Addiction treatment

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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beat coronavirus concerns

As you continue to adjust to the restrictions and guidelines put in place in response to COVID-19, you may find that staying optimistic can be a challenge. However, there are a number of constructive and positive ways to beat coronavirus concerns. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and that this situation will pass. It is also very important that you stay connected with your substance abuse treatment program so you can continue to look forward to a brighter future.

Focus on the Positive

The coronavirus outbreak is serious. You have to take precautions to ensure your own health and safety. There are ways to focus on the positive, though, even as you maintain a realistic picture of the overall situation. One very effective way to maintain a positive outlook is to start and end every day with a positive acknowledgement, either of something that you are thankful for or something you accomplished during the day. Take a few minutes each day to think positive thoughts of gratitude and achievement to help you stay optimistic.

Support Others

One way to feel better about yourself is to do something good for someone else. During the coronavirus outbreak, that could be as simple as supporting a locally owned restaurant by ordering a meal to bring home. You can also take the opportunity to reach out to others who may be alone and who could use a supportive word over the phone or video chat. Helping others turns your attention outward and gives you a constructive way to beat coronavirus concerns for yourself and for them.

Appreciate the Smaller Moments

You probably have extra time on your hands now. Take that time to appreciate the small things in your life that bring you joy. Focus on the smell of fresh coffee, listen to the songs of chirping birds, and enjoy the streaks of sunshine or the sounds of a rainstorm. When you take in each moment purposely, you give your brain a boost of serotonin, which is the “feel good” transmitter that will help elevate your mood and help you stay optimistic.

Stay Connected

Even in isolation, you are not alone. Use technology to connect with friends and family who are supportive and who are a positive influence on you, particularly when you are in substance abuse treatment. Pick up the phone and make a call or use a digital platform for video chats so you can see the faces of those you love (and they can see yours). Connecting with others and talking about the good things you are doing and the little things you are beginning to appreciate more will help you beat coronavirus concerns.

Limit News and Social Media

Although it is important to stay informed about the effects of COVID-19 and any restrictions you may be under in regard to staying home or social distancing, you should watch or listen to the news in limited amounts. Be sure to verify the source of your news as well. Many unproven theories and wild rumors are posted on social media. Use the news to learn about the current situation and use social media as a way to connect to friends and family, but then move on to more positive outlets for your time.

Tune in to Uplifting Entertainment

A funny movie or a happy song can do wonders to lift your mood and help you stay optimistic. Watch a music video and dance along since you know no one is watching. Check out streaming services for comedies that may be silly but that will make you laugh out loud. Pure enjoyment is a great way to beat coronavirus concerns!

Contact South Miami Recovery for Telehealth Services During COVID-19

You can continue your addiction treatment while staying safe and healthy at home. At South Miami Recovery, we understand your concerns and are still here for you. Our team looks forward to helping you beat coronavirus concerns as you focus on your recovery. We have identified proven, HIPAA-compliant platforms to host our telehealth sessions so you can securely get the treatment you need. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today.

We speak English and Spanish. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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Recovery in South Miami

By David Greenberg | South Miami Recovery Social Media and Blog Writer

(Editor’s Note: The primary source quoted in this article is a recovering addict who is active in the music and entertainment industry in Miami. In order to protect his anonymity, we are using an assumed name for him).

Getting in Trouble in Miami

Whether it was a celebrity in the music and entertainment industry or a professional athlete, they all found a way to get in trouble in Miami. From Maurice Gibb to Jim Morrison to Atlanta Falcons player Eugene Robinson, who managed to get busted the night before his Super Bowl game in 1989, the list is long and filled with notables.

Sam, who we introduced in Part 1 of this two-part series, knew many of them professionally. He’s been part of the Miami music and entertainment industry since the early ’80s, as a recording engineer, writer, producer, label executive and publisher. In those roles, he has seen some of the greats in his industry fall. He has experienced it himself and has been in recovery more than five years.

But he’s also seen the other side. He has witnessed many of these same people begin their own roads to recovery right here in Miami.

“There has always been great opportunity to get in trouble in Miami,” he said.

In Part 1 he talked about how the merger of culture, climate and location puts Miami on the map when it comes to trouble.

“Yes, a lot of people got in trouble in Miami – and some of them died,” he said. “But on the flip side, a great many people were able to find recovery here in Miami.”

Finding Recovery in Miami

So, you might ask why that’s the case. The answer is simple. While Miami has a reputation for sex, drugs and rock & roll, it has an equally strong reputation and history of being on the cutting edge when it comes to recovery.

That history can possibly find its origin back in 1976. While there had been efforts by many prior to that to stem the tide when it came to drug abuse and addiction, it was 1976 when South Miami Hospital hired Dr. Dolores Morgan to start the South Miami Hospital Alcohol Treatment program – later to become the Addiction Treatment Program.

“There were so many people working in recovery,” said Sam. “But it was Dr. Morgan and the people who worked with her that made the difference here.”

South Miami Hospital and later Mount Sinai Hospital, where she moved to a few years later, quickly gained national recognition as great centers for drug addiction recovery. And because Dr. Morgan’s philosophy embraced the entire community in the recovery effort, longer-term facilities became involved, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other 12-step groups.

However, transition in drug treatment began in the late 1980s as things shifted from the in-patient hospital settings to smaller private facilities. Insurance companies and corporate takeovers prompted much of that change.

Nevertheless, one thing has not changed. While there have been some nefarious dealings in the drug treatment industry in South Florida and other places, if you look around, you can still find great places for recovery. You do that by doing serious research. Find places that receive high credentialing from groups like the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Ask people who know for referrals and recommendations.

We believe you will find South Miami Recovery is a place where you can truly take those first steps on a path to recovery. It is our mission to help addicts and alcoholics find true freedom from active substance dependency. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone.

So, Miami is what it is – a great place to get in trouble – and it doesn’t matter if you are rich and famous. But it is also a great place to begin that journey of recovery.


South Miami Recovery is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center located in Miami, Florida. To learn more about our unique approach to recovery, call 305-661-0055 today.

David Greenberg is a recovering addict celebrating 35 years of recovery. He got his start in recovery at Mount Sinai Hospital and Concept House and remains active following a 12-step lifestyle.

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Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers in Florida

When you decide you need help with your drug or alcohol addiction, you may not be in the mood to do a lot of research. Often, people who seek treatment are near crisis mode and, as such, can be vulnerable to making decisions that are not right for them. We urge you to review these important aspects of finding the right fit for you among the drug and alcohol treatment centers in Florida. Your recovery from addiction is what matters most at this point in your life.

Ask the First Questions of Yourself

As you look for the right fit among the drug and alcohol treatment centers in Florida, you will need to know more about your own situation. Ask yourself these questions – and answer them honestly:

  • What is your goal in participating in a recovery program at a treatment center?
  • Which fits your work or school schedule best, inpatient or outpatient treatment?
  • Does your family need to be involved in your therapy, for your well-being and for theirs?
  • As you search in the South Miami area, which location would you be more likely to be able to get to on a regular basis?
  • What is your financial situation? Do you have insurance that will cover treatment?

Make the Call and Ask More Questions

The best way to learn about the difference in the drug and alcohol treatment centers in Florida is to ask questions that will help you identify the right fit for your needs and goals. Call each one, ask specific questions, and record their answers in a notebook so you can refer to your notes as you are making your decision. Does the treatment center:

  • Offer the type of treatment you need? Consider whether you need rehab for alcohol, cocaine, prescription drugs, heroin, or other addictions. The treatment center should have expertise and experience in your specific type of addiction.
  • Help you with insurance and affordability options? Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction can be expensive. Unless money is not an issue for you, you probably do not need a high-end center that offers luxurious amenities. When you need help with your addiction, you do not want finances to become an obstacle to treatment.
  • Provide a flexible schedule that meets your needs? If you have work, school, or family commitments, an inpatient program is probably not the right fit. You need an outpatient facility with a flexible schedule that makes it more convenient for you to complete your rehab.
  • Speak openly and honestly with you about its treatment approaches? Ask specific questions about treatment methods when you speak with the drug and alcohol treatment centers in Florida. For example, does the center offer a holistic approach that treats the whole patient, rather than simply focusing on one aspect, such as individual therapy or detox?
  • Have qualified professionals on staff and is it accredited by The Joint Commission? A medical doctor on staff is critical to the treatment center’s ability to help you with the health issues related to your drug or alcohol addiction.

Meeting Your Needs

South Miami Recovery is focused on your successful recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Our staff includes Dr. Carlos Larocca, our Medical Director, who is board certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and is a member of the Florida Society of Addiction Medicine (FSAM).

Our professional organization:

  • Is accredited by The Joint Commission
  • Accepts most major insurance plans
  • Maintains your confidentiality throughout the treatment process
  • Offers affordable fees and works with you to create an affordable payment plan
  • Is an outpatient facility, offering you convenience and a flexible schedule that meets your needs
  • Provides a holistic approach to your treatment, including mindfulness training, family therapy, and relapse prevention.

If You or a Loved One Needs Help, Contact South Miami Recovery

At South Miami Recovery, we know that recovery isn’t easy. You don’t need any more obstacles in your path once you’ve decided to get help. We offer convenience and affordability in the highest quality treatment center in south Florida. Treatment is available for you when you are ready to change. We address all facets of our clients’ lives, including their mental, physical and spiritual health.

We understand that each of our clients has their own needs and challenges. Our staff designs a plan that is customized specifically for their benefit. Contact our bilingual staff to learn more about our outpatient treatment programs by calling 305.661.0055.

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signs and symptoms

Concerned about whether a loved one may have a substance abuse disorder? Understanding the signs of substance abuse and the symptoms it causes can help you determine whether there is an issue and when treatment is necessary. Substance abuse can affect your loved one’s physical, mental, and emotional health so it’s important to understand the early signs and symptoms.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Look for signs that drug use is causing disruptions in your loved one’s daily life. Ask yourself pointed questions (and be honest with the answers), that help you understand whether your loved one’s drug use has become drug abuse. Understand the signs, including:

  • Continuing to take a prescription drug, particularly painkillers, after it is no longer needed
  • A need to increase the amount of a drug each time, just to get the same effect
  • Recognizing that drug use can create problems yet being unable to give it up without help
  • Impaired coordination or slurred speech
  • Rearranging life events so that the drug has become the priority.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Excessive use and dependence on alcohol can also cause disruptions in your loved one’s life. Watch for signs that could include:

  • Lying to others or hiding drinking habits
  • Blacking out or forgetting what they did when they were drinking
  • Frequent bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in personality
  • Neglecting work or family responsibilities as a direct result of drinking too much.

Symptoms of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can cause changes in appetite, sleeping habits, and mental and physical health. Watch for symptoms in your loved one such as:

  • Appetite – depending on the drug, appetite could significantly increase or decrease. For example, cocaine can cause a person to eat less and less often while marijuana causes the addict to eat much more.
  • Sleep – stimulant abuse can disrupt sleep cycles drastically. In fact, someone who is abusing such substances might go for days (or nights) without sleeping at all.
  • Physical appearance – someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol may not be as concerned with their appearance and hygiene as they once were. Substance abuse can also cause them to become gaunt or overweight, depending on the substance, and appear haggard.
  • Mental health – a major symptom of substance abuse is the inability to function normally without the drug or alcohol. Your loved one may become obsessed with having the drugs or alcohol available, becoming so dependent on the substance that they feel they cannot make even everyday decisions without its help.

Knowing When to Get Treatment

If you are concerned about your loved one and notice signs such as changes in sleep and appetite, substance abuse treatment might be necessary. Particularly once you see symptoms appear, including deterioration of physical health, impact on mental health, and shifts in social interactions, it is time to seek help.

When your loved one has a substance abuse problem, understand that it can be very difficult for you as well. In this very important time, though, you should not ignore the warning signs and symptoms and just hope that the problem will go away. Addiction denial will only create worse issues, for you as well as for your loved one.

Realize, also, that you cannot go through recovery for your loved one. Treatment is a choice that he or she must make. You can talk to your loved one about the signs you’ve noticed and the symptoms they are exhibiting. Speaking without judgment, show your loved one examples of their behavior and physical changes that have you worried. You can and should support your loved one through the process, as they will need your help as well as the help of a professional recovery program.

Recovery is Ongoing

Substance abuse treatment in Miami typically starts with an assessment conducted by a professionally trained substance abuse therapist. It is critical to focus in on problem areas and then to prioritize those areas through an individualized treatment plan.

Recovery takes time and patience. Substance abuse results in life-changing symptoms and requires a treatment program that addresses the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional facets of recovery.

South Miami Recovery Can Help

At South Miami Recovery, we believe in the importance of treating the whole person. Each of our clients has their own unique needs and preferences. We work with everyone to find the right path, providing several tools to help them in their recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about our services, we encourage you to contact us today to speak to our staff. We speak English and Spanish. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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Addiction Treatment in Miami

Note: This is the fourth and final installment in a series of articles about Miami’s long history with drugs and drug treatment.

By David Greenberg, South Miami Recovery Social Media and Blog Writer | South Florida

History: Knowing Our Past Prepares Us for Our Future

We started this journey through Miami’s drug history with pirates and buccaneers. Flashing forward to the 1900s, we discussed everything from Al Capone to the Cocaine Cowboys. We examined how various institutions and individuals – medical, religious, legal and more – began the effort to treat drug abuse and the disease of addiction in the second half of the 20th century.

In the 1970s and early 80s, the primary treatment model focused on 28-day, inpatient hospital programs that were often followed by extended treatment in a second facility. In many areas, including Miami, treatment was reinforced through a strong connection with the 12-step meetings in the community – especially Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. During the 80s and 90s,12 Step programs rapidly expanded, especially NA, which rose from three meetings in Dade County to over 50. You might say recovery was “in.” Many addicts came into treatment because of a dependence on cocaine (the emergence of freebase and crack), heroin, marijuana and something called Quaaludes or methaqualone.

Insurance, Mergers and Change

The transition began in the late 1980s as treatment moved away from hospital-based settings like South Miami Hospital, Mount Sinai, Glenbeigh, and North Miami General – to name a few – to more private facilities.

Why was there a need to change something that wasn’t broken?

The simple answer was business. As hospitals merged and became big corporations, there was more focus on the bottom line. South Miami Hospital was no exception as it became part of Baptist Health Systems of South Florida. The initial replacement for inpatient treatment was residential and partial hospitalization; by 2010, the most common treatment modalities became the outpatient and intensive outpatient levels of care.

Insurance was a driving force in these changes. More and more, insurance companies were eliminating coverage for the 28-day system and changing to a managed-care approach. The result? Fewer patients were able to receive the acute care they needed.

There was some hope in promises of parity under Obamacare, which said that the treatment of substance abuse was going to be on an equal level with all medical care. But those promises faded quickly, and substance abuse treatment continues to struggle medically and financially.

The question remains whether those changes constituted a good medical decision. We know it was a good financial decision for the insurance companies and the hospitals.

Private Recovery Treatment Programs

As these changes were starting in the 1980s and early 90s, one of the results was a proliferation of private recovery programs with non-credentialed therapists and counselors. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that the industry became professionalized with higher levels of education, licensure and certifications.

Despite the growing trend to monitor private treatment, much of the industry has been under a dark cloud due to corruption in what was essentially an unmonitored medical industry.

Some of the worst of that corruption took place not very far from us in Palm Beach County. That’s where a flood of so-called sober living homes proliferated. While some of these did good things, many were there simply for the owners to turn a profit.

Why was this such a lucrative business? Because there’s a market. While the drugs of the 1980s are still out there, the drug crisis entered a new phase with the addition of opioids.

An Opioid Epidemic

The escalation of America’s opioid crisis truly began in 2013. The jury is still out regarding how much responsibility for this lies with pharmaceutical companies themselves. Clearly, the call for a more supportive pain management, along with ease of access, opened the doors for the initial abuse of opiates. What started with the middle class – in part because managed care policies did not want to touch either detox or long-term treatment – soon exploded into what we know as the full-blown opiate crises. Without access to acute opiate monitoring, no real detoxification or treatment, most were left to fend for themselves. Those lucky few that had money ($10,000 – $50,000) could afford private treatment centers.

The sober living homes came in to fill this void, or at least make a profit off it. For almost a decade they profited unchecked. In the last few years, that has started to change, and that’s when we learned about what was going in in places like Delray Beach.

Body Brokering

In the latter part of the 2010s, officials in Palm Beach County began cracking down. In a 10-month period alone, 30 operators of addiction treatment center and sober homes were charged with body brokering. Body brokering is when middlemen find and refer addicts with good insurance coverage to recovery programs willing to pay the highest finder’s fee. In the worst cases, a treatment center would even pay a client to relapse so they could continue billing the insurance company. One owner of a Delray Beach rehab center was charged with billing insurance companies more than $58 million in bogus treatment.

Public Perception of Addiction Treatment

Many areas are still struggling with reputation issues when it comes to the ethics and practices of substance abuse treatment centers. That makes for a distrustful public, as well as some mental health and medical professionals uneasy about treating substance abuse. Additionally, the negative issues have reached the 12-step groups because of resistance to the treatment industry and negative public opinion.

Given that addiction is not going away, and the opioid epidemic has made things even worse, it’s not a promising outlook. What’s the answer?

Proven Addiction Treatment in Miami, Florida

Part of the answer lies with the treatment centers that are out there really trying to help people.

What you need to do:

Do your research! (Not just Google)

Ask others for referrals and recommendations, especially trusted professionals.

Check for the highest credentialing like Joint Commission and CARF.

Don’t rely entirely on insurance (they generally don’t like to pay more than they have to).

Family and significant others need to participate; look for treatment programs emphasizing family therapy.

Listen to the truth, not just what you want to hear. There’s no quick fix. Time heals.

It’s our belief that South Miami Recovery is one of those.

We are group of people, some recovering from our own addictions and all with a passion and understanding of how to help someone get clean and sober. We were affiliated with the best former South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment Program and saw the writing on the wall. So, in 2012, we started South Miami Recovery.

Our goal is about much more than living life without drugs and alcohol. We want you to come away from South Miami Recovery feeling comfortable in your own skin, living with hope and having a fresh new outlook on your life. Without that, you’re miserable, and relapse is waiting for you.

It’s our mission to help addicts and alcoholics find true freedom from active substance dependency. That’s the starting point of your own journey of recovery. And remember, you are not alone.

So, as we close this last installment in our series of articles about Miami’s history with drugs and drug treatments, we leave you with this message. If you are someone struggling with addiction right now, we’re here to help. Please take the first step – reach out to us. We’re here for you.


In our next series we will explore the Miami night life scene. Stay tuned for Miami: Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll.

South Miami Recovery is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center located in Miami, Florida. To learn more about our unique approach to recovery, call 305-661-0055 today.

David Greenberg is a recovering addict celebrating 35 years of recovery. He got his start in recovery at Mount Sinai Hospital and Concept House and remains active following a 12-step lifestyle.

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family addiction recovery

Treating a Family Disease

One person’s addiction impacts more than just that individual. Everyone involved in that person’s life can be affected by the ramifications of addiction. The addict’s family, in particular, can struggle with the challenges involved in their loved one’s behavior. Family members may experience stress and disruption, both on an individual level and as a group. The effects of a person’s addiction can even reach those family members who are not engaged with the addict on a daily basis or who do not live in the home with the addict. Likewise, addiction recovery involves the family as a whole as well.

Family Dynamics

Families come in all shapes and sizes, as do addicts. Each family member plays a different role within the whole. Parents worry about their children – and children worry about their parents. Siblings recognize and attempt to cope with each other’s behavior. Whether the addict is a child, a parent, or a sibling, all of those around that person will be impacted in some measure.

Think of a typical family dynamic, in which a child may be struggling with an issue at school, for example. The child’s problem is not his or hers alone. Family members, including parents, siblings, grandparents, and possibly even aunts, uncles, and cousins can feel the effects of the child’s behavior changes. Emotions are strained as the family empathizes and attempts to cope with the challenges. The child is not expected to overcome these challenges alone, but rather the family typically interacts as a unit in a positive way to help that child become more successful.

It is important to recognize that addiction can happen in any family, regardless of background, economic status, or education levels. It is also critical to be honest with family members about the nature of the addiction and the plan to address the behaviors caused by the addiction – as a family.

Developing Coping Strategies

An addict’s family members typically develop unhealthy coping strategies of their own. Enabling and overachieving are two strategies that parents, siblings, and other family members often engage in as a way to cope with their loved one’s addiction.

If you have a family member who is struggling with addiction, how do you and the rest of your family cope? Do you make excuses for the addict’s behavior? Do you overcompensate for the addict’s negative actions? Perhaps you feel actual physical pain yourself, possibly as a result of the intense stress involved or because of the draining range of emotions you feel on a daily basis.

You are not alone. Coping strategies in struggling families often include:

  • Enabling the addict – fixing problems or simply making the problems go away so the addict does not have to deal with them.
  • Accommodating the addict by adjusting the family dynamic – not inviting friends over when the addict is home, for example.
  • Avoiding conflict with the addict’s behaviors – doing whatever it takes to keep peace in the family.

Family-focused addiction recovery can help you and your family members learn healthier coping strategies. We work with you to rebuild trust and to develop ways to express and address negative emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, and guilt in a safe and positive environment.

The process of recovery requires an understanding of the many ways that addiction affects your family. It also involves learning new skills and strategies that need to be put in practical application on a daily basis. We help families learn those skills and employ those strategies by involving them in therapies specific to their needs:

  • One-on-one sessions
  • Group therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Support groups

Family-Focused Recovery Goals

Although specific objectives are different for every family, there are two main goals in family therapy:

  • Providing the proper tools and support for all family members so they, in turn, can provide appropriate support to the addict
  • Strengthening the family as a whole, particularly when the family may be torn apart over the challenges of addiction.

Family recovery therapy can help reunite broken families and strengthen the bonds between family members when you are coping with an addict’s behavior. Open and honest communication can rebuild the trust that may have been lost within your family. We also work on ways to be able to forgive others for their actions when they are in the throes of addiction.

Recovery that involves the addict’s family can help the family learn more about:

  • The source and nature of the addiction
  • The recovery and treatment process
  • Ways to support the addict in a non-judgmental and supportive manner
  • Healing as a family unit and as individuals affected by the addiction


Contact South Miami Recovery to Get Started on Treating Your Family as a Whole

Learn more about the benefits of treating your family disease. South Miami Recovery offers family therapy to help your family through family-focused addiction recovery. Contact South Miami Recovery by calling 305.661.0055 to learn more about how we can help.


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marijuana isn't harmless

Because marijuana doesn’t pose the same risks as alcohol and other drugs, some people assume that it is safe. As anyone with experience in the addiction field can tell you, marijuana isn’t harmless. Though recreational or medicinal use might not affect everyone in negative ways, others will face several challenges from chronic marijuana use.

Let’s look at eight reasons why marijuana isn’t harmless…

Marijuana Users Can Become Addicted

Approximately one out of every 10 marijuana users will become addicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For people who first started using marijuana before the age of 18, that rate is one in six. A marijuana addiction creates an increased risk of impaired memory, attention and learning ability. It also causes a user to sacrifice important activities, obligations and relationships to maintain their addiction.

The Way You Ingest Marijuana Could Harm Your Health

Smoking any substance presents several health risks, such as lung scarring and blood vessel damage. Marijuana smoke has many of the same toxins as tobacco smoke. So, users might experience similar consequences, such as a persistent cough and phlegm, in addition to an increased risk of lung infections.

The CDC has noted a link between a 2019 outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries to vaping products containing THC. Some cartridges used for vaping THC contain vitamin E acetate, which poses several health risks to users. Marijuana use isn’t harmless when it is ingested through smoke or certain vaping products.

Marijuana Use Could Be Part of a Relapse

If someone has a substance use disorder and is currently in recovery, marijuana use is considered part of a relapse, even if the substance a person is addicted to isn’t marijuana. So, marijuana isn’t harmless if you are currently in recovery. It could easily lead to the use of other substances, such as alcohol, prescription drugs or other illicit substances.

Marijuana Use Could Affect Employment Opportunities

Many employers drug test workers, either in the form of pre-employment drug screenings or ongoing drug tests. Marijuana use jeopardizes careers and limits job opportunities. If a user has a marijuana addiction, they make sacrifices professionally to accommodate marijuana use, which affects their career goals.

Marijuana Use Can Have Legal Consequences

Though a few states have legalized recreational marijuana use, it is still illegal in most states. In Florida, for example, possessing marijuana has very serious legal consequences. A misdemeanor or felony charge limits employment, housing, educational or loan opportunities.

Unintended Synergistic Effects with Prescriptions and Alcohol

Marijuana use enhances the effects of other substances, such as prescription drugs and alcohol. For example, one or two drinks might not impair a drinker, but adding marijuana to the mix results in an increased risk for injury. In other words, marijuana isn’t harmless when paired with other substances.

Secondhand Marijuana Smoke Could Present Health Risks to Others

Research suggests that children who are in the presence of someone smoking marijuana could have detectable levels of THC in their system. This presents an increased risk for developmental problems, potentially affecting memory, attention and motivation.

It Could Be Used to Mask Deeper Problems

If someone relies on marijuana to put off dealing with difficult situations or mask underlying problems, then marijuana isn’t harmless. Marijuana use could be an unhealthy way of coping with depression or anxiety. It could also prevent someone from confronting challenges in their lives.

Chronic marijuana use has been linked to mental illness in some users. In that sense, it not only fail to address deeper problems; it worsens someone’s psychological state.

If You Need Help with a Marijuana Addiction, Contact South Miami Recovery

South Miami Recovery offers a marijuana rehab program. We provide treatment for people who struggle with a marijuana use disorder, and we know that marijuana use isn’t harmless for many people. Our staff takes chronic marijuana use seriously. Contact South Miami Recovery by calling 305.661.0055 to learn more about how we can help.

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