Addiction treatment

compulsion vs addiction

When dealing with a mental health or substance use issue, understanding more about what causes it and how to manage it can help you take steps toward living a healthier life. This holds true for people who experience obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well, particularly knowing the connection between OCD and addiction. It’s also helpful to know the differences between compulsion vs addiction.


The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a “treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.” Someone with an addiction to a substance or a behavior will not be able to stop using drugs or alcohol or to stop engaging in the behavior, even though it can cause them harm, mentally and physically.


Playing a role in the addiction process, compulsion is much narrower. It describes the intense urge to do something that can lead to a certain behavior. As an individual’s addiction develops, they will develop a feeling of compulsion to take the addictive substance or carry out the addictive behavior.

Compulsion is one of the primary symptoms of OCD. When someone has OCD, they may have a compulsion to engage in a certain behavior. This compulsion is related to obsession, a repeated thought that generates distress for them. An individual with OCD may have a compulsion to wash their hands or constantly check door locks as a way to try to alleviate their anxiety.

Compulsion vs Addiction

A major distinction between a compulsion and an addiction is connected to the individual’s awareness and acceptance of reality. A person with OCD may be aware that they are not being realistic with their obsessions. They may know that their compulsions are illogical or excessive. It’s possible a person with OCD will feel disturbed by their own thoughts and by their need to carry out their compulsive behavior, but they need to do it anyway as a way to relieve their distress.

Someone with an addiction is often detached from the logic of their actions. They may not recognize that their addiction has negative consequences, as they are in denial that they have a problem or that the problem is causing issues in their life. Denial is a core component of addiction.

Compulsive Behaviors

A person who exhibits compulsive behaviors is driven by repetitive urges and may have limited voluntary control over those urges. They may have a diminished ability to delay or inhibit their compulsive behavior, displaying a tendency to perform repetitive acts habitually or even in a stereotypical manner.

Being compulsive is a central characteristic of OCD and is crucial to addiction. OCD is proposed to be included in the concept of behavioral addiction along with certain other disorders that share compulsivity but are not related to drugs, including pathological gambling and compulsive eating.

OCD and Addiction

Almost 30% of individuals diagnosed with OCD also have had a substance use disorder at some point in their lives, a number that is nearly double that of the general population. The rate of addiction is high among people with OCD but is lower than that associated with other forms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Most people report that their OCD symptoms appeared long before they developed a substance use disorder.

A number of people diagnosed with OCD start to use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication to reduce the severity of their compulsive behaviors or to decrease the distress they experience while living with OCD. They may experience problems in relationships or difficulties at work as a result of their compulsions and obsessions.

Substance use is a particularly poor coping strategy, however, as it can lead to additional mental and physical health issues. An individual’s OCD symptoms will continue to get worse as the substance enables them to avoid dealing with the actual source of their distress. People with OCD who develop an addiction are at greater risk for hospitalization and suicide.

South Miami Recovery is Here to Help

At South Miami Recovery, we understand the struggles of OCD and addiction. If you recognize the signs and symptoms in yourself or your loved one, please contact us for help. Our professional staff includes licensed mental health professionals and certified substance abuse therapists. We offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services as well as safe outpatient services during COVID-19 so you can get the help you need. To learn more, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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relapse prevention

In addiction treatment, you will learn ways to stay sober and to keep from relapsing. You may have questions about this term and what it means for you. What is relapse prevention? It involves some proactive measures on your part to focus on your recovery.

Recovery Takes Time

The first thing to understand is that recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol does not happen overnight. While you need to seek out help in a professionally run addiction treatment program, that is also not an immediate, magical cure. You will need to constantly focus on staying clean and sober. It is a lifelong journey, rather than a short-term solution.

What It Means to Relapse

A relapse, in medical terms, is a worsening of a condition that had previously been improving. Addiction is a chronic disease that needs to be treated and managed throughout your life. If you relapse, you will start using drugs or alcohol again and worsen the disease of addiction.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines relapse as the recurrence of behavioral or other substantive indicators of active disease after a period of remission. In other words, you have participated in an addiction treatment program and have been drug-free or alcohol-free for several months, but then start using one of those substances again. The behavior you learned to control during treatment has become uncontrolled once again and you are considered to have relapsed.

What relapse does not mean is that you’ve failed in your recovery. It is another obstacle to overcome as you work toward a successful recovery. If you accept that you’ve relapsed but then work on your treatment program again, you are more likely to eventually overcome your addiction.

Stages of Relapse

Relapse prevention is important for your long-term recovery from addiction. One of the keys is to recognize the potential stages and then to develop a plan to deal with them. Relapse typically occurs in three stages and can start before you actually take a drink or use a drug again.

Emotional relapse: You begin to isolate yourself and keep your emotions bottled up. You may begin to feel angry or anxious and are not sleeping or eating well.

Mental relapse: You are now at war with yourself. Part of you is tempted to use substances again and part of you does not want to do so. You’re remembering the people and places you used to associate with as well as what you considered to be good times when you were using. You don’t think about the bad times that occurred as a result of your substance use as you start planning to use again.

Physical relapse: You start using again, one pill or one drink at a time. You relapse into regular substance use once again.

Steps for Relapse Prevention

Recovery from addiction is a process. During that process, you will encounter developmental milestones and new risks for relapse. You and your addiction treatment professional can take steps to help you prevent relapse throughout the process and into a successful recovery.

In long-term addiction treatment, you will learn healthier coping mechanisms, including how to avoid those high-risk situations. Remaining in treatment can help you avoid the triggers of boredom, stress, and anger. Steps to prevent relapse will include developing self-care techniques, practicing mindfulness meditation, and participating in cognitive therapy sessions designed to help you understand the underlying causes of your addiction.

One of the main goals of addiction treatment is to help you recognize the early warning signs of relapse so you can develop the skills necessary to prevent it early in the process, when your chances of success are at their highest. This approach has been demonstrated to significantly reduce the risk of relapse.

Get Help at South Miami Recovery

Overcoming an addiction is not easy. At South Miami Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your recovery and learn successful techniques for relapse prevention. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a healthier life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want everyone to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help them get the treatment they need now. To learn more about substance abuse services, including relapse prevention, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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oxymorphone opana

A pain medication that was challenged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 continues to be prescribed in various forms. Unfortunately, oxymorphone also continues to be misused and abused. Part of the class of drugs known as opioids, which have contributed to serious problems throughout Florida, oxymorphone is the generic name for Opana. What is oxymorphone? Is Opana addictive? What precautions are needed when this drug is prescribed?

What Are Opioids?

An opioid is a type of medication that can help with pain management. The drug binds to and activates receptors on certain cells on the brain and spinal cord, as well as other organs, which are involved in the feelings of pleasure and pain. The opioid attaches to the receptor, blocking pain signals sent from the brain. It then releases large amounts of dopamine, which can, in turn, reinforce the act of taking the medication, which can then cause the user to want to repeat the dosage.

What is Oxymorphone?

When pain cannot be controlled by other medications, a physician may prescribe an opioid known as oxymorphone. This drug is in a class of medications known as opiate or narcotic analgesics. The medication works by changing the way the body responds to the pain. While oxymorphone, marketed as Opana, can help an individual manage debilitating pain, it also can have potentially negative consequences even when taken as prescribed.

Patients who are prescribed this medication are advised that drinking alcohol or taking a medication that contains alcohol can increase the risk of experiencing a serious, life-threatening side effect. Likewise, taking illegal drugs while using oxymorphone can also have devastating results. Even when taken as directed, oxymorphone can cause serious breathing problems, particularly during the first 72 hours of treatment.

Is Opana Addictive?

Like any opioid, Opana can be highly addictive. Again, even when the medication is taken as prescribed, prolonged use can make it habit-forming. Patients who have a family history of substance abuse or who are experiencing a mental illness may have an increased risk of Opana abuse and addiction.

The risk of overdose is also a serious concern for individuals taking Opana. The medication has the potential for abuse and for a fatal overdose involving respiratory failure. Risks for the patient, including possible overdose and death, are increased with the misuse of the oxymorphone tablets. Crushing, snorting, chewing, or injecting the dissolved medication poses a serious risk for the user.

Opana ER Removed

At the request of the FDA in June 2017, the manufacturer of Opana ER (extended release), Endo Pharmaceuticals, removed the product from the market as the risks of taking it outweighed its benefits. The medication was removed voluntarily in July 2017.

The FDA Commissioner at the time, Scott Gottlieb, MD, said, “We are facing an opioid epidemic – a public health crisis, and we must take all necessary steps to reduce the scope of opioid misuse and abuse. We will continue to take regulatory steps when we see situations where an opioid product’s risks outweigh its benefits, not only for its intended patient population but also in regard to its potential for misuse and abuse.”

Even though Opana ER was removed from the market by Endo Pharmaceuticals, oxymorphone is still available by prescription. Opana ER is also manufactured by Impax, now owned by Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. A suit has been filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that a 2017 agreement between Endo and Impax, made after Endo removed their product from the market, violated the antitrust laws by eliminating competition in the market for oxymorphone ER.

Opioids in Florida

Opioids such as oxymorphone can be beneficial to those suffering from physical pain, but they also have the serious potential for abuse and addiction. The opioid crisis that was already a significant issue throughout the state of Florida has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Project Opioid projected that drug overdoses have killed 55 Floridians a day in 2020. That number is up from 35 a day last year and 33 a day two years ago. Many of those overdose deaths involve opioids.

The project’s study found a 43% spike in drug overdose deaths statewide during the first eight months of the year in 2020, as compared with the same time period in 2019. Floridians between the ages of 25 and 44 accounted for over half of the overdose deaths, even though they only represent a fourth of the overall population in the state.

Florida Department of Health (FDH) reports show that, in 2019, there were:

  • 4,294 opioid overdose deaths
  • 5,577 drug overdose deaths
  • 14,884 suspected non-fatal opioid-involved overdose
  • 38,927 suspected non-fatal all drug overdose
  • 16,802 opioid-involved non-fatal overdose emergency department visits
  • 7,711 opioid-involved non-fatal overdose hospitalizations.

Get Help for Your Addiction at South Miami Recovery

Overcoming an addiction to opioids is not easy. At South Miami Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your recovery. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a healthier life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help you get the treatment you need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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meth addiction

Are you concerned about a loved one’s behavior? Are you worried that they may be using drugs, to the point where they may be addicted? Knowing the signs of meth use can help you better help someone experiencing the devastating effects of meth addiction. Start with an understanding of what meth is so you can recognize the signs.

What is Meth?

Meth is the shortened name for methamphetamine, an extremely addictive stimulant. Meth typically comes in the form of a powder that can be made into a pill. The powder can be consumed by eating it or by snorting it up the nose. Some users will mix the powder with liquid and inject it with a needle. Meth can also be used in the form of a shiny rock, referred to as a crystal, which is smoked in a small glass pipe.

Developed in the early 20th century out of its parent drug, amphetamine, meth was originally used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. Meth is much different than amphetamine. Even at comparable doses, greater amounts of meth can get into the brain and make it a more potent stimulant. It is also longer lasting and causes more harmful effects on the central nervous system. As such, meth is much more likely to be misused and result in addiction.

Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II stimulant, which means that it is legally available only through a nonrefillable prescription. The drug may be prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or as part of certain weight loss treatments. The drug is rarely prescribed, though, and the prescribed doses are much lower than the doses usually consumed when it is misused.

What are Signs of Meth Use?

When you are concerned that a friend or loved one may be using meth, watch for the signs. Of course, many of these could be attributed to other causes but taken together, they may be an indication of meth use.

The drug can speed up breathing and raise blood pressure in the person using it. An individual misusing the drug can become hyperactive or full of too much energy. They may talk a lot more and move around more than normal, not stopping to sleep or eat. You might also notice them scratching their skin to the point of causing sores. If they use a meth pipe, they can have burns on their lips or fingers.

Rapid mood shifts can also be a sign of meth use. They may feel excited and then suddenly become violent and angry. They may become paranoid, afraid that someone is out to get them. They may even threaten suicide.

Other visible, physical signs of meth use can include:

  • Facial twitching
  • Pupil dilation
  • Increased sweating
  • Jerky or twitchy body movements
  • Tooth decay
  • Constant, rapid speech
  • Increased body temperature
  • Headaches

Signs of Meth Addiction

Meth is highly addictive. When someone is addicted, they have a chronic, relapsing disease that is characterized by compulsive drug use and almost constant drug seeking. Addiction can cause molecular and functional changes in their brain. Meth addiction arises out of a tolerance to the drug’s pleasurable effects when it is taken repeatedly. The addicted individual will usually need to take higher doses, take it more frequently, or change the way they take it to get the same effect.

Long-term use of meth can result in confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, anxiety, and violent behavior. A person with a meth addiction may also display psychotic features, such as auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. These symptoms can last a long time even after the individual has quit using the drug. The stress caused by these continuing symptoms can contribute to a spontaneous recurrence of psychosis caused by meth use.

Get Help for Meth Addiction at South Miami Recovery

Overcoming an addiction to meth is not easy. At South Miami Recovery, we are here to help your friend or loved one get started on their recovery. They deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so they can live a healthier life.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want everyone to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help them get the treatment they need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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facts about meth addiction and recovery

Methamphetamine is a dangerously addictive drug. When you know more of the facts about meth, you can take steps to get help and stop meth addiction before it causes serious consequences for yourself or for a loved one.

A Highly Addictive Stimulant

Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Although chemically similar to amphetamine, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, meth is much more dangerous.

The high from the drug is quick to start and to fade, so individuals will often take repeated doses in an effort to achieve the effect. This is referred to as a “binge and crash” pattern. People may also take meth in a form of binging that is referred to as a “run,” as they continue to take the drug every few hours for several days, usually giving up food and sleep to do so.

Forms of Meth

One of the important facts about meth is that it takes many forms. Crystal meth is one form that looks like shiny, bluish-white rocks or glass fragments. Common names for meth include crystal, blue, ice, and speed. Meth can be taken by swallowing a pill or by smoking, snorting, or injecting the powder in water or alcohol.

Effects on the Brain

Meth works by increasing the amount of dopamine, a natural chemical in the brain. Dopamine is involved in the body’s movement, an individual’s sense of motivation, and the reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. Meth can release high levels of dopamine rapidly in the reward areas of the brain that strongly reinforce the drug-taking behavior, leading quickly to meth addiction.

Over the short term and even in small amounts, meth can cause:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Faster breathing
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature.

Longer term, meth addiction can have devastating consequences. If an individual injects the meth, they will be at an increased risk of contracting hepatitis B and C as well as HIV from the needle and from unprotected sex as they tend to engage in riskier behaviors under its influence. The unfortunate facts about meth are that it also causes significantly negative effects on an individual who uses it long-term, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Severe dental problems
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Changes in brain structure and function, including confusion and memory loss
  • Intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching
  • Sleeping problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, those sensations and images that seem real though they aren’t
  • Paranoia, an extreme and unreasonable distrust of others.

How Meth Addiction Works

An individual will become addicted to meth because they will develop a tolerance to its pleasurable effects, which causes them to need to take it repeatedly. They will need to take higher doses of the drug each time as well. They may even have to change their method of using meth in an attempt to get the same effect. At a certain point, the individual may even have difficulty feeling any kind of pleasure other than that provided by the drug.

Meth Overdose

When an individual uses too much meth and has a toxic reaction, it can result in serious and harmful symptoms, including death. An overdose usually leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems.

About 15% of all drug overdose deaths involve meth. Half of those also involve an opioid, with half of those related to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. One of the very important facts about meth is that these cheap and dangerous synthetic opioids are sometimes added to the meth when sold on the street, without the user’s knowledge.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

The hopeful news is that meth addiction can be treated. The treatment process will start with detox, which has to be professionally supervised to be safe. Symptoms of withdrawal, which can range from mild to severe, can include anxiety, depression, fatigue, and an intense craving for the meth.

As part of treatment and recovery from meth addiction, the individual will work to discover why they started using the drug and why they continue to use it, addressing their underlying emotions as they overcome their addiction. They will also learn new and healthier methods of coping as well as new, more positive behaviors that will help them get their life back.

Get Help for Your Addiction at South Miami Recovery

Overcoming an addiction to meth is not easy. At South Miami Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your recovery. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a healthier life.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help you get the treatment you need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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how to tell if someone has a drinking problem

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. One very important thing that everyone needs to be aware of this month and throughout the year is whether they or someone they know may have a drinking problem. There are many ways you can tell if someone has a drinking problem, including yourself. Watch for the signs and take an interactive quiz. It may help save your life or the life of someone you care about.

Signs of an Alcohol Problem

To tell if someone has a drinking problem, pay attention to the tell-tale signs. While these don’t necessarily indicate an addiction, they can be a warning that the individual needs to seek help for their alcohol use.

  • Every time something embarrassing or dangerous happens, they vow to quit drinking and yet they have not quit.
  • Their social life revolves around alcohol, particularly whether there will be alcohol present at meals or events.
  • They are chronically late or a no-show and this is a departure from their previous behavior.
  • The individual tends to end up in risky situations, especially when drinking.
  • Their personality is significantly different when drinking than when sober.
  • They need to drink more to feel the effects, meaning they have built up a tolerance for alcohol.
  • The individual experiences black outs or episodes of memory loss while drinking.

Medical Professionals’ Concerns

When you or someone you know works with a doctor to determine if there is a drinking problem, the medical professional will probably ask some questions about what has taken place over the past year, including whether the individual:

  • Has spent a lot of time being sick from the aftereffects of drinking.
  • Tried to stop drinking or reduce the amount or frequency but couldn’t do so on their own.
  • Found that their drinking or the aftereffects of drinking has interfered with work, family, or other responsibilities or activities.
  • Has wanted a drink so desperately that they could think of nothing else.
  • Continues to drink alcohol even though it may be causing other mental or physical issues, such as anxiety or depression.
  • Experiences withdrawal symptoms, including shakiness, nausea, restlessness, or trouble sleeping, when not drinking.

Take the AUDIT Quiz

The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) is an assessment tool for determining whether you or someone you know has a drinking problem. The quiz was developed based on data from a multinational World Health Organization (WHO) collaborative study. The AUDIT is accepted as an effective screening instrument for an alcohol use disorder. It is intended to be used primarily by healthcare providers but there is a self-administered version available online as well.

The AUDIT questions are designed to determine if someone has a drinking problem. The range of answers for most of the questions vary from “never” to “daily or almost daily.” The quiz questions are based on the definition of a single drink as a 12-oz beer, an 8 to 9-oz shot of malt liquor, a 5-oz glass of wine, or 1.5oz of hard liquor.

When taking the self-administered quiz online, you will receive your results along with a recommendation as to whether you need to seek treatment for your alcohol use. The recommendations will be based on the number of times you indicate you have had drinks as well as how often you experienced issues because of your drinking.

  • Has a relative or friend or a doctor or another health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
  • How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
  • How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
  • How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?
  • How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?
  • How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
  • How often during the last year have you needed a first drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?
  • How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
  • Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
  • How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of drinking?

Contact South Miami Recovery for Help Now

If you’ve determined that you have a drinking problem, we can help. During Alcohol Awareness Month, and throughout the year, you can turn to the professionals at South Miami Recovery for help overcoming your addiction to alcohol or drugs. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a safer and healthier life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help you get the treatment you need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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recovery month

September is National Recovery Month, a time to celebrate the success of people who are living in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Recovery Month is designed in part to educate others on how people with mental and substance use disorders can live healthy and rewarding lives. It is a good time to explore an answer to a question asked often: Why is it so hard to stop drinking or using drugs?

Recovery is Hope

SAMHSA emphasizes that recovery is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. Hope, the belief that their challenges and conditions can be overcome, is the foundation of recovery. The process of recovery is highly personal and occurs via many pathways. Recovery is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness that may involve setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural part of life, resilience becomes a key component of recovery.

Addiction is a Chronic Illness

People in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction have not been cured but are on their way to a healthier life because of their successful addiction treatment. Addiction is a chronic illness, much like diabetes or asthma. Addiction causes significant changes in the brain, which make it more difficult to stop drinking or using drugs.

Even though the first drug use or alcoholic drink is probably voluntary, addiction is not a result of moral weakness, a lack of willpower, or an unwillingness to stop. Most people believe they can control their use of drugs or alcohol. However, research has shown that with time, more and more alcohol or drugs are needed to achieve the same level of pleasure and satisfaction as when they first started.

Seeking out and taking the substance becomes a near-constant activity, causing significant problems for them and their family and friends. At the same time, progressive changes in the brain drive the compulsive, uncontrollable drug use known as addiction. When this happens, individuals can no longer voluntarily choose to not use drugs or alcohol, even if it means losing everything they once valued.

Addiction Affects Millions

People who cannot stop drinking or using drugs are not alone. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 14.4 million adults ages 18 and older (5.8 percent of this age group) had alcohol use disorder. This includes 9.2 million men (7.6 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.1 percent of women in this age group). An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

In addition, 2018 data shows that every day, 128 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.

Addiction Changes the Brain

It is hard to stop drinking or using drugs because addiction actually changes the brain. The more someone drinks or uses drugs, the more difficult it is to break that addiction. Chronic alcohol use changes the brain neurologically, sensitizing certain brain circuits and changing neurotransmitter levels. Addiction also affects the brain’s executive function, the part of the brain that is involved in decision making and that tells the person not to drink or use drugs.

Most people will need to avoid alcohol and drugs for the rest of their lives, because of these changes in their brains. However, recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol is possible. Treatment programs will help the addict detox, or rid their body of the drugs or alcohol, and then move through a successful recovery with effective therapy and relapse prevention options.

You Can Get Help at South Miami Recovery

Overcoming addiction to drugs or alcohol is not easy. At South Miami Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your recovery. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a healthier life.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help you get the treatment you need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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effectiveness of telemedicine during COVID-19

Accessing healthcare when you need it most may seem challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. When you are seeking treatment for addiction or need to get a checkup from your primary care physician, you may be hesitant to go to the provider’s office. Your provider may also have set down regulations regarding what you need to do when you visit. There are new possibilities for accessing care remotely and safely. A new study shows the effectiveness of telemedicine during COVID-19.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine, or telehealth, is essentially remote medical care. The term refers to providing healthcare through electronic communication technologies instead of in-person meetings. The first forms of telemedicine involved simple phone calls. Video calls and other telecommunication options have been put in place, especially during the stay-at-home orders during COVID-19, that have improved the services significantly.

Care for Vulnerable Populations

The new study on the effectiveness of telemedicine during COVID-19 shows that these advances in technology can improve the mental and physical health of vulnerable populations, including the elderly and people who are immunocompromised. Individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of the coronavirus and telemedicine can prove beneficial in keeping them safe.

In addition, patients who need care for anxiety and depression can be assisted without the requirement for visiting a hospital, and therapy for psychological stabilization can be provided via the internet, without the need for an in-person consultation with the doctor.

Reducing Isolation

Addiction treatment and even routine care can be delivered remotely, reducing the risk of exposure to the virus. When you feel you need to stay home during the pandemic, you may also begin to feel the effects of your isolation. A telemedicine visit, conducted via video conferencing technology, enables you to communicate with your healthcare professional “face to face.”

The recent study on the effectiveness of telemedicine during COVID-19 pointed to the ability of virtual consultations to help with overcoming isolation and loneliness due to being disconnected from the external world. Telemedicine is also helpful for the elderly, the immunosuppressed, and other vulnerable populations who live in remote areas of the country. Through technology, it is easier and more convenient to access appropriate and timely medical services.

Care for COVID Patients

During the COVID-19 pandemic, if you suspect that you may have a viral infection, telemedicine can help your doctor with triage to determine whether a visit to the hospital for COVID-19 testing is warranted. Additionally, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, have minor or no symptoms, and are quarantined at home, the doctor can continuously assess your condition through telemedicine. The virtual provider visits can then ensure early detection of worsening symptoms to prevent missing the window of opportunity for treatment.

Benefits of Telemedicine

The effectiveness of telemedicine during COVID-19 can result in a number of benefits. Telemedicine:

  • Promotes the practice of social distancing to reduce spread – shifting visits and initial patient evaluation to a model that does not require in-person and face-to-face interaction and thereby limit the physical contact between staff and patients.
  • Allows monitoring of patients to identify potential and confirmed cases without person-to-person contact.
  • Enables quarantined providers to continue to safely treat patients remotely.
  • Reduces the risk of spread in high-volume/traffic areas such as waiting rooms by reducing the number of patients requiring face-to-face visits.
  • Enables providers to continue patient engagement while reducing potential for exposure for those who are considered most vulnerable to COVID19.
  • Reduces the likelihood of patients participating in activities/behaviors that could increase risk of exposure, such as use of public transportation to attend appointments.

Safe and Secure Treatment via Telehealth

New technologies also ensure that your telehealth visit will be safe and secure, following HIPAA guidelines. Your privacy is important to you and to your healthcare provider. When you are in addiction recovery, you may be concerned about ensuring that your visits are confidential. At South Miami Recovery, we offer proven, HIPAA-compliant platforms for your telehealth sessions.

South Miami Recovery Offers Effective Telehealth Services During COVID-19

Continuing your addiction treatment during the pandemic is critically important. You can get the treatment you need, safely and securely, at South Miami Recovery. We continue to provide a wide array of outpatient addiction treatment services to those who need it most during these challenging times. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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drug overdoses soar

When most states issued orders to stay at home in March and April, the effect was sudden and, in many cases, devastating. People lost their jobs, were forced into isolation, and were faced with dealing with the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting people in different ways, including causing deaths of despair as drug overdoses soar during the pandemic.

Drug Overdoses Soar

An ongoing study conducted by the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) found that after the counties participating in the study started shutting down:

  • 84 percent of participating counties experienced an increase in overdoses
  • There was a 17.59 percent increase in suspected overdoses when comparing the weeks prior to and following the commencement of state-mandated stay-at-home orders
  • Nationwide suspected overdoses soared 18% in March compared with last year, 29% in April and 42% in May
  • Detected overdose clusters have shifted from traditional centralized, urban locations to adjacent and surrounding suburban and rural areas
  • The number of spike alerts and the duration of overdose spikes have increased nationally.

Health officials warn that as drug overdoses soar during the pandemic, the situation is only going to get worse. They point to Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York as states that are reporting significant increases in overdoses during COVID-19.

The numbers are probably even higher than reported. Dr. Paul Christo, the Associate Professor in the Division of Pain Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says “The number of fatalities from opioid-related overdoses could be nearly 30% higher than reported due to missing information or incomplete death records. The worst fear is that because of social isolation, people are not being found or treated immediately.”


Beginning in mid-March, states across the US began to issue stay-at-home orders. Florida’s announcement came on April 1, and suddenly, people were not allowed to go out to visit friends or family, to shop, or to even go to work unless they were considered essential personnel. The CDC and other health organizations warned against physical contact with anyone other than immediate family members. The sense of isolation that grew with the days and months of social distancing was one factor in the increase in drug overdoses during the pandemic.

Economic Loss

Sudden job loss is also a factor that has contributed to the deaths of despair. The unemployment rate soared almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued as companies could no longer afford to keep their employees. When the paychecks stopped, the economic loss overwhelmed many people.

The uncertainty of when – or if – people could be rehired has also been devastating to many, causing people to turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to relieve the stress. Unfortunately, using drugs and alcohol during such difficult times can make the situation much worse, as evidenced when we see drug overdoses soar during the pandemic.

Synthetic Opioids

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified three phases of the country’s opioid epidemic. The first involved prescription opioids, the second an increase in heroin use, and the third, which we are currently in, is an increase in the availability and use of synthetic opioids or fentanyl which has also led to an increase in overdoses.

Traditional supply lines have been disrupted by the coronavirus and people are seeking out new suppliers that cannot necessarily be trusted to produce safe substances. Increases in opioid-related deaths have been linked to those illegally manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl equivalents. More than 30 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder in many areas within the state.


The isolation forced by COVID-19 shutdowns has affected people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol in many ways. Social distancing guidelines and requirements have resulted in people being home alone when they overdose, which means no one is there to call for help or to administer the antidote Narcan, which could save their life.

Social distancing and business closures have also affected the availability of in-person treatment programs. Though support groups have launched virtual meetings, many people may not have access to reliable internet access or just may not be sufficiently motivated to follow through with treatment on their own.

Stress and Deaths of Despair

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Dr. Nora Volkow says social isolation could paint a dire picture for people struggling with addiction during the pandemic. Volkow notes, “Every one of us is affected by COVID – maybe we don’t get infected, (but) we’re all anxious because of the uncertainties. How we cope with that anxiety is very much dependent on multiple factors, including our circumstances, but one of the ways that people cope with it is by taking drugs.” Unfortunately, as a result, drug overdoses soar during the pandemic.

Contact South Miami Recovery for Help During the Pandemic

Stress and isolation can take its toll, but you are not alone. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we continue to focus on providing you with the personal and affordable treatment you need when you are addicted to drugs or alcohol. We offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services as well as a wide array of outpatient addiction treatment services to those who need it most during these uncertain times, following CDC guidelines for your health and safety. To get help during COVID-19, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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marijuana and alcohol use rise during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a distressing experience for virtually everyone in the country. Between fears of the virus itself, stresses over job losses and financial difficulties, and the isolation enforced by orders to stay at home and maintain social distances, the challenges can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, many people tend to self-medicate through these negative experiences, which may help to explain the marijuana and alcohol use rise during COVID-19.

Recognizing the Problem

The trauma you experience during the outbreak can leave you vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). During National PTSD Awareness Month, it is important to be able to recognize the problems that arise through attempts at self-medication with drugs or alcohol. Beyond the issues with substance abuse itself, increased use of drugs such as marijuana and opioids can leave you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.

If you use opioids or methamphetamines, or if you smoke or vape, you are more susceptible to some of the worst outcomes associated with the virus. Since COVID-19 attacks the lungs, you significantly weaken your defenses by continuing to use and abuse drugs during the pandemic.

Marijuana and Alcohol Use Rise

In a recent survey conducted of 1,000 American adults, 36% of those responding reported an increased use of marijuana and prescription opioids in the past month. In addition, 88% of the survey participants said they had been drinking alcohol in the past month. 37% reported using marijuana and 15% said they used prescription opioids.

In states that have been hit hardest by COVID-19, including New York and New Jersey, survey respondents reported a 67% increase in their alcohol consumption in the past month. Drug use included benzodiazepines, such as anti-anxiety medication Xanax, as well as Adderall and similar prescription stimulants, and cocaine. Boredom, isolation, and anxiety all contributed to the increase.

A separate survey was conducted in mid-April of 12,895 verified professionals, employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 41.76% of the survey participants responded that they drink while on the clock and working from home. Their increase in alcohol use may be attributed to increased fears about company layoffs as well as the stresses of balancing the new stresses of childcare, home schooling, and working while staying at home.

Drug and Alcohol Use Increases Risk

Beyond the vulnerability to increased lung damage and related coronavirus issues, the marijuana and alcohol use rise during COVID-19 has led to other health problems among those with substance use disorders. Sammy Saab, MD, a clinician at UCLA, says health professionals are seeing an increase in alcohol-related problems, including a deterioration in liver function.

Dr. Saab says, “People who are isolated are drinking more. We see them coming to the hospital with significant liver damage from alcohol, all related to the isolation that’s required to combat the coronavirus.” In some of those cases, the patients had an existing chronic underlying drinking problem. As Dr. Saab explains, “They’ve been drinking for years, but more reasonably, and now the pandemic has tipped them over the edge.”

The Need for Continued Support

The marijuana and alcohol use rise during COVID-19 can also be attributed to decreased access to recovery resources. Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), speaking at an American Psychiatric Association (APA) meeting this spring, noted that other challenges are also prevalent during the coronavirus crisis. Increased stress, stigma, and access to medications, has combined with limited access to support group meetings and other sources of social connection, resulting in the increased numbers.

Many treatment programs as well as national support groups have gone virtual to accommodate those in need of support during the coronavirus outbreak. Treatment services, including those at South Miami Recovery, are now available via telehealth. HIPAA-compliant telehealth enables you to continue to get help with your substance use disorder, while staying safe and healthy at home. It is important to reach out to get help with addiction treatment, rather than turning to increased use of drugs and alcohol, especially during this stressful time.

Contact South Miami Recovery for Help During COVID-19

Getting help when you are experiencing the traumatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is critical to your successful recovery from substance use disorder. South Miami Recovery offers HIPAA-compliant telehealth services so you can get the treatment you need now. We continue to provide a wide array of outpatient addiction treatment services to those who need it most during these uncertain times. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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Telehealth is now offered for all our services. South Miami Recovery will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.