Dr. Britton and Gateway Alum Broadcast Insights on Opioid Crisis

Gateway Foundation President and CEO Dr. Thomas Britton and Gateway alum Spencer spoke to Justin Kaufmann on WGN’s “The Download” about the opioid crisis, how we can combat it, and Spencer’s journey to recovery.

Biggest takeaways:

“A criminal problem rather than a public health problem

Dr. Britton mentions how more government funding is being allocated to law enforcement compared to treatment options. He says of the estimated 30-60 million people who need treatment, only 3 million get it, and those who do often don’t get enough to be successful. He advocates for a multi-pronged policy approach.

“A bridge to recovery”

Dr. Britton speaks to the importance of medication assisted treatment (MAT) and how it saves lives every day. However, he warns MAT is not the cure for addiction, but one of the methods used to help people with substance use disorders. Other measures still need to be taken.

“All my morals out the window”

In an effort to support his habits, Spencer talks about stealing from his parents, relatives, neighbors, and even kids to pay for drugs and alcohol.

“Mentally in love with the drug”

While in treatment for the first time, Spencer counted down the days until he could use again. This happens again while he is in his hospital bed following his heart attack, counting down the days until he could have a drink.

“The flu on steroids”

Spencer describes the withdrawals every time he tried to quit by himself: the muscle aches, nausea, suicidal thoughts.

“Learn my parents’ names again”

Following his heart attack at age 25, Spencer fell into a coma. After waking up a couple months later, he had to relearn the basics, like how to say his parents’ names, how to use a fork, how to use the bathroom.

“Like trying to swim against the current”

Spencer relates his experiences of quitting by himself to a person drowning. He needed a lifeguard, which in this case was Gateway’s support system, to help him to recovery.

“A silent killer”

Due to the stigma surrounding addiction, many people feel ashamed to ask for help and spend their lives hiding their struggle from their loved ones. Addressing this stigma could change the conversation and increase the number of success stories.

“I wouldn’t say [addiction] defines me; I’d say it definitely has taken a lot out of me… It’s like a soldier that has gone to war. You have the stories but you just gotta keep going forward. Now, I love volleyball. I’d say that defines me. I love my sister, my parents. I love life.”

If you or someone you know would like to tell your Gateway recovery story, please contact us. We’d love to interview you and inspire others. 

A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way

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Today is “Day4Empathy” in Chicago as the Ebert Foundation honors late, beloved film critic Roger Ebert on the fifth anniversary of his death. Coincidentally, it is also the 50th anniversary of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death.

The day is more than an observance; it is a call to action to people across the city, and even across the country, to show more kindness and work towards more understanding with one another. Throughout the day in Chicago, ambassadors from the Ebert Foundation will pass out cards and bracelets to call on people to perform random acts of kindness for others. In addition, Roger Ebert’s wife, Chaz, will take an empathy truck around the city and stop to interview people about what empathy means to them.

On a number of occasions, Ebert spoke about empathy as one of the cornerstones of civilization. This is especially true when thinking about people who are facing difficult battles, like addiction. People fighting addiction who have the support of a strong community demonstrate much higher rates of success. Developing an understanding of where another person might be coming from is necessary to build such communities; it is critical in the journey of recovery.

In his reviews, Ebert talked about the ability of movies to bring about empathy. “When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else’s life for a while. I can walk in somebody else’s shoes,” Ebert once said. “I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief.”

That is what great movies do – they transport us to places and situations we never dreamed of experiencing, developing our understanding of the characters, others, and ourselves.

Today, remember to practice empathy more days in our lives.

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.

Tips for Staying Drug Free

In honor of the upcoming Red Ribbon Week (October 23–31, 2016), Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers want to encourage those just entering recovery from a substance use disorder to find the support they need to continue living a life free of drugs and alcohol. Recovery consists of several stages. Completing treatment and returning to everyday life can be one of the most challenging for those who have struggled with substance use—changing routines and confronting triggers can be overwhelming. As well as attending outpatient aftercare and/or support groups, there are things that can be done in your personal life to help stay focused and feel supported. The following are a few tips to help remain drug free during this difficult but transformative time in recovery.

Stay busy by setting short-term goals. Occupying your time combats the boredom that can cause relapse. Before bed, make a to-do list for the next day. Perhaps you’d like to submit a job application, mow the lawn, and call a friend. Making habits to stay busy during the day will gradually disrupt the association to drugs and alcohol, and will also boost productivity and confidence.

young fitness woman tying shoelaces on trailSweat it out. Try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of physical exercise. According to a study at the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps reduce stress, improves mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, improves sleep, and boosts mood. If you’re new to working out, don’t be intimidated. The study suggests that a simple brisk walk is enough to reap these benefits.

Cut out toxic relationships. Don’t “test” yourself with unhealthy friendships or romances. Take responsibility for your recovery by being honest with unhealthy influences. Ask for their respect in your new lifestyle and need for space. Ending it doesn’t mean the other person is “bad.” You’re not assigning blame—only maintaining your own well-being.

Meeting Of Support Group

Utilize your support system. Support networks may include family, friends, colleagues, recovery meeting participants, sponsors, or therapists. You may find that verbalizing your feelings, even when you don’t want to, will help you conceptualize and take responsibility for the next steps necessary. Also remember that your support system isn’t only there to help you through the bad—together, you can celebrate the good!

Self-care and awareness are the focus of these tips. When times get tough, remind yourself that you’ll want to remember this time of adjustment. Valuable lessons and insights are being gained for your use down the road.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, learn more at RecoverGateway.org, or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

In Honor of National Recovery Month, Gateway Alumnus Shares the Story of his Road to Recovery

In Honor of National Recovery Month in September, John Fields, Gateway Alumnus Shares His Recovery Story:

National Recovery Month, Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment CentersBy the time John Fields turned to Gateway, he was having a drink as soon as he woke up in the morning. He had become aware his drinking was out of control and that he needed help. “I knew I couldn’t quit on my own. I needed a safe place where I didn’t have access to drugs or alcohol,” John said.

John wanted to get his mind clear so he could begin to think rationally again. He also wanted to learn how to live on the outside without using alcohol

“Gateway gave me what I needed most, a safe place and the tools and knowledge I needed to live a sober life outside of treatment,” John explained.

John had been sent to drug treatment centers in the past by family members or managers at a job but he’d never gone to treatment for himself. Each time, he’d end up returning to his same routines. He never followed up with meetings or became involved in an alumni program, and he thought he could resume his old lifestyle with friends.

This time around, he was highly motivated and he also did his homework. John said, “Gateway is a much nicer facility than the others I looked at and the staff is great. These people know what they’re doing.”

Read John’s full story at RecoverGateway.org/AlumniSuccess>

Gateway Chicago River North Provides Lifetime Addiction Recovery Support

Gateway Chicago River North

Gateway Chicago River North
Located at 444 N. Orleans, near the Merchandise Mart, our center offers easy access to parking and public transportation
(Metra and CTA)
Merchandise Mart (Brown Line, Purple Line)
Clark/Lake (Blue Line subway)
Clinton/Lake (Green Line, Pink Line)
State/Grand (Red Line subway)

Fresh out of treatment, life in early recovery is bombarded with change. To help our former clients remain firmly grounded in addiction recovery, Gateway Chicago River North provides structured ongoing support and sober fun at no additional cost through our Alumni Program.

Our Alumni Support Specialist, Taylor Evers, is dedicated to ensuring former clients have access to fellowship and resources for lasting recovery. The Alumni Program meets the last Wednesday of every month at our River North Treatment Center from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Gateway’s River North center is located near the Merchandise Mart and is easily accessible via public transportation. Our Outpatient Treatment Programs are offered in the evening to accommodate the schedules of busy, working adult men and women.

For questions about Gateway Chicago River North’s Alumni Recovery Support Programs, contact Taylor Evers at tlevers@gatewayfoundation.org.

To learn more about treatment options at Gateway Chicago River North, visit Recovergateway.org/ChicagoRiverNorth.

Springfield Gateway Event Focuses on Re-entering the Workplace Following Substance Abuse Treatment

drug rehab, Gateway Springfield, Alcohol & Drug Treatment

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Springfield

Forty people gathered for food, fellowship and information at a January 21st alumni event sponsored by Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Springfield. The no-cost event featured guest speakers on the topic of workplace re-entry following substance abuse treatment.

Attendees gained valuable insight on the pertinent topics of Self-care and Perseverance, presented by alumna Jamie B; and Resume, Application and Interview Tips offered by Springfield Gateway’s Tammy Kmett.

The gathering, which included food and giveaways, was attended by 19 Gateway alumni and 14 current residents. Gateway Springfield employees present were Julie Pena, Alumni Specialist; Amy Taylor, OP Counsellor II; and speaker, Tammy Kmett, Patient Financial Counselor.

The two-hour alumni event was held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Gateway Springfield, 2200 Lake Victoria Drive.

Gateway Springfield provides substance abuse treatment services for teens and adults. With centers located throughout Illinois and the St. Louis East Metro area, Gateway’s professional clinicians have facilitated the successful completion of treatment for thousands of individuals.

Learn more about Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers by calling 877-505-HOPE (4673).

On-The-Go Recovery Support with Mobile Apps

Happy Independence Day! While many people will be celebrating the holiday at barbeques and festivities where alcoholic beverages are in abundance, it can be an especially challenging holiday for people in recovery.

For extra inspiration this week and beyond, check out all of the mobile apps dedicated to recovery support available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android devices. Download the apps for an instant uplifting message whenever needed or find a recovery support meeting anytime, anyplace!

Here are some of our favorite recovery apps:

afternoon affirmations

Afternoon Affirmations sends you a message each day with an affirmation to help calm the soul. This notification happens each day at 1p.m. There will be a new affirmation in the app each day, and you can turn the reminder off in the settings if you wish.

 

intheroomsInTheRooms is for the 23 hours that you are not in a meeting.

** Anonymity Statement: InTheRooms is a completely safe and secure, private network of people in recovery.

 

12 steps AA12 Steps AA Companion is the original sobriety tool! Includes a Big Book reader, sobriety calculator, notes, AA contacts database and more. $2.99.

 

NA recoveryNA Recovery Literature features 12 steps, 12 traditions, 12 concepts and group readings.

 

 

Find more recovery support information at RecoverGateway.org/RecoverySupport.

 

 

Staying Sober This Summer

stayin sober this summer, alcohol abuse, alcoholismAt Gateway Foundation, we understand the summer months can be a challenging time for people in early recovery. Those who have struggled with alcohol abuse may encounter more drinking going on outside—from festivals and ball games to concerts and beer gardens—and come face-to- face with temptation.

Remember, it’s okay to be tempted. This is normal. When it happens, observe the craving and respond by reminding yourself of your values and goals that are far more important to you than drinking, such as being a healthy, reliable and productive individual.

If you are early in your recovery, it is an especially important time to honest with yourself, especially when it comes to accountability. If accountability is in question, situations that have the potential to trigger a relapse must be avoided.

Here are some helpful reminders to keep your recovery on the right path:

  • Stay connected. It’s important to surround yourself with supportive people who understand your new path. Attend Alumni events/meetings, 12-Step recovery meetings and talk to your sponsor often.
  • Drink plenty of water. The heat and sun is dehydrating, and thirst can intensify cravings for alcohol.
  • Embrace life. Take advantage of the great weather and explore new adventures, such as kayaking, hiking, cycling bike paths, practicing yoga in the park or joining a running club. And, you will be more likely to befriend others with healthy lifestyles along the way.
  • Skip it. If you don’t have accountability, then you should decline the invitation to a wedding or barbeque. If you do decide to go, you should either bring a sober buddy, have someone on standby that you can call, or decide to stay for a set amount of time and promptly leave as planned.
  • Be realistic. If you are confident you can refrain from using, you still should expect to be offered drinks or drugs by the people around you. Rather than be offended, you should be prepared with a polite response or to avoid an invitation for a drink altogether, holding a club soda usually works!
  • Family ties. If your family is supportive of your recovery, then you may find spending time together is more enjoyable now than ever. For those whose families enjoy drinking at celebrations—it’s okay to bow out of a barbeque or birthday party. If you’re ready to be accountable, bring a supportive friend along and limit your stay. To avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, it is polite to let your hosts know ahead of time you will be bringing a guest and leaving early.

Remember, if you ever need to talk to someone who understands what you are going through, you call your sponsor and counselor. If you are worried about relapsing, you should contact your treatment center right away. Click to contact Gateway Foundation or call our 24-Hour Helpline at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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