their feelings of inadequacy, including drug use. When people use drugs or alcohol as an artificial boost to self-esteem, they’re attempting to function in situations where they lack confidence.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem:

  • Overly critical of self and others and believes others view them in the same negative ways that they view themselves.
  • Makes a big deal about comments or behavior of others they view as inappropriate or offensive.
  • Only thinks about what goes on around them in terms of their own needs and wants.
  • Excessively submissive to authority figures.

With professional help, people who suffer with low self-esteem and substance abuse issues can enhance relationships by improving their coping and communication skills. Rather than reacting to preconceived notions, each person has the ability to learn how to resolve their disagreements with others in a healthy, productive manner.

“Treatment is about rebuilding self-esteem. Thanks to Gateway, I finally saw the beauty inside me. They helped me work through issues that were too heavy for me to tackle on my own—some issues were deeply buried since childhood,” explains Christine, a 25-year-old woman who completed treatment for alcohol and drug abuse at a Gateway Center located in Carbondale, IL.

Does someone you know suffer from low self-esteem combined with substance abuse? Gateway can help get life back on track. Call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

I Need Help for an Alcohol or Drug Abuse Problem

Do you ever feel guilty following heavy drinking/drug use? Do you drink or use drugs to help you unwind after work? Have you ever thought about cutting down on your alcohol/drug consumption?

help for substnace abuse, drug problem, alcohol problemPeople often believe their alcohol/drug usage is under control until something bad happens, such as a DUI or hospitalization.

If your unhealthy habits are causing problems at home or affecting your performance at work, Gateway has the answers you need to overcome substance abuse. The dedicated staff will be with you every step, making sure you receive the treatment, guidance and support for lasting recovery. In treatment, you will learn healthier coping skills and how to confront problems in your personal life. Think about the possibilities with a fresh start.

Individual Needs Come First at Gateway

Gateway gives you the power to get your life back on track. Along the path to recovery we want every person to know that they are not alone. Our experienced team of substance abuse experts is here to provide support and guidance, every step of the way. Rest assured, or dedicated counselors and team of clinicians work hard to understand each person’s unique needs and circumstances.

Through personalized treatment, we learn the underlying causes of one’s addiction, so recovery may begin.

At Gateway Treatment Centers, we provide the most advanced treatment options, which include clinically proven evidence-based therapies. Our goal is to empower people by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to support their lasting recovery.

Learn more about Gateway’s substance abuse treatment for Men, Women and Teens.

Stay Informed About Substance Abuse and Addiction

substance abuse, drug useDon’t stay in the dark about drinking and drugs—the more you understand about the facts, the greater your understanding will be about what someone’s going through, and how he or she can overcome it.

If you’re not sure what kind of drug an individual is using, or whether one has an addiction, education will help you recognize certain behavior patterns or health issues an individual may have that are associated with different types of substances and addictions.

Determine If You Are Safe

Sometimes people can behave unpredictably when they drink or take drugs. Their moods and actions can become erratic, which at best can be embarrassing or frustrating for friends and family, but at worst can become aggressive or violent. You have the right to put your safety and the well-being of your family first.

If you’re living with a person whose substance abuse or addiction behavior puts your safety at risk, consider having a back-up plan. That plan may include arranging with family or friends to stay with them, or knowing where you can go in your community if an emergency arises.

Talking to Someone Who Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Perhaps you feel upset, angry, frustrated or even ashamed about someone’s problem. Whatever you’re going through, it’s okay to feel the way you do. What’s more, it’s often worth talking to the person about your feelings –being honest may even encourage one to open up to you about underlying emotions, too. When you talk with someone about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what he or she has to say. It may also help the individual to face up to the problem. If someone shuts you down initially, it may be more difficult to get him or her to open up later. Just listen.

Substance Abuse is a Disease

It is important to realize that substance abuse is a disease. The person who is truly addicted is not able to take control of this problem without professional help. As a loved one, you cannot stop the individual’s substance abuse. Families can, however, avoid covering it up or doing things that make it easy for the person to continue the denial. Encourage your family member or friend to get the treatment needed through a professional licensed treatment provider or family physician.

Gateway Foundation Shares Tips on Discussing Substance Abuse with a Loved One

If you are concerned that someone you care about has a substance abuse problem, it can be extremely worrisome as well as challenging to confront the issue. In approaching a loved one with an issue with substance abuse, the key is to choose your words and moment carefully when telling him or her how you feel. Ideally, pick a time when he or she is sober and when both of you are feeling calm.Discussing Substance Abuse

  • Begin the dialog in an open, caring and supportive frame of mind. Anything less and the dialog may not go as planned.
  • Avoid a moralistic tone about substance abuse. It is better to focus on the consequences that you have observed for the person and for his or her family.
  • Plan what you are going to say. This can be an emotionally charged conversation. Script out what you’d like to say, and go over it—it will help keep you on track.

This is not the time to demand your loved one stop abusing alcohol or drugs. The goal is simply to acknowledge that you believe your loved one needs substance abuse treatment and that you can help with entering treatment.

  • State calmly that you believe drug or excessive alcohol use is occurring; provide the evidence, and what you want the person to do about it.
  • Be supportive and truly listen to his or her responses, but be firm in your course of action and refuse to argue with the person.
  • Have a definite ‘next step’ plan in mind, including a contact person at available treatment center and telephone numbers so you can proceed if he or she should agree to substance abuse treatment.

If you have questions about alcohol or drug use of someone you care about, Gateway Foundation has the answers you need. For a free and confidential consultation, contact Gateway Foundation at (877) 505-HOPE (4673).

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