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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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COVID will change the holidays

2020 has brought change to many of our normal routines. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected much of our everyday lives as we are staying home more, keeping our distances from others, and struggling with a number of new challenges. When you have a better idea of what to expect this Thanksgiving and how COVID will change the holidays, you will be better able to cope and may even find some new ways to celebrate the season.

Reconsider Family Gatherings

The CDC explains that as the COVID-19 epidemic is worsening, small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. The organization recommends celebrating virtually with members of your family or friends who do not live in your home. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.

To participate in or host lower risks activities for Thanksgiving you can:

  • Host a virtual dinner and share recipes with your friends and family via a video chat
  • Enjoy a small dinner with the people who live with you
  • Prepare a special dinner with traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them in a safe, appropriately distanced manner
  • Watch football games, parades, and movies from the safety of your home
  • Do your holiday shopping online instead of in person, as you might traditionally do on the day after Thanksgiving or the following Monday.

Coping with Your Feelings

When thinking about how COVID will change the holidays, you may wonder how you will be able to cope with these new challenges. You have already experienced more isolation this year due to the pandemic. Mental Health America (MHA) suggests that figuring out your emotions about the upcoming holidays can make things feel less overwhelming. Most people are feeling a lot of different ways at once right now, which is hard for our brains to process and understand.

This year has been a difficult year for many reasons. Some of your distress is likely related to things other than the holidays. It is completely normal for you to be feeling a bit more emotional than usual right now. Take some time to sort through your emotions in whatever way is most productive for you – you can journal, talk to a friend, or just spend some quiet time alone thinking. Once you have a better idea of the specific feelings you’re experiencing, you can start making plans to cope with them.

Acknowledge What You Feel You’ve Lost

While the holidays are mainly about thankfulness and celebration, this can also be a really hard time of year, even during normal circumstances. If you’re missing a loved one, think of ways to honor them during your festivities. If you’ve lost a job or had to drop out of school, take the time to recognize the challenges that came with that. Even if you haven’t lost anything concrete, we’ve all lost our sense of normalcy this year – it’s okay to grieve that during this time.

Continue to be Grateful

It may seem more difficult than usual to express gratitude at Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, given the challenges you may have experienced this year and knowing how COVID will change the holidays for you and your family. There is still plenty to be thankful for, though. Make a conscious effort to regularly identify some things that you’re grateful for. It can be something as broad as your health, or something as specific as your favorite song playing on the radio the last time you got in the car.

Start New Traditions

Change is hard, but it isn’t always bad. There are still ways to celebrate the season with your loved ones, even if you must give up some of your favorite traditions. Find creative ways to adapt. Or start new traditions – they may even add more meaning to your holiday season.

Help for Your Mental Health and Addiction During COVID-19

The holidays will be different this year. The professionals at South Miami Recovery are here to help you learn coping skills and to help you get started toward your recovery. We realize 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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support a loved one in addiction recovery

You are understandably worried about your loved one’s health and well-being. When your family member has a substance use disorder, you may be even more concerned about how to help them. Family involvement is important as is an understanding of how to support a loved one in addiction recovery.

Expect Challenges

When your loved one is struggling, it is natural for you to be very concerned and to want to help as much as possible. However, understand that there is a fine line between being helpful and enabling your loved one. When you enable someone, you may believe that you are protecting them but you may actually end up supporting their negative behavior.

It can be difficult to help a person you care about who has an addiction. Your family member may not agree that they have a problem or may not want to change what they are doing. They may also be engaging in addiction as a way to avoid dealing with another problem in their life.

There is no easy or quick way to help a person with an addiction. Overcoming addiction requires great willpower and determination. If your loved one does not want to change their behavior, trying to persuade them to get help is unlikely to work. What you can do is take steps to help your loved one make changes in the long term. It’s also important that you get the support you need to cope with a loved one who has an addiction.

Family involvement in the addiction recovery process for your loved one means that you should focus on helping, not on threatening, criticizing, or expecting immediate change. Instead, respect your loved one’s privacy, be honest with them, and focus on building trust.

Trust is Key

When you talk to your loved one about their addiction, keep in mind some key points around building and maintaining your trust level.

  • Different perspectives. While you may only want to help your loved one, they might think you are trying to control them. These feelings can lead a person with addiction to engage in their addiction even more.
  • Stress can make things worse. Your loved one likely uses their addictive behavior (at least partly) as a way to control stress. If the atmosphere between the two of you is stressful, they will want to do the addictive behavior more, not less.
  • Trust goes both ways. Building trust is a two-way process. Trust is not established when you continue to put up with unwanted behavior.
  • Understand the role of consequences. People with addiction rarely change until the addictive behavior begins to have consequences. While you might want to protect your loved one, resist the urge to try to protect someone with addiction from the consequences of their own actions.

The exception to allowing for consequences is if your loved one is doing something that could be harmful to themselves or others—for example, drinking and driving.

Family Involvement is Complex

When you want to support a loved one in addiction recovery, your family will play a complex role. You can be a source of help to the treatment process, but you also must manage the consequences of your family member’s addictive behavior. Individual family members will be concerned about your loved one’s substance abuse, but you also have your own goals and issues.

Your family members may have a stronger desire to move toward overall improved functioning in the family system, which will help compel your loved one to seek and/or remain in treatment, even through periods of ambivalence about achieving a sober lifestyle. However, your loved one must also clarify boundaries between dysfunctional family members, including possibly detaching from family members who are actively using, which can actually alleviate stress on your loved one and create emotional space to focus on their addiction recovery.

Family Involved Therapy

Family‐involved therapy attempts to educate families about the relationship patterns that typically contribute to the formation and continuation of substance abuse. A family educational approach includes psychoeducation to teach the family about substance abuse, related behaviors, and the behavioral, medical, and psychological consequences of use.

Take Care of Yourself

One of the most important ways to support a loved one in addiction recovery is to understand what they are going through in their addiction. Educate yourself about addiction and alcoholism, particularly as it relates to the family as a whole. The more you know about the dynamics of a family affected by addiction, the more you will be able to offer your family member understanding, encouragement, and support.

You can also get help for yourself by participating in mutual support groups such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Many family members of people with substance use disorders have found that joining an Al-Anon Family Group can be a positive, life-changing experience.

You and Your Loved One Can Find Help at South Miami Recovery

Addiction affects the entire family. At South Miami Recovery, we provide help for you and your loved one for a successful recovery. Our family therapy approach decreases your loved one’s chance of relapse and can help promote their long-term recovery. We offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services during COVID-19 so you and your loved one can get the help you need now. To learn more, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.

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fight the stigma around mental illness

The week of October 4-10 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Although it is critical to understand the signs and symptoms, as well as the options for help, throughout the year, we take this week to truly emphasize the need to fight the stigma around mental illness.

Advocates Working Together

The theme of Mental Illness Awareness Week in 2020 is “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know.” There are many things to know about mental illness that will help fight the stigma of the condition. Primarily, it is important to understand that mental illness affects everyone, either directly or indirectly, through family, friends, or co-workers. Stigma around mental illness is just as widespread.

Each year, during the first week of October, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), along with other participants, work together to educate the public and provide support. Since 1990, when Congress first officially established Mental Illness Awareness Week, advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.

You Are Not Alone

NAMI’s year-long awareness campaign is focused on the theme “You Are Not Alone.” The statistics reinforce their theme:

  • 19.1% of US adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
  • 4.6% of US adults experienced serious mental illness in 2018 (11.4 million people). This represents 1 in 25 adults.
  • 16.5% of US youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people).
  • 3.7% of US adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2018 (9.2 million people).

The Effects of Mental Illness

Mental illness can affect many aspects of a person’s life. People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. People with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions. In addition, 19.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2018 (9.2 million individuals).

When making the effort to fight the stigma around mental illness, it’s also very important to understand that it’s okay to talk about suicide.

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the U.S.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 31% since 2001
  • 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition
  • 90% of people who die by suicide had shown symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends and medical professionals.

How to Fight the Stigma

A number of strategies undertaken during Mental Illness Awareness Week and throughout the year can aid in fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness. The first is to become more fully educated about the topic. Take steps to learn more about mental illness, about the shame many people feel that keeps them from seeking help, and about ways they can access helpful mental health programs.

Another step is talk about it, bring it out in the open. Part of the stigma results from people who think they have to hide it or not bring it up in conversation. This only adds to the unnecessary shame and embarrassment of admitting they have a problem and that they want to seek help for it.

Mention it in conversation. Instead of saying “I had a bad day yesterday,” go with “I was having some depressed or anxious feelings yesterday.” This may be a much harder conversation to have, but it is an honest one that opens the doors for others who are struggling to relate.

As part of the conversation, ask questions. Don’t assume a close friend staying home from work is because of the flu but try not to pry. It’s a fine line, but those who struggle with their mental health will more often than not appreciate the occasional “How are you really doing?” from someone they care about. Even if they’re ok, you just made it known you’re someone that is safe to come to with this kind of thing.

Bring Mental Illness Out into the Light

Stigma thrives on secrecy and darkness. No one should be ashamed of a mental health condition. When we bring stories of struggles with mental illness out into the light, the stigma weakens and eventually dissipates. When people with mental health conditions share their struggles and their experiences of emotional suffering, others will understand it better.

The most important way to fight the stigma around mental illness is to stop perpetuating it. Insulting someone by saying they’re “crazy” or “nuts” actually, although inadvertently, perpetuates the stigma. Likewise, so does judging someone who has been in therapy or who is seeking help for a mental health condition. The decision to pursue treatment is a positive step and should be encouraged and supported.

South Miami Recovery is Here to Help

At South Miami Recovery, we understand that mental illness and substance abuse can have a complicated relationship. 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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Telehealth is now offered for all our services. South Miami Recovery will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.