How Enablers Are Manipulated

How to Not Be Manipulated by an Addict Infographic

Individuals who struggle with addiction will literally do anything to get their next fix, including manipulating their family and friends. If you’re concerned that someone you know is manipulating you to feed his or her addiction, look for some of the telltale signs.

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Addiction and the Risk of Impulsive Behaviors

depressed woman

Drug and alcohol addiction develop as the result of an inability to control impulsive behavior. This has been found to be present both at the first instance of use as well as during periods of relapse. The ability to control one’s own impulses is a key factor to successful recovery with inpatient drug treatment centers and, in understanding this behavior, one can take steps to prevent relapse well before it occurs.

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Why Depressant Drugs Are Real Downers

Why Depressant Drugs Are Real Downers Ebook“Depressant” describes a range of substances, which can include prescription medications, such as those used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, as well as alcohol, marijuana, and even tobacco.

While alcohol and marijuana are common recreational drugs, certain central nervous system (CNS) depressants—notably barbiturates and benzodiazepines—are designed exclusively for medical use.

Like many substances, though, prescription depressant medications are often abused. Sometimes what begins as prescribed use evolves into physical dependence and addiction (compulsive use).

This eBook focuses specially on the use and abuse of prescription depressants that affect the central nervous system. Among these drugs are familiar names like Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Luminal (phenobarbital). Readers will learn about:

  • What depressants are and how they’re taken
  • How CNS depressants affect the brain
  • Different types of CNS depressants
  • How depressant use/abuse can lead to addiction over time
  • What to do if you or a loved one has an addiction to depressants

To learn more about depressant abuse and addiction, download a free copy of our eBook, From Benzos to Barbs: Why Depressant Drugs Are Real Downers

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Children of Addicts: The Consequences

Children of Addicts

Addicts aren’t the only ones harmed by their substance abuse. It can also hurt everyone around them, including their families—and their children.

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Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS


People who abuse drugs are more at risk for HIV and AIDs due to more uninhibited, risky behaviors while under the influence.

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Why You Need Routine & Structure in Early Addiction Recovery

Routine & Structure in Early Addiction Recovery

Making the decision to get help at a drug rehabilitation center is an important step in your journey toward addiction recovery. Yet, recovery is a process—one that takes place over months and even years. Routine and structure are vital, especially in early recovery when temptation, cravings, and close calls are more likely.

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The Intersection of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

People with “dual diagnosis” have a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health condition, such as alcoholism and bipolar disorder. Individuals with mental illness are more likely to develop substance use problems than those without mental health issues. Mental illness often leads people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, yet drugs and alcohol can bring on or worsen mental illness symptoms.


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Alcoholism & Heredity: What You Need to Know

parents walking with thier kids

One question that comes up quite frequently during alcoholism treatment is whether a person’s children are at risk for this disease. Answering this question is not simply a matter of noting whether the person is an alcoholic and assuming alcoholism is a genetic disease. There are several other factors that play into determining if and when a person will develop an addiction to alcohol, including:

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Letting Go Of Unhealthy Relationships During and After Substance Abuse Treatment

Healthy relationships are vital to our emotional health and well-being. Conversely, unhealthy or dysfunctional relationships can be detrimental, acting as a destructive force in our lives. Toxic relationships can be particularly troublesome for those who are in or have recently completed substance abuse treatment and who thus may be in a particularly vulnerable state.

Sometimes the signs of an unhealthy relationship are obvious—extreme possessiveness or physical abuse, for example. In other cases the signs are more subtle, such as manipulation or passive-aggressive behavior.

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Top 10 Lies Addicts Tell Themselves & Their Loved Ones

drug addicts lie and manipulate

Addiction and denial go hand-in-hand. When addicts refuse to believe that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol, they’re able to come up with excuses to continue their dangerous habit. Self-deception adds fuel to the ever-burning fires of alcohol abuse and drug addiction.

Not only do addicts lie to themselves; they also lie to their friends and family members. As an outsider, it can be hard to understand how your loved one can rationalize his or her behavior. The fact is that addicts make their own reality, even if it’s full of deception. Drug addicts lie and manipulate to maintain their own false perception. In turn, they’re unwilling to seek help for themselves.

If someone you know suffers from drug addiction, here are 10 lies you’ll want to be prepared for.

  1. “I’m not an addict.”

drug addiction

One of the most common lies you’ll hear from any addict is that they are, in fact, not an addict at all. Reality can be a tough pill to swallow. It’s hard for an addict to realize that he/she is headed down the path of alcoholism or drug addiction. Addicts rarely come to grips with the true reality until they’re deep in the darkness of addiction and abuse.

  1. “I can quit anytime.”

Addicts battle with a losing power struggle. They like to believe that their addiction doesn’t rule their entire being. By thinking that they can stop at any time, they live in a false mindset that they have their abuse and addiction under control. By maintaining this self-centered attitude, addicts are likely to feel special. This causes an over-inflated ego, which makes recovery that much harder.

What many don’t realize is that quitting often requires time spent in rehab.

  1. “My addiction doesn’t impact anyone else.”

It’s much easier to deny that you’re hurting those around you than to fess up to the reality of the situation. They are well aware of the pain and suffering that their actions cause those around them. Despite heartfelt concern and worry from their loved ones, an addict will internalize the concern as attempted control. In turn, they may see you as an enemy rather than someone trying to help.

alcohol drugs to self medicate

. “I don’t/won’t use that often.”

In the beginning, many believe that they can use only on the weekends or once in a while. While some may be successful in sparingly using, eventually abusive and excessive use becomes a reality. As time passes, they become dependent on the drug.

  1. “I need alcohol/drugs to self-medicate.”

The idea that using drugs or alcohol is a form of self-medication allows addicts to further justify their actions. Common self-medicating excuses include:

  • “Drugs give me energy.”
  • “They help me relax.”
  • “I need them to overcome problems in my life.”

What they don’t realize is that a plan for recovery, such as attending drug rehab and undergoing an alcohol detox, can help with many life problems.

  1. “I’m not like other addicts/abusers.”

As humans, we all compare ourselves to others, but addicts take it to an entirely new level. They will compare themselves to those who are much worse off (at least in their minds), to excuse their own behaviors. One of the biggest lies that alcoholics tell is that their drinking isn’t as bad as that person who got a DUI/DWI. Comparing themselves makes them feel superior and undermines the true danger of their addiction.


  1. “I’m just enjoying life.”

Many of them get into the living-for-the-moment mindset. The idea that life is going to end someday is true, but that doesn’t excuse risky behavior. While we all want to make the best of our days, most of us are well aware that spending hours high or drunk isn’t an ideal way to live. For an addict, drug use or excessive drinking is a thrill that can’t be found anywhere else.

  1. “Treatment sucks/isn’t for me.”

They are unaware of the healing power that can come from recovery support groups. Mention AA or NA to an addict, and you’re likely to hear all sorts of negativity. They aren’t interested in these groups because they fear that they will control their lives, especially when it comes to their addiction.

  1. “I can handle it.”

Many addicts truthfully believe that they can deal with abuse and addictive behaviors on their own, but what addicts aren’t ready to handle are the side effects of drug use. Rarely are they prepared for painful alcohol withdrawal symptoms or drug rehab. They turn a blind eye to the dangers of their habits for the sake of a temporary high.

  1. “I can’t get better.”

Self-defeating thoughts are common for them. With relapse rates between 40 and 60 percent, it’s no surprise that most addicts have tried to quit but eventually failed. Others believe that hitting rock bottom is the only way for them to achieve a sober lifestyle.

alcohol withdrawal symptoms

What Can You Do?

More often than not, addict behaviors and relationships don’t mesh. Your loved one’s actions will cause all sorts of tension and stress, which can break the bond you once had. You’re likely to be frustrated and angry, but also sad and hurt. You want the best for your loved one, but don’t know how to continue with the relationship. Maybe you’ve mentioned rehab in the past but were met with anger and hostility.

Knowing how to tell when a drug addict is lying is the first step toward better understanding your loved one. Unless you’ve been engulfed by addiction or drug abuse, it’s hard to understand why an addict thinks or acts the way they do. It’s obvious when an addict is lying, but the only way to stop this behavior is to seek help.

When dealing with an addict, there are certain things you can do to lessen the strain.

Avoid Being an Enabler

When you know that your loved one is lying to you, don’t turn a blind eye or pretend to believe them. This only further encourages them to be deceptive and to sink deeper into addiction. Be brave and tell your loved one that you know they’re lying. Once the lies stop working, they may be more willing to be honest and seek help.

Don’t Take It Personally

Knowing that someone is outright lying to you is difficult to accept. It’s painful, and it can make you feel as if your loved one doesn’t care about or respect you anymore. Just remember that an addict lies to benefit themselves, not to hurt you. Avoid getting upset and lashing out at addicts, even though their actions do hurt.

addict behaviors and relationships

Be Supportive

One of the best things you can do is to be supportive. Shaming your loved one will only fuel their addictive behaviors. Create an environment where they feel loved and supported. Help build their confidence and encourage them that treatment is a viable option. Remind them how good life was before addiction, as this can help fill the void where addiction now lies.

Addiction Is a Disease

As a friend, understand the fact that addiction is a recognized disease that millions of people suffer from. Unless you’ve been an addict, you’ve never worn those shoes. To best help your loved one:

  • Avoid making them feel shameful or guilty.
  • Don’t compare them to anyone else.
  • Avoid confrontation.
  • Seek professional help.

The fact is that each year, millions of addicts seek treatment for addiction and abuse. Breaking free from the chains of addiction takes time and a lot of support. Anyone can achieve a sober lifestyle, but it starts with a helping hand.

If someone close to you continually lies about their drug addiction or alcohol abuse, consider speaking to a substance abuse counselor. They will discuss treatment options with you to help your loved one. Contact Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers today!



What Happens to Your Mind and Body After Excessive Pain Killer Use


The negative effects of painkillers are well known. They impact nearly every part of the body, including the brain, and have long-term implications for the physical and mental well-being of users. Some drugs can lead to acute, life-threatening conditions such as respiratory failure or internal bleeding. Long-lasting problems may include gastrointestinal problems, hormonal imbalances, severe addiction, and even death.

Painkillers Are Taking a Toll on the Country

The consequences of habitual painkiller use can be devastating. Even first-time users risk encountering rare complications, but excessive use raises the probability that someone will develop a serious issue. That’s because many drugs, particularly prescription-strength opioid-based painkillers, can alter a person’s physiology and upset the delicate balance that keeps them healthy and happy.

The Effect Depends on the Drug

drug addiction

America is awash in painkillers. There are over the counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen. There are non-narcotic prescription medications such as Tramadol. Then there are the opioids—powerful prescription drugs like Percocet, Hydrocodone, and OxyContin.

Each type of drug manages pain differently. Some medications, like aspirin, work by finding the source of the pain, then reducing inflammation and blocking localized pain signals. Opioids work in a more systematic way, namely, by affecting the central nervous system and changing the way the brain perceives the sensation of pain. As such, they pose the greatest physical and psychological risks for users.

Indeed, the potential for abuse is widely acknowledged. The CDC reports that more than 15,000 people in the U.S. die each year as a result of using opioid painkillers. Many more suffer from addiction and long-term health problems—conditions that affect nearly every system in the body, from the brain to the stomach.

The Effect of Opioids on the Brain

Effect Depends on the Drug

Opioids have a direct impact on the body’s nervous system. They work by blocking pain signals that travel between the nerve endings and the brain. They also alter the mind’s perception of pain by mimicking the effects of hormones called neurotransmitters. In a healthy body, neurotransmitters bind to opioid receptors in the brain—areas that control mood and pain.

Your body can never produce enough neurotransmitters to handle severe or chronic pain. That’s why people take opioid painkillers, which bind to the receptors in place of the neurotransmitters. Essentially, they fool your brain into thinking there is no pain. At the same time, they produce euphoric feelings, since they mimic the effects of other pleasure-producing hormones.

Even in the short term, narcotic painkillers depress the central nervous system. Breathing becomes shallow, speech becomes slurred, and reactions become sluggish. As the feeling of euphoria and relaxation increase, the sensation of pain decreases.

The end result is powerful. A calm sense of pleasure replaces pain and other unwanted sensations. Used responsibly, to mask the effects of acute pain, such drugs constitute a highly effective medical treatment.

The Potential for Addiction

Potential for Addiction

That pleasure comes with a cost. Narcotics have been known to kill brain cells. They have a particularly deleterious effect on the areas of the brain that govern learning, memory, and cognition.

In fact, the very process that makes opioids effective also make them dangerous. At the physiological level, opioid use over a long period of time slows down the production of neurotransmitters. Since the drug binds to opioid receptors in place of the body’s natural chemicals, the brain becomes convinced it no longer needs to produce so many of its own hormones.

Since some of those neurotransmitters are responsible for pain relief, habitual drug use may impede the body’s ability to relieve pain on its own. In other words, long-term opioid use can heighten the body’s perception of pain.

The decrease in special neurotransmitters called endorphins may also impair the body’s ability to maintain a stable mood. All of these issues increase the likelihood of dependency since a user who decides to quit may experience more intense pain and more unstable moods, including severe depression.

Physical Dependency

When it comes to opioids, use can quickly turn into abuse. The result is often physical dependency, if not full-blown addiction.

There is a difference between physical dependence and addiction, but they often go together. A person becomes physically dependent when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and cannot function properly without it.

Physical Dependency

Specifically, tolerance develops when the brain adapts to the presence of the drug and needs ever increasing doses to get the same effect. Before long, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms whenever drug use ceases.

Opioid withdrawals can be particularly painful and frightening. Many people become addicted simply because they cannot face the trauma associated with withdrawals. Common signs of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Agitation
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle aches
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Emotional instability and depression
  • Severe flu-like symptoms

Withdrawal may be unpleasant, but the consequences of continued use can be even more destructive. Someone who becomes addicted to opioids faces a host of potential health problems. That’s because painkillers have a negative impact on nearly every other organ and system in the body.

The Effect of Opioids on the Respiratory System

Narcotics depress the function of the respiratory system. That can lead to both acute and chronic problems. The most serious consequence is respiratory arrest. It’s not unheard of for a user to stop breathing after taking even moderate amounts of opioids. Even first-time users can die when their lungs stop functioning due to the depressant effects of narcotics.

Long-term opioid abuse often leads to a heightened risk of pneumonia and other respiratory infections. The problem becomes more acute when users smoke the drugs. Inhalation of painkillers causes fluid to build up in the lungs, which can interfere with normal breathing.

The Effect of Painkillers on the Liver

It’s the liver’s job to break down toxins and process drugs. The more painkillers a person uses, the more taxed the liver becomes. In many cases, toxins can build up in the body over time and cause long-term damage.

Opioids can place a heavy burden on the liver, but they’re not as hazardous as acetaminophen, which is known to cause significant liver damage. What many painkiller users don’t know is that a number of common opioid prescriptions also contain acetaminophen. Vicodin and Percocet, for example, also contain large doses of the acetaminophen. Habitual use over long periods of time can lead to liver failure.

The Effect of Painkillers on the Gastrointestinal System

Opioids have an immediate effect on the stomach and intestines. Even short-term use can cause constipation, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Continued abuse can lead to a condition called “narcotic bowel syndrome.” Essentially, narcotics slow the functioning of the bowel, causing everything from bloating to vomiting.

How to Prevent Painkillers from Destroying Your Body


As the nation struggles with an out-of-control opioid addiction epidemic, a great deal of attention is devoted to the very real risk of overdose, yet painkillers harm the body in many different ways. All too often, habitual use leads to severe physical disability, chronic disease, and even slow death. The only way to prevent damage is to quit. That, of course, is easier said than done.

If you struggle with addiction issues related to painkillers, it’s time to regain control over your life. It’s time to take back your health and your independence. At Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, we know how difficult it can be to stop the cycle of use, dependency, and addiction. That’s why we’re committed to providing first-class, personalized treatment programs that focus on both the physical and behavioral aspects of addiction.

Contact us today to start the journey toward health and happiness.

College During Recovery: Staying Strong When It Counts

College is an important time in any young person’s life. In college, we broaden our horizons, become exposed to new ideas and philosophies, and forge friendships and College During Recoveryrelationships that can last a lifetime. It’s a time for self-discovery, for challenging one’s ideas about the world, and for learning to balance fun and responsibility before being jettisoned into the “real world” with all its expectations and pressures. For those of us privileged enough to attend college or university, it can truly be a magical time.

Unfortunately, the culture of experimentation and youthful exuberance surrounding college campuses tends to go hand in hand with substance abuse. It’s a common trope in our media: The image of the frat party inundated with red cups and kegs has become all but an expectation for anyone heading off to school.

While there’s nothing wrong with a good party, the fact of the matter remains that drug and alcohol abuse and addiction are growing problems for college students in the United States; this can make recovery while attending college seem daunting, at best, and impossible, at worst, for anyone attempting to stay sober at school.

The good news is that attending college during recovery is not only possible but perfectly manageable with the right support system. If you’re in recovery and heading off to school, it’s important to arm yourself with the right facts, resources, and mindset to stick to your goals and remain sober while also having the time of your life.

Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers understands this and has provided a succinct and useful guide to surviving college during early recovery to help you stay strong when it counts and set yourself up for success at school and in your life afterward.

Substance Abuse on Campus: The Ugly Truth

According to a 2007 report by Columbia University, nearly half of all college students aged eighteen to twenty-two engaged in binge drinking or abused prescription and/or illegal drugs, and it noted that students today are much more likely to binge drink and drink specifically with the goal of becoming drunk rather than for the social enjoyment of the drinks themselves. The same report found that, between 1993 and 2005, student abuse of prescription drugs increased by:

  • 343% for painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin
  • 93% for stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin
  • 450% for tranquilizers like Valium and Xanax
  • 225% for sedatives like Seconal.

These troubling statistics are in line with the ever-growing prescription drug abuse and overdose epidemic in the United States, which claims thousands of lives each year and is only now beginning to gain recognition in the mainstream media and medical circles. Drug addiction which begins on college campuses is a huge problem, and one which ought to be addressed more directly in our public parlance.

These factors, as well as the pressure of a full course load, make maintaining sobriety during college a risky undertaking for those in early addiction recovery. That said, there are many strategies and resources available to college students who wish to gain the benefits of a degree without sacrificing their sobriety in the process.

Strategize for Success

While peer pressure is a huge motivating factor in the creation of problematic behaviors leading to habitual substance abuse, there are several steps sober students can take to Maintain a Support Networkhelp avoid the temptation toward risky environments and situations. Vigilance is important but, ultimately, preparation and fostering positive habits will be the most helpful in maintaining a sober lifestyle during college. Students in early recovery should:

  • Consider living off campus – While some “dry campuses” prohibit alcohol consumption whole cloth, it’s still best for sober students to live away from places where parties and substance abuse are likely to take place. Students in recovery should consider offsite housing, with peers who are also sober, or living with supportive family members, where possible. Surrounding yourself with peers who respect and support your sobriety will help mitigate the risk of triggering a relapse.
  • Meet regularly with a substance abuse counselor – Accountability is important in all aspects of recovery. A regularly scheduled meeting with a counselor can help students stay strong and develop ongoing strategies for dealing with emergent temptations and situations. Ongoing outpatient rehab programs tailored to the rigors of a collegiate schedule can go a long way toward helping sober students navigate their education.
  • Maintain a support network – Wherever possible, plug yourself into recovery networks like Alcoholics Anonymous or secular, science-based recovery programs that include peers within your age range. Having other people in recovery to talk to and vent about the specific difficulties and temptations of campus life will go a long way toward helping sober college students feel less isolated and more in touch with their own recovery process.
  • Be wary of overloading your schedule – While taking on a massive course load may seem appealing, in the sense that you’ll finish school faster, it’s important to be realistic and set a reasonable, balanced regimen. Students in early recovery need to give themselves time for school work, rehab, support group meetings, and self-care, including sleep and leisure activities. Staying occupied is important but balance is necessary for success.

Prioritize Sobriety and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Addiction never happens in a vacuum; it directly affects the individual addict but, also, sends shockwaves through families, friend groups, and support systems. Anyone who has ever loved an addict will tell you that addiction is a family disease and, as such, requires acknowledgment and participation of family members and close friends in order to be fully defeated.

This is doubly important for college students, who often rely on some degree of family support to attend school anyway; the pressures inherent with college attendance and the expectation of success from supportive family members can easily begin to feel like a crushing weight rather than a buoying force in their lives.

If you’re a student struggling with addiction or an addict in recovery considering enrollment or re-enrollment in college, it’s important to do so with the understanding that asking for help is not an indicator of failure.  College will always be there when you’re ready; if taking a medical leave of absence to receive alcohol or drug addiction treatment is what you need, then you should exercise that option while you’re in the proper state of mind to do so.

The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem and, ultimately, prioritizing your own health and well-being is the most important factor in a successful life whether you earn a college degree or not.

Participation in support programs such as the University Partnership Program at Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers is a great way to set yourself up for success in school while creating an honest and sobriety-focused environment in which to attend college and thrive.

Such programs equip college personnel, as well as students in recovery, with the tools and resources they need to stay in school and earn a degree, with the primary goal of assisting college students in meeting their educational goals while balancing their workload with the ongoing efforts of sobriety.

Drug and alcohol addiction are ever-present problems on campus, and in life after school, but that shouldn’t disqualify students in early recovery from seeking an education and bettering their lives. If you’re a prospective student and want to prioritize sobriety while attending school, the resources and support are available.

The professional rehab specialists at Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers can help walk you through the process of structuring a collegiate lifestyle that supports your sobriety and gives you the best possible shot at completing your degree.

Journey to Sobriety: Strategies For Success

What begins as recreational drug or alcohol use can eventually turn into a serious addiction. Addiction can affect every aspect of a person’s life, from personal and professional relationships, to finances to health and overall quality of life.


The misconception that people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol simply lack the willpower or moral principles to quit is in decline. The science of addiction tells us otherwise: that addiction is a complex disease, and that quitting requires more than just good intentions. Today we know that drug use changes brain function in significant ways, which can make quitting “cold turkey” difficult.
Alcohol and drug rehab centers can make a tremendous difference by providing the medical oversight and tools a person needs to manage their addiction and achieve long-term sobriety.

This eBook explores:Journey to Sobriety Ebook

  • The science of addiction
  • What to expect in treatment
  • The importance of family education and participation in treatment
  • Managing addiction after treatment
  • Recognizing the signs of stress, a leading relapse trigger
  • Practical tips for avoiding relapse
  • The benefits of holistic therapies
  • The advantages of support groups


Download a free copy of our eBook today.

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The Benefits of Holistic Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Holistic therapy and medicine use a “whole person” approach, taking into account an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. This differs from conventional medicine, which tends to focus primarily on physical and mental health.

The combination of traditional evidence-based substance abuse treatment and holistic therapy can be thought of as an integrative approach, which the National Institutes of The Benefits of Holistic Therapy in Addiction TreatmentHealth (NIH) defines as “bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way.” Integrative health is becoming increasingly popular in the West.

Complementary holistic therapies such as yoga, massage, and equine-assisted psychotherapy can enhance a person’s experience while in treatment for alcohol or drug addiction.

This eBook explores:

  • The definition of holistic therapy and its principles
  • How holistic therapies can be used in conjunction with traditional addiction treatment for a more complete treatment approach
  • Different types of holistic therapies and their benefits
  • The benefits of continuing holistic therapies after drug/alcohol treatment


Download a free copy of our eBook today.

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Understanding America’s Drug Overdose Epidemic

Drug Overdose Epidemic

It is obvious to anyone paying attention that the United States has a major problem with drug addiction and overdose. Nearly half a million American lives were lost to drug overdose between 2000 and 2014.

Our government’s decades-long war on drugs notwithstanding, the statistics are clear: according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of overdose deaths from opioids alone has quadrupled since 1999 and shown a fourteen percent increase between 2013 and 2014.1

While addiction treatment centers are a godsend for those in the clutches of addiction, far too many people’s lives spiral out of control before they are ever able to seek treatment. It’s important to gain a fuller understanding of addiction and accidental overdose, as well as its victims and causes, in order to effectively combat its horrifying impact.

Opioids: Public Enemy Number One

In 2015, over fifty thousand people in the United States died from drug related overdoses – that’s more than any other year since we started keeping track, and the numbers are on the rise. It’s a problem that spans gender, race, creed, and age – an indiscriminant killer whose impact is felt across all walks of life.

Of those fifty thousand overdoses, more than thirty two thousand involved the use of opioids.2

Opioids, a family of drugs which includes legally prescribed painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs like heroin, are clearly the driving force behind this terrifying uptick in drug deaths.

Heroin, almost universally recognized as one of the most dangerous and most addictive drugs in existence, is on a major upswing in the United States. According to DEA statistics, the amount of heroin seized at the country’s southwest border more than quadrupled from five hundred kilograms per year in the early 2000s to over two thousand kilograms in 2013. Heroin addiction is on the rise, particularly among people 18 to 25 years of age, and with the increased demand comes a ready supply.

But that’s just the adults; a 2005 survey showed that nearly four and a half million US teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to abusing prescription painkillers.3 Opioid abuse is everyone’s problem, and it’s not going away.

Veterans are another group at serious risk for opioid addiction and overdose. About sixty percent of all veterans returning from deployment in active zones like the Middle East suffer from chronic pain, double the percentage of the general American population. Helping these returning heroes manage their pain is crucial for mental health and well-being, but until recently VA hospitals were exclusively prescribing opioids to this end.

According to a 2011 study, veterans are twice as likely to die from opioid overdose as civilians.4

Substance abuse programs like the twenty-four hour inpatient treatment care at Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers are designed specifically to help those with out of control opioid habits to rid themselves from their abusive tendencies. Sometimes, the best treatment is round-the-clock immersion in a caring, sheltered, professional medical environment, with trained professionals on hand to monitor and track recovery.

However, the first step before seeking treatment is recognizing the problem and sadly, many Americans never get that far.

Opioid Addiction Could Happen to Anyone

Preconceived notions about addicts and drug addiction run rampant in our popular culture. For many, just the words ‘drug addict’ summon to mind readily available imagery of the shambling, shaking waif who will do anything to find their next fix – sleeping on the streets or in cars, stealing anything that’s not bolted down for drug money, and shooting up in smoky dens of depravity with other similarly afflicted criminals.

While addiction does play a major factor in homelessness and despondency, the grim reality of opioid addiction and overdose couldn’t be more different from the stereotype. In fact, two thirds of the aforementioned deaths from opioid overdoses were the result of prescription painkiller abuse.

According to the CDC, sales of prescription opioids in the US have quadrupled along with overdoses since 1999, though the amount of pain reported to doctors on the whole has not shown any significant change. We’re buying more painkillers to manage the same amount of pain, which means for many Americans the path to overdose begins with a legitimate prescription from a medical professional.

You throw your back out at work, or get whiplash in a car accident, or experience lingering pain following surgery; it could be almost anything. You go to the doctor, get a prescription for hydrocodone or codeine to help manage the pain, and take it as directed.

Inpatient Treatment Care

But throughout the course of the prescription, you find yourself developing a tolerance – you need more than prescribed to get the same amount of relief. This is the nature of opioids, and how they interact with our brain chemistry.

So you take a little more, and a little more. After all, you’ve got a life, a job, bills to pay, responsibilities to see through – you can’t let pain get in the way of taking care of your family or following through on commitments. You need relief from your very real pain in order to function, and you can only get it by taking a little more than directed.

Then, when the prescription runs out, you’re surprised to find yourself suffering the symptoms of withdrawal – nausea, vomiting, dizziness, increased sensitivity to pain, and many other possible afflictions. You’re addicted, and now more than ever you need a steady flow of opioids to get through the day. It’s that easy, and it could happen to anyone.

Heroin and Fentanyl: The Logical Next Step

When addicts can’t get opioids through a prescription, they are much more likely to turn to the next best thing available: heroin. As many as three out of four recent new heroin users report abusing prescription opioids prior to heroin, which means that seventy five percent of the people trying heroin for the first time started with a prescription.

Due to increased demand and import, heroin is readily available throughout the United States, and it’s much cheaper and stronger than prescription painkillers. Without the pre-designated dosage amounts of prescription painkillers, which usually come in clearly labeled pill form, addicts who turn to heroin are left to their own devices when it comes to measuring dosages.

This, along with potential impurities as heroin is cut with substances like lidocaine, crack-cocaine, and fentanyl to keep costs down, puts heroin addicts at great risk of overdose.

In addition to heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl which are produced illegally and marketed to the same users are massively on the rise. According to the CDC, synthetic opioids are one of the main factors in the swell of drug overdoses in the US. Many fentanyl deaths involve the drug being mixed with heroin and/or cocaine, as it is between fifty and one hundred times stronger than morphine and relatively easy to produce in illicit circumstances.

Fentanyl deaths nearly doubled between 2014 and 2015, jumping from 5,544 to 9,580 overdose casualties.

Addiction Treatment Saves Lives

The numbers are clear across the board: deaths from opioid overdoses increase at roughly the same rate as they are prescribed and sold. This is bad news for Americans, as both legal and illicit opioid use is on the rise and the street-level demand for drugs like heroin and illegally produced fentanyl are at an all time high.

Because of the slippery slope nature of opioid addiction, many people put off seeking help or simply won’t acknowledge that they have a problem until it’s too late. Even when confronted with the ugly realities of opioid addiction with its high likelihood of overdose, some will scorn drug rehabilitation for fear of some misplaced social stigma.

Due to the nature of opioids and how they impact our brain chemistry, it is very difficult to overcome addiction without professional assistance.

Substance Abuse Counseling

Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers in Florida and Pennsylvania provide twenty-four hour supervised inpatient detox, as well as a broad range of drug and alcohol addiction programming geared toward making sure their patients don’t become another overdose statistic. A staff of qualified addiction recovery specialists is available round the clock to field your phone calls and answer questions, and is there to help make the admission process as easy as possible.

If someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, particularly to heroin or prescription opioids, it’s of vital importance to talk to them about substance abuse counseling and treatment by a medical professional as soon as possible.





Relapse Triggers: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Addiction Recovery

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Addiction Recovery

Mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) pose risks for individuals who are trying to overcome alcohol abuse or drug addiction. Since mood disorders often cause people to self-medicate in an attempt to rid themselves of unwanted feelings and thoughts, it’s not unusual for recovering addicts to relapse when they suffer a bout of depression or other behavioral disturbance.

Unfortunately, the use of alcohol or drugs to alleviate symptoms can lead to a downward spiral that hinders progress and ruins lives. In order to prevent such a destructive pattern from developing, it’s critical to get a correct diagnosis and then seek alcohol or drug addiction treatment from an inpatient rehab center that has experience handling mood disorders.


Understanding the Problem of Dual Diagnosis

When someone suffers simultaneously from substance abuse problems and a mood disorder, they are given what is called a dual diagnosis. Such co-occurring disorders can Understanding the Problem of Dual Diagnosiscombine to destroy a person’s quality of life. They can also jeopardize any attempt at addiction treatment.

Unfortunately, dual diagnoses are common. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), those who suffer from addiction are twice as likely to have a mood disorder, as well, and vice versa.

No matter what stage of recovery someone happens to be in—whether they are currently enrolled in a detox program at an inpatient program or whether they are receiving ongoing substance abuse counseling—the existence of an underlying mood disorder can complicate the recovery process. In order to help someone who struggles with a dual diagnosis, it’s important to know what type of mood disorder they suffer from and how to treat it.


What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

One such affliction is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Also known as seasonal depression, SAD occurs when someone suffers from a cyclical form of depression that only affects them at certain times of the year, typically wintertime. Mirroring the symptoms of normal depression, SAD is distinct only in its episodic nature and the timeframe of its appearance.

If an individual becomes severely depressed every time winter rolls around, there’s a good chance they may have seasonal depression. Although SAD generally receives less attention than more prominent mood disturbances such as bipolar disorder, it can be equally devastating for those who are unfortunate enough to experience its periodic attacks, particularly if they’re simultaneously trying to overcome a substance abuse problem.


A Rare but Potentially Serious Disorder

Although seasonal depression is relatively rare (affecting anywhere between one to five percent of the U.S. population), it is a serious disease. Symptoms of depression can persist for months at a time, sometimes lasting for more than a season. In fact, some people can suffer from the condition for up to 40% of the entire year.

SAD typically occurs during the winter, although, in rare instances, it can take the form a summer disease known as “summer depression.” In either case, it can range in severity from mild (causing irritability) to debilitating (leading to severe depression).

Given its long duration and frequent recurrences, SAD warrants attention as a significant mental health condition. Recovering addicts and substance abuse counselors, in particular, should be familiar with the symptoms of seasonal depression in order to correctly diagnose a co-occurring disorder when it is present.


SAD Facts & Figures

  • Approximately 5% of the U.S. population suffers from SAD in any given year.
  • That rate rises to 10% in the northern latitudes.1
  • Even within the U.S., the incidence of SAD fluctuates from 1.4% in southern locales like Florida to 9.7% in northern states like New Hampshire.2
  • The disease tends to affect women with greater frequency than men.
  • In most cases, the condition first appears when a person approaches adulthood.3


Symptoms of Winter SAD

Winter SAD, the most common form of seasonal depression, typically sets in by the end of autumn or the beginning of winter and persists for at least a few months, until the onset of spring or summer.

Those who suffer from winter depression typically exhibit a number of common symptoms. Similar to the signs of general depression, they include: Symptoms of Winter SAD

  • Fatigue
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Heightened need for sleep
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Concentration problems
  • Impulse for solitude


Symptoms of Summer SAD

Summer SAD, a less common form of seasonal depression, appears anytime between the end of spring and the beginning of summer. It typically lasts until autumn. Although similar to its winter cousin, summer depression nonetheless presents unique symptoms, including: Symptoms of Summer SAD

  • Sleep problems
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss


What Causes SAD?

Unfortunately, healthcare professionals don’t yet understand what gives rise to seasonal depression. While scientists do know that the condition is most likely the result of many What Causes SAD different factors, they haven’t yet pinpointed the direct causes of SAD. That, of course, makes it more difficult to effectively treat the condition when simultaneously treating a patient for addiction or dependency issues.

Nevertheless, in spite of the mystery surrounding the disorder, researchers have posed some promising hypotheses, ranging from biological factors (e.g., seasonal disturbances in hormonal levels and circadian rhythms) to environmental factors (e.g., lack of sunlight) to psychological factors (e.g., stress).4

One of the most commonly accepted explanations states that the lack of sunlight depresses the brain’s ability to produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that affects behavior and helps to regulate a person’s mood.


Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available for people with SAD. While few studies are conclusive, research does offer hope for people who struggle with seasonal depression. Treatments that hold promise include:

  • Light therapy, in which the patient is exposed to natural or artificial light
  • Medicine, which includes traditional anti-depressants
  • Cognitive behavior therapy, which involves individual and/or group sessions with therapists

Experts also recommend that people with SAD go outside daily, even if it’s cloudy; exercise for at least 30 minutes every day; and eat a healthy, balanced diet.


The Importance of Inpatient Treatment

Patients who suffer from both seasonal depression and substance abuse problems need particular attention. When someone has been given a dual diagnosis, it’s important that they seek professional help.

Although outpatient rehab can be beneficial, inpatient rehab is preferable for many dual diagnosis cases. That’s because inpatient facilities provide round-the-clock care and 24-hour monitoring, which can be critical for those who are trying to keep their substance abuse problem in check while simultaneously trying to manage their depression.

The best course of action is to find alcohol and drug treatment centers that have experience dealing with mood disorders. After all, physicians and counselors can only provide effective care if they know what to treat and how to treat it.

At Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, we’re prepared to handle the challenges that come with treating co-occurring disorders. Our highly skilled and highly experienced team includes licensed mental health counselors who are trained to care for patients with a dual diagnosis.


The Path to Sobriety and Wellness

Dealing with co-occurring disorders can be demanding, but it need not be disheartening. With the right support team standing behind you, it is possible to overcome the The Path to Sobriety and Wellnesschallenges posed by a dual diagnosis. It is possible to achieve sobriety and live a full life.

At Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, we specialize in helping people attain freedom from addiction and dependency. We offer the highest level of care in the form of both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Our rehab centers provide an ideal setting for recovery—tranquil, compassionate, and therapeutic.

We also have plenty of experience dealing with a diverse range of mood disorders. Whether you suffer from seasonal depression or another behavioral condition, we can help you on the journey to sobriety. If you believe you or someone you know suffers from drug addiction or alcohol abuse, call our 24/7 helpline at (855) 859-8808 or use our online form to send us an email.



  1.  American Family Physician. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”
  2. “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview and Update.”
  3. “Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder).”
  4. American Family Physician. “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”

The Truth About Drug Use Among College Students

Young adults are far more likely than older Americans to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse problems. With more than 1 in 5 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 using illegal drugs, and nearly 60 percent drinking alcohol, it’s clear that young people are an at-risk population.

College students, in particular, are at risk of addiction for a number of reasons. From the stress of academic studies to the desire for independence, students face an intense set of pressures and temptations. Those pressures have led to an epidemic of binge drinking, marijuana abuse, and prescription drug use, with daily marijuana use tripling since the 1990s, and cocaine use nearly doubling in one year alone (between 2013 to 2014).

Thankfully, there is a solution. Addiction is treatable. To help young people suffering from addiction problems, Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers offers a range of substance abuse treatment options, from outpatient drug rehab to inpatient alcohol rehab. In addition to our treatment centers for the general population, our Retreat University Partnership Program offers recovery options specifically designed to meet the unique needs and challenges of college students.

Check out our infographic to learn more about the problem of substance abuse among college students and what can be done to help those young people who suffer from addiction.


The Truth About Drug Use Among College Students

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Substance Abuse Statistics in U.S. Adults

Substance abuse is a growing problem. It is also a multifaceted problem. Sadly, over 40 million people suffer from some form of addiction, whether it is dependence on alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs.

Although substance abuse is a global problem, it presents a particular challenge for the United States. With no more than 5 percent of the world’s population, the nation consumes a stunning 75 percent of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs, many of which are taken illicitly by people with no medical prescription.

Young adults are also at increased risk of practicing risky behaviors and developing crippling or even deadly addiction problems. Indeed, statistics continually show that those in the 18- to 25-year-old age group use drugs and alcohol at a significantly higher rate than other age groups.

Finally, the problem seems to be getting worse. Unfortunately, recent years have seen an alarming increase in the prevalence of substance abuse. Daily usage of marijuana among college students has more than tripled since the mid-1990s, while prescriptions drug deaths have increased by the same amount between 2001 and 2014.


Substance Abuse Statistics in U.S. Adults

Read through our infographic to learn more about the deadly and growing problem of substance abuse among U.S. adults.

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Conquering Addiction – University Students Can Find Recovery!


Conquering Addiction – University Students Can Find Recovery!

College is a time of high hopes and great expectations. Unfortunately, it’s also a time for binge drinking and widespread substance abuse. Sadly, many addictions start in the college years, when young people should be laying a solid foundation for the future.

With recent studies showing an alarming increase in the use of alcohol and drugs among college and university students, experts have sounded the alarm. The good news is that there is still hope. With plenty of treatment options for addiction recovery, young people who suffer from substance abuse problems can still look forward to a bright future.


What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a disease. Precipitated by a number of environmental, biological, and emotional factors, it can have devastating effects. All too often, it destroys lives—the lives of those who sufferwhat-is-addictionfrom addiction as well as the lives of their loved ones. Overcoming addiction requires both education and treatment. Only by learning about the disease and seeking help from a fully accredited drug rehabilitation or alcohol treatment center can patients and their loved ones hope to free themselves from the bondage of substance abuse.


Substance Abuse Among Young Adults

Addiction can affect anyone, young or old, rich or poor, employed or unemployed. There is no definite profile of an addict. That being said, some groups of people find themselves at greater risk of developing substance abuse problems. Foremost among those at-risk populations are young adults.

Studies have consistently shown that those in the 18 to 25 age group are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and are therefore more likely to suffer the negative effects of addiction. Exposed to a culture of binge drinking and casual drug use, full-time college and university students are often the most vulnerable.

The most recent statistics aren’t promising. With daily marijuana use among college students reaching its highest level since 1980, cocaine use on the rise, and prescription drug use hitting epidemic levels, experts are concerned. Add to that the ever-present problem of alcohol abuse on college campuses, and it’s clear the nation faces a problem.1


Why Are College-Age Students at Greater Risk?

Late adolescence and early adulthood is a time of experimentation. It’s a time for pushing the limits. It’s also a time when young people work hard to lay the groundwork for their future success. That combination of new desires and magnified pressures can prove to be dangerous. Specifically, there are a number of triggers that lead to higher rates of substance abuse among college students. Those include:

  • stressStress – Increased workloads and heightened expectations can take their toll on university students. After working hard to get into a good school, many students feel burdened by the need to excel. Combine that with an increasingly tough job market, and the stress can be overwhelming. In such a pressure-cooker situation, many college students turn to drugs or alcohol to improve their performance or to take their minds off the daily grind. A performance-enhancing drug like Adderall, normally prescribed for those with ADHD, is alluring for students forced to cram for those all-important finals. Likewise, young people may be all too willing to turn to marijuana in order to relax after a long day of classes and extracurricular activities.
  • Independence – Many young people get their first taste of freedom upon entering college. For most, it’s their first time away from the safety and restrictions of home, and the first time apart from loved ones. With this newfound freedom comes a whole host of fresh temptations. For perhaps the first time in their lives, college students are completely unsupervised. With no curfews and no parents to face when they arrive back home after a long night of partying, there is little to no accountability.
  • Curiosity – Teenagers and young adults are curious. They’re itching to try new things. Unfortunately, that burning desire for fresh experiences can lead some students into bad habits and dangerous situations. College, in particular, is a minefield of seductions. In a new environment, young adults are more apt to meet new people and try new things. Drugs often top the list of new and exciting experiences.
  • Peer Pressure – From childhood to old age, peer pressure is a fact of life. It’s a natural inclination to want to fit in and be accepted. Never is that pressure to conform stronger than in packed-schedulescollege. Even kids who managed to resist the pleas and taunts of their high school friends may cave in to peer pressure in a new environment. Universities are infamous for their wild parties, which feature binge drinking and reckless behavior. With such antics nearly ubiquitous on campuses around the country, heavy drinking and drug abuse can become the new normal for even the most level-headed student.
  • Packed Schedules – All too often, there simply isn’t enough time to cram in everything that needs to get done. Between increased workloads, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, volunteer opportunities, and a budding social life, time is often in short supply. Sadly, many college students turn to stimulants in order to keep themselves awake and prolong the day, and stimulants don’t mean coffee. From cocaine to ADHD medication, there are many options for young people looking to burn the midnight oil.


Overcoming Environmental Handicaps Through Substance Abuse Treatment

At Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, we know the unique sets of challenges that college students face every day. That’s why we’ve developed a University Partnership Program to help young people regain their independence and start their adult lives with both feet firmly on the ground.

Our addiction treatment centers specialize in a holistic approach that focuses on the entire person. We also know the intense pressures that come with a university education, which is why we place special emphasis on ensuring that college students stay on track academically, so they can continue striving toward their long-term goals.

When treating patients, we take into account their:

  • Physical health
  • Psychological health
  • Educational goals
  • Spiritual well-being

Our drug rehabilitation and alcohol recovery programs in Palm Beach County and Lancaster County are built on the premise that no two individuals are exactly alike, and no two addictions are precisely the same. From one-on-one telephone consultations to Family Education Programs, we treat every individual as a unique human being, rather than another number in our files.

Tailoring our programs to the needs of each patient also means understanding the distinct challenges that come with each type of addiction. That, in turn, means knowing the peculiar effects that each substance has on the brain and on the psyche.


Commonly Abused Substances

College students face temptation in many forms. From prescription drugs to cocaine, the list of abused substances is long and growing longer every day. Each one brings with it a unique set of potential side effects and a specific risk of addiction.

  • alcohol-abusePrescription Drugs and Over-the-Counter Medicines – Research shows that college students continue to abuse prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 used psychotherapeutic drugs for nonmedical reasons. That’s twice as much as any other age group. The same age group was also nearly two times as likely to abuse prescription painkillers, tranquilizers, and stimulants.2 One of the most commonly abused prescription drugs is Adderall – “the study drug.” A stimulant designed to help kids and adults who suffer from ADHD, it is commonly used illicitly by college students to improve focus and increase productivity.
  • Alcohol Abuse – Experts call it the “college effect.” As soon as a young person enters their first year of undergraduate studies, they are far more likely to increase their intake of alcohol. Indeed, one Harvard study revealed that even those who avoided heavy drinking in high school changed their tune as soon as they entered college.According to the most recent data, college students were more likely than their non-college peers to use alcohol and to binge drink. More than a third (35.4 percent) reported binge drinking in the past two weeks, and nearly half (42.6 percent) said they had been drunk in the past month.
  • Illicit Drugs – According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than one in five young adults has used illicit drugs. That’s a troubling statistic for those who are worried about drug addiction and the long-term effects of substance abuse on the nation’s youth. Recent years have also witnessed a worrying increase in the rate of illegal drug use. Cocaine use among full-time college students, for example, nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014 (from 2.7 percent to 4.4 percent). Daily marijuana use among university students also shot through the roof.The most recent statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show a more than threefold increase in marijuana abuse between 1994 and 2014. The increase has been so dramatic that, today, more college students smoke marijuana than drink alcohol.4

Conquering Drugs and Alcohol, One Student at a Time

At Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, we’re committed to freeing college students from the chains of addiction. From inpatient programs that help students safely and effectively conquering-drugs-and-alcohol-one-student-at-a-timemanage alcohol withdrawal, to outpatient programs that provide drug addiction counseling, we specialize in treating the full range of substance abuse problems. In addition to medically supervised inpatient treatments, we also offer holistic approaches to recovery, including:

  • Equine training
  • Cooking classes
  • Music
  • Recreation
  • Art

Our goal is not only to treat acute symptoms of addiction, but also to create an enduring web of support for university students. By raising student awareness, giving educators the tools to recognize warning signs, and incorporating family members into the rehabilitation process, we help put young people on the road to addiction recovery.

Our fully accredited drug and alcohol treatment centers offer a range of individualized treatment options, including:

  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Inpatient drug rehab
  • Outpatient drug rehab
  • Inpatient alcohol rehab
  • Outpatient alcohol rehab

Thankfully, addiction doesn’t need to be a death sentence for college students. With plenty of treatment options, there is no reason to let substance abuse destroy your life or the life of someone you love. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, contact us at Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers to get help today.



The Five Stages of Recovery


The Five Stages of Recovery

Although recovering from drug or alcohol abuse can be an intense and unpredictable process for many, addiction experts around the world have noticed a trend in patients that eventually see lasting change. It takes a great deal of strength and perseverance to go through rehab, and the decision to lead a life free from drugs and alcohol is only one step. For many recovering addicts, even getting to that step is difficult.

The stages of recovery have gained recognition because therapists have discovered that each stage requires different strategies in order to effectively treat the client. Although there are five proper stages (Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance), they can also be separated into “early,” “middle,” and “late” stages.

For instance, a client that is in the Contemplation stage will also be considered in the “early” phase of recovery, meaning that strategies focusing on immediate concerns (curbing cravings, abstaining from use, preventing relapse) should be put front-and-center, while later stages of recovery may be more focused on rebuilding relationships. By recognizing where each client is on their journey to sobriety, a therapist can begin to understand how to help them rebuild their life in a structured, orderly fashion.
Differences from Person to Person

differences-from-person-to-person-300x200By all means, this journey is not the same for everyone. Some may make progress, only to regress back a few stages later on. A certain amount of people may even have to start over multiple times. Nobody is perfect; the important part is the continued urge to change.

While this ability varies from person to person, it demonstrates that these stages of recovery do not come from the therapist. They come from within the patient.


Pre-Contemplation Stage – Typically, people in the pre-contemplation stage have not yet admitted to themselves that they have a problem. In these cases, they are usually going through the motions due to some form of pressure, whether it is from their spouse, their family, their employer, or the police.

At this point, many addicts will avoid any conversation about addiction in fear that others may try to change them. If someone tries to stage an “intervention” at this point, it will probably be met with extreme denial.

pre-contemplation-stage-300x200People in the pre-contemplation stage often feel that their addiction is the result of a number of factors, like their job, home life, or genetic makeup. In many situations, patients remember their Pre-Contemplation stage as one of the most hopeless periods of their life. Some even hit what is commonly referred to as “rock bottom,” which can lead to feelings of Contemplation regarding their addiction. Once they’ve recognized that they have a problem, they have moved out of the Pre-Contemplation stage.


Contemplation Stage – Even if a person is struggling to understand the root of their addiction and how to recover, simply thinking about potential courses of action to take is a gigantic step forward. Some individuals remain in the Contemplation stage for months, with only vague plans on how to move forward. Again, even getting this far is great progress.

While regular use may continue during this phase, contemplators report enjoying their vices less, and also report that they’re using more. This increases their feelings of hopelessness, but these are often combatted by uplifting feelings of potential for change. Once users shift more into thinking about a future free from drugs, rather than lingering on their past, they will be ready to move into the next stage of recovery.

People nearing the end of this stage often say that they no longer feel “hopeless.” Instead, those feelings are replaced by simultaneous excitement and anxiety.


Preparation Stage – Once people reach the Preparation stage, they’ve been fueled by their excitement and have made solid plans for recovery. Whether this is through a pledge of abstinence or admittance to an addiction recovery center, people who are preparing for a life free from drugs have more than just a vague notion of how they want to get better. Even just picking a day, or a week, or a month, or a year to focus on recovery can help patients put themselves into the Action stage. contemplation-stage-300x200An addiction treatment center can help guide patients on how to handle their addiction and give them the necessary tools to overcome their drug and alcohol addictions for good.

Occasionally, patients report having to conquer feelings of ambivalence prior to getting out of the Preparation stage. However, once their plan of action has been set on a committed timeline, they usually move on without an issue.


Action Stage – In this stage, people engage in the bulk of what they would consider to be “recovery.” In short, they change either their behavior or their surroundings in order to enact change.

action-stage-300x200By enacting the change for which they have been preparing, recovering addicts build their sense of accomplishment and achievement. Although this stage often requires the most effort on the part of the person, it’s also the most important stage since it will be the bedrock for their continued recovery.

This is often the first stage that others can see from the outside looking in. Addicts often go through the first three stages while facing criticism that they aren’t really changing. While it takes a great deal of time and effort to get to this stage, those that get here report feelings of satisfaction and self-worth that their internal efforts were valuable after all.


Maintenance Stage –  Only through great commitment is great change truly possible. Once clients are “done” with the Action phase, they often move back into their familiar surroundings. Sometimes, they are able to view their life anew and make a continued effort to better themselves. Unfortunately, many people face relapse when introduced to an environment reminiscent of their illicit past. Sometimes even visiting an old friend can trigger urges that lead back to stage one.

The maintenance stage is so immense that it encompasses the entirety of the “late” recovery phase. While there are many physical actions that can be taken to avoid falling into old habits (losing your dealer’s phone number, taking up a new hobby), true maintenance is about using your newfound sobriety to explore the root of your addiction. This way, the addiction has less of a chance of manifesting as something else entirely, like gambling, overeating, or addiction to sex.

Rehab treatment centers, like Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Center, will dive into further detail in regards to all recovery stages and will help guide recovering addicts to a sober life. Through programs such as the Continuum of Care model that Retreat Treatment Center offers, recovering addicts will be offered outpatient services that may include individual, group, and family therapies for long-term sobriety.


Ways to Help and Ways to Hurt

If you know someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, it can be instinctual to want to help or offer advice. In some cases, it may seem prudent to offer anecdotal advice about people you ways-to-help-and-ways-to-hurt-300x200know who have claimed to quit “cold turkey,” or who went through rehab and magically got better and felt their urges completely disappear. Unfortunately, in many cases, this is fiction.

Too often, good-natured friends will regurgitate “tips” from various stages of recovery and unwittingly try to give counsel to a recovering friend of theirs. If a client tries to do too much before they are ready, it may become overwhelming and lead to relapse. For this reason, it’s important to leave treatment of addiction to individuals who understand how to foster recovery in a safe, structured environment. While it’s natural to want to help someone through their process, the best thing that you can do for them is be supportive on their journey.