Tips for Avoiding Temptation at Holiday Parties

Golden streamers with sparkling glitterThe holiday season is filled with social activities, from family dinners to parties with friends and coworkers. These celebrations often center around over-indulgence, be it in food or alcohol. In fact, in a 2012 American Alcohol Consumption Study conducted by Gateway Treatment Centers, it was found that 51% of adults drink alcohol due to “celebrations, special events, and holidays.” For someone in recovery, this over-indulgent atmosphere can make holiday parties difficult to navigate.

There can be anxiety over the temptation of easily accessible alcohol, as well as over the perceived judgment of others if you don’t partake in drinking. Depending on your support system and where you are in your recovery, it may be easier to skip the parties. But if you want to attend a party, there are a few things you can do to help you avoid temptation and lessen your nerves.

Bring a sober friend. It can be easier to avoid alcohol if you are not the only one abstaining at the party. Bring someone else with you who will stay by your side and ensure you have a good time without using drugs or alcohol.

Prepare your response for turning down offered drinks. Do not fear that attending a holiday party means that you will be offered drink after drink. But if the fear of that happening is keeping you from attending, prepare your response ahead of time. If you are comfortable mentioning that you are in recovery, you can use that to turn down offered alcoholic drinks. But if you are not, don’t stress. There can be many reasons someone may turn down a drink, such as not liking the taste or having to drive, and you can use any of these excuses. Having your excuse in mind before you go can help relieve any anxiety and prepare you to remain alcohol free throughout the party.

Only stay as long as you are comfortable. Often we are invited to holiday parties that we may feel obligated to go to. But just because you show up doesn’t mean you need to stay very long. If the party is too overwhelming, leave early.

Remember that everyone is preoccupied with themselves, not you. You may feel like you are the only one not drinking, and therefore that everyone is watching and judging you. But know that most people are so busy with their own drinking that they aren’t keeping track of what you are, or are not, consuming.

Serve yourself. If you are worried about others asking you to consume alcohol, an easy way around it is to serve yourself a nonalcoholic drink. When you get to the party, grab water or pop, or bring your own, and keep it in your hand. It will curb drink offers from other people since you already have something to drink. Also, you don’t have to worry about someone adding alcohol to your drink if you get it yourself.

Remember that if temptation becomes too much, you can always rely on your support network or aftercare program. By making plans before a party or following some of the above tips, you can mitigate anxiety and navigate holiday parties without using drugs or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, visit RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) for information about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options.

Entering Treatment around the Holidays

Champagner on Glass Table with Bokeh backgroundWhen the holidays roll around, people often put things on hold, including work projects, fitness goals, home-improvement undertakings, and much more. Unfortunately, people struggling with substance abuse disorders may allow their addiction to reach this same priority, with intentions to “deal with it” after the holiday chaos has passed. But why wait until the new year to make long overdue changes?

The upsides to treatment during the holidays may take you by surprise. Those in need of treatment may find that fitting a program into their schedule is actually easier in the months of November and December due to the fact that employers regularly foresee absences during these slow business months. Additionally, treatment may be easier to finance, as many people have already met their insurance deductibles.

The most noteworthy benefit of holiday treatment, however, is avoiding the possibility of substance abuse intensifying. The stress of family obligations, gift buying, and holiday celebrations can increase the desires of those struggling to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. Also, many holiday parties revolve around drinking alcohol, sometimes excessively in the form of binge drinking.

It can be dangerous to delay treatment, too. There is a higher incidence of drunk driving arrests, fatal accidents, and drug overdoses during the holiday season. Seeking treatment can keep you or your loved one safe, as well as offer the opportunity to start a new year off in recovery. Going to treatment during the holidays means starting the new year already having achieved some important goals. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to get well, you or your loved one will already have strategies and plans in place.

The sooner treatment is considered, the better. You can learn more about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options at RecoverGateway.org or by calling Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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

Prince’s Death Puts Opioid Fentanyl Overdose under Spotlight

According to a Minnesota medical examiner report, musician Prince passed away after a self-administered dose of fentanyl. (Forbes, 2016)

It is not clear whether Prince habitually used fentanyl or other prescription opioids or how long he used such medication; there is not enough information to classify this as an addiction. Nevertheless, this tragic and untimely loss is increasing awareness of the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States – and more specifically, fentanyl abuse. During this devastating time, Gateway hopes to educate individuals on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse and help a loved one who may be struggling.

Addressing the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

Medicine pill capsules with medicine bottleStudies show that more than 28,000 people died from opioids, which includes heroin and painkillers, in 2014, and 4.3 million people were taking pain medication for non-medical purposes that year. (NY Times, 2016)

In March of 2015, the DEA issued a nationwide alert regarding fentanyl. “Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” wrote DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

Fortunately, there is hope. Treatment is available for those who wish to seek help for prescription drug abuse.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful prescription opioid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that fentanyl is nearly one hundred times as strong as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl is typically prescribed to treat severe pain, or to manage pain after surgery. Like heroin, morphine, and other opioids, fentanyl binds to the body’s opiate receptors – driving up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas and producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.

When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transdermal patch, or in lozenge form. However, the type of fentanyl associated with most overdoses is produced in underground laboratories and mixed with heroin or other substances in a powder form.

Mixing fentanyl with street drugs such as heroin or cocaine increases potency and potential dangers. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse?
If your loved one is prescribed an opioid painkiller, keep a watchful eye and ensure he or she takes the medication as directed. Some warning signs of prescription drug abuse to watch for include:

  • Appearing drowsy or intoxicated
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Not performing well at work or school (or just not attending at all)
  • Running out of medication too early
  • Changing doctors often

Effects of Fentanyl Abuse
There are serious mental and physical effects of prolonged fentanyl abuse in addition to the signs and symptoms of abuse listed above. Physical side effects include severe gastrointestinal problems, weakened immune system, difficulty breathing and seizures. Mental effects may include paranoia, lack of motivation, personality changes and social withdrawal. When combined with street drugs, the depression of the central nervous system can lead to respiratory distress, coma and even death. (DrugAbuse.com)

To learn more about prescription drug abuse and treatment visit RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs.

 

Gateway CEO Rallies Alcohol & Drug Rehab Industry to Reach More Patients

drug rehab, industry, iadda, Gateway Treatment Centers

Michael Darcy, President & CEO, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, speaking at IADDA’s annual meeting on Sept. 4, 2014, at Hilton in Lisle, Ill.

Michael Darcy, President & CEO, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, urged members of the alcohol and drug rehab industry attending IADDA’s annual conference at Hilton in Lisle, Ill., on Sept. 4 2014, to focus on attracting consumers who need treatment for substance abuse  with private pay insurance. Inspired by Gateway’s own successful model of treating the insured population, Darcy explained to a packed ballroom of industry leaders that treating the insured population will help the industry fulfill its collective mission of supporting individuals who can’t afford alcohol and drug rehab.

“More than 80 percent of Americans have private health insurance. And, with the Affordable Care Act in effect, the majority of Americans now have access to treatment for substance abuse issues through their health insurance benefits. With state budgets in flux, treating the insured population will ensure future viability of the alcohol and drug rehab industry so those who may not be able to afford treatment will have access to help when they need it,” says Michael Darcy, President & CEO, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment.

As the soon-to-retire leader of one of the largest substance abuse treatment organization in the U.S., Darcy has dedicated his career to evolving treatment and expanding accessibility and recovery support throughout Illinois and beyond. Since 1968, Gateway Foundation has steadily improved its expertise and capacity, growing capabilities to treat more than 9,000 individuals daily through successful programs and treatment centers spanning five states.

“In the long run, it is best for the consumer and society at-large if America has a vibrant substance abuse treatment industry that works seamlessly with health care professionals, hospitals and insurance carriers on behalf of patients in the primary healthcare arena,” explains Darcy.

For more information about Gateway Treatment Centers and its executive leadership, please visit RecoverGateway.org.

Teen Drug Trends Survey: K2 Losing Popularity but Illicit Drug Use on the Upswing

k2, spice, synthetic drugsGateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment points to a new study that shows synthetic marijuana (marketed as K-2, Spice, etc.), which has been of increasing concern because of its adverse effects and high rates of use, is losing its appeal with teens. Conversely, teen drug trends indicate overall illicit drug use is trending upward—which is being driven by teens’ drug of choice: marijuana.

The Good News

The second-most popular illicit drug used in 2012 among 10th and 12th graders (after marijuana) is dropping in popularity today. In 2013, there was a highly statistically significant fall in use of K2 and Spice among high school seniors, and a significant decrease for three combined grades. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future study:

  • Among 12th graders: 11.3 percent used K2 in 2012, which dropped to 7.9 percent in 2013.
  • Among 10th graders: 8.8 percent used K2 in 2012, which decreased to 7.4 percent in 2013.
  • Among 8th graders: 4.4 percent used K2 in 2012, which declined to 4.0 percent in 2013.

“This encouraging news regarding synthetic marijuana usage reflects a substantial win for the future health and well-being of American teens and families. It also validates how concerted efforts from local, state and national governments in cooperation with the private sector can positively affect public safety in a relatively short period of time,” says Michael Darcy, President & CEO, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment.

Likewise, research shows a sharply increasing proportion of teens in all three grades see great risk in using so-called “bath salts,” often described as “fake cocaine.” In a single year, the percent indicating that occasional use of bath salts carries great risk of harm has risen by 13, 17 and 25 percentage points in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively.

teen drug trends, teen drug use, marijuanaThe Bad News

The proportions of students indicating any use of an illicit drug in the prior 12 months are:

  • Among 8th graders: 15 percent in 2013 compared to 13.5 percent in 2012.
  • Among 10th graders: 32 percent in 2013 compared to 30.4 percent in 2012.
  • Among 12th graders: 40 percent in 2013 compared to 39.4 percent in 2012.

These are the latest findings from the University of Michigan’s annual study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Since 1991, the Monitoring the Future study has annually surveyed 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. secondary school students to help shed a light on teen alcohol and drug use.

For teens who struggle with substance abuse issues, Gateway Foundation offers specialized alcohol and drug treatment programs for teens while instilling healthy coping skills to assist teens with the challenging transition into adulthood. To learn more about Gateway’s free, confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Newly Renovated Lake Villa Drug Rehab Center Inspires Recovery

Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment recently completed major cosmetic renovations to its residential substance abuse treatment center located in Lake Villa, IL. Built to last, the “Main House” of the beloved drug rehab center dates back to the 1920’s. Originally built as a private lakeside residence, the 45-acre estate also once was a retreat for Catholic nuns prior to Gateway Foundation’s acquisition in 1972.

Gateway Treatment Center in Lake Villa

Gateway Treatment Center in Lake Villa

Located approximately 50 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, the Lake Villa drug treatment center is situated along the shores of the Fox Lake. The peaceful location offers men, women and adolescent males the opportunity to pursue sobriety distraction-free, surrounded by nature.

Gateway Treatment Center Lake Villa - Residential Living

Gateway Treatment Center Lake Villa – Residential Living

“We embraced the remodeling project as an opportunity to not only revitalize the atmosphere here yet also make it as convenient as possible for individuals to focus on recovery. It’s our goal for each person to walk away confident and prepared to tackle life’s challenges without the use of alcohol or drugs,” explains Patricia Ryding, Executive Director, Lake Villa.

The renovated public spaces and corridors incorporate a soothing palette in hues of tan and green with purple and gold accents. Inviting lounge areas feature new comfortable furnishings and flat screen televisions. The updates to the guest rooms include new contemporary furnishings and linens. For easier accessibility, select guest rooms were reconfigured to make way for new areas dedicated to group counseling sessions, studies, meditation and DIY laundry.

Lake Villa Drug  Treatment Facility - Group Room

Lake Villa Drug Treatment Facility – Group Room

“The response to the enhancements here at the Lake Villa drug  treatment center has been extremely positive. The development team did an incredible job of creating a relaxed atmosphere with the look and feel of a stunning resort,” says Dr. Ryding.

Gateway Foundation’s Lake Villa Treatment Center offers separate comprehensive residential programs to address the specific recovery needs of each gender. Family counseling and ongoing after-care support are built-in as part of one’s treatment program. To obtain more information or take an online tour of the Lake Villa rehab center, please visit RecoverGateway.org/LakeVilla.

12 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holiday Season

tips for staying sober, holidayRemaining sober can be especially challenging during the holidays.  Family gatherings, holiday parties, and other social occasions can be very difficult for someone who is in early recovery.  Thoughts of past holidays can bring up memories of celebratory drinking or drugs.

Although it seems hard to get used to the idea of a sober holiday season, especially if friends seem to be having a great time drinking or using drugs, completing treatment is an accomplishment that you should be proud of.

Here are some helpful and practical tips to make staying sober easier:

  1. Write yourself a letter – “How I stayed sober over the holidays:” The act of writing your ideas on paper is a very powerful to reinforce your intentions. Think about your values write down all the activities that will help you have healthy, happy and sober holiday season.
  2. Plan each and every day of your holiday season:  Plan to spend the majority of your free time with friends and family who are supportive of your recovery. Likewise, plan downtime for reflection and rejuvenation.
  3. Keep a daily gratitude list: The quickest cure to get you out of the holiday blues is by counting your blessings and being grateful for what you have every morning.
  4. Sober community support: Come to Gateway’s holiday celebrations in addition to your recovery group get-togethers to share your experience, strength and hope with others. Check out Gateway Foundation on Facebook to find schedules for recovery groups, alumni meetings and special events hosted at our treatment centers.
  5. Tell your family and friends how they can support you: Those who are truly supportive of your recovery will be happy to help you throughout the holidays.
  6. Create a contact list: Make a list of 10 people you can call. You are always welcome to call a counselor or confidant at Gateway Foundation. Carry your cell phone and list of names at all times.
  7. Don’t skimp on exercise: Regular exercise is an essential component of any balanced recovery program and will help you weather the stresses that often accompany the season.
  8. Avoid unhealthy hangouts: There is no reason to ever check out your former favorite establishments—no matter who is in town.
  9. Begin for new traditions: Start an annual bowling tournament or flag football game with fun awards and prizes. Host a cookie baking party and trade cookies with your guests. Use your imagination, be creative and have fun.
  10. Volunteer for a charitable organization: There are many people in your community who are less fortunate than you. You will be helping not only the needy but yourself!
  11. Avoid H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired):  If you are hungry, get something to eat. If you are angry, talk to somebody about it. If you are lonely, go to a meeting or call a friend. If you are tired, get a good night’s sleep.
  12. Take one day at a time and enjoy your sobriety: Stay in the moment and live one day at a time. Never mind about what happened or what could happen. Enjoy today. Live today. Celebrate your sobriety.

Take this opportunity to celebrate not only the holidays, but also your new life of sobriety, which is something really worth celebrating. If you find yourself struggling during the holiday season, please remember that you are not alone. Help is only a phone call or meeting away. 877-505-HOPE (4673).

DOES SEEING RED & GREEN MAKE YOU BLUE?

holiday depressionReady or not, the holidays are approaching! It’s likely you are seeing signs of the season. Zealous shopping destinations have already decked the boughs and wrapped the aisles in ribbon and garland.

While many look forward to the holidays, for others, the season can trigger feelings like depression, loneliness and other deep emotions. These types of feelings can be especially challenging for those who are in substance abuse treatment or recovery.

Nick Turner, Clinical Supervisor at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Chicago River North offers some helpful reminders to help improve your mindfulness and your outlook:

Think about what you can do to have a holiday you will appreciate rather than getting caught up in thoughts of what could happen during the holidays.

  • Carry your values with you, like the love you have for your family and friends, and remind yourself how you want to behave around them.
  • Be mindful and aware instead of ruminating about how unpleasant the holiday event can be.
  • Practice putting less focus on others and more attention towards what you can control, such as your thoughts, attitude and actions.
  • Think ahead to when you’re driving home from the gathering, how do you want to feel about your actions and behavior towards your loved ones?
  • Exercise the tools you favor for reducing anxiety and depression, such as positive self-talk, journaling, exercise and meditation.
  • Attend recovery support meetings and alumni events to share your feelings with others and stay grounded in your values.

For more information about recovery support and upcoming alumni gatherings, please visit RecoveryGateway.org/Alumni.

Symposium to Address Substance Abuse and Violence

domestic violenceJoin representatives of Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment on Friday, October 25 for The Substance Abuse and Family Violence Symposium presented by 22nd Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council in partnership with McHenry County College. The all-day symposium kicks off at 8:15 a.m. at Luecht Conference Center at McHenry Community College.

 Experts will analyze the effects of substance abuse on family violence, crime and the effects of trauma and substance use in context of domestic violence. Attendees will explore critical topics in breakout sessions and hear two nationally known keynote speakers and some of the state’s leading experts on substance abuse and family violence.

 Keynote Speakers:

  • Substance Misuse and Partner Violence: What We Know and What We Are Doing by Larry Bennett, Ph.D., LCSW, Professor at Jane Addams School of Social Work, University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Understanding Trauma and Substance Use in the Context of Domestic Violence by Patricia Bland, MA, CDP, Director of Substance Abuse Training and Technical Assistance, National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health

Made possible through the generous donations of Gateway Foundation, Direct Counseling and McHenry County Regional Office of Education, the symposium also will touch on: substance abuse assessments and treatment for better outcomes; substance abuse issues specific to men; and teens, alcohol and violence. To register, please contact the Shah Center at (815) 455-8593 or email shahcenter@mchenry.edu.

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