February 27, 2015 Marissa ObrienAddiction0

As the world becomes increasingly connected, as the internet becomes an increasingly important part of everyone’s daily life, the typical heroin addict is changing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I doubt the internet is the main reason the demographic of heroin addicts is changing, but I do think it plays a part. as information about heroin, painkillers, and other drugs is spread across the web, more and more nontraditional addicts are born.

The massive gentrification of American society, and the resulting massive wealth gap, also plays a part. I’m speaking from personal experience here. Growing up in a typical, boring suburban town made the allure of drugs all the greater. And no drug had a greater allure than heroin.

Of course, there’s a difference between me and many other people – I’m an addict and alcoholic. I tried anything and everything to change the way I felt. Of all the chemicals I tried, opioids did the best job.

So no, the internet and an increasingly gentrified society aren’t to blame for the recent spike in heroin addiction, but they do play a role.

What Makes a Heroin Addict?

As recently as ten to fifteen years ago, heroin addicts were thought of as homeless, mentally ill, disheveled individuals. They were all assumed to live under bridge and panhandle for money. They were assumed to be violent, or at best unstable, and beyond aid.

Today, that stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Today’s heroin addicts are largely middle class kids in their twenties and thirties. To put it another way, the millennial generation might as well be called the heroin generation. Sound a bit over the top? Well it isn’t.

Consider that among eighteen to twenty-six year olds heroin is one of the only drugs that’s increasing in use. It’s one of the most popular drugs, behind only marijuana, painkillers, and spice (synthetic cannabis).

Consider that today’s heroin is so pure users don’t need to inject it. In years past, heroin was under 10% pure. This meant the only way for heroin addicts to really “feel” the drug was via injection. With today’s heroin being around 50% pure, new users can simply snort or smoke the drug. This decreases the taboo associated with the drug and leads potential users to try it.

Of course, there’s another factor that influences potential heroin users. I’m talking, of course, about famous heroin addicts.

Famous Heroin Addicts

Heroin has a mystique of hipness around it. This is due in no small part to the many famous heroin addicts who have abused the drug. Smart, creative, attractive, and influential people have all contributed to the “sexiness” of heroin.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m making a bit of a stretch? Google “famous heroin addicts” and see what pops up. More to the point, consider that an entire fashion movement sprang up around the emaciated look common to heroin users. It was called heroin chic.

So, who are these famous heroin addicts? Well, they range from rock stars to actors to writers and beyond. Jim Morrison, William Burroughs, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, and Chris Farley all had one thing in common. They were all heroin addicts.

Their creativity was often attributed to their opioid use. This, in turn, led heroin to be thought of as some sort of artistic muse. It’s a misconception that persists to this day. I’m sure the myth of the famous heroin addict has also played a part in heroin’s booming popularity.

How to Help the New Heroin Addict

Okay, heroin is popular. That point has been driven home by this article and, more importantly, by a generation of heroin addicts. So, how can we help the “new” heroin user? How can we offer hope to those who so desperately need it?

The answer is actually rather simple. We let heroin addicts know that recovery is possible. That’s it, nothing more and nothing less.

Treatment centers need to be more than simply havens for those struggling with substance abuse. They need to be institutes in every sense of the word. They need to shout from the mountaintops that sobriety is possible for everyone.

Individuals who have successfully kicked their addiction also need to speak up. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m an individual in long-term recovery and I take every opportunity offered to make that fact known. I don’t walk around town with a sign over my head, but I don’t shy away from mentioning my past if it’ll help someone else.

With treatment centers offering a message of recovery, and with sober individuals living a message of recovery, change can’t help but come. It’s that simple my friends. I promise.

Fiona StockardWe are proud to feature this guest blog post by Fiona Stockard. Fiona has been in recovery for over 5 years and now works at a Florida addiction rehab, helping addicts recover each day by delivering her message of strength and hope.

January 26, 2015 Marissa ObrienRecovery0

Even one with a solid 15 years of sobriety under his or her belt may be thrown for a loop when an unfamiliar person, place, or situation unexpectedly produces an urge or temptation to drown feelings in a bottle of Jack or return to the mind-numbing comfort of a handful of prescription pills. While some triggers can catch an individual completely off-guard, they are most often preventable and completely manageable. When handling urges to drink, it is important that you utilize three techniques that have proven extremely successfully in swiftly diminishing cravings.

How To Cope With Triggers in Recovery

Firstly, it is crucial that you recognize and identify the trigger you are experiencing. There are two main types of triggers – internal and external. When the way you feel causes you to want to pick up, this is an internal trigger. A desire to use could be spurned by a negative emotion, a positive emotion, or a physical feeling or discomfort. Internal triggers are less avoidable than external triggers, but with some self-control and coping mechanisms they can easily be remedied. External triggers consist of people, places, times of day, or specific events that offer opportunities to drink or force you to recall past use. These are often more obvious and easy to avoid – simply be cognizant of situations you feel weary about and remember to prioritize your sobriety. And if entering a high-risk situation seems somewhat unavoidable, remember to bring along a sober support or have one on-hand to call if you begin to feel antsy.

Once you recognize your triggers, simply begin by avoiding the things you know will cause you to feel overwhelmingly uncomfortable. If you keep track of what triggers you, you will quickly gain an acute awareness of what it is you should be evading. Socially, at least in early sobriety, it is good to avoid events that you know will involve drinking and drugging. Eventually, when your sobriety is more stable and you have thoroughly learned appropriate and effective coping mechanisms, you may likely be able to socialize with old friends in old situations that were previously too dangerous for you to be involved in.

Remember to Think Things Through

Of course, it is impossible to avoid all potential triggers. Some may be unexpected, and some may just require you to suck it up and tough it out. You are strong, and there is nothing you cannot handle or make it through with a little controlled breathing and the phone numbers of a few close sober supports. If you find yourself in a high-risk situation you cannot leave right away, take a moment to remind yourself why it is you decided to get sober in the first place. Play the tape through – if you pick up now, where will you be in a week? A month? Back in detox, sitting through the same redundant group therapy classes, feeling dopesick and depressed? Is it really worth it? There is no trigger you can not make it through if you practice coping techniques and stay strong.

January 14, 2015 Marissa ObrienRecovery0

The process of recovery is never a simple one – addiction is not a disease that can be treated with a one-week course of antibiotics or a month of intensive therapy. Addiction treatment is a lifelong process of spiritual growth and mental and emotional healing. Because every addict is different and each individual story of substance dependency is so highly unique, the methods of treatment must vary based on personal needs. While the incorporation of spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation may prove highly beneficial to some, others may choose to get and stay extremely involved in a 12-step fellowship, sponsoring other addicts and attending meetings on a daily basis. You will undeniably have ample time in early sobriety to discover what combination of personally enhancing activities works best to maintain your recovery and continuously aid in progressing your spiritual wellbeing. The key to success is obtaining serenity. Listed below are several activities you may choose to explore on your journey towards a fulfilled, serene, and sober life.

Finding Serenity in Addiction Recovery

  1. Obtain serenity through working with animals.

There is something innately therapeutic about spending time around animals. Volunteering at a local shelter or adoption service can be extremely beneficial to emotional health, and the spiritual bond that animals and humans tend to form can teach one a thing or two about unspoken amity.

  1. Explore the natural expanses in your area – meditate outside.

If you are seeking a higher level of spiritual reconciliation, few things are more helpful than immersing yourself in the midst of the great outdoors. Find a quiet place where you can be alone, and meditate in the way you see fit. Sit in silence, sing, or paint a picture of the sky.

  1. Find a hobby that truly makes you happy – think outside the box.

You have most likely spent so long drowning any inclinations of interest in booze and drugs that you may not know what it is you enjoy to any degree. So try new things. Who knows? You may find solace in reading comic books, or riding horses, or fencing, or paddle boarding. Allow yourself to truly explore potential personal pleasures.

Learn how to dance hip-hop, learn how to read music, learn how to skateboard, how to fly a kite, how to count to 10 in Mandarin. Take a cooking class, go back to school, sit in on a psychology class at the local community college.

Not only will teaching help others, it will remind you of your own importance and set of valuable assets. Tutor once a week, coach a youth sports team, offer to teach a friend how to play the piano. You will be amazed to find how much you truly have to offer.

  1. Find an artistic medium that appeals to you.

Photography, dance, sketching, poetry, painting, sculpting, theatre, birdhouse construction… express yourself artistically for improved spiritual health.

  1. Help someone in need.

Anyone. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, install something for your neighbor, buy a broke friend lunch. Helping those in need is always a surefire way to bolster spirituality as well as gratitude.

Of course, the most risk-way free to guarantee a serene life is to join a 12-step fellowship and work through the steps with a trusted sponsor. Think of other forms of spiritual exploration and growth as supplements, taken daily to feel your physical, emotional, and mental best. And remember – while things may seem difficult now and spiritual health may seem an unattainable goal in times of distress and negativity, you have everything within the acorn of your soul to become a massive, sturdy oak with a little bit of nurturing and patience.

January 7, 2015 Marissa ObrienRecovery0


One of the main concerns men and women entering recovery for painkiller addiction might face is how to alleviate pain without the use of pharmaceuticals. Many opiate addicts are initially prescribed painkillers to treat chronic pain or serious injuries, and become addicted to the medications they are prescribed based on a combination of addictive qualities (of the drugs) and addictive personalities (of the individuals). Fortunately for those who may be kicking painkiller addiction while still living with pain, there are many natural ways to kill pain without turning to the (pill) bottle.

All Natural Ways to Relieve Pain

  1. Meditation

Not only is meditation good for chronic pain reduction, but it is also a proven way to manage symptoms. If you are new to meditation and aren’t sure where to start, begin with simple breathing exercises.

  1. Yoga

Yoga is great for lower back pain, arthritis, and migraines. Yoga is known to be successful in reducing pain in large part because it promotes relaxation and reduces stress, which worsens pain significantly.

  1. Massage

Massage is great for surgery-related pains as well as fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and neck and back pains. Massage therapy boosts serotonin and endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Changing the way you think about your aches and pains can in turn greatly reduce them. CBT has proven the most effective way to treat chronic pain without the use of medication.

  1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture not only helps with chronic migraines and tension headaches, it can also help to relieve back pain, fibromyalgia, and pain caused by arthritis. This practice helps relieve pain while improving the overall function of the central nervous system.

  1. Herbs

Herbs are an age-old remedy for nearly anything, so it makes sense that at least several help immensely with chronic pain. Ginger, turmeric, and St. John’s Wort have anti-inflammatory properties that all aid greatly in pain reduction.

No matter where your pain or how intense, there are many ways to greatly reduce and ease whatever discomfort you are experiencing.

January 5, 2015 Marissa ObrienRecovery0

It is not uncommon for drug addicts and alcoholics in the early stages of substance dependency to completely convince themselves that despite their frequent use they can stop using whenever they please. While this may be true initially, all addicts will eventually reach a point in their use when they lose all control over how much and how often they use. This is an absolute and conclusive symptom of addiction – despite negative consequences, the addict will continue using, lacking all control. Once the addiction reaches this point it will be exceedingly difficult to kick a drug or alcohol habit without professional intervention and extended therapeutic treatment. Research has proven that long-term drug use undeniably leads to serious changes in brain function that persist for a significant amount of time after an individual ceases use entirely. The behavioral changes caused by these brain functions will require professional medical treatment in order to be remedied thoroughly and permanently. If you have personally tried to quit on several occasions, finding each time that you pick back up (possibly convincing yourself that you are ‘not ready’ to quit), it may be time to seriously consider entering an inpatient drug rehab.

Can I Do It On My Own?

In some instances, it may be possible to quit on your own. If you have just begun using consistently and want to stop permanently before losing control entirely, simply attending local 12-step meetings and dedicating yourself to working through the steps with a sponsor may be enough. It is important to remember that everyone is different, and while daily attendance at 12-step meetings may work for some, intensive inpatient may be a requirement for others. The most significant factor is how far progressed the disease is at the time treatment is being considered. If you simply cannot go more than several hours without using no matter what, a physical separation from your environment is most likely essential. Drug rehab acts as a barrier from the outside world, eliminating all external triggers, sources, and distractions. Even if you are able to stop using for days, weeks, or months at a time, drug rehab allows the opportunity to uncover and treat underlying causes of addiction and ensure long-term abstinence and a meaningful and fulfilled drug-free life. Thus even if you believe you can do it on your own, the likelihood of relapse is astronomical, and the reality is that true addiction can never be overcome alone.

December 31, 2014 Marissa ObrienRecovery0

The hormonal imbalance in females caused by pre-menstruation can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety – both of which are detrimental to maintained sobriety. It is not uncommon for females in early recovery to relapse during PMS, seeing as hormone function is thrown off and unfamiliar or seemingly irrational emotions take over swiftly and without fair warning. For this reason, it is very important for pre-menopausal women to be aware of their own personal cycles, and to take serious heed to the following suggestions of how to stay sober through “that time of the month” every month.

How To Stay Sober Through PMS

  • Stay Rational

I know this one might seem relatively impossible, but what I mean by “staying rational” is simply remembering why it is you are experiencing severe mood swings at crying at every commercial you see on Lifetime. Keep in mind that the severe emotional instability is only temporary, and within a week you will be back in perfect working order.

  • Dark Chocolate

The serotonin-boosting cocoa found in dark chocolate will not only help improve your mood, but also help to satisfy your seemingly insatiable craving for… everything. And try not to be too hard on yourself – it is totally acceptable to eat like a ravenous beast a couple days out of the month, as long as you balance your binging with a little of the below.

  • Exercise

Moderate exercise such as power walking and yoga can help relieve cramps and help keep your mental wellbeing in check. Exercise has also been scientifically proven to reduce cravings, so throw on your jogging shoes and take a little run around the block whenever you start to feel somewhat restless.

  • Girlfriends

Having a solid group of sober girlfriends that can relate to your struggles is always a good idea. It is pretty likely that if you spend enough time together you’ll end up syncing up, so organize a monthly RomCom party and tell everyone to bring a box of tissues and a snack to share.

  • Let Yourself Relax

Take a break! Give yourself a mental health day and stay inside watching guilty pleasure TV shows and eating chocolate chip cookie dough. You deserve a day off, and if your emotions are a little out of whack taking a sick day will probably ultimately do more good than harm. Just remember to take whatever steps necessary to keep yourself sane and sober, and keep in mind – this too shall pass!

December 31, 2014 Marissa ObrienRecovery0

It’s probably safe to say that you and your liver are not on the best of terms, despite the fact that you have promised to give up the booze and drugs and start working towards repairing the extensive damage you have undeniably done to the relationship. Your liver is probably signing and rolling its eyes, saying to itself, “I’ve heard that before.” If you are serious about recovery, it is time to prove to your liver (and to yourself) that you mean business, and boost liver health significantly following these five simple guidelines.

Boost Liver Health

  1. Exercise

Incorporating weekly exercise into your routine will help your entire body function properly – and work to flush all of the accumulated toxins out of your liver.

  1. Practice Safe Sex

One of the best things you can do for your liver is protect it from sexually transmitted diseases such as Hepatitis B and C. What many individuals do not know about liver health is that is directly correlated to sexual wellness, and can optimized by engaging in safe sexual activity.

  1. Eat Well

Carrots, beets, and ground flax seeds all promote liver health. Incorporate liver-boosting nutrients into your diet by eating raw produce more often, and supplementing your daily intake with additional vitamins. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other natural whole foods will do your entire body – including your liver – good.

  1. Quit Smoking

Your liver has worked hard for years, desperately attempting to flush out the toxins you polluted your body with on a daily basis. And while it is extremely common for those in recovery to take up, increase, or merely continue smoking, cigarettes can do harm to your liver as well. And what with the New Year coming up, this is as good a time as any to quit!

  1. Lose That Extra Poundage

Just as some may gain the “Freshman 15” in their first year of college, many newly sober addicts and alcoholics will gain ample weight once they commit to ceasing use or drugs and alcohol. This is often a good thing, though a little too much extra weight is also fairly prevalent. Be sure to exercise regularly to keep your body at a healthy weight – this will do your liver good in the long run.

December 31, 2014 Marissa ObrienRecovery0

Let’s get honest about something for a second – if we could still get high or drunk without experiencing any of the innumerable negative consequences that go hand-in-hand with using, would we? There are times (though fewer and farther between nowadays) when I would love to hand in my “Get Out of Jail Free” card and feel a little shwasty without actually picking up. After all, we used because it was fun, right? At least in the very beginning. There’s no shame in admitting that no matter how terrible things got later down the line, we initially actually enjoyed getting high. Well, fortunately, we still can get high… high on life. I’m sure by now you’re rolling your eyes in bitter exasperation, recalling your 6th grade D.A.R.E. class (thank goodness for that program, right??). Well, it’s true. Take part in any of these 5 activities to experience a high like none other you have felt before.

Ways to “Get High” Without Drugs

  1. Hit Up a Theme Park

Rollercoasters produce an adrenaline rush that is essentially incomparable. Screaming at the top of your lungs while twisting and turning throughout the sky might seem like a weird way to experience the thrill of living, but the feeling you have while fearing for your life mid-air is definitely a natural high worth trying. Not all theme parks are insanely unaffordable, either. There is bound to be a crappy (but fun) water park somewhere nearby, or a family-owned theme park that might be creepy but could be more exciting than Disneyworld.

  1. Dance!

Just because you are sober does not mean you can’t go out dancing with a solid group of sober friends. As long as you have a support system in place and feel comfortable and safe, dressing up and heading to a dance club can potentially be a crazy fun way to spend your Saturday night. Dancing is great exercise and produces serotonin, and laughing with friends is always a healthy natural high.

  1. Go On a Run

Talk about producing serotonin! Exercise enthusiasts don’t talk about a “runner’s high” for no reason – it truly exists. The feeling one gets at the end of a long run is one of pure bliss… depending on how in-shape you are. If you’ve packed on the rehab poundage you may want to start off relatively slow.

  1. Laugh

There is literally no better natural high than sharing a hearty laugh with friends. Go see a comedy show, or organize a Ben Stiller movie marathon. Not a Ben Stiller fan? Try Adam Sandler.

  1. Give

Giving back in any way not only produces a natural high, it helps build self-esteem to a greater degree than nearly anything else. There are innumerable ways to give back to the community – volunteer, pick up trash, or simply make a goofy piece of art for someone close to you in order to show your appreciation. There are many ways to “get high” without using drugs or alcohol – experiment to find out which serotonin-producing activity is your personal favorite.

December 10, 2014 wolf_q5c4wqomRecovery0

If you are beginning a journey into recovery, there is no question you will begin hearing a lot of buzz regarding the importance of 12-step programs. What you may not know is that Alcoholics Anonymous is far from the only 12-step fellowship that will become available to you. Meetings and 12-step programs have proven so successful for alcoholics that many other groups have taken on the philosophy, and programs are now available to drug addicts, sex addicts, compulsive gamblers, overeaters, and more. When deciding which 12-step program is right for you, there are several variables you will want to look at. And remember, you are free to join as many fellowships as you see fit – the main goal is to make sure you fully recover and finally live a fulfilled and meaningful life.

There Are Many Fellowships Available

In this day and age, there are somewhere around 40 12-step programs available to addicts and trauma survivors of all kinds. The most popular fellowships nationwide are without question AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous). Typically, alcoholics and those who struggled primarily with alcohol will join an AA group, while those who mainly battled an addiction to drugs of any kind will lean towards NA. Both programs run similarly, while the main literature studied in AA, the Big Book, varies from the NA literature. Other popular fellowships are CA (Cocaine Anonymous), CoDA (Codependents Anonymous), GA (Gamblers Anonymous), OA (Overeaters Anonymous), and SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous). Many members of Alcoholics Anonymous will choose to attend weekly meetings of an additional 12-step fellowship based on the fact that the vast majority of alcoholics are dual-diagnosed with other psychological conditions.

Which Fellowship is Right For You?

While it is very important that you eventually settle down in one main fellowship and obtain a homegroup (a 12-step meeting that you attend at the same time on a weekly basis), you will also find a lot of flexibility while you are trying to decipher which program best suits your unique and personal needs. They say, “If the shoe fits, wear it!” Where recovery is concerned, do not be afraid to try on as many shoes as you see fit! A 12-step fellowship will undoubtedly prove to be a crucial part of your sustained sobriety, and will most likely save your life.

November 26, 2014 wolf_q5c4wqomAddiction0

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are a time that people tend to use either in excess or more frequently to either celebrate or escape. I’ve heard time and time again from folks in recovery that they wanted to wait for the holidays, a wedding, a birthday or other meaningful event to pass before entering treatment to get clean and sober. Unfortunately in many cases, during this time they proceed to make a fool of themselves in front of family, ruin a wedding or potentially overdose in their disease. Was putting off seeking help really worth their health, life and the respect of themselves? No way!

Looking back, in hindsight, the following are other common excuses that are shared by many recovery for putting off seeking treatment. Which one(s) do you relate to?

It’s Expensive

Pay for treatment?! I’ve spent all of my money on drugs or alcohol and have nothing left. I don’t have the money to spend right now. I don’t even have insurance. How can I afford this?

Financially, treatment can be expensive. The good news is that almost all treatment centers will work with you on payment plans or sliding scale costs. Also, there are scholarships in place set forth by the government or treatment centers themselves that can sometimes fund an entire stay in treatment. Make sure to ask about if they have any financial assistance options. Treatment is possible without insurance.

I’m Embarrassed and Scared

What are my friends and family going to think? What will my job or coworkers think? Am I going to lose all of these people because of my addiction? What if I fail? People are no longer going to like me

It’s completely understandable to be embarrassing and scared. Nobody likes to admit they need help – or ask for it! It’s hard.

Everybody else uses as much as I do

I drink just as much as my friends do, if not less. Most people my age use just as frequently as I do. None of them have a problem.

If you find yourself comparing your use to others, stop now. You never know another’s situation or struggles. They may be struggling secretly just as you are. They also may be able to handle their use recreationally differently that you can. Addiction is genetically inherited. Though you may want to be like your peers, if you are reading this article…chances are that you aren’t.

I can change (This is deadly)

I’m not as bad off as other addicts. I can still fix my addiction. I haven’t hit a low enough bottom yet. I may have a problem but I don’t need to fix it now. I work, I pay my bills. I’ll wait to see if I can change. I’m not ready to get help yet.

Unfortunately, this is not only the most common excuse – but also the deadliest. Because overdose comes with zero warning, even a person who has not damaged their health with addiction can die from this disease with just one hit. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more frequently you are playing Russian roulette with your life.


If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone. There is no excuse worth your life. Please contact us today to confidentially find out what your options are and begin battling the disease of addiction today!

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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