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With upwards of 15,000 substance abuse treatment facilities in the U.S., it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you or a loved one. One of the best ways to choose the right treatment program is to consider the facilities certifications. A seal of approval from the Joint Commission (JCAHO) is considered the highest award available


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As addicts, drugs and alcohol take over our actions, as well as our thoughts. The “great obsession” of using liquefies any desire to pursue interests that we either used to love or might find enriching to our lives. Refreshed and renewed, many of us feel the overwhelming need to replenish our desires with healthy actions. And this is where the concept of a new #drugofchoice is formulated.


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December 22, 2015 Marissa ObrienAlcoholism

It’s not often you hear something that, despite its irony, makes perfect sense. When most people think of an alcoholic, they envision a person at the bottom of the social scale, brown-bagging their addiction on a street corner. However, the alcoholics that I have come to know and love are amazingly deep, talented, insightful and giving people. They’ve had the blessing of connecting with the truest, most exquisite version of themselves as a direct result of their alcoholism.



Addiction, like most other chronic diseases, simply does not seem fair. Why must some individuals undergo years of pain and agony at the hands of alcoholism while others can successfully drink a glass of wine with dinner? Why do some individuals develop life-threatening addictions to cocaine while others seem to experiment safely with the drug in college, ultimately leaving partying behind in exchange for a family and a career? There are several factors that affect which men and women are afflicted with the disease of addiction, some unavoidable and some based on influences that might have been circumvented. Of course, regardless of how you have ended up addicted, what is more important than uncovering reason is getting immediate professional help.

Why Do Some People Wind Up Addicted? Unavoidable Factors

The most prevalent unavoidable contributing factor of addiction is genetic predisposition. It has been proven in numerous studies that there is a direct genetic link between addicted parents and addicted children, thus those that come from families in which addiction and alcoholism are extremely prevalent are far more likely to develop substance dependencies themselves. In fact, scientists estimate that between 40% and 60% of an individuals risk of developing an addiction to drugs and alcohol is based solely on genetics. Interestingly enough, genetic predisposition may not manifest itself in the same addictive behaviors as experienced by parents. While a parental figure may be alcoholic or drug addicted, their offspring may experience sex addiction or an addiction to gambling or spending. All addictive behaviors stem from the same general neurological inconsistency, thus addictive genetics may establish themselves in a variety of ways.

Additionally, dual diagnosis disorders are often an unavoidable factor of addiction. Those that suffer from co-occurring psychological disorders tend to begin using chemical substances in order to ‘self-medicate’ – alleviate symptoms of their undiagnosed or untreated disorders through any means necessary. Most individuals who attend addiction treatment for any extended period of time will be diagnosed with some variation of dual diagnosis disorder, ranging from anxiety and depression to bipolar and schizophrenia.

Avoidable Factors of Eventual Substance Dependency

Many contributing factors of addiction have to do with influences that could have been avoided, such as environment and upbringing. If an individual grows up in a somewhat impoverished area that is densely populated with men and women who commit crime and engage in adolescent drug abuse, the likelihood of experimentation at a young age inevitably increases. If a child is brought up in a house in which drinking is normalized and even encouraged, he or she is more likely to begin drinking at a young age. While many of these factors are arguably unavoidable, if an at-risk child is removed from a precarious household or community he or she is more liable to grow up without formulating a dependence on chemical substance.

Again, while addiction may seem unfair and it may who is afflicted and who is not may seem somewhat random, the important thing is to get help when a serious addiction is identified. If you cannot control your drinking or drug use and believe professional treatment may be a necessity, please feel free to give our trained representatives a call at your early convenience.



Even if your friends and family members are constantly giving you guff about the excess of your drinking, it may be hard to come to terms with the fact that you might possibly be struggling with a drinking problem to some degree. After all, no one really knows, they aren’t doctors. And most of your friends drink the same amount you do, just because there are a few wet blankets in the bunch doesn’t mean those of you who do know how to have a good time are alcoholics. I certainly did not know I was alcoholic until long after everyone close to me did. My parents and close relatives held a professional intervention for me when I was 21. I essentially laughed in their faces, convinced that they were losing their minds and I was just a regular ole college student, binge drinking 5 times a week as I should be.

It wasn’t until I was 23 that I realized alcoholism was a progressive disease, and my loved ones were able to detect the beginning stages while I remained deep in denial. By 23 I was binge drinking alone every evening, drinking throughout the day, and self-harming during some of my blackouts because I simply could not bear to be myself. Fortunately I had another shot at recovery, and checked into treatment in October of 2013. There is absolutely a big part of me that wishes I would have recognized my affliction sooner – I would have been saved 3 years of hurt and heartache, the empty despair that some alcoholics bottom into until they are lifted out by the hands of those that came before them. However, I am also grateful that things got as bad as they did, for this desperation allowed me to dive headfirst into a program of recovery that would prove to save my life.

How Do I Know If Treatment Is Necessary?

Have you ever tried to control your drinking? Many individuals who unwittingly suffer from alcoholism go to great lengths in attempting to control their drinking. Some will switch from hard liquor to only beer or wine, promising themselves they will avoid the hard stuff indefinitely only to return to it weeks later. Some will vow to only drink on weekends, some will promise themselves they will drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage. If these insane rules are successful, they are likely only so for a short time – and soon, drinking is reinstated as it was, or worse. If you are questioning whether or not you are actually an alcoholic, practice some moderate drinking. Go to the bar and have one drink. Take notice as to whether or not you are obsessing over drinking more, if you are consumed with thoughts of alcohol and drinking even if you are able to stop yourself from physically imbibing. See if you can go for a week or a month without use. See how prevalent thoughts of drinking are in your day-to-day life. Keep in mind that you may be able to forgo drinking for an extended period of time successfully. But are you happy? Do you feel fulfilled? Or are you engaging in other outlets of distraction and self-destructive behavior? When it comes down to it, you may be an alcoholic if you cannot control your drinking or cannot control how much you drink once you pick up – and even if you can control your drinking because your will-power is exceptionally impressive, you may be an alcoholic if you find yourself consumed with thoughts of drinking when you are not. Try to drink like a gentlemen if you are unsure, and be completely honest with yourself during the process. And if you do believe that you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or any other chemical substance, call Hope Center today for a personalized and detailed evaluation.



February 26, 2015 Marissa ObrienAlcoholism0

One of the biggest hurdles men and women who are new to sobriety face is coming to terms with the fact that in order to truly recover, total abstinence from all mood and mind altering substances is a crucial commitment. For most chronic alcoholics, the idea that drinking will never again be an option is too difficult to accept outright. Imagining a life completely sans alcohol is like imagining a life without hands – almost unfathomable, and unquestioningly overwhelming. For this reason, the age-old adage “one day at a time” has become a staple of recovery programs and treatment centers across the world, suggesting that ‘baby steps’ are not only accepted, but highly recommended when dealing with a life of abstinence.

Never Drinking Again… A Terrifying Concept

There is a major difference in knowing you are an alcoholic and accepting it. In many cases, an individual will know he or she has a serious issue with alcohol before ever admitting to needing professional help, let alone accepting that he or she is afflicted with alcoholism – a lifelong, chronic disease that can be put into remission but never cured in totality. If you have been desperately trying to control your drinking only to find that your drinking is, in fact, controlling you, you may know deep down that your struggle is real and very serious, and that you may be suffering from the disease of alcoholism. However, coming forward and calling yourself an “alcoholic” is terrifying – there is a certain level of commitment attached to the utterance of these words… “Hi, my name is _________, and I am an alcoholic.” Once you ascertain yourself as a true alcoholic, you know that the next step will be reaching out for help. Those who are not yet ready to do this frequently remain “problem drinkers” or “booze hounds”.

Another frightening aspect of accepting alcoholism is the knowledge that you will never be able to drink successfully, not matter how hard you try. This may take years for some alcoholics to fully accept, and unfortunately many continuously tempt fate, trying to control their drinking until they eventually kill themselves in the process. The daily reprieve standpoint has proven especially helpful in such cases. Every morning upon waking, simply commit to not picking up a drink for the length of the day. Tell yourself that if you still want to drink tomorrow, that is always an option. Delay the inevitable until it becomes the impossible.



January 26, 2015 Marissa ObrienAlcoholism0

As I walked onstage in my flowing black gown, I took a moment to look out into the cheering crowd and find my family – my beaming parents, clapping with unadulterated fulfillment as their only daughter waved her hard-earned diploma in the air, tears of self-satisfaction streaming down her accomplished, collegiate face. Actually, it didn’t happen quite like that. I don’t really remember very much of the actual ceremony… I had chugged 2 bottles of cheap champagne in my apartment as I straightened my hair and waited for my boyfriend to come back with the airplane bottles of Smirnoff I had obnoxiously requested so last minute. By the time I stumbled onstage I was in the midst of one of my celebratory brownouts, probably concentrating more on not doing the drunk-girl-baby-deer-walk than on appreciating this like, culmination of everything I had ever been working towards. But looking back, it kind of makes sense that my actual graduation was a wasted commemoration, seeing as I was (metaphorically) picking up a BA in fooling everyone as to how much of a booze hound I actually was; picking up my scrolled-up Basic Alcoholic paperwork as I burped up vodka fumes and tried not to puke on my robe.

My Favorite Brand of Vodka was “Plastic Bottle” Vodka

My parents knew I was taking the whole college party thing a little too far when I came home for Thanksgiving break freshman year and peed on my floor at 3 a.m. thinking I was in my dorm bathroom. Even as I drunkenly scrubbed it out of my rug the next morning, I laughed to myself, almost proud for having at least made it out of the bed. After all, everyone I knew peed in places they were not supposed to pee. My then-boyfriend peed on our new ottoman the first night we met (I knew it was love), my buddy Jacob peed in my roommate’s bed when she was out of town (she wasn’t stoked), and I had probably peed in every parking garage in Westwood at least 13 times. Unfortunately, things sort of went downhill from there. Frat parties stopped being fun after I successfully gained an unfavorable reputation (and a slightly derogatory nickname), my grades started dropping below the contented B as I stayed out later and started drinking earlier (thermos filled with Bailey’s in 8 am French class turned to water bottle filled with vodka turned to ‘I can probably skip class today and tomorrow and every day forever’), and living situations grew strained when my roommates consistently awoke to mysteriously devoured Chinese leftovers.

“I Knocked Over Your Leftovers, I Will Buy You More”, Read the Note. I Ate Them, and I Never Bought More.

The delight I once took in being able to drink my male friends under the table quickly turned to the fearful realization that this was less of a skill than it was a serious problem. I was walking around blacked-out nearly half the time and no one really seemed to notice. To some degree I suppose that was when my functioning alcoholism began to take effect. Yet my peers continued to go out on weekends, and I was careful to surround myself with like-livered individuals who wouldn’t scorn my excess. There are many factors that contribute to college students actively participating in binge drinking and other detrimental alcohol-driven behaviors, one of the most obvious and prevalent being that everyone is doing it. My mom used to say, “Just hang out with people who don’t drink!” as if this was even an option. I never met a human college student who didn’t AT LEAST shotgun Natty Lite on Thursdays. The commonality of alcoholic drinking and the widespread tolerance for overconsumption makes the collegiate environment especially dangerous – a breeding ground for dormant genes stirred to life by gratuitous beer pong tourneys and themed frat parties that might as well all be themed “wear as little clothing as possible please show us your boobs”. College can be pretty dangerous for the coming-of-age lush, and for those who fear they are drinking a little more heavily than their sorority sisters or who find they need a screwball in order to wake up and cram, it would be wise to examine whether such behavior is a mere product of environment or the beginning stages of a devastating and life-threatening disease.

My glory days of handle pulls and King’s Cup lead to an extended stay in an inpatient rehab in Southern Florida, and while I somehow managed to walk away from 4 years of partying and promiscuity with a degree, seeking help as soon as I recognized I needed it would have saved me and my loved ones from the unimaginable heartache and distress I caused and lived with during and after my college experience.



January 15, 2015 Marissa ObrienAlcoholism0

Withdrawing from alcohol is not only excruciatingly painful, but it can be highly lethal. One of the most dangerous and distressing symptoms of withdrawal from chronic alcohol abuse is delirium tremens. Delirium tremens (Latin for ‘shaking frenzy’) involves a sudden and severe change in one’s nervous system and mental system, and typically affects those who stop drinking suddenly after a period of 10 or more years. Delirium tremens can also be caused by a head injury, severe illness, or infection in people who are afflicted with long-term chronic alcoholism. There are several differences between alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the DTs – both sets of symptoms are listed below.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Heart palpitations

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens

  • Body tremors
  • Changes in mental function
  • Agitation, irritability
  • Confusion, disorientation
  • Decreased attention span
  • Deep sleep that lasts up to several days
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid changes in mood
  • Sensitivity to light, touch and sound
  • Stupor, sleepiness, fatigue

Delirium tremens is the most serious form of ethanol withdrawal, and can ultimately (and quickly) lead to total cardiovascular collapse. Because DT has such an exceedingly high mortality rate, any symptoms require immediate medical attention. Several neurotransmitters within the brain are directly affected by chronic alcohol consumption. During alcohol withdrawal, the loss of GABA-A receptor stimulation causes a reduction in chloride flux and in turn is likely to produce or contribute to tremors, anxiety, seizures, tachycardia (increased heart rate), and diaphoresis (profusely sweating).

In the United States, less than 50% of alcoholics experience serious withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing use. Out of those who do, only around 5% will undergo symptoms of delirium tremens. Before pharmacotherapy was available, a staggering 35% of DT sufferers experienced mortality. Currently, the death rates range between 5 and 15%. In the majority of cases, the DTs are treated with benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals, as well as antipsychotics if necessary. Because the symptoms of delirium tremens can be so severe and life-threatening, if you or someone you love has been exhibiting signs of alcohol withdrawal or has decided to cease use, it is important that he or she check him or herself into a professional, medically monitored detoxification center immediately.



January 13, 2015 Marissa ObrienAlcoholism0

Alcohol poisoning kills an average of over 6 Americans on a daily basis – a total of 2200 per year. Shockingly, the vast majority of those who die at the hands of alcohol poisoning are not identified as having any past history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. 70% of those who pass away at the hands of alcohol poisoning are not identified as alcoholics, and 3 out of every 4 victims are adults aged 35-65 years old. Binge drinking has become a disturbing trend amongst middle aged white males, and has resulted in mass amounts of deaths over the course of the past several years. What is alcohol poisoning, and why has this trend been escalating at such an unsettling rate in recent years?

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol is a toxin, and the liver must filter it out of the body upon consumption. Whatever alcohol cannot be filtered out of the body backs up into the bloodstream. When the alcohol concentration within the bloodstream becomes too high, it will likely cause severe damage to the physical and mental wellbeing of an individual. Breathing tends to slow significantly, as does the gag reflex as well as the heartbeat. If one passes out as a result of decreased pulse and vomits with limited gag reflex, he or she is likely to choke. Alcohol poisoning may also cause one to slip into a coma, or cause their heartbeat to become extremely erratic. Other signs that one may be suffering from alcohol poisoning include slurred speech, total lack of coordination, or profuse vomiting. Poisoning caused by overdose can be fatal (and frequently is), so it is important that medical help is sought immediately.

Why The Increase In Binge Drinking?

Interestingly enough, it isn’t the stereotypical college student who is binge drinking beyond the point of simple hangover – middle-aged men and women tend to be the ones suffering the most at the hands at alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related deaths. There is no clear-cut reason as to why this is happening, it is only apparent that awareness needs to be raised in order to prevent this lethal trend from progressing. If you or someone you love has been engaging in binge drinking and needs help to stop, contact one of our trained representatives in order to find out what steps you can take in seeking help.


The Hope Center

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation offers a full range of services both leading up to, during and following treatment, including professional interventions, a luxury, medically assisted detox program, inpatient rehabilitation (30-90 days), intensive out-patient rehabilitation and out-patient services. Each of our clients become a part of our alumni program at the completion of their treatment to help foster a continued community of recovery.

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