Detox Doesn’t Have To Be Miserable

Many people are afraid to try detox because they have attempted it “cold turkey” in the past, and do not want to repeat the experience. We don’t blame them!  Unassisted detox, especially from opioid drugs, is not something that anyone would want to try again if they had a choice.

Fortunately, there is a choice. Sunrise uses Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) with a rapid taper to avoid the misery of detox from Oxycontin, hydrocodone, heroin and other opioid drugs. Suboxone treatment replaces the other drug and prevents acute withdrawal. After a few days, the Suboxone is withdrawn, with minimal effects that are easily managed by supportive treatment. This permits a far more comfortable detox than other methods. Patients remain ambulatory, and are able to participate in educational and therapeutic sessions to help prepare them for long-term recovery.

Give us a call at 1-888-443-3869. You are only a few days away from a new freedom that will allow you to pursue further recovery with maximum comfort. Thousands have already done it. So can you!

Change Is The Key To Recovery

Yesterday I was at the new Sunrise facility in Ft. Lauderdale, helping prepare for an accreditation inspection. I was working with client records, and noted once again how many addicts relapse and return to detox. This isn't surprising; one of the symptoms of addiction is relapse, and virtually all addicts do it at least once. Noticing it just brought the fact back to mind. It’s a good thing for us addicts to keep in mind, whether we are in recovery or just think we are. Alcoholics and other addicts relapse. All the time. So can we all, even us old-timers. I’ve seen it way too many times.

I found myself wondering how many of those folks who returned multiple times for detox actually went on to primary treatment or the 12-step groups (hopefully both), versus how many went back out to The World with the same old ideas and habits.

Detox is certainly the first step in the direction of recovery, but it's not the whole answer.  If it were, our repeat business would be zip.  Recovery is about willingness to change: to change how we think, how we relate to others, how we look at our lives, our approaches to problems, and how we solve them (or don’t).  It's about deciding how badly we want to have a life free of drugs.

Woodrow Wilson once said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” We don’t like change. Hardly anyone does. Humans like predictability. We’re like the musician who said he was going to get his guitar tuned and have it welded. We want to get everything in our lives just the way we want it, and then weld it in place.

Welcome to the real world. The only thing that’s certain is change, and if you don’t want to keep on being miserable — regardless of the cause — you have to do what you can to make the changes reasonably predictable. As addicts, alcoholics, or whatever we call ourselves, if we don’t change all the things I mentioned above, and learn the skills to move forward afterward, then we’re going to see detoxes, jails and other institutions, over and over again. Until we die.

Detox is about getting alcohol and other drugs out of our systems, so that we have a shot at making good decisions about the rest of our lives. The secret's not in quitting — it’s in  learning to live in a way so that we can stay quit. We don’t learn that overnight. We don’t learn it from gurus, or New Age books (no matter how many we read) or preachers, or well-meaning friends.  We learn from other addicts and drunks, and we practice.

Staying sober is about practicing the skills of recovery until they become second nature, just like being an addict was second nature. Until that happens, we’re at risk. And if we forget how to live sober lives, slipping instead back into our old ways of thinking and behaving, we’re at risk again.

Some kinds of welding are worth the effort.

A Brief Outline Of The 12 Steps — Step Two

This is the third in a series of posts, in which we hope to inform our readers about some of the details surrounding the programs that we recommend. There are a variety of other programs, but because we and most other facilities shape our treatment plans around the 12 Step fellowships, those are the ones on which we will concentrate.  Today, we're considering Step Two of the 12-step programs.

Step Two reads “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.” The principle behind the second step is Hope — the driving force behind early sobriety.

The second step was an early stumbling block in my recovery. I had no difficulty with the “restore us to sanity” part. What I remembered of the insane ways I tried to live my life when I was using had already taken care of that. If I wasn't insane, why did I regularly drink until I was comatose? Why did I use drugs? Why did I allow my moral standards to slip? Why did I run roughshod through the lives of others, leaving carnage behind? Why did a guy with my brains and education do all that stuff? A sane person doesn't reach a point where he needs to be sitting in a room with a bunch of ex-drunks and -druggies, drinking bad coffee, smoking too many cigarettes, and worrying if he can stay sober and get his life straightened out. Did sane behavior get me there? Puh-leeze!

However, I was unwilling to admit that there was a power greater than myself.  When I was in treatment I told my therapist that he said, “OK. I want you to grab that chair over there (a lightweight folding chair) and carry it with you everywhere you go for the rest of the day.”

I lasted for about two hours, then went back to Ron and said, “OK. This thing’s driving me nuts. What’s your point?” He pointed out two things. The first was that I was powerless over the chair. It was clumsy to carry around, hard to get through doors, and a general pain in the butt no matter what I did, until I put it down. (A little first step lesson, there.) Then he made the real point: that I had done as he asked without question, proving that I was quite willing to perceive someone else as more powerful than myself, and to take suggestions.

Ron was a wise man, as well as a wise guy. In the simplest way possible, he made step two a walk in the park for me — without a chair. He made me understand that simply acknowledging that I couldn’t achieve what I needed to do alone, was accepting that I needed help from a higher power, and that my higher power could be the people who had already succeeded in doing what I needed to do.

So recovering people became my higher power. I kicked and yelled and left fingernail marks, but I let them show me how to stay sober. I believed that I couldn’t do it by myself, and that they could help me. I wanted what they had, and I was willing to go to the necessary lengths to get it. And it worked.

Accepting help, and the hope that comes with it, are pretty hard to avoid if we want to recover. If we are comfortable praying to a Higher Power, that’s fine, but the willingness to accept the folks who went before us as His or Her tools is still necessary. By the same token, lack of faith in God is no excuse (or, more accurately, an excuse is all it is). A higher power can be whatever we are willing to accept, as long as we admit that our best efforts got us to where we are, and that we have already proven that we can’t go it alone.

Are there ways to deal with pain without addictive drugs?

Q. Are there ways to deal with pain without the use of addictive drugs?

Chronic pain is a major problem for millions of Americans. Many billions of dollars are lost every year to employee leave, insurance, disability payments and other care costs.

If we were addicted to pain medications, two things most likely happened: as we built tolerance to the drugs we needed more and more to get relief, and continued use made us unable to stop. The amount of drugs we took is not an issue. Prolonged use of opioid drugs eventually and inevitably results in addiction. Switching narcotic drugs didn’t help the problem, because as far as our bodies are concerned, one opioid drug is pretty much the same as the next.

So now we want to get clean, and we’re terrified of the prospect. Not only are we worried about the issues surrounding detox from drugs, but (perhaps even more) about the management of our pain after we have them out of our systems. It is nowhere nearly as well known as it should be, but there are a wide variety of alternatives to opioid drugs for management of chronic pain. Although we may have used some of these techniques for short-term relief, a long-term regimen conducted by professionals can have results that we never imagined.

Non-narcotic pain management tools include:

  • Physical Therapy: Yes, we had it before, but the presence of the drugs is likely to have prevented our obtaining the results we needed. It is probably the most important of all, because conditioning the rest of our bodies to support the weak areas relieves much of the pressure causing the pain.
  • Heat or Ice Therapy
  • Relaxation Techniques: There are a variety of these. A professional can help you find the right one for you.
  • Biofeedback: a specialized form of relaxation that can help you relax the area that is the source of pain.
  • Massage Therapy
  • Alternative Medicine: Chiropractic, acupuncture and accupressure, reflexology, and similar methods of relieving stresses on the body
  • Proper Diet: A healthy body will enable us to better perform other therapies, and will assist the body in building strength and muscle balance. If we are overweight, this is of particular importance.
  • Psychological and Psychiatric Support: Any program specializing in addiction and chronic pain will have appropriate counselors and psychiatrists to aid in pain management.
  • Medications: There are a variety of non-narcotic medications that, in combination with a good program of treatment, can support our pain relief.
  • Occupational Therapy and Vocational Guidance: Wouldn't it be great to be able to work again? With the aid of professionals, this may be possible.
  • Setting Goals: Once we have arrived at a level of acceptance of our pain, it is imperative that we begin setting specific goals that, once reached, give us hope and raise our self-esteem.
  • Family Therapy: Our family is our first line of support. It’s imperative that they understand not only our pain reduction program, but also our addiction.

As you can see, there are many options. We may have tried some, but with the drugs out of our system it's a whole new ballgame. For more detailed information about chronic pain, please go here.

What Percentage Of Recovering People Never Relapse?

What percentage of recovering people never relapse?

This is one of those questions that we would love to be able to answer, but we can't.  It would be great if we could keep track of people's successes, because the ability to do so would be useful not only in evaluating treatment programs, but also for developing a better understanding of addiction itself.  Relapse is very much a part of addiction.

There are programs, and a variety of other sources, with figures that range from 15% to 75% for eventual sobriety — not necessarily on the first try.  However, there are several factors that tend to make us look toward pretty low figures for sobriety without a relapse.

One of those is simple observation.  While perhaps not statistically valid, all of us who have spent time around the 12-step rooms and/or worked in the treatment field have seen the number of folks who come in looking for help, contrasted with those who are around a year or so later.  Although those who have been through treatment seem to fare better than those who have not, it is also true that the folks with forty and fifty years clean and sober have rarely been through what we would call “treatment” today, simply because it didn't exist back then.

Another indicator is the number of people who repeat detox and other treatment.  Again, this is not statistically significant because we don't know what happened to those we never saw again.  Did they stay clean?  Did they relapse?  Did they die?  And if they didn't stay clean, how long were they abstinent before using again?  Did they get clean again?  We simply don't know, unless they tell us.

Equally, the rooms of AA, NA and the other recovery groups are not useful for gathering information.  It's that doggone “A.”  How do you track people who are in anonymous programs?  The 12-step programs don't even keep track of membership, beyond the occasional list of (voluntary) phone numbers.  If you're clean, and going to meetings, you're a member.  You resign when you leave.  If a person who has been attending meetings disappears, they may have relapsed — or they may simply be going to a different meeting.

Finally, there's the question, “What is relapse?”  It's not correct to say that it's simply picking up a drink or other drug.  It occurred before that, or we wouldn't have picked up.  Using just makes it official.

So there's no way to answer that question with accuracy — in numbers.  But I can tell you who is least likely to relapse.  It's the person who wants sobriety and recovery more than anything else in the world.  Because recovery isn't about abstinence, it's about dealing with life without using, and those who aren't willing to work at learning those skills are unlikely to make it in the long run.

Sunrise Ft. Lauderdale Opening Soon

These are drawings of our new Gold Coast facility, currently in the last phase of construction.

We will be opening in late Spring at 2331 N.E. 53rd Street, Ft. Lauderdale.  (954-491-9700).


I’m In Recovery. Should I Be Taking Ativan?


Ativan 2 mg. -

Q. I’m taking a benzo (Ativan®) for anxiety on the advice of my psychiatrist.  My sponsor says it’s an addictive drug, and that I need to stop taking it.  Do I?

A.  Your sponsor is correct.  There is no question that Ativan® (lorazepam) is a highly-addictive drug, and that long-term use by anyone is undesirable.  In fact, extended use of any benzo is problematic, and there are other anti-anxiety medications that are more appropriate.  The action of benzodiazepines in the brain is similar to that of other addictive drugs, and your central nervous system cannot recover to a normal state while they are in your body.  Thus, other addictions are prolonged, and there is great possibility of relapse to other drugs.

You would be well-advised to discuss this with your physician, and to make arrangements to detox safely from the lorazepam. The ideal scenario would be treatment in a specialized detox facility with 24-hour medical monitoring. That would give you access to addiction experts who are up to date on best practices.  The facility would also be able to provide referrals for aftercare.  Post-acute withdrawal from benzos can be prolonged and severe, and may require clinical attention after detox.

Do not, whatever you do, take it upon yourself to stop without medical monitoring. Withdrawal from lorazepam can be fatal, and you need to be under a physician’s watchful eye, and adhering to a strict detox protocol.