Gooden Center
A residential drug treatment center for men located in Pasadena, CA. The Gooden Center is a proud member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

(626) 356-0078
191 North El Molino Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 US

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Archive for the ‘Addiction Awareness’ Category

Holiday Relapse and Why You Should Be Thinking About it Now

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Holiday Relapse and Why You Should Be Thinking About it Now

Recovering from an addiction comes with many complications and struggles throughout the year but one of the toughest times for most sober people is the holidays. The few months between November and January can be some of the most difficult to get through because of the many parties, celebrations and gatherings that tend to involve alcohol. People who have quit drinking may feel especially tempted during this period of time because they have certain associations with the holidays and having drinks.

Another reason the holidays can cause people to be more vulnerable to relapse is that it can also be a stressful time of year. Worrying about shopping for gifts and spending time with family can be difficult especially if you have any dysfunctional family members who create more stress. Although the holidays are meant to produce feelings of togetherness, the reality is that many people actually feel more lonely and depressed.

Because of these factors, it is essential to prepare for the holidays in advance and have a plan in place to prevent holiday relapse. Even though you might be optimistic about how your recovery is going you may never know for sure how you will react during the holidays. You need to think about what the holidays will bring and create your own relapse prevention plan so that you are fully prepared for any difficult situations.

Prevention is Key During the Holidays

When you have a plan in place before the holidays you will feel more confident and prepared for any issue that might come up. Instead of feeling nervous and scared about how you will react at a holiday party or gathering, you will know what to do in any situation. Relapse will be much less of a possibility when you have a plan ready in advance.

The first step in creating a relapse prevention plan is thinking about how you will react and handle it when someone offers you a drink or asks why you don’t drink. It is inevitable that this situation will come up so you can rehearse and think about some answers beforehand that you will feel comfortable with.

There are different ways that people choose to handle being offered a drink but you can simply say “no thank you, I don’t drink”. This may be enough to shut down any other offers the rest of the night if people know that it is a deliberate choice. Be firm and avoid opening any doors that might make people want to convince you to have a beer with them later on.

If someone asks you why you are choosing not to drink, you don’t necessarily have to tell them you are in recovery if you don’t feel comfortable enough to share. You can prepare some answers that you think will make you feel okay with the conversation and will prevent any further prying. You can say for example that you quit for health reasons which is reasonable and in most cases is probably the truth on some level.

Create a Support System

Most people in recovery know how important it is to have a support system in place when you are struggling with temptation. This is especially the case during the holidays when many people feel isolated and under more stress than usual. It might be a good time to talk to your sober friends more often and ask for extra support.

If you are going to a party that you are particularly nervous about you always have the option of bringing a sober buddy with you. Being the only sober person at a party can feel very alienating and can drive you to want a drink again. Take a friend from your AA group so that you can support each other and get through the night safely.

It is always a good idea not to spend too much time alone when you are in recovery and particularly during the holidays. As part of your prevention plan, try to organize some activities and outings with friends that don’t involve alcohol. Activities with friends from your AA group will not only help you but also everyone else in your meetings that is having a hard time.

As part of your prevention plan make sure that you have the option to leave when you are in any situation that may endanger your sobriety. If you are at a party that feels overwhelming, then make sure you have your own car or arrange a ride home so that you don’t have to stay.

You don’t want to be in any situation that will trigger a relapse. As important as it is to challenge yourself, your highest priority should be staying sober. Practice self-care and focus on your goals so that you can stay on track throughout the holidays.

Tragedy and Anxiety

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Tragedy and Anxiety

When tragic events occur it can trigger intense stress, sadness and feelings of anxiety. Tragedy and anxiety are closely connected because tragic events can lead to both a temporary increase in anxiety and in some cases permanent issues with an anxiety disorder. When young children experience a tragedy early on in their life then it can cause problems with anxiety for them well into adulthood if they don’t have the right kind of support and guidance to recover.

As adults we experience different levels of tragedy, from national events like natural disasters and mass shootings to events that occur on a more personal level such as the death of a loved one. Tragedy is a part of life and whatever type of tragedy we are faced with it is important to manage symptoms of anxiety and find healthy ways to process your feelings about it. Sometimes getting professional help is the best option in order to cope with a tragedy and be able to move on without it interfering with your life.

Helping Children with Anxiety After a Tragedy

When children see or experience a tragedy it can have a tremendous impact on them because they are more vulnerable. Children are sensitive and can feel the tension and anxiety in the adults around them. They may be too young to put the event in perspective and may experience feelings of helplessness and a lack of control.

Talking to children about their feelings can give them an outlet so that they can sort through the thoughts that they have following a tragedy. They may have interpreted the tragedy as a personal danger to themselves and the people they care about so it is important to discuss with them and learn about their perspective. Every child responds differently to certain events so it is important to find out what is going on in their mind so that you can deal with their particular issues.

After a tragic event, children need lots of comforting and reassurance in order to feel safe and it is important that parents provide that whenever possible. Parents shouldn’t avoid talking about the tragedy but should instead be honest and open about it so that the topic doesn’t become taboo and kids can talk about their feelings. Children can learn to express their feelings in different ways such as talking, drawing, or playing.

Very young children may exhibit signs of anxiety after a tragedy such as wetting the bed, thumb-sucking, or fear of sleeping alone. After national tragedies such as shootings or natural disasters it may be a good idea to monitor their media viewing if it is causing them stress to see the images on the news. You can schedule an activity during news shows such as reading or drawing so your child won’t be affected if you want to watch it.

Coping with Tragedy as an Adult

Children that struggled with tragedies and never learn the right coping skills may continue to deal with anxiety when they get older. Adults may also have trouble handling tragedies and feel just as overwhelmed and confused by a tragic event. People with existing symptoms of anxiety may find it hard to handle negative events on the news as it may affect their sense of safety.

Seeing violent events unfold on the media can cause people to feel nervous and have trouble sleeping or concentrating because they worry that it could happen to them. One way for adults to cope with tragedy is to consider how rare these events actually are and that few people actually experience a violent incident. Another way to frame these types of incidents is to understand that people who commit violent crimes are often experiencing their own darkness and painful problems that drive them hurt others.

The important thing to remember is that even though it may seem like these tragic events happen all the time they are actually few and far between. You can continue about your daily routine and be completely safe knowing that violence is extremely rare. Sometimes the best solution is to go about your daily routine in order to realize that life goes on as normal even after a tragedy.

If your anxiety doesn’t seem to subside then you might consider talking to a professional counselor about your feelings. You can try one on one therapy to discuss what you are experiencing or attend support groups if you feel you need to connect with someone and share stories. There are many resources available for people who have had their own experience with tragedy and need to recover from the event.

Any tragic experience can cause grief, sadness and anxiety because these are normal human responses. If these feelings begin to interfere with your life or you are having trouble moving on, seek help from a therapist.

The Past, Present and Future of the Opioid Crisis

Posted on: September 26th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

The Past, Present and Future of the Opioid Crisis

Opioid overdose has recently become the leading cause of fatal injuries in the U.S. as rates of abuse have been steadily increasing over the past decade. Rising statistics of emergency room visits, deaths and dependency related to opioids results in an alarming trend which has the government seeking solutions. The opioid crisis is a national problem that is now on every politician and lawmaker’s mind in order to reduce the impact that this drug has had on our country.

Abuse of opioids has not always been such a tremendous problem and it is only recently that numbers have reached epidemic levels. When opioids were first introduced in the form of morphine and opium, the drug became rampant until a law regulating its production and sale in 1914 worked to dramatically decrease opioid use. Opioid use was minimized by government laws for years studies were published in the 1980s claiming that opioids were not as addictive as previously believed.

These papers actually encouraged the long-term use of opioid for pain management and noted a low risk of addiction in patients with chronic pain. The study was cited in many cases in support of opioid use in spite of its limitations in using a small sample size and very low doses of opioids. When Oxycontin was introduced in 1995, aggressive marketing tactics were used that often cited this flawed study as evidence that opioids were not addictive.

Throughout the mid-90s the pharmaceutical industry heavily advertised opioids like Oxycontin to both providers and patients. Pharmaceutical companies also provided contributions to regulatory organizations such as the Federation of State Medical Boards and a number of others so that they would encourage opioid use to reduce pain. Physicians were urged to treat pain aggressively with opioids while organizations helped to spread the belief that opioid use would not result in dependence.

An Increase in Prescriptions

All of these tactics employed by the pharmaceutical industry resulted in physicians becoming more lenient about prescribing opioids to patients. Doctors were more permissive in allowing people to use medications such as Oxycontin without much regard to possible consequences. This trend continued into the early 2000s as more studies suggesting a low risk of addiction continued to mislead physicians and patients alike.

Rates of chronic pain began to rise and boundaries to treat these disorders also expanded. Pain advocacy groups promoted aggressive diagnosis and management for pain. The FDA was also passive in developing risk evaluation and mitigation strategies for opioid addiction.

All of these issues combined led to a dramatic increase in the number of people being prescribed opioids for pain and subsequently an increase in opioid dependency. Opioid use became normalized over time but ultimately use of the drug progressed very quickly.

Reaching the Point of Crisis

Opioid addiction rates continued to grow throughout the 2000s until in 2007 drug overdose deaths surpassed car collisions as the number one cause of death by injury. The Centers for Disease Control documented how prescription opioids were to blame for these deaths more than any other drug.

Addiction to opioids is particularly an American problem. The U.S. is responsible for more than three quarters of the world’s opioid use in spite of representing only 5% of the global population. In 2014, overdose deaths in the U.S. were more than 2.5 times the rates in 1999 and were the highest they had been in over 15 years.

Dependency on opioids can occur in different ways but research indicates that 50.5% of individuals engaging in non-medical use of these drugs obtain them from an acquaintance while 22.1% obtain them directly from a physician.

In spite of the early studies that helped to drive the increase in opioid use, the reality is that nearly all individuals using prescription opioids will develop a dependence. This means that they experience withdrawal symptoms at the cessation while many others also struggle with impaired control over their drug use. It is also common for opioid users to switch to heroin once they become addicted.

The Future of Opioid Use

Now that opioid use has reached epidemic rates, efforts are being made to attempt to reduce the problem. Responses from local, state and federal levels have led to an increase in prevention, education and enforcement to combat high mortality rates. Prescription drug monitoring programs are being put into place to prevent over-prescribing by physicians and “doctor-shopping” by people abusing opioids.

Education programs for prescribers now help promote safe prescribing and and prevention of adverse outcomes. First responders are now more often equipped with naloxone, a medication that helps prevent death from overdose. The Affordable Care Act also expanded treatment for opioid addiction, although under the new administration it is unclear whether this access will continue.

Attending An AA Meeting On Vacation

Posted on: July 20th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Attending an AA Meeting on Vacation

While you are planning a long vacation it can be stressful to worry about how you will cope with the experience and still stay sober. Vacations are meant to be relaxing and a way to get away from your problems but unfortunately you are also away from the comforts of home and your usual routine. This can be difficult for people in recovery who are used to having certain resources available and a structure to their life that helps keep them sober.

The great thing about 12 step meetings though is that they really are available everywhere. You may have already had people in your local meetings who were visiting on vacation from different parts of the country. It is pretty common for people to find an AA meeting wherever they are so that they can keep in touch with their sobriety goals even while traveling.

Anytime you are going on a significant trip, or even a short getaway, you might consider looking into what types of AA meetings are available in the area. Being prepared and knowing you can go to a meeting beforehand can ease some of the stress of traveling.

Connecting with New People

The more you travel and find different AA groups the more connected you will feel with the sober community all around the country and even around the world. AA is even available on many cruise ships, so really almost any vacation can include a meeting or two if you really need it.

It may feel intimidating to have to start over with a group of people you have never met. You might have a special bond and rapport with the people in your local AA group and feel hesitant to try something new. But as you have probably experienced in your own AA group, twelve step meetings are always welcoming and offer support to anyone new to the group.

It can be very rewarding to open up to a new group of people in an entirely new city. It can even help you realize just how universal addiction and the process of quitting really is for everyone. No matter where you go, every AA group will understand what you each person is experiencing and be able to provide empathy.

Triggers During a Vacation

Almost every occasion for traveling can include some type of trigger that will make it hard to stay committed to your goals. Your resort might offer free drinks or classes like wine tasting. They might even unknowingly hand you a glass of champagne when you arrive to check in. These types of situations come up all the time and it is important to be prepared for them.

Being away from home can make it harder to handle the obstacles that come up during vacation. Going to at least one meeting or even attending them every day might be the best way to get through your vacation without struggling too much.

It is important to communicate about your sobriety to whomever you are traveling with. If you are on a trip with a big group of friends or more distant family members they may not be familiar with your situation.

To avoid any confusion or pressure tell them about your recovery and your need to attend meetings. Let them know that you might have to miss out on certain excursions or activities so that you can spend time at a meeting. You might feel bad about being on a different schedule but your sobriety should be the highest priority throughout your vacation.

How to Find Meetings

As soon as you know where your hotel is located you should start looking into meetings that are close by. You can search the AA directory on www.aa.org and type in the name of the city or zip code which will direct you to the websites of local AA resources. There are also several apps you can download to your smartphone such as the Twelve Steps companion app that includes a directory and a map function to help you get directions to a meeting.

You should try to find a meeting as close as possible to your hotel so that there will not be too many issues as far as transportation. Something within walking distance, a bus ride or quick taxi ride is the best option. Make sure that you are completely prepared by finding exactly where the meeting is and knowing how you will get there before you even leave for your vacation.

Even though looking for a meeting and talking to a new group of people may seem like it’s out of your comfort zone, most people find it extremely helpful while traveling. Discussing your vacation stresses and fears with the group will help you stay strong no matter what type of triggers you experience on your trip.

Top Netflix Movies/TV Shows About Addiction

Posted on: June 11th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Top Netflix Movies/TV Shows About Addiction

There is more content than ever in the media that deals realistically with issues of addiction and depicts the struggles of recovery, relapse and the sometimes harrowing experiences of substance abuse. Netflix offers some hard-hitting dramas, documentaries and even comedies that discuss addiction and include characters that are relatable protagonists who are vulnerable to their own relationship to alcohol or drugs. The most effective stories of addiction in the media can show both the redemption of recovery and the dangers of falling into the pattern of abuse. These are some of the best movies and TV shows available on Netflix that deal with addiction.

Heaven Knows What

Ben and Joshua Safdie directed this dark drama centered around junkies surviving on the streets of New York City. This is a remarkable film in that it stars a real life former heroin addict discovered by the directors and many of her own experiences were used as inspiration for the story including her relationship with her boyfriend Ilya who died of an overdose in Central Park. Although at times painful to watch because of the subject matter, the gritty realism makes this a memorable depiction of addiction.

White Girl

This movie follows the story of a young college student who becomes entangled in substance abuse and the NY drug world after falling in love with a cocaine dealer. Cocaine begins to take over her life as she descends deeper into addiction and struggles to make enough money selling drugs to get her boyfriend out of jail. The film also takes a hard look at issues of race and privilege that can dictate who experiences more repercussions for using and selling drugs.

Flaked

Will Arnett co-created, wrote and directed this Netflix comedy/drama series which largely draws on his own experiences with alcoholism and divorce while living in Venice, CA. The show depicts the main characters regularly attending AA meetings throughout the series and coping with their sometimes tenuous relationship with sobriety. Arnett maintains some mystery about the main character’s past which draws you into his story and struggles with alcohol.

Too Young to Die

This documentary series focuses on the stories of beloved celebrities whose lives were cut short, many of them due to addiction and overdose. Episodes of the series discuss stars like Kurt Cobain, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Belushi and Heath Ledger who were all unable to escape their drug abuse until it eventually turned fatal.