Stay Cool and Safe this Summer

photo-1506359585186-16ff29581308

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.

Gateway Foundation Partners with myStrength

email header2.jpg

What is myStrength?

myStrength is a digital behavioral tool that allows users to track and monitor their daily progress and mood. It is a great resource for users that provides them with tips and information on a variety of topics including addiction, anxiety, and depression. Each user is able to customize myStrength to fit them and their needs.

Why use myStrength?

According to research from the Journal of Medical Internet Research’s Research Protocols, individuals who used myStrength’s digital mental health tools had 18 times greater reduction in depressive symptoms within two weeks of use as compared to the control group.

“myStrength is a great tool for clients who are struggling with a wide variety of issues in their recovery. It gives them access to evidenced-based treatment materials outside of their group therapy sessions and allows them to build additional skills at their own pace,” says Brandon Underwood, clinical supervisor at Gateway Pekin. “It is also a great resource for clinicians to help further a client’s progress and growth outside the traditional therapeutic setting.”

Gateway led multiple training sessions for staff to ensure they would know how to utilize the tool and be able to incorporate it in counseling and therapy sessions.

Patients were also given a chance to test myStrength and afterwards were asked to rate the tool’s usefulness. The results were overwhelming positive.

“I think it (myStrength) is an amazing resource. If it helps keep just one person sober or gives them help, it is worth it. However, it will help many more than one person,” says one Gateway client after receiving the training.

How much is myStrength?

The tool will be free to current patients, their loved ones, and alumni, due to a generous donation from the family of a former patient.

Is it safe?

Privacy is often a concern with Internet apps, but myStrength is safe to use. There is no data-tracking and all user information is entirely confidential.

Dr. Britton and Gateway Alum Discuss the Opioid Crisis

Gateway Foundation President and CEO Dr. Thomas Britton and Gateway alum Nick spoke to Niala Boodhoo on Illinois Public Media’s The 21st show to discuss the current opioid crisis and Nick’s journey to recovery.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

“It destroyed everything.”

Nick’s addiction had severe consequences. It damaged his relationships with family and loved ones. He found himself in legal trouble, and struggling to maintain any sense of normalcy in his life.

 “If we were to snap back 10 years ago, 5 to 10 percent of the people that we supported had opiates as one of their primary drugs and in a lot of the facilities that we treat today it’s as high as 60 percent.”

Dr. Britton speaks to the increase in the amount of people seeking treatment for opiates as the opioid crisis  continues to grow exponentially.

“An estimated 27 million people that require treatment for substance use disorders and 66 million drank in a binge fashion in the last 30 days so there’s this massive problem with all substances. Opiates are one of the smaller as a whole out of that, however, the consequences are so much faster and more intense.”

Dr. Britton discusses the current substance use problems facing the country, including excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking, which are often overlooked. Though alcohol use disorder affects more people than opioid use disorder, the consequences of opioids are felt much faster.

“[Addiction] is a brain disease; it is not an issue of moral failing or willpower.”

Dr. Britton speaks to the importance of treating addiction as a brain disease and ending the stigma around addiction.

“There is fun in sobriety.”

Nick discusses how becoming engaged in the Gateway Alumni program and attending the events helped him after completing treatment.

“I’ve been sober for two and a half years… I have a great job that has insurance and benefits and the whole works.. It’s a total turnaround from who I was to who I am today… I gave this thing a shot and I actually gave myself that chance.”

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. 

Where to Drop Off Unused Prescription Meds Near You

rawpixel-com-600792-unsplash

Every year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) partners with local agencies throughout the country to administer safe and responsible drop-off sites for prescription medications. This year’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, April 28.

Easy access to prescription drugs has played a major role in the current opioid crisis. A significant portion of these drugs come from someone’s own home or the home of someone they know. In addition, other methods of disposal, such as flushing down the toilet, have been deemed unsafe and hazardous to public health and safety.  This makes responsible disposal of drugs all the more important.

To find a drop-off site near you, click here:

Make It A Mindful New Year!

minduflness sobriety, gateway treatment centersWhat is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you:

  • NOTICE things you used to ignore or take for granted.
  • ACCEPT things as they are at any given moment rather than how you would like them to be.
  • OBSERVE and accept your thoughts, feelings, sensations and urges, without judgment and without reacting to them.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is highly effective in treating mood swings, stress, depression, grief and impulsivity–all of which are at risk of fueling addiction. Ultimately, people will do what they want. We cannot live their life for them. But once people reflect on what’s important to them, they may decide it’s time to let go of some things to live the life they want.

More often than not, people who come to Gateway Treatment Centers decide on their own that substance use is not consistent with their values. They realize that alcohol and drug use is holding them back.

  • Improves awareness and communication.
  • Enhances life skills, self-confidence.
  • Addresses co-occurring mental health issues like anxiety and impulsivity–that may have contributed to or resulted from substance use.
  • Reduces substance abuse and the likelihood of relapse.

To learn more about  mindfulness directly from Gateway’s mindfulness experts, please sign up for our free webinar later this month.

As part of an integrated treatment program, Gateway Treatment Centers use mindfulness to address relapse prevention for lasting recovery. To learn more about the tools and knowledge individuals can gain at Gateway Treatment Centers, please visit RecoverGateway.org  or call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

%d bloggers like this: