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’ 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.

Are Men at More Risk for Alcoholism?

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

Are Men at More Risk for Alcoholism?

For many years, alcoholism has traditionally been considered a man’s disease because rates of alcohol abuse can be up to twice as high among men compared to women. Although the rates of alcoholism among women has been increasing more in recent years, men still tend to struggle with alcohol abuse more often than their counterparts. There are many different factors that can explain why men tend to drink more but overall men have more vulnerability and risk for developing alcoholism.

One reason why men may be more at risk for developing alcoholism has to do with their biological makeup. A recent study revealed that the amount of dopamine that is released with men drink may cause them to be more susceptible to alcohol abuse.

The study focused on both male and female college-age social drinkers and researchers gathered data by asking each participant to undergo a PET scan. The brain scan was used to measure the amount of alcohol-induced dopamine that was released in each person after a drinking session. Dopamine is a chemical that causes pleasurable feelings and can be triggered by rewarding experiences.

Researchers found in this study that in spite of drinking similar amounts, men tended to have a greater amount of dopamine released when they would drink alcohol. The increase of dopamine was found in the ventral striatum which is an area of the brain that is strongly associated with pleasure, reinforcement and addiction formation. Men in the study also tended to have less dopamine release with repeated heavy drinking episodes which means they were more likely to develop a tolerance.

The results of this study point to an innate biological difference between men and women that could be part of the reason that men tend to struggle more often with alcoholism. If men experience a more intense rush of dopamine and pleasurable feelings when they drink then they might be more inclined to abuse alcohol than women.

Social and Biological Factors in Drinking

In addition to differences in brain chemistry, men may also end up drinking more than women because their bodies react to alcohol differently. Men can physically consume more alcohol than women with less negative effects and they also tend to metabolize alcohol faster. Men are simply built with the ability to drink more alcohol which can lead them to excessive drinking more often than women.

There are certain social factors which may also play a role in the risk of alcoholism for men. Drinking alcohol often acts as a type of social bonding activity for men. They can share a special emotional connection with their drinking buddies that is often facilitated by alcohol.

According to some research, women may have less of a need to use alcohol to induce moments of social bonding. Men at times may rely on alcohol to enjoy feel-good moments with their friends and a deeper connection. This may be another reason why men tend to suffer more often from issues of binge drinking and alcoholism.

Consequences of Heavy Drinking for Men

Men have a greater tendency to binge drink than women according to surveys studying gender differences in alcohol consumption. Studies show that the average man has about 12.5 binge drinking episodes a year while the average woman only has about 2.7. Over the course of their lifetime men have a 17 percent chance of becoming alcohol dependent while women’s risk is less than half of that.

Since men binge drink more often they also have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. Binge drinking can impair a person’s judgment and lead to risky behavior such as drinking and driving or otherwise putting yourself in danger. Men who drink more can also struggle with health problems including heart disease, liver failure and an increased risk for certain cancers in the colon, liver, esophagus and mouth.

Drinking can also have serious consequences on men’s mental health as many develop issues with depression. Studies have revealed that men are more likely to commit suicide and are more likely to have consumed alcohol before the act was committed. Men also tend to become more aggressive when they drink which can lead to physical assaults on other people.

Even though men can physically handle more alcohol than women, they also experience all the negative consequences that are associated with heavy drinking. For men who tend to drink socially as a form of bonding, moderation is key to preventing health problems and risks that are linked to alcohol. Binge drinking is especially risky so it is recommended to reduce or eliminate alcohol if you have issues with drinking excessively.

It is possible to prevent or treat alcoholism if you are aware of the risk factors and symptoms. If you think you might have an issue with alcohol abuse, seek help from a professional treatment center.

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.

State of Emergency Called for Opioid Crisis

Posted on: August 25th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

State of Emergency Called For Opioid Crisis

Cases of opioid abuse and overdose have been rising drastically in recent years, causing widespread concern for the health of the country. Recently a white house panel created by Trump recommended that the president to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.

His commission on the opioid crisis was created in March with Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie appointed to lead it. The panel held its first public meeting last month and just recently issued an interim report about the state of opioid addiction and abuse in the U.S.

The commission members wrote that the death toll for opioid abuse has reached an unprecedented level of 142 Americans dying every day. They believe that if the president declared the crisis a state of emergency that it would force Congress to focus on providing funding for treatment and prevention and empower the executive branch to take steps to reduce this loss of life.

Treating and Preventing Opioid Abuse

Within the report, the commission also proposed waiving a federal rule that places a strict limit on the number of people who can receive addiction treatment through Medicaid. They called for greater access to medications used to treat opioid addiction as well as legislation to allow states to use naloxone which is employed by first responders to reverse the effects of an overdose. They also emphasized prevention methods such as requiring “prescriber education initiatives”.

The main goal of declaring a state of emergency would be to allow Americans to take the crisis more seriously as an urgent matter affecting the country. A state of emergency would also mean that federal agencies would focus more attention and coordination toward the issue to save as many lives as possible.

Certain states have already taken the step to declare a state of emergency for the opioid crisis including Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia with Alaskan governor Bill Walker issuing a disaster declaration. Alaska’s health department found that the emergency declaration helped improve coordination between agencies and worked to expand access to naloxone.

Implications of an Emergency Declaration

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden believes a state of emergency may not be the right solution as it is usually reserved for national disasters and infectious diseases such as the H1N1 virus. He thinks the focus should be placed on improving prescribing methods and cutting down the flow of illegal opioids into the country.

However, those involved in anti-addiction groups across the country assert that a state of emergency could be a significant step in acknowledging how severe the crisis is currently and how much effort is needed to curb abuse and overdose deaths. They believe the opioid crisis needs national emergency funding and changes to regulations which could potentially save lives.

According to the commission’s report, an emergency declaration could give the government the power necessary to quickly expand access to inpatient treatment services and even lower prices for naloxone so that more people recover from overdoses. People are concerned about how the Trump administration might respond to the report because of their past record regarding policies to limit healthcare access for drug users. The administration had proposed in their health care bill (which recently failed to pass the senate) to cut funding for agencies addressing the opioid crisis.

The Opioid Crisis and Healthcare

The opioid crisis commission has been plagued by contradictions between the Trump administration’s policies and proposed solutions which emphasize expanded healthcare access rather than stricter Medicaid regulations. Their main concern is that the administration’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could be detrimental to dealing with the current level of opioid addiction. Members of the commission asserted that the crisis could become worse if the government makes it harder and more expensive to receive healthcare coverage for addiction treatment.

Threats to cut funding have made the situation difficult for key agencies who are tasked with responding to the crisis. The white house had initially proposed cutting 95% of funding to the Office of National Drug Control Policy as part of its new budget but eventually restored funding in a revised version due to backlash from both Republicans and Democrats.

Dealing with the crisis has also been hampered by leadership vacancies such as Trump’s decision to fire the US surgeon general in April. This position has not yet been filled and the CDC only recently appointed a new director after Frieden resigned in January.

If President Trump agrees with the commission and declares a state of emergency it will remain to be seen how his administration chooses to handle the crisis. Expanding access to treatment and prevention will be a key element in stemming the tide of overdose deaths in the country if the government decides to become more active in handling the emergency.