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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.

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.

Compulsion

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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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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high functioning depression

A bad day usually passes. Your mood might be down for a bit but the next day you feel better and are back to your regular self. Unless you’re not. If you are experiencing depression, your symptoms won’t just go away because the weather gets better or your workload lightens. When you have high functioning depression, you need to be able to recognize the major depressive disorder symptoms and understand how to get help.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. During this time, it’s important to know that you are not alone. The month of May is the perfect time to prioritize your mental health, find ways to overcome the stigma of mental illness such as depression, and look for opportunities to connect in safe ways so you can get the help you need. You can live a healthy, fulfilling life, with a little help.

Risk Factors for Depression

Start by learning your risk factors for major depressive disorder. Understand that you are not alone, as depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the US. Your depression may be caused by biological, genetic, environmental, or psychological factors.

It’s also critical to understand that depression can co-occur with other serious health issues, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. These medical conditions can be worse when you are diagnosed with depression. On the other hand, medications taken for these illnesses may have side effects that contribute to your depression.

Your risk factors for major depressive disorder can include:

  • Major life changes
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Physical illnesses and/or the medications prescribed for them
  • A personal or family history of depression.

High Functioning Depression

You may have an image of someone who is depressed as always being sad or unable to even get out of bed in the morning. While that can happen, if you have high functioning depression, you may actually be able to go through your day almost normally. Others may not even know that you have major depressive disorder.

It is only when you get home after a day at work or school or simply running errands that you run out of energy, mentally and physically. You may flop on the couch and decide that’s enough for one day. People who have high functioning depression tend to suffer invisibly, not showing symptoms when others are around to see them. Internally, though, you are fighting a battle against your mood disorder that will not get better without help.

Symptoms

Major depressive disorder is also referred to as clinical depression. Your high functioning depression may have you, and your friends and family members, convinced that you are not suffering from the disorder. However, if you exhibit any of these symptoms for two weeks or more and at least one of your symptoms is depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, you may have major depressive disorder. These symptoms will be a noticeable change in your previous ability to function.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, take the time to objectively observe whether you have experienced five or more of these symptoms in a two-week period. Have you:

  • Felt sad or irritable for most of the day, almost every day?
  • Been less interested in activities you used to enjoy?
  • Have trouble falling asleep?
  • Want to sleep more than usual?
  • Suddenly lost or gain weight?
  • Had a change in appetite?
  • Felt restless?
  • Felt unusually tired?
  • Had difficulty concentrating or thinking?
  • Felt suicidal?

Get the Help You Need

If you feel like harming yourself or others, or have thoughts of suicide, you need to reach out for help right away. Call 911 if you feel you are an immediate danger to yourself or the people around you.

As you go through your day with high functioning depression, you may think you have everything under control. However, once you become aware of the symptoms of major depressive disorder, you can take steps to help yourself by seeking treatment. Maintaining your mental health is critical for your overall well-being. In addition to treating the depression itself, you will feel a huge weight lifted as you will be able to stop trying to hide your mental health condition from others and move forward with a healthy, productive life.

South Miami Recovery is Here to Help

At South Miami Recovery, we understand the stigma of depression that you may feel. We also understand that life is more challenging for you with high functioning depression and that you need help treating your major depressive disorder symptoms.

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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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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alcohol shakes

When you stop drinking, if only for a few hours, you might experience trembling along with other side effects. This trembling is known as alcohol shakes and usually occurs in the hands. If you are addicted to alcohol, you might think that alcohol shakes are a normal part of your routine and will end when you are able to get your next drink. However, alcohol shakes are a dangerous sign of serious health issues.

Why You Have Alcohol Shakes

You may drink because you think it helps relieve your stress and anxiety so you can relax a bit. You feel this way because alcohol increases the effects of a neurotransmitter known as GABA, which is responsible for creating feelings of calm and euphoria. Alcohol also decreases another neurotransmitter, glutamate, that creates excitability.

The more you drink, the more difficult it is to increase the GABA and decrease the glutamate, as your body becomes accustomed to the changes and responds by producing less GABA and more glutamate. So, when you do stop drinking, you are no longer feeding your body the alcohol that impacts these neurotransmitters. However, your body is still overproducing glutamate and underproducing GABA, so you then become hyperexcited. You may become restless, anxious, and shaky.

Alcohol shakes, which typically occur in the hands, are not normal. They are a sign that you probably have a substance use disorder, as your body has become addicted. Shakes usually begin with 5 to 10 hours after your last drink and can peak at 24 to 48 hours, and are then accompanied by other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol shakes are one of the first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. You may also experience an increase in blood pressure, sweating, rapid breathing, nausea and vomiting, a rapid pulse, and irritability. The pattern of withdrawal symptoms then typically continues with:

  • Hallucinations. You may notice these within 12 to 24 hours after your last drink, and they may last as long as 2 days. When you hallucinate, you see or feel things that are not real, which can be dangerous. You may see multiple small, similar, moving objects or you may think you see crawling insects or falling coins.
  • Seizures. You may begin to experience seizures as soon as 6 to 48 hours after your last drink. It is common for several seizures to occur over several hours.
  • Delirium tremens. Known as the DTs, this condition causes dangerous changes in your breathing as well as your circulation and temperature control. You may experience DTs two to three days after your last alcohol drink, but the symptoms could be delayed more than a week.

Trying to Get Rid of Alcohol Shakes Yourself

If you experience alcohol shakes, you are on the path to these dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It is not wise to try to get rid of alcohol shakes on your own, as they could lead to more serious mental and physical health issues.

Unfortunately, you will find a lot of advice on how to get rid of alcohol shakes, including rehydrating, taking vitamins or herb supplements, and eating a well-balanced diet. In reality, though, you need professional supervision to manage all of your withdrawal symptoms, as they could be life threatening if not handled appropriately.

The Need for Professional Detox

Your alcohol shakes are a sign that you may be addicted. Treating your addiction is important to understand the underlying causes and to restore your mental and physical health. Professional addiction treatment starts with detoxification, to remove the alcohol completely and safely from your system. If you try to quit “cold turkey,” it could result in serious side effects.

Additional treatment for your alcohol addiction may include therapy, both individual and group sessions, so you can identify the harmful patterns of behavior and thought processes that have led to your addiction. Support groups after treatment can help you maintain your sobriety for a successful recovery from your addiction.

Contact South Miami Recovery for Help Now

Do not try to stop the alcohol shakes on your own. For your mental and physical health, 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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ADHD in adults

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often thought of as a childhood condition. However, many adults also have ADHD although they may not recognize it. Individuals with ADHD typically display an ongoing pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that interferes with their daily functioning. Testing for ADHD in adults is an important step to a diagnosis and treatment. Adults also need to be aware of the potential connection between ADHD and addiction.

ADHD Stigmas

Since ADHD is thought of as only affecting children, many adults may attribute their symptoms to other things, such as just being lazy or not trying hard enough to stay focused. There is a negative stigma associated with ADHD in adults. Years of research confirms, though, that adult ADHD is a serious issue and can diminish the individual’s quality of life if it is not diagnosed and treated properly.

When you receive an accurate diagnosis, you can explore treatment options with your health professional as well as coping strategies that may require a change in lifestyle for you. There are many factors to be considered when testing for ADHD in adults.

Getting Diagnosed

ADHD affects an estimated 2.5 percent of adults. The mental health condition can disrupt many aspects of your life unless it is properly diagnosed. While there is no single test for ADHD in adults, a mental health professional or physician can conduct a diagnostic evaluation based on information about you and your symptoms, gathered from multiple sources.

Most adults experience significant problems in one or more areas of living. If you recognize any of these in yourself, it is probably time to reach out for a diagnosis:

  • A history of underachieving on the job
  • Relationship problems because of not being able to complete tasks
  • Forgetting important things
  • Getting upset easily over minor problems
  • Poor ability to manage daily responsibilities, including paying bills or doing household chores
  • Chronic stress and worry because of a failure to meet responsibilities and accomplish goals
  • Chronic and intense feelings of guilt, blame, or frustration.

When you participate in testing for ADHD in adults, the healthcare professional will usually review these symptoms as well as take a detailed history of your past and current functioning, conduct standardized behavior rating scales, and gather information from your family members or significant others.

Lifestyle Changes

Your healthcare professional may prescribe certain medications after you are diagnosed with ADHD, but you can also make some lifestyle changes that will help to improve your symptoms. Staying organized can be a challenge, so when you find yourself being forgetful or “scatterbrained,” try writing daily reminders for tasks and deadlines. Designate a specific location for important items that you’ll need every day, such as your keys and wallet, so you’ll always know where to find them.

Limit potential distractions so you can pay closer attention to your daily tasks and responsibilities. If you work in a loud or hectic office, try using noise-canceling headphones. At home, turn off the television and put your cell phone in another room so you can concentrate.

Take a moment to think before you act. Impulsive speech and actions are prevalent in adults with ADHD. Teach yourself to take a minute to stop and consider the consequences before you blurt out something, overreact emotionally, or act inappropriately.

Get some exercise. When you get up and get moving, the exercise not only offers cardiovascular and other physical health benefits, but it can also be helpful for your concentration, attention, and learning capabilities. If you choose a physical activity that involves the brain, even better. Look into practicing karate, yoga, or dance, for example.

ADHD and Addiction

The connection between ADHD and addiction may be partially related to the medications that are often prescribed for treating the disorder. There has also been quite a bit of research done on the link between the disorder itself and addictive tendencies. About half of adults with ADHD have a substance abuse issue, including an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and as many as 30% have an anti-social personality disorder that carries the potential for drug-seeking behavior.

Researchers believe that the increased risk of substance abuse in individuals with ADHD may be related to their lack of response to normal positive and negative reinforcements. Adults with ADHD may have a reward system deficit and may gravitate more toward substance abuse as the drugs and alcohol provide stronger rewards for them than the usual, more subtle social interactions.

Treatment for ADHD in adults, as well as children, usually includes prescription medications. In the US, over 95% of medications prescribed for ADHD are stimulants. The stimulant use has increased significantly as more children and adults are diagnosed with ADHD.

Non-Addictive Medications

Alternatives to stimulants may be safer for adults with ADHD who are also prone to substance abuse. These non-stimulants affect the brain differently, affecting the neurotransmitters without increasing dopamine levels. Non-stimulants that can help treat the symptoms of ADHD include guanfacine (Intuniv) and Strattera. While it may take longer to see the results from these drugs, they can be effective without the side effects associated with stimulants.

Atomoxetine, known as Strattera, is prescribed as part of an overall treatment program with the goal of increasing your ability to pay attention and decreasing your hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Atomoxetine is part of a class of medications called selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, that work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine, a natural substance in your brain that is needed to control behavior.

Although primarily prescribed to treat high blood pressure, the time released version of guanfacine can also be part of a comprehensive treatment program for ADHD. The extended-release tablets, known as guanfacine ER or Intuniv, affect the part of the brain that controls attention and impulsivity, helping to treat the symptoms of ADHD that include difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet. 

Treatment for Managing ADHD in Adults

An appropriate combination of therapy, lifestyle changes, and appropriate medications can help you manage your ADHD symptoms. When you have ADHD and an addiction, you will generally receive what is known as a dual diagnosis. Treating both conditions together will be the most effective approach.

Get Help for Your Dual Diagnosis at South Miami Recovery

At South Miami Recovery, we offer you a path to healing that is holistic, integrated, and evidence-based. We are here to help you get started on your recovery by addressing your mental health and your substance use together. 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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awareness helps suicide prevention

There is a stigma around suicide that needs to be overcome to help those who are considering attempting suicide as well as their friends and loved ones. It is a topic that most people don’t want to talk about, but it’s been found that raising awareness helps suicide prevention efforts. Understanding the facts and having open and honest conversations might help save a life.

Startling Statistics

The rate of suicides in the US has increased every year since 2006. Over 47,000 people died by suicide in this country in 2019. The CDC estimates that 1.3 million adults attempt suicide every year. Of those who committed suicide, one in five had expressed their intent to someone in their life, such as a friend or family member.

Recognize the Risk Factors

Knowing the risk factors is a key piece of the awareness that can contribute to prevention efforts. A previous attempt is the number one risk factor for someone considering suicide. Other significant risk factors include:

  • Mood disorders
  • Access to lethal means
  • A death of a loved one or a failed relationship
  • History of a traumatic experience or abuse
  • Painful chronic illness
  • Substance misuse.

Although mental health issues are known as a risk factor, the CDC states that 54% of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. Unfortunately, many of them may have felt challenged by mental health issues that had not been diagnosed or were not made known to friends or loved ones.

Talk About It

Putting the topic of suicide out in the open can help start the conversation that could save a life. Researchers and mental health experts have found that raising awareness helps suicide prevention efforts. The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) advises that having the conversation with someone who may be considering suicide can be the best way to stop them and to help them get the help they need.

Ask the straightforward question, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Then focus on listening to the answer, to determine what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research has found that acknowledging and talking about suicide may help to reduce the individual’s suicidal thoughts. It is important to overcome that stigma and put the topic out in the open so everyone can feel comfortable discussing it.

Friends and family members are often the first to see the warning signs of suicide. They have the opportunity to take the first step toward helping someone at risk find the treatment they need. Suicide is not a normal response to stress but rather is a sign of extreme distress. Suicide thoughts or attempts are not a harmless bid for attention. They should not be ignored.

Dispelling Myths

NAMI emphasizes that debunking common myths associated with the topic of suicide can help everyone realize the importance of helping others. Raising awareness of the facts can go a long way toward prevention efforts.

One of the major myths about suicide is that there is nothing a friend or loved one can do once someone has decided to commit suicide. The fact is, when someone is considering suicide, it is often an attempt to control painful and deep emotions and thoughts. When that person gets help with managing those thoughts so that they are less painful, the suicidal thoughts will also usually dissipate. Suicidal thoughts are not permanent. Those who have such thoughts can get help so they can continue to live a long, successful life.

Perhaps one of the most significant myths relates to the stigma associated with suicide. Many people believe that talking about it will just encourage it. In fact, the opposite is true. Talking about suicide allows an individual to share their story and the discussion can lead to them getting the help they need. It’s important to talk about it, to raise awareness, and to have the conversation.

Warning Signs

Another common myth is that suicide happens suddenly, without warning. In fact, there are usually warning signs evident either through the individual’s words or actions. It’s critical when raising awareness to learn the warning signs to help prevent suicide, including:

  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Social withdrawal
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Increased drug or alcohol use.

The following suicidal behaviors warrant a call to a health care provider or to emergency services, such as 911:

  • Tying up loose ends, such as organizing personal papers or paying off debts
  • Giving away possessions
  • Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family.

South Miami Recovery is Here to Help

At South Miami Recovery, we understand that raising awareness helps suicide prevention efforts. 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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friendship and fellowship in recovery

Your recovery from addiction depends on a lot of factors. Staying focused on what it takes to be successful is easier when you have the support of those around you. The importance of friendship and fellowship in recovery is clear. February is Friendship Month, the perfect time to focus on cultivating those relationships.

You Are Not Alone

When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may feel isolated. Know that you are not alone, however. You have the support of those guiding you through your recovery. You have a circle of positive support among your friends and family members. You also have the opportunity to develop a sense of fellowship with others who are experiencing similar challenges and struggles with their addiction recovery.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) refers to the fellowship of their support group meetings as the people themselves. It’s not just about the meetings for them, it’s about the gathering of the people in the meetings. People who are there to support you and who need your support will become a valued circle of friendship and fellowship in recovery for you.

The Power of Friendships

When you develop positive friendships, you will see many benefits. You can also be the source of those benefits for your new friends. The emphasis here is on positive friendships, as you will have left behind your association with friends who encouraged you to use drugs and alcohol and are moving forward toward a support circle that will benefit you in recovery.

Friends can be good for your mental and physical health. You can celebrate good times together and you can be there for each other when one of you is struggling. Friendships and fellowship in recovery can help you by:

  • Boosting your happiness and reducing your stress level
  • Improving your sense of self-worth and self-confidence
  • Increasing your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Helping you cope when you struggle with traumatic events you may experience
  • Encouraging you and supporting you in your new, healthier lifestyle in recovery.

Research has shown that when you have a strong social support of friendship and fellowship, you will be more likely to have a reduced risk of significant health issues, such as high blood pressure and depression. You may even enjoy a longer life with a strong support circle of true friends.

Positive Support in Recovery

One of the most important benefits of friendship and fellowship in recovery is the positive support you will receive as you work through the challenges you may face after successfully completing your addiction treatment. Your addiction treatment professional can guide you through the steps that will help you build up a support group of friends, as well as help you identify those unhealthy relationships that you will need to avoid going forward.

Changing your problem relationships and identifying supportive relationships are critical steps for you now. You may find that you need to set boundaries with former friends so they will no longer negatively influence your behavior. Developing new friendships may seem like a challenge at this point in your life, but you can find positive support through a number of opportunities to meet new people.

New Opportunities for Friendship and Fellowship

Support groups are a good way to meet others who are experiencing similar experiences in recovery. You can develop a fellowship with others who are focused on staying clean and sober, providing support to them as well. Remember that friendship and fellowship work in both directions!

Sports activities or hobby clubs can help you form positive friendships while sharing similar interests that will benefit your physical and mental health. A book club, for example, is a good way to focus on a constructive hobby while sharing thoughts and perspectives with others in the group.

Religious groups and community organizations are also potential opportunities to get involved and to seek out new relationships. Non-profit organizations are a good place to meet people who share your values and goals. Volunteering for these types of organizations is also a good way to boost your mental health in recovery.

You Can Find Help and Support at South Miami Recovery

When you need support for your addiction or mental health issues, the professional team at South Miami Recovery offers evidence-based therapies to guide you toward a successful recovery. We know that your well-being is of the utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. South Miami Recovery offers HIPAA-compliant telehealth services so you can get the treatment you need now. Contact us today for help. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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beat the holiday blues

Tis the season to be jolly, unless you’re just not feeling it. Many people experience the holiday blues instead of holiday joy this time of year. If you are one of them, you can learn some ways to beat the holiday blues and form a few new traditions in your sobriety.

What are Holiday Blues?

While others are singing, baking, and wrapping presents, you may just want to sleep and wait for the holidays to be over. You feel sad instead of glad. Your sadness may be related to stress, financial strain, fatigue, not being able to be with your family, or unrealistic expectations. When you have the holiday blues, you may experience headaches, overeating, insomnia, and the desire to use drugs or alcohol.

The COVID Effect

This year, especially, you may be upset about not being able to be with your family or anxious about your financial situation. When you are experiencing this type of stress, your holiday blues can get worse. The uncertainty, isolation, and loss of your normal routine and traditions can have a major effect on your mood during the holidays.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a change of plans for many people. Young adults, especially, who have recently moved out on their own are facing a holiday season without family gatherings. For people who are feeling the loss of normalcy, the holiday blues can plunge them into depression as they feel additional stress on top of an anxiety-filled year.

Staying Healthy

One way to beat the holiday blues is to take care of yourself. This year, the need to stay safe and healthy is even more important. Being away from friends and family members during the holiday can make your blues worse but know that it’s okay to stay home and remain appropriately distanced. Most people across the country are doing the same.

You need to do what’s best for you, including eating healthier foods and getting enough sleep. Try to stay active and take care of your physical health to lessen your fatigue, anxiety, and sadness.

Steps to Beat the Blues

Taking steps to address your fear and stress is particularly important. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends that you should:

  • Be realistic. Realize that you can’t please everyone during the holidays, including finding just the right presents.
  • Stop worrying about how things should be. Don’t compare yourself to others that you might see with perfectly decorated homes or that seem to have perfect families.
  • Focus on your own mental and physical well-being. Even though it is the season of giving, you still need to take care of yourself. Give yourself some downtime, away from the stress of the holidays and the coronavirus. Spend time meditating, doing yoga, or getting some exercise.
  • Give your traditions some extra thought. One of the reasons you may have the holiday blues is because of unrealistic expectations. Think about the things you believe you have to do. Make a list of reasons why you engage in holiday traditions as well as a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. Remember that you have a choice in how you choose to celebrate the holidays.

New Traditions

Making new traditions in your sobriety can help you beat the holiday blues. For example, you can spend some time volunteering to help others. Volunteering can help you feel better about yourself, particularly when you are giving of your time to help those who are not as fortunate as you. Help out at a food bank or volunteer to help distribute gifts to children.

Going outside, getting some fresh air, and exercising can help your mental and your physical health by boosting your mood and lowering your stress. Go for a walk, find a scenic trail for a hike, or ride your bicycle on a new path as part of your new holiday tradition.

Gather with your friends and family virtually. Alternate plans for seeing those close to you could become part of your new traditions. If you have elderly family members who are also alone during the holidays, a Zoom call will be a great way to stay in touch while keeping everyone safe.

Find Help at South Miami Recovery for Help

When you need help for mental health or substance use issues, the professional team at South Miami Recovery offers evidence-based therapies for your recovery. We know that your well-being is of the utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. South Miami Recovery offers HIPAA-compliant telehealth services so you can get the treatment you need now. Contact us today for help. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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Florida DUI facts

December has been designated as National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month, or as it has become known more recently, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. This time of year is typically filled with holiday parties. Although there should be fewer parties this year, alcohol sales have increased during COVID-19 so driving under the influence (DUI) continues to be a major concern. That makes it all the more important to understand Florida DUI facts and to take steps to avoid impaired driving.

What is Impaired Driving?

Driving under the influence means that you are impaired because of drug or alcohol use. Even though DUIs are typically associated with drunk driving, impaired driving can also be the result of drugs, either prescription or illegal. In fact, in Miami/Dade County in 2019, drugs other than alcohol were involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs were often used in combination with alcohol.

National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month has been designated as a time to raise awareness of the consequences of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, whether those consequences involve fines, jail time, injury, or even death. Although the numbers have been declining somewhat, in 2019 over 28 million people in the US, 11.2 percent of all residents ages 16 and up, drove under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances at least once.

Florida DUI Facts

More than 10,000 people in the United States die each year in crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. In the state of Florida, 7,573 people were killed in crashes involving an impaired driver from 2009-2018.

In 2018, a study was conducted that found that 2% of adults in Florida reported driving after drinking too much in the past thirty days. In 2019, 60.8 arrests for DUI were made for every 100,000 people in the Miami/Dade County area. Nationally, that number was 1.7%. There was a total of 32,177 DUI arrests in Florida reported in 2018. Of these arrests, 69 were juveniles and 32,108 were adults.

DUI Offenses in Florida

Beyond the dangers of impaired driving that include property damage, serious injury, and death, when you are arrested for a DUI in Florida you will face additional serious consequences. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) states that under Florida law, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above.

Even if a DUI arrest and conviction is your first, you can be subject to fines of not less than $500 and no more than $1,000. If your blood/breath alcohol level (BAL) is .15 or higher, if there was a minor in the vehicle with you, that fine increases to not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,000. In addition, you could face imprisonment for not more than six months, unless your BAL is .15 or higher or if there was a minor with you, in which case the term could increase to not more than nine months.

Ignition interlocks are required for convicted repeat offenders and first-time convicted offenders with particularly high BALs. Florida is one of 14 states, including Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, that have 24/7 sobriety monitoring programs or pilot programs at the state or county level for repeat offenders.

A Persistent Public Health Issue

Driving while impaired continues to be a complex and persistent issue, for traffic safety as well as for public health. According to the CDC, in 2018, 12 million people in the US, or 4.7% of the population age 16 years and older, reported driving under the influence of marijuana during the past 12 months, and 2.3 million, or 0.9%, reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs other than marijuana during that time. In 2019, over 5% of high school students who drive reported they had driven after drinking alcohol.

This December, it is particularly important to be aware of these Florida DUI facts and to take the time to understand more about the effects of impaired driving. The latest data shows that alcohol sales during the pandemic have increased. If you are turning to drugs or alcohol to deal with the stresses of COVID-19 or any other issues in your life, know that help is available.

Contact South Miami Recovery for Help Now

Driving while impaired is dangerous and can even be deadly. During National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month, and throughout the year, you can turn to the professionals at South Miami Recovery for help overcoming your addiction to drugs or alcohol. 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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Telehealth is now offered for all our services. South Miami Recovery will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.
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