Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse Highlighted During National Safety Month

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As part of National Safety Month in June, families are encouraged to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse—along with how these drugs are obtained.

“Prescription drug abuse often starts with a legal prescription, or from someone diverting pills from a friend or family member,” said Karen Wolownik Albert, Executive Director at Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers. “National Safety Month is a great time to remind parents and families about the issue of addiction and how it may be prevented.”

Poisonings are the leading cause of preventable deaths among 25 to 64 year olds, largely from drug overdoses and prescription opioids, according to the National Safety Council.

“Because these drugs are prescribed by a doctor, many people falsely believe they’re risk free, but prescription drugs can be just as addictive and lethal as illicit drugs bought on the street,” Albert said. “Your brain and body sees no difference between a prescription opioid like hydrocodone and street-purchased heroin.”

Young people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to prescription drug abuse and addiction. Teens prefer prescription drugs as their drug of choice, second only to marijuana, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Teen brains are not yet fully developed, and can be very sensitive to drugs and alcohol. Frequent use of drugs and alcohol may permanently alter or impair brain development.

Gateway offers these steps parents can take to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse within their families:

  • Use medications only as prescribed or directed on the label.
  • Keep such medications in a secure and concealed location.
  • Don’t share prescriptions with a friend or family member.
  • Properly dispose of unwanted or expired prescriptions to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Local pharmacies or the police may accept unwanted medications.
  • Monitor family members for any unusual behavior if they’re taking prescription drugs, especially young people who are more susceptible to risk taking and addiction.

Warning signs of prescription drug abuse include changes in health such as sleeping habits, energy level, hygiene, appearance or weight loss. Other signs might include changes in friends, personality or a loss of interest in school or other activities.

Gateway offers a free downloadable guide to prescription drug abuse at: RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs

9 Tips to Encourage Your Valentine to “Lean In” to Addiction Recovery

iStock_000008811652MediumIn honor of Valentine’s Day, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment reminds couples that selfless act of love can rekindle a sense of purpose in their Valentines. Without a doubt, the power of love can help people take the first step in overcoming alcoholism and/or drug addiction.

“An act of concern and support may arouse a renewed sense of personal power in others, which changes their perspective from ‘feeling forced’ or powerless to change to ‘feeling confident’ or capable of change,” explains John Larson M.D., Corporate Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Building self-confidence and sense of purpose in your Valentine requires genuine respect and judgment-free affection from reliable “agents of change.” To help encourage an open approach versus a confrontation about substance abuse concerns, Gateway offers nine tips:

  1. Get smart about effects of alcoholism and drug abuse as well as potential treatment options to help facilitate a productive discussion.

  2. Timing is extremely important. Choose a time when your Valentine is sober and the mood is calm.

  3.  Set a caring and supportive tone for the conversation–anything less may backfire.
    – “You haven’t seemed to be yourself lately. Is everything okay?”
    – “What can I do to help the situation?”
  4. Use open-ended questions to draw out underlying feelings.
    – “It’s not uncommon for people to drink alcohol to try to appease their tough thoughts and feelings. What are some memories and feelings that trigger drinking?”
  5.  Talk less, listen more. Listen and respect everything your Valentine has to say, and resist interrupting.
    – “What are some of the things that make you happy when you’re not drinking?”
    – “What are some of the not-so-good things about drinking?”
  6. Use affirming statements to demonstrate understanding and to validate a loved one’s feelings. Validating a person’s feelings—no matter what he or she has to say—can help encourage self-guided change.
    – “You are under a tremendous amount of pressure so it’s no wonder you feel so overwhelmed.”
    – “That must have been devastating. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
  7. Take with a grain of salt any accusations of blame or verbal abuse, and refrain from engaging in arguments.
    – “I understand this isn’t easy to talk about so I’m going to let that one go.”
  8. Substance abuse rattles one’s self esteem so be sure to express he or she deserves better, and is capable of achieving whatever change is desired.
    – “I’m not giving up on you. You are the most amazing person I know.”
  9.  If shut down, don’t take it personal. Rather, just listen and try to withhold frustration or it may be more difficult for him or her to open up later.

“Planting the seeds of recovery from addiction is a delicate balancing act requiring patience and unconditional love but it’s not impossible,” says Larson.

For more insights and tips about helping a person take on addiction issues, download Gateway’s Roadmap to Understanding Substance Abuse at RecoveryGateway.org/Roadmap.

Another Helpful Article: “What To Do When a Loved One Has a Substance Abuse Problem?”

Editors Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness February 2016.

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Introduces New Vice President of Business Development & Strategy

gateway treatment centers jodi levine

Jodi Levine
Vice President of Business Development & Strategy
Gateway Treatment Centers

Chicago-based Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers announced today that Jodi Levine has joined the organization as its Vice President of Business Development & Strategy.

“We’re excited to have Jodi as part of the Gateway team. There are opportunities we’ve not fully explored to expand and deliver our services to more of those in need of treatment,” says Gateway President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Britton. “Jodi has developed proven growth strategies, successfully negotiated managed care contracts and orchestrated key acquisitions. She brings the expertise Gateway needs to continue its growth, and brings the character and integrity to support and drive our mission.”

Levine has more than 20 years of experience developing and executing growth strategies for a diverse group of health care organizations. Most recently, she was the Vice President, Corporate Business Development in the Healthcare Compliance Solution division at Stericycle, a global medical waste disposal services firm based in Northbrook, IL.

Kane County Cougars “Pitch in” to Help Gateway!

GAteway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers

Gateway’s Fox Valley drug treatment center receives the charitable proceeds from this season’s Kane County Cougars “Pitch in for Charity” promotion. L to R: Jamie Horner, L.S.W., C.A.D.C., Counselor, Gateway Aurora, Sherman Fields, “Ozzie,” Kane County Cougars’ Mascot, Jim Scarpace, Executive Director, Gateway Aurora

Gateway’s Alcohol & Drug Treatment Center in the Fox Valley area has been chosen to receive the charitable proceeds from this season’s Kane County Cougars “Pitch in for Charity” promotion. “Pitch in for Charity” is a contest held before the fireworks following select Cougars baseball games and involves fans who purchase and throw numbered tennis balls onto a target to win prizes.

“The significance of the donation is twofold” said  Jamie Horner, L.S.W., C.A.D.C., Counselor, Gateway Aurora,  explaining that people often face financial limitations even if they have insurance coverage. “I am so happy that Gateway Aurora will use this donation to assist individuals in covering costs to enter recovery homes after they complete our treatment programs,” said Jamie.

Second, substance abuse treatment is often overlooked when companies choose to donate to a not-for-profit organization. “Often times, organizations are uncomfortable donating to substance abuse treatment centers due to the stigma associated with addiction and mental illness. This donation helps reduce that stigma.” Jamie said.

In her role as a counselor at Gateway’s Fox Valley drug treatment center, Jamie had discussed her passion for helping people recover and Gateway’s mission many times with her dad, Sherman Fields. Through his affiliation with the Kane County Cougars, Mr. Fields recommended Gateway for the “Pitch in for Charity” promotion because he is not only proud of his daughter’s work, he respects the good work performed by Gateway Treatment Centers.

Support your Recovery with a Healthy Lifestyle – Get Moving!

exercise benefits, substance abuse recoveryExercise can be a valuable part of the recovery process, and you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to see the benefits. Have you ever heard the expression, “little things mean a lot”? It applies to exercise too! There are many little ways you can work exercise into your day. These tips illustrate that you don’t need to join a fitness club in order to get some exercise. Following these simple suggestions can all add up to a healthier you!

Walk

One of the easiest ways to increase your activity level is to walk. Walking isn’t limited to going for a walk; you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away from the door, walk around your building during work breaks, or walk the dog.

Stand

You’ll do yourself well by standing up while talking on the phone or sitting up in a chair instead of lying on the couch to watch television. Need to talk to a co-worker? Consider skipping using email or the phone – and walk over to their desk or office!

Household Tasks

Doing your own housework is a great way to keep moving, and so is working in the yard. Put on your favorite music and dance or use music as a motivational background when you exercise.

At Gateway Treatment Centers, adults and adolescents can  how to address their substance use disorder and relapse prevention strategies. To learn more about treatment programs and recovery support at Gateway, please visit RecoverGateway.org.

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment’s Approach to 12-Step Programs

1 in a Series of 4

iStock_000006386146_MediumGateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers employs evidenced-based practices to create meaningful, individualized treatment programs. We believe there is more than one pathway to recovery so we expose clients to a wide array of treatment methodologies. This article series explores some of those methodologies.

12-Step Programs

A key distinguishing factor between Gateway Treatment Centers and the vast majority of treatment providers can be found in the way we employ 12-step programs. First and foremost, these types of programs comprise the core offering of most treatment providers, while they are just a portion of what we do at Gateway.

A Personal Choice

Some clients come to Gateway convinced that a 12-step program is the only thing that will work for them, while others have equally strong reservations about them. Using our exceptional implementation of the concept, we make it a priority to accommodate the needs of clients who are of either mindset.

Gradual Exposure

Our experienced, knowledgeable staff utilizes a targeted approach that provides clients with an in-depth understanding of 12-step principles. Our curriculum is designed to break down barriers to participation and “kick start” the process of attending meetings and finding a sponsor.

12-step meetings can not only be challenging for some, they also vary from site to site and meeting to meeting. In order to give clients a good idea of what to expect, Gateway provides them with exposure to 12-steps in multiple settings. We accompany clients to both on-site and off-site meetings.

For those who prefer not to use 12-step techniques, we provide on-site SMART recovery groups and linkage to other peer support options such as Dual Recovery Anonymous.

Gateway believes 12-steps and other kinds of support groups play a valuable role in substance abuse treatment, but they only comprise part of the picture. The greatest benefit can be derived from experiencing 12-step programs in conjunction with evidenced-based treatment.

Learn more about Gateway’s Experience and Expertise in Substance Abuse Treatment >

Treat Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders Together

dual-diagnosis, co-occurring, gateway treatment centers

Article By:
Gilbert Lichstein, LCPC, M.S. Clinical Psychology
Program Director
Gateway Chicago West

Known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder, substance abuse and mental health issues frequently occur together. The likelihood of succeeding in treatment is greatly enhanced when both are treated simultaneously.

Clients arriving at Gateway receive a comprehensive assessment and those who are found to have an Axis 1 mental health disorder may be admitted to the dual diagnosis unit. Axis 1 disorders include depression, mania, excessive anxiety and psychosis. One of Gateway’s distinguishing features is the depth with which we are able to address these issues.

Dual diagnosis care involves creating an individualized, client-centered treatment plan, which is a hallmark of Gateway’s approach to all treatment. We work together with clients to develop mental health care that capitalizes on things that may have worked for them in the past.

During this process, we listen to strategies clients believe will work and synthesize this information with our expertise to provide feedback and enhance those strategies.Medication assisted treatment is offered, but not mandatory.

One aspect of treatment that sets Gateway programs apart from other programs is our co-occurring disorders group, which is a standard part of all our residential programs. The core curriculum is a mindfulness based sobriety curriculum that combines relapse therapy, motivational interviewing, and acceptance and commitment therapy, all of which are evidenced-based practices. Treatment for mental health disorders is built into the continuum of care, so discharge planning starts when the person enters treatment.

Patients may elect to have family and loved ones involved; our family group component is an evidence-based practice for mental health concerns.

Chicago-IL-West-Drug-Abuse-Psychologist-Office

Treatment Programs and Gateway Chicago West

Life Skills Treatment and Recovery: the LSTAR Program

The LSTAR program at Gateway’s Chicago West location is an enhanced co-ed residential treatment program for people with both substance abuse and moderate to severe mental health concerns. More robust than our standard dual diagnosis program, LSTAR has proven to be effective for clients who did not succeed in other programs.

LSTAR provides more one-on-one contact, addressing mental health concerns with greater concentration. Individual counseling, psychological consultation, monitoring, nursing, testing and assessment are ongoing.

Additional components of LSTAR include:

  • Co-occurring group which uses an evidenced-based cognitive behavioral therapy curriculum
  • Mindfulness based sobriety, motivational interviewing, and seeking safety, a curriculum for co-morbid trauma and substance abuse
  • Single and multi-family group counseling, 12-step facilitation and transition groups to help clients adjust to outside care
  • Recreational therapy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) anger management curriculum

To learn more about the treatment of co-occurring disorders, or for a free consultation, call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers today at 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org.

Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Issues Are a Common Dual Diagnosis

In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month, proclaimed by President Obama in 2013, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers aim to help you better understand mental health issues, how they can relate to alcohol abuse, and the treatment options available.

Author: Jim Scarpace, MS, LCPC,, Executive Director, Gateway Aurora

alcohol abuse, mental health, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centers

Expert Insight:
Jim Scarpace Explains Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Issues

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), 80 percent of clients with addiction issues have a co-occurring Axis 1 mental health issue. These can include depression, mood disorder, psychosis and attention deficit disorder, among others. In my experience the number of people with a dual diagnosis may be even higher.

Alcohol abuse and many mental health issues go hand in hand because both are tied to similar centers of the brain. Depression and anxiety, for example, deplete certain of the brain’s neurotransmitters. Alcohol temporarily energizes that system, decreasing those symptoms for a person.

The effects of using alcohol to self-medicate are fleeting, leaving a person feeling substantially worse than prior to using. Still, many use this “band aid” approach because it helps them obtain some manner of immediate relief –medications for mental health issues that are prescribed by a medical professional can take three to six weeks to work and finding the right medications can be hit or miss. When a person drinks to make themselves feel better, they create a cycle that repeats, so both the alcohol abuse and mental health issue worsen.

Caught in the spiral, it is almost impossible to stop the cycle without help and support….Read Full Article or Watch Video >

Webinars for Healthcare Professionals: The Relationship between Grief and Addiction

Webinar Trainer: Jim Scarpace, Executive Director Gateway Aurora

Webinar Trainer: Jim Scarpace, Executive Director Gateway Aurora

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment will host two expert-led CEU webinars in May to help healthcare and medical professionals better understand the relationship between grief and addiction. Participants will learn how to recognize symptoms and behaviors an individual who struggles with grief and addiction issues may exhibit. The treatment strategies and intervention techniques used in addiction treatment to help those who may be using substances to cope with grief and loss issues will also be covered.

Healthcare professionals may earn one continuing education credit compliments of Gateway while increasing their understanding of the close relationship between grief and substance use disorders. Gateway’s webinars will only be offered Tuesday, May. 19 and Thursday, May 28, 2015 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

There is a strong relationship between substance use disorders and traumatic experiences, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Grief is one of the most difficult traumatic experiences to overcome and can lead to patterns of despair, depression and overwhelming feelings of emotion. Individuals struggling with grief will sometimes use drugs and alcohol to cope with these issues,” said Jim Scarpace, Executive Director, Gateway Aurora.  “This webinar was developed to help healthcare professionals identify trauma related issues, as well as to understand effective strategies and treatment approaches that are available to treat them.”

To sign up for a webinar, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Training.

Free Webinar for Healthcare Professionals: How to Motivate Patients to Enter Substance Abuse Treatment

Doctors, nurses, practice managers and counselors all play a key role in talking to patients about their overall healthcare, which should include discussing use of drugs or alcohol.” Patricia Ryding Psy.D., Executive Director, Gateway Lake Villa

Doctors, nurses, practice managers and counselors all play a key role in talking to patients about their overall healthcare, which should include discussing use of drugs or alcohol.” Patricia Ryding Psy.D., Executive Director, Gateway Lake Villa

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment will host two expert-led CEU webinars in March to assist healthcare and medical professionals with developing skills they can use to encourage patients to engage in substance abuse treatment. Participants will learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of a possible addictive disorder and assess their patients’ readiness for change. Motivational Interviewing, an evidence-based intervention method, also will be covered in the training.

Healthcare professionals may earn one continuing education credit compliments of Gateway while increasing their understanding of how to assist patients regarding substance abuse issues.  Gateway’s webinars will only be offered Thursday, Mar. 26 and Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, nearly one in 10 Americans over age 12 is classified with substance abuse or dependence. “Doctors, nurses, practice managers and counselors all play a key role in talking to patients about their overall healthcare, which should include discussing use of drugs or alcohol,” said Patricia Ryding Psy.D., Executive Director, Gateway Lake Villa.  “We designed this new training based on what healthcare professionals said they needed most, they need to better understand what tools are most effective for motivating their patients to consider treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse.”

Gateway’s webinars will cover important topics, like how to identify symptoms of a substance abuse disorder and understanding motivation and clinical intervention concepts.

To sign up for a webinar, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Training.

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